Career & Radar

Social Intelligence – Meet, Connect, Prosper


So, what is social intelligence?

As Tony Buzan, author of the book “The Power of Social Intelligence”, puts it “it is a combination of various skills that makes us able to communicate on a Brain-to-Brain level”. These skills include the ability to connect with people, use of both verbal & non-verbal cues to communicate, attitude that helps others & self to grow, negotiation, among others. Another definition, which might help us clarify that to some extent, is given by Social scientist Ross Honeywill who believes that it is “an aggregated measure of self- and social-awareness, evolved social beliefs and attitudes, and a capacity and appetite to manage complex social change”. Looking at these two definitions we can see how Social Intelligence is one of the most important aspects in our daily social lives and the most we need to focus on. A research showed that our ability to succeed in life depends 87.5% on our ability to interact and foster relationships with people, while only 12.5% accounts for knowledge on subject matter. Be it interacting with family and friends, work colleagues or new people that we meet in everyday interactions, we must be able to tap into this resource that we have and cultivate. Here we will try to look at 3 key areas of improvement that could help us boost our Social Intelligence.


Notice how they walk, how they talk, what they are wearing and small things like these. Their mannerism will allow you to assess the individual you are going to meet. Each person comes from a different background so understanding that will help foster better relations. During my experience as a consultant I have come across people from different walks of life. I have met ginger farmers to wealthy businessmen, from government officials to donor agency officials. One thing that helps me connect with them is the ability to know where that person comes from. The power of empathy plays a role in this. Empathy allows you to see things from other’s perspective. This will allow you to know and understand their preferences. For example, if we meet a person from England we can most likely talk about football and have something to talk about. Similarly, if we meet a person from rural Nepal we can talk about things like, upcoming festivals (a very Happy Dipawali to you all!). We can talk to them about something relevant to both of us. This will allow for openness and positive future interactions. So it is one of the areas of SI that we need to develop ourselves in.


Only knowing others is not enough. We need to assess how we look, feel and think in our lives. We need to understand our choices and perspectives and also learn to respect others. I believe how we look makes us feel good which leads to positive outlooks. Notice your own body language too. Everyone has a distinctive presence of his or her own. It is important that we know what our strengths and weakness are and know our “Unique Selling Point” (also known as the von Restorff Effect.) We need to stand out. My current personality includes a pretty thick beard and a moustache. This creates a “von Restorff” effect and allows people to remember me further on. So when we know ourselves we are able to present our self with confidence and character that allows us to have a lasting impression, even after we leave. Remember, last impressions (before we part) also counts.


We live in an age of digital media. Everything is in the palm of our hands. This has given us a very important advantage than generations before us. We have instant access to a vast amount of knowledge and information. We need to tap that. We need to constantly update ourselves on the current affairs of the world. From cultural to political, we need to have a knowledge base that we can use to have a healthy and meaningful conversation with others. This will give a very confident outlook on your side and you will be appreciated for your presence. I say in today’s age, simply having knowledge is not power, it is the application of knowledge that becomes power. Creating this knowledge base will do wonders with building your confidence; create lasting impressions and fostering long-term relationships.


The festivities are upon us and although the country is not at the place where we would like it to be in, lets try to build our Social Intelligence using this time as an opportunity. In case of a Tihar party invitation, where you would not know a lot of people, try remembering the things mentioned above and try to take note on how the interaction experience with various people differed or remained the same as earlier encounters. Some things you can do:

  1. Try to figure out from the host about who all are coming. Some people may not be direct friends but you know them through Facebook. When you finally meet you can talk to them about your common friends and activities that you guys do, from then on you are on your way to creating a lasting impression.
  2. Know what you are wearing; clothing is important. Make sure you are dressed appropriately for the occasion. Look at yourself in the mirror, a full-length mirror. Understand how your body looks and moves. It will let you know about your presence in potential scenarios at the party. 
  1. Brush up on the current political and cultural happenings. Although politics might be a tricky subject to dwell on, it can be useful at a party with family members. Cultural talk is preferred. A new movie, music artist you like, latest in-town event, all this will be tinder to the fire. You will comfortably break the ice and move on to a more elaborate conversation.

So, those are a few things that your can do and see how the outcomes are and let me know. I would love to hear from you guys. One final and the most important thing I would like to say is that a Socially Intelligent person always carries a smile. It’s your secret weapon in building your Social Intelligence. It will help you meet, connect and prosper.

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Avash Nirola

Avash Nirola

Avash Nirola is the Managing Director of 3Q Consult Pvt. Ltd.
He is an Internationally Certified Coach and Management Trainer. He is involved in various social and cultural causes and is a musician as well.