Social media and social networking do not reduce the need for good social skills. Rather, the disconnection from physical presence in online communication makes social skills (what some call EQ) even more critical.
The basic skills for building relationships include reciprocity, negotiation ability and sharing. Also critical are the skills of walking away gracefully from an issue or staying to fight with dignity.
For many people these are skills that were learned in the playground. But what happens when people have missed these important lessons?
What happens if the person who’s been asked to run your firm’s social media activities never developed those skills in the playground? And what are the essential skills required for effective social interaction?
It seems to me that we’ve been putting up with a paucity of social skills in the workplace for a long time and it is only now that there is traceable evidence we’ve noticed that it’s a problem. Social media merely provides us with documentary evidence of the kinds of human social interactions that have been happening for aeons. The problem is that this documentary evidence now gives these unfortunate social interactions a much longer lifespan than a cranky comment in passing conversation.
Evidently on a quick shot medium like Twitter it is easy for a grumpy day or lack of coffee combined with quick fingers to lead to an explosive incident for your brand. Then the Streisand Effect can amplify the incident so that it resonates for days or weeks afterward. And, as an added benefit, the whole thing will get indexed by search engines and be findable for ages.
Social media is now providing us with tangible evidence of how many people lack (or fail to demonstrate) the basic skills required to get along well in the playground. And these are the same skills we need to work successfully with other grown-ups, both online and offline.
Goleman, one of the gurus of emotional intelligence, offers twelve questions to assess emotional intelligence. Answer ‘yes’ to half or more, (and if others who know you agree with the self-rating) then you are apparently doing okay.
The real question is how can we apply this to social media and learn how to channel the best of ourselves rather than the worst?
Goleman’s 12 Questions
- Do you understand both your strengths and weaknesses?
- Can you be depended on to take care of every detail? Do you hate to let things slide?
- Are you comfortable with change and open to novel ideas?
- Are you motivated by the satisfaction of meeting your own standards of excellence?
- Can you stay optimistic when things go wrong?
- Can you see things from another person’s point of view and sense what matters most to that person?
- Do you let customers’ needs determine how you serve them?
- Do you enjoy helping co-workers develop their skills?
- Can you read office politics accurately?
- Are you able to find “win-win” solutions in negotiations and conflicts?
- Are you the kind of person other people want on a team? Do you enjoy collaborating with others?
- Are you usually persuasive?
[Source: Goleman, Daniel. "Working Smart." USA Weekend, October 2-4, 1998, pp. 4-5.]