6 Social Awareness Strategies to Make You a Better Leader
What do you think makes you a good leader in the office space? Is it completing every bulk office furniture order on time, so every staff member gets a modern standing desk and ergonomic office chair? Is it understanding the financial targets set by the board and coming up with strategies to meet them? Is it knowing when to delegate work and what to do on your own?
All these things can factor into being a great leader, but your social awareness strategies are more essential than you may think and supplement all these. Managing or leading is a discipline that revolves around other people. Therefore, you need to strengthen your relationships and interactive potential with them. There are not many better ways to do this than working on your social awareness tactics.
So, how are you supposed to come up with this social awareness improvement strategy overnight? It is an emotional construct, which means it is not that easy to start doing the right thing, is it? Well, the insights may not be as clear-cut as getting your employees new modern office furniture, but that does not mean they do not exist. Therefore, why not look at these strategies to bolster your social awareness skills?
Pay Attention to All the Details
The first one in the social awareness strategies list is paying attention. A lack of noticing or understanding relevant details is one of the biggest reasons why some people are unbelievably socially unaware. As a manager, motivating and getting people to do what is necessary involves being able to read the room sometimes. You cannot stay connected to your subordinates without being in tune with their needs and feelings.
Thinking that this principle only applies in a physical workspace is one of the biggest remote management mistakes you could ever make. You may not be able to walk around, have discussions, and make observations, but that does not mean you cannot still interact with your team to maintain that sense of presence and attention.
It does not have to always be work-related too. If you notice an employee did her hair and it looks nice, let her know. If an employee's car engine sounds powerful, drop a compliment about it. These things may not impact your day but noticing details about people creates the space for them to be open with you.
Develop an Eye for Non-verbal Cues
While you must listen to the words that leave an employee's mouth, you should never forget that most of the communication process is nonverbal. Meaning, the people who you are leading are giving you information visually and verbally. As a leader, you must be able to see and understand both layers and what they mean for the discussion you are trying to have.
Good manager communication skills are non-negotiable if people are going to be looking to you to give them direction as they work. Even if you are not going to be responding to every non-verbal thing that may set you off, it is the awareness part of it that matters. At least knowing allows you to approach each situation correctly.
Listen to Understand
One of the best social awareness strategies is to listen. If you want some of the most blatant negative social awareness examples, just watch a series of public conversations in which people have differing views. While there are exceptions to the rule, you are going to notice that a lot of people are not listening from an understanding perspective. It is not necessarily that something is wrong with them, as it is almost innate to ensure the other person is hearing you. However, don't you think the other person needs to be heard too?
There is nothing wrong with thinking that you are a good listener but allow others to make that call. As the other person is talking, do not try to formulate your next response based on what you are hearing without properly thinking. Your objective should be to understand what is being said, instead of making any assumptions. You should take advantage of some communication essentials to help you do that.
When you do this, you can better comprehend the full picture in any conversation or situation you may be placed in. On the plus side, you even get to learn more about those you manage.
Clarify Your Understanding
Even when you have listened and you take the time to think about it, you may still miss something. It has nothing to do with a lack of intellect and interpretation skills in most cases. You must understand that human beings all come with a perceptive function. It is developed and affected by knowledge, experiences, and wherever else information may be pulled from. It is very subjective, so the very nature is flawed.
However, if you care enough to understand, whatever you may be missing can be clarified by the person you are listening to. So, a good idea is to hear the other party out and repeat what you have heard to ensure that you are on the right track. It helps you communicate with employees effectively. By taking this route, you can avoid so much trouble that comes from responding to what was not even said.
Your Tone Matters
The tone you project as you speak also counts as a form of non-verbal communication, depending on how you look at it. It plays an important role in social awareness strategies and social awareness skills you should notice. As is the case with many other forms, it can reinforce or completely disprove the words that are coming out of your mouth. The same phrase can have two completely different impacts based on how it sounds coming from the person who says it.
For example, imagine the phrase “I'll totally help you.” If it comes out with a genuine or neutral tone, the person who needs help is likely going to be very happy for the assistance. Now imagine the same phrase being uttered with a sarcastic tone and emphasis on the word “totally.” Though the words are the same, the person needing help in the second example would feel mocked.
If you must actively think about your tone until you get the hang of it, pay attention, and do that.
Be Mindful of Breaking Concentration
Another of the best social awareness strategies you can implement is to understand that time and availability is not something that exclusively revolves around you. You may want to talk about something, but subordinates are concentrating and getting work done. In such a case, it would be better for you to wait on a better time. Of course, there may be emergencies that call for immediate action, but a part of being a manager is having the discretionary ability to know when.
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