Although we all know some people who demonstrate great social intelligence and others who show very little social intelligence, the concept itself can be somewhat slippery. According to management consultant and prolific author Karl Albrecht, social intelligence is the ability to get along with others and get them to cooperate with you. Although this definition of social intelligence is simple, gaining social intelligence takes a complex combination of sensitivity to the needs and interests of others, an attitude of generosity and consideration, and a set of practical skills for interacting successfully with others in any setting. In Social Intelligence, Albrecht explores the five dimensions of social intelligence while also presenting better ways for anyone to navigate social situations.
Several years ago, Harvard Professor Howard Gardner presented the idea that human intelligence is more than a single trait or intelligence quotient (IQ). More recently, Dr. Daniel Goleman expanded that theory in his book Emotional Intelligence: Why It May Be More Important Than IQ. In Social Intelligence, Albrecht expands the multiple-intelligence concept to include another valuable way to look at the intelligences that humans develop and use to find success at work, at home and beyond.
Toxic and Nourishing Behaviors
Albrecht writes that the extremes of social intelligence can be seen as either “toxic” or “nourishing.” He explains that toxic behaviors are those that cause other people “to feel devalued, inadequate, intimidated, angry, frustrated or guilty. Nourishing behaviors cause others to feel valued, capable, loved, respected and appreciated.” He adds that people with high social intelligence attract others to them, and those with low social intelligence repel others. By developing better social intelligence among children, college students, managers, professionals, and all adults, Albrecht explains that conflict can be reduced, collaboration can be created, bigotry and polarization can be replaced with understanding, and people can be mobilized toward common goals.
To facilitate a deeper understanding of social intelligence, Albrecht breaks it down into the following five dimensions, forming the “SPACE” acronym:
- Situational Awareness. This is the ability to read situations and to interpret the behaviors of people in those situations.
- Presence. This includes a whole range of verbal and nonverbal behaviors that define you in the minds of others.
- Authenticity. This comprises the behaviors that cause others to judge you as honest, open and “real.”
- Clarity. This is the ability to explain your ideas and articulate your views.
- Empathy. This is the ability to “connect” with others.
After describing the details of each of these aspects of social intelligence, Albrecht provides a set of practical models and tools that can be used every day to define and measure these competencies so we can better understand our own social intelligence skills and preferences. By laying out a step-by-step assessment of interaction skills, he offers a tool with which we can compare our own perceptions of ourselves with those of others, allowing us to reflect on and plan the areas of social intelligence that we would like to improve.
Rounded out with an examination of where the concept of social intelligence fits into business, leadership and conflict, Social Intelligence provides a complete picture of this valuable concept as well as instructions for its application.
Why We Like This Book
Albrecht delivers a compelling concept in a straightforward context that invites anyone interested in improving his or her social skills to learn simple ways to tap into the vast potential of social success. Fascinating from beginning to end, Social Intelligence provides the stories and ideas that can help us grow in our work and our lives through better interactions with others. Copyright © 2006 Soundview Executive Book Summaries