Social Intelligence - or how to be popular

Human beings are social animals. We cannot survive without others and wouldn’t want to. Imagine the misery of being alone on a desert island, even a well provisioned one. A sense of belonging is a basic human need but it’s not always easily satisfied.

Only our parents (if we’re lucky) and our dog love us unconditionally. To get along with people we have to do more than show up. We need to earn our place in the social world. We need to give people what they want before we can get our own needs met. So here are some thoughts:

  • We need to be socially sensitive, that is, to be aware of other peoples’ reactions and responses. A good example of social insensitivity is the self-obsessed, non-stop talker who doesn’t know or care that their victim is rigid with boredom.
  • People (except for friends) don’t want to listen to troubles and problems (at least not for more than a few minutes). Everyone has enough problems of their own. Treating others like agony aunts is no way to keep their interest.
  • People take us at our own valuation, so if we are self-deprecating or self-critical people are likely to assume we are not worth much. If you hide your light under a bushel don’t expect others to see it. Most people aren’t that perceptive. However:
  • Everyone is more interested in themselves than in anyone else. So if we can find something about them that interests us or find things we have in common, they are more likely to find us engaging.
  • People like us if we make them feel good or feel good about themselves.
  • Moods are catching. If you are in a bad mood those around you are contaminated by it. If you put on a cheerful front for the sake of others you will be more pleasing to them and it will also be more likely the bad mood will lift.
  • Making people feel stupid, inferior, or wrong is no way to win friends. Everyone longs for respect, approval, appreciation and recognition. Treat people the way you would like them to treat you.
  • Along the same lines - no one likes to be mocked, criticized, laughed at, told they are wrong, ignored, belittled, insulted, told what to do, to be interrogated about their personal life, or have personal comments made about them.
  • Most people make snap judgments based on very little evidence so first impressions are crucial. People don’t like to change their assessment or admit to themselves that they made a mistake. So make that first impression a good one.
  • People like people who like them.
  • Human beings are highly sensitive to rejection (actual or perceived). So make those around you feel included, noticed, accepted.
  • Good manners are the glue that holds society together. They demonstrate respect and consideration. Good manners are also a large part of charm and charisma (and we all want to be charming and charismatic).
  • Deliberate efforts to impress usually fail. It is wiser to show a genuine interest in others than to try to make an impression any other way. To get someone to be interested in you, you must show interest in them.
  • Small acts of kindness and thoughtfulness will long be remembered.
  • Greet people with a smile and show enthusiasm at seeing them.
  • Give genuine compliments</