As we build on internal self-awareness and internal self-management in our client sessions, we begin turning our attention to social intelligence, comprised of social awareness and social facility. Social aware- ness is the ability to sense and understand others’ emotions; social facility is the ability to make informed choices utilizing this awareness.
Daniel Goleman (2006) describes social awareness as, “A spectrum that runs from instantaneously sensing another’s inner state to understanding her feelings and thoughts to ‘getting’ complicated social situations” (p. 84). This particular quote reminds me of the many clients who live on the autism spectrum, where social awareness is very much an issue. The inability to “get” social situations, understand others’ feelings and thoughts, or instantaneously sense another’s state, is a constant challenge. In many ways, we’ve been building social awareness while also building self-awareness, through observing and responding to the horse’s body language, behavior and more. The skills for self and social awareness are much the same; the subject of those skills, however, is what shifts.
Goleman (2006) breaks social awareness down into four categories:
- Primal empathy: Feeling with others; sensing nonverbal emotional signals
- Attunement: Listening with full receptivity; attuning to a person
- Empathic accuracy: Understanding another person’s thoughts, feelings, and intentions.
- Social cognition: Knowing how the social world works. (p. 84)