Social Intelligence

Read: Proverbs 23:1-2

When you sit to dine with a ruler, note well what is before you, and put a knife to your throat if you are given to gluttony.

Some people just don’t get it! They are relatively attractive in their physical presentation, they are reasonably intelligent, and they have skill sets that should allow them to be successful. For all intents and purposes, they should be flourishing vocationally and relationally.

The problem is, they have gaping deficits in areas critical to success in life: emotional intelligence and social awareness. When it comes to knowing how to interact with people and act in certain settings, they are often found to be unaware, detached and we might even say, totally clueless. The light bulb is in the socket, but it ain’t burnin too bright, if you know what I mean.

That’s the kind of person this proverb is describing. Although the particular emphasis here is on table manners, the greater thought has to do with both the kind of self and social awareness that will allow a person to have friends, move up the ladder of success in their career, get the kind of traction that allows them to make an impact in the world, and enjoy the life-long love of a spouse who just flat out adores them.

I’ve run into people like that occasionally, and invariably they will complain that they have no close friends, or that they just can’t seem to catch a break at work, or they question why God doesn’t seem to provide them a serious love interest even though they’ve prayed about it a long time. Even if they are aware of their shortcomings, some will even say, “People ought to just accept me warts and all…I am what I am.”

Well, if that’s your attitude, good luck. You’ll probably be saying that clear to the end when you are old, lonely and miserable!

Here’s the deal: If after reading this you’re wondering if you are one of those who lack emotional and social intelligence, why not just go to some straight shooter in your world and ask them what they think. And let me add a good rule of thumb, if they are honest enough to talk about your elephant in the room, and even if they don’t do it with a lot of grace and tact, “take it like a man!”

And then do something about it. Don’t stay stuck in emotional kindergarten or remedial manners class. You can develop self-awareness, you know, and here’s a good way to start:

One, go to God. He is in the business of answering prayer. His indwelling Spirit wants to have more control of you, and as you yield to him, good stuff will start to happen.

Two, get a mentor. Ask someone who seems to be socially skilled and relationally successful for a few pointers—then start implementing their interpersonal tips in a way that is appropriate for you.

Three, gather some facts.  Look around; watch people. See how others behave in social settings. That should give you a clue as to what is appropriate or not. And just a caveat here: Make sure you are in proper social settings. Be smart about it, because you’re probably not going to pick up any redeeming social graces in a bar or some other questionable place.

You may not always be the slickest person in a bunch, or have the smoothness of some people—and that’s okay. But God does want you to be a person of grace—and he’s got plenty of that to give you, free of charge. No matter where you are on the emotional-social continuum, I hope you will access his unlimited supply.

“What really matters for success, character, happiness and life long achievements is a definite set of emotional skills – your EQ – not just purely cognitive abilities that are measured by conventional IQ tests.” ~Daniel Goleman, author of Emotional Intelligence

Your assignment, should you choose to accept it:

Many of these proverbs have to do with your personal development, and the truth is, not too many people have the personal fortitude and self-awareness to pull off growth in these areas on their own. Most of us need a partner to hold our feet to the fire for personal growth. I want to challenge you to not let another week go by without bringing someone onto your personal development team.

Please note: I reserve the right to delete comments that are offensive or off-topic.

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4 thoughts on “Social Intelligence

    • Hmmm…don't mean to be either condescending or conforming (although I'm not really sure what you meant by the latter). As far as my social intelligence goes, I hope to be growing until the day I die. Thanks for the reminder that I need to keep at it!

  1. Mr./ Pastor Noah,
    I have recently discovered some things that really concern me about the Bible. Without going into detail, what can you tell me about how the Israelites were taught how to live after leaving Israel concerning all the accruement of other peoples religions as they wandered. Any help would be greatly appreciated.

    • Tony~ Basically, everything from Exodus to Deuteronomy is about God purifying Israel from the sinful attitudes and habits they'd picked up in Egypt–and along the way–and transforming them into a holy people, set apart for himself and his special purposes. Someone has cleverly said that it took forty years in the desert to get 400 years of Egypt out of Israel.