Social Intelligence and Talking to People

Over the past week, I haven’t been required to interact with too many people. I’ve not had to go to a job, nor have I had that many social gatherings to attend. When this happens I tend to forget how to talk to people – even, sometimes, how to write coherently. My internal monologue gets pretty one-sided where there aren’t any people around to contribute to its evolution.

Social intelligence “can be defined as the knowledge, cognitive abilities, and affections (e.g. empathy) which enable us to successfully navigate the social world” (Austin, 2013). In contrast, people who feel socially awkward tend to:

  1. Feel nervous in social situations;
  2. Misunderstand or misinterpret social norms;
  3. Generate unintended results during conversations;
  4. Fail to keep conversations going;
  5. Make other people feel uncomfortable during interaction; and,
  6. Frequently fail to connect meaningfully with others (via People Skills Decoded).

When I feel concerned that I’m experiencing one any one of these issues after a protracted period of social isolation, I tend to Google potential solutions. However, this is most definitely not the way to go about developing any level of social intelligence. The only way to revive a sense of social accomplishment is to actually talk to people – socialization is a skill, not a theory, and must be practiced regularly (Shyness and Anxiety Hub). It’s also important to not over-think social situations or get overly worked up about them (Shyness and Anxiety Hub). The simple act of talking to a teller at a bank or interacting with someone over the phone can help revive failing social-navigation skills (though giving this advice reminds me of a particular lighthearted Onion skit).

For creative people, sometimes working independently but in a place surrounded by people can be beneficial (Scrivener, April 20th, 2010). I think that I’ll be getting out of the house a lot more often to work in the coming weeks – possibly in a coffee shop, possibly in a library, possibly in just a public space on campus – so long as it has adequate light and a comfortable spot to sit.

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