Noticing the attitudes and behaviors 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 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, 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.
First of all, we need to open our eyes and become more observant of others. We should not only focus on the words people use but also on 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.
Assess Strengths and Weaknesses
Second, we need to assess of the strengths and weaknesses of others. We need to be a good judge of character. Imagine that a number of people in your department are interested in being promoted to a leadership position that just opened up and a senior executive asked you to list the strengths and weaknesses of each candidate. Could you do it? We have to be able to assess others accurately.
Pay Attention to Your Own Interactions
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. If you need to, you can even directly ask for feedback about how the conversation was perceived by the other person.