The Gates of Social Intelligence Open

As we enter into this New Year and as we take deliberate time to address the bumps and hurts in our significant relationships this week, how aware are we of our own motives, and the motives and feeling of other people? Do we know how to modulate our behavior according to various social settings? Do we know what makes other people tick, as we sometimes push their buttons?

The One who has provided people with intelligence certainly expects that we use our social intelligence to legislate such basic laws without which, life on earth would become intolerable and anarchic. We must view our common sense as a messenger from God — an instrument that acts as a protection against humanity experiencing all kinds of harm and problems in life on earth. When we commit violence against each other — this is a reflection of our lack of common sense.
-Radak on Genesis 26: 2

Are we able to navigate and negotiate complex social relationships and environments? How much do we use our skill sets for good — and how much do we use our abilities for elevating our own self-interest, at someone else’s expense?

How often are we surprised by how a conversation has gone, after we’ve had it? How willing are we to admit improvisation into a well-crafted plan? How well are we active listeners, really listening to what someone else says, and taking their points to heart? How willing are we to adapt and change, based on new information, and after hearing the opinions of others?

Today, go to a place (coffee house, the lake), where you can observe people. What are they doing? What do their facial expressions communicate? What does their body language reveal? How do they interact with each other? What does that teach you about your everyday noticing? Volunteer in a hospital or in a setting where people/animals can not readily communicate their needs. Have a frank conversation with a friend — what impressions do you sometimes give, based on your movement and language? How are you perceived? Take time to speak with a young person and then, go speak to someone older than you. Notice how your language changes — how your tone has changed. Ask yourself: based on the company that you keep, what do you regularly assume? What do you regularly expect?