Building social awareness is an ongoing process that involves selflessness, continuous learning, self-reflection, empathy and active engagement with the world around you. Small actions can significantly impact relationships and create a more empathetic and socially conscious society.
The Art of Building Relationships: It's Not All About You
How often do you find yourself consumed by your thoughts and emotions and oblivious to the needs of others? Suppose you’re in a meeting and are bored and uninterested in the discussion because you think it doesn’t affect you. So, you mentally and socially check out from the meeting. You pull out your smartphone to check your email, calendar, and social media. You are no longer interacting or engaged in the discussion. Perhaps, you decide to leave the meeting to be more productive. Believe me, this happens; as a coach, I frequently hear about examples like these. Those around these individuals are offended by their attitude and find the behaviour disrespectful, negatively affecting relationships. Even if it is not their intention, this behaviour indicates they lack selflessness and social awareness skills.
Have you ever been told you lack empathy and often speak out of turn? If so, you may consider developing empathy a vital social awareness component.
Cultivating authentic connections is pivotal to selflessness and nurturing meaningful relationships. Building genuine bonds with others has become crucial in a fast-paced and interconnected world. While technology has provided us with unprecedented ways to connect, we must focus on the depth and sincerity of these connections to enrich our lives fully. We must learn to let go of self-centred tendencies and embrace the beauty of putting others before ourselves to discover how selflessness improves our connections.
What Is Social Awareness?
Social awareness is a core component of emotional intelligence. It's our ability to recognize and understand the emotions and feelings of others. When we are socially aware, we practise selflessness and focus outward rather than inward, and we can walk into a room and focus solely on others. When we are socially aware, our focus is outward rather than inward, and we can walk into a room and focus solely on others. This awareness helps us develop a more accurate view of others within social situations, as we can pick up on important verbal and non-verbal social cues.
What Does Timing Have To Do With Social Awareness?
Timing affects everything we do. When our timing is right, life is ideal. When our timing is off, life can be miserable. The familiar saying is true: 'There is a time and place for everything'. When we practice social awareness skills, we must understand how to communicate and when and where to interact with others.
For example, suppose you are participating in a team meeting. Emotions appear elevated, and a few individuals have worried expressions on their faces. But you are oblivious, concentrating solely on your thoughts and emotions and the timing of when to share your golden nuggets of wisdom. This situation is problematic. If you focus on yourself and do not read the group's mood, you will miss what is happening around you. If you speak without first observing the social setting and carefully assessing the situation and tone of emotion, you may come off as unaware and insensitive. There are unlimited benefits of having social awareness at work. I examine this topic in my book, The Power of Emotion, A Practical Guide to Making The Most Of Your Emotional Intelligence.
Questions To Build Social Awareness
After a conversation, take time to reflect on your interaction and ask yourself these questions:
- Did I listen actively to the person who approached me?
- Did I ask questions about the content shared?
- Did I inquire about their feelings and emotions related to the situation?
- Did I change my body language, facial expressions, tone of voice, and other elements to meet the needs of the other person?
An outward focus and thoughtful timing are crucial to building relationships and enhancing social awareness.
Strategies To Develop Social Awareness
Here are some suggestions to help you build social awareness:
- Start by educating yourself about various social issues, including inequality, discrimination, and environmental concerns.
- Engage in active listening to understand the experiences and viewpoints of others.
- Put yourself in others' shoes to better understand their challenges and emotions. Empathy helps foster compassion and drives meaningful action.
- Celebrate diversity and advocate for inclusive practices in your community, workplace, and social circles.
- Utilize social media platforms responsibly to share information and resources related to social issues.
- Get involved in charitable activities, volunteering, or fundraising for organizations working towards social change.
- Engage in constructive conversations with friends, family, and colleagues about social issues. Create a safe space for dialogue and exchange of ideas.
- Consume literature and films illustrating different social issues, cultures, and histories to broaden your understanding and perspective.
- Stay informed about current events through reputable news outlets about global and local social issues.
- Use your voice to advocate for positive change for causes you believe in.
- Be aware of your own biases and work to challenge them by promoting a culture that rejects stereotypes and raises equality.