Awareness of the attitudes and behavior of others
What is it?
Social awareness is the ability to accurately perceive and understand the attitudes, emotions and behavior of others.
Why is it important?
In almost all professions, people work with bosses, colleagues, and customers on a regular, if not daily, basis. That’s what makes work fun … but it’s also what makes work challenging. Relationships can be tricky. Each person has a unique set of strengths and weaknesses, idiosyncrasies and hot buttons. In order to be effective in our careers, we need to be students of human nature and keen observers of interpersonal dynamics.
The first thing we need to do is to open our eyes and become more observant of others. We should not only focus on the words people use but also their tone, facial expressions, and body language. We need to understand what excites them and discourages them. We need to know what is important to them. We must observe their behavior to get a better sense of who they are and how we can connect with them.
It’s easy to *think* we know what’s going on with another person but, in reality, we might be completely off base. A good way to get an accurate read on others is to simply ask them. “Kim, it seems like you’ve been under a lot of stress lately. Can you tell me what’s going on?” Or applied to a specific comment, a manager might say, “You seem to feel very strongly about this issue. Am I reading that right?” Asking clarifying questions help us know what another person might be going through and what they are trying to say to us.
Finally, some people are oblivious to how they come across to others. They can be insensitive and unaware that they are not connecting with others. The non-verbal signals are there (closed posture, darting eyes, trying to get a word in to end the conversation), but the speaker just doesn’t notice. If you don’t know how you come across to others, you need to be much more aware of how they are responding to you. Look for signs that they are engaged and listening to what you are saying.