An article on Social Intelligence – Observing Nonverbal Behavior and Understanding Emotions – by Dr. Sandeep Atre

Social intelligence is best defined as‘Observing nonverbal behavior and understanding emotions for greater interpersonal effectiveness and self-management’.However, it is a root skill which gives rise to many other related-qualities. So let’s see those six signs that prove that you are socially intelligent.

1. People speak their heart out in front of you:

Socially intelligent people have a knack of helping people feel comfortable -so comfortable that people can sharetheir thoughts and feelings without a concern for confidentiality or misinterpretation. A big reason for this is socially intelligent people’s ability to be mentally present in a situation and to stay focused even in long conversations without giving in to the tendency to get distracted.

2. You are not judgmental towards people:

People with social intelligence are not in a hurry to categorize people. They remain nonjudgmental for the longest time possible. They don’t see people as ‘how they should be’, but rather as ‘how they are’. They also understand that no one is good or bad, rather each one of us is good and bad.Due to this attitude, they don’t have preconceived notions and thus people get authentic feedback from them *.

3. People believe that your company elevates them:
If you are socially intelligent then you would often be complimented for a quality called ‘feel good factor’. People would often say that after meeting you or talking to you, they feel reassured, rejuvenated, sorted and hopeful. In fact you would often find people looking for an excuse to be with you. And this simple point has great effects, especially if you are in a leadership position**.

4. You understand that people’s behavior is governed by multiple factors:

Socially intelligent people do not take someone’s present behavior as a reaction to the immediate stimulus. They know that there are various factors subconsciously at play – complexes, insecurities, concerns, or otherunresolved issues. They have patience to go to the root cause before reacting or evaluating offhandedly.

5. You are able to establish the pattern of people’s baseline behavior:

Socially intelligent people pay close attention to people’s behavior – howfast, loud or animatedly people usually speak; or how often people smile, what makes them laugh and what disturbs them; or how they stand, how they sit and how they greet other people; or the timing, delay or duration of their reactions. All these things give them reference-pointsfor paying attention to any changes.

6. You can observe and interpret someone’s nonverbal behavior:

People’s real emotional & mental state gets communicated less by their words and more by their nonverbal behavior i.e. gestures, postures and expressions. Yes! Our nonverbal behavior is guided more by our evolutionarily old parts ‘limbic system and brainstem’ which are often beyond conscious control.Social intelligence lies in ability to observe these cues and interpret them scientifically for connecting to a person.


*Researchers Conway & Huffcutt conducted an analysis of 177 separate studies that assessed more than 28,000 managers to find that feedback on performance became less consistent the higher the manager’s position or the more complex the manager’s role. The problem is compounded for leaders who are women or belong to a minority. And the biggest reason was found to be people’s discomfort to get into emotionally sensitive conversations.

**For instance, researchers Kelner, Rivers & O-Connell found that how people feel about working at a company can account for up to 30 percent of business performance; and importantly nearly 70 percent people believe that how they perceive their organization’s work culture can be traced to behavior of one person – the leader.


Dr. Sandeep Atre (
Founder Director, Socialigence (
Also the author of books “Understanding Emotions Logically” and “Observing Nonverbal Behavior”