This week we heard the very sad news that Cilla Black passed away. Like all Liverpudlians and everyone else in the country, I was saddened. For us Scousers Cilla is like the queen mum; a much-loved and iconic figure of the whom we are all very proud. Along with The Beatles she was one of Liverpool’s greatest exports.
Everyone has their memories of Cilla and what she meant: watching Surprise, Surprise, an emotional rollercoaster of a show, or Blind date a show which redifined the word 'relationship'. Her unique singing that helped the sixties swing and her Scouse sense of humour. She was a huge part of my childhood and friends and I would often play our own version of Blind Date. At University I took part in a Blind Date uni show, once as a contestant and then as Cilla – my proudest acting moment.
Since her sad death there have been many tributes, all with similar comments. She had the common touch and her natural warmth and cheeky compassion won over audiences all over the world. Cilla knew how to communicate brilliantly to everyone and anyone. She had something special; the ability to build rapport quickly, build relationships, show empathy, and use humour to help people feel relaxed. She had a way of showing she really did care about other people and valued the relationship she had with them.
Neuroscience has defined these combined qualities as social intelligence - a name coined by psychologist Dan Goleman - and Cilla oozed it. Underlying the the neuroscience behind social intelligence, it refers to people who have the ability to get along well with others and get others to cooperate with them. Watching Cilla in interviews is like watching a science class in social intelligence. You can almost see the neural linkups and connections being made between her and the people she was connecting with.
Social intelligence is essential to both business and public sector organisations and can be learnt, it takes time and effort and you have to be emotionally aware to get started. Having social and emotional intelligence will help you engage with teams, people and customers. It will help you build positive relationships, an essential skill in leadership. You could say Cilla was a great leader, she could easily get people on board, had a great following and was not afraid to show her true colours and be proud of her routes, making her more likeable, trustworthy and open.
You can improve your social intelligence and become warm, open and trustworthy too, it takes work and awareness but can be learnt. Here are our top tips:
Observing someone who has these traits will help you understand the attributes of social intelligence, furthermore your mirror neurons will pick up on these behaviours and begin imitating them the more time you spend with that person. Asking for mentoring from them to help you become more socially intelligent will help too.
Listening and making others feel you have a connection with them will go a long way to building your social and emotional intelligence. Awareness of how you make others feel in a room or conversation is a large part of social intelligence. Become super aware of how others react when you are interacting with them.
You can do this even when disagreeing and giving critique feedback on performance. Positive framing, nodding and repeating what people say and seeing their side are great ways of letting them know you understand their feelings and support their view. It will also go massively in your favour when passing back constructive feedback as they will trust your opinion as you have theirs.
You can do this in a formal way by using a 360 feedback tool (a brilliant and highly successful way to understand your personal development areas) or just by asking for honest feedback from people around you and becoming more aware of how you are with others. Observe personal blocks when interacting with others and ask people to observe you. Is there a pattern in your communication.
A good starting point for your social intelligence plan is to write a sentence about your ideal vision for the ‘socially intelligent you.’ Think about what others would say about you if you weren’t there, what would friends, family and colleagues say. How would people you first meet perceive you? From this think about where you are now and what would be a step by step plan to develop your skills. This maybe more networking, setting yourself target conversations or presentations with groups and mentoring or coaching.
A smile is also one of the most basic, biologically uniform expressions of all humans. Paul Ekman (the world’s leading expert on facial expressions) discovered that smiles are cross-cultural and have the same meaning in different societies. Smiling is contagious and we have a subconscious innate drive to smile when we see one. Researchers of the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Biology in Plön and the Toulouse School of Economics also proved that smiling increases trust and co-operation and in turn enhances relationships. Researchers examined whether subjects could induce trust with their smiles and profit from this. The results showed that a smile rated as honest and genuine increased trust and cooperation and help us interact with other people.
For a great example of someone who oozes social intelligence and empathy, watch some re-runs of Cilla’s shows, how she interacts with her guests and genuinely makes them feel they can relax and be open and show their feelings. That’s why everyone loved her.
Find out more about Social intelligence and how it can help you become a great team member, leader or manager and drop us a line at firstname.lastname@example.org for enquiries.
This will be our last blog for the summer, so have a great one everyone – enjoy the break and we’ll be back in September.