Gracefully Handle Any Social Situation: The Skills of a Great Communicator
We often think of communication skills as having the right words or conveying the right level of confidence. The truth is that communication skills stem from an ongoing process of awareness and management – with ourselves and with other humans. This growth process can be organized into four quadrants: self awareness, social awareness, self management, and social management.
Communicating effectively, strengthening relationships, achieving damn-near any goal, and leading fulfilling professional and personal lives requires skills derived from each quadrant.
The 4 quadrants are intentionally presented as intrinsic circles. This is not a lateral or chronological process. There is interconnectedness between all four quadrants. You don't need to master one area before you can develop another. I used to think everyone must begin with self awareness, but developing competencies in one area can actually inform another. For example, if you struggle with self awareness, but have some natural skills in the area of social awareness, what you discover about other humans can help shape your understanding of your own experiences.
Self Awareness: Understand yourself
Being self aware is the hallmark of a good communicator. When we develop self awareness, we are better able to understand our emotions, reactions, habits, desires, limitations, and behaviors. We can also begin to understand how our emotions and behaviors affect those around us. Without insights from this ongoing self work, we cannot communicate clearly, make decisions for ourselves with ease, or consistently take responsible action.
Self Management: Handle Your Emotions
Self management is the ability to handle your emotions and reactions, regardless of the situation. There is immense power in maintaining self-control through heavy emotions and remaining calm in high-stakes situations. As you develop self awareness and management, you may become better equipped to navigate social situations.
Social Awareness: Understand Others
Social awareness involves the skills of empathy, active listening, adapting a genuine curiosity for the experiences of other humans, and the ability to see things from a variety of perspectives. This social awareness will do wonders for your relationships and sense of connection. If you develop the habits of self awareness and self management, the ability to understand the emotional experiences of other humans may come more naturally.
Social Management: Handle Any Social Situation
Social management is not about eliminating anxiety or performing perfectly. It’s about becoming comfortable handling life’s inevitable complexities, uncertainties, and awkwardness. Social management is often the most challenging quadrant, because it takes being fully present and improvisational, and involves external circumstances outside of our control (navigating the energies and emotions of others and responding on-your-feet to unforeseen situations). Practicing social management skills can help you handle any social situation with grace and diplomacy (even disagreements), as well as cultivate lasting human connections. Success in social management can be accelerated by the skills of the other three quadrants (self awareness, self management, and social awareness).
By focusing on developing skills across all four quadrants, we can become more effective communicators, build stronger relationships, be holistically intelligent humans, and achieve an overall sense of fulfillment.