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Is your brain social (enough)?



BUZZ QUOTE - “socially connected will be a lifelong need, like food and warmth.”

Matthew D. Lieberman, Social: Why Our Brains Are Wired to Connect


With distancing a part of life now, we have been challenged beyond our expectations of what to do and how to behave. At the same time, conflicted by what we want to do and how we want to behave.

I know we all experienced this year differently. There are some that adjusted well to pandemic conditions, others craved contact and those in between. Wherever you are on the spectrum, I think you would all agree, it’s not sustainable to relationships in the long term to be so isolated.

We are human, and that makes us social (but to varying degrees).

Neuroimaging shows that though newborn infants may have all the right brain parts to support social interaction, these regions may not yet be connected in the right way. This means that our early experiences and environments can have large influences on the development of our social brain.

The social brain is not just a result of our environment. Genetics and biology also contribute to the social brain in ways we don’t yet fully understand.

Ever curious, I started exploring further and was gripped by a book called Social Intelligence by Daniel Goleman.

Basically, social intelligence helps accelerate your human capabilities. It’s a simple concept, but quite challenging in practice. Especially after the year we have been having!

The concept of social intelligence (SI) goes back 100 years to American psychologist, Edward Thorndike. Thorndike spent decades studying how people and animals learn through experiments and observation and described social intelligence as the ability “to act wisely in human relations.”

In case you are wondering about the difference between EI and SI, Daniel Goleman explains that Emotional intelligence (EI) is more about self-mastery. It is about how you handle yourself, and it makes for outstanding individual performers. However, when it comes to leadership, success depends on everyone else being effective. A leader needs to be successful by influencing others, and this is what social intelligence is about.


If you have heard my talk on the ripple effect, you will know how powerful this is.

The New Science of Human Relationships by Daniel Goleman explores how emotions, cognition and behaviour are interrelated, especially in our working relationships.

Here is the good news, whilst this is all critical to how we interact, our social ability is grown and polished over time through repeated social interactions.

Here are some tips to help you develop these critical skills;

  1. Find ways to be more social, especially during current times

  2. Set your intention on why you want. Knowing what motivates you will help steer you towards positive change.

  3. Think about connecting emotionally first and foremost with yourself and others

  4. Take more time to tune in (positively) and listen to what people say (and how they say it) from their perspective then incorporate this into your responses

  5. Reflect on your interactions more deeply. How did you feel, how was it received, what was the impact? And what can you do differently next time to link more to no. 1-4 above?

If you are already a leader and want to create a more positive culture, incorporate these abilities into individual development plans to help everyone improve their emotional and social intelligence.

Solid research shows that intelligence is not fixed and can always be improved.


Developing Emotional and Social Intelligence skills through training and coaching programs can generate measurable benefits for individuals and their organisations. Please get in touch with me if you would like to know how Relatus can help you…

Stay social

Julia

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