Are We Socially Intelligent?

Topics: Psychology, Emotion, Emotional intelligence Pages: 7 (2424 words) Published: April 12, 2013
Are We Socially Intelligent?

Francis Pangfei Lai


It was Daniel Goleman’s book “Social Intelligence: The New Science of Human Relationships” that started the author thinking on the relevance of social intelligence to property professionals. In the course of practicing as a property consultancy and lecturing at various universities over the years, the author notices that a property professional tends to lack the many soft skills of emotional and social intelligence. In this paper, he advocates the need to include such soft skills of ‘social intelligence’ as an essential component in the training of future property professionals.

The term ‘we’ in the title therefore refers to property and real estate professionals such as property valuers, real estate agents, property developers, architects and other design consultants, quantity surveyors, builders and includes those amongst us who are involved in the training of these professionals.

The author cannot find any research on the relevance of emotional and social intelligence to property issues. However, in topics related to the teaching profession, there is now a ground swell of opinions advocating the need for teachers to be learners and to engage their students in a teaching-learning environment. This is essentially a call for teachers to be socially intelligent in their relationships with their students or learners. Whilst the hard skills of the property profession such as property valuation, to take an example, can in future be replaced by a computer application, it is the soft skills such as a person-to-person relationship that need to be understood by property professionals of the future.

This paper thus advocates the need to include soft skill subjects such as social intelligence as an essential component in the training of future property professionals and suggests some further research topics for consideration under this subject heading.

Key words: Social Intelligence; Property Professionals; Teacher-Learner Autonomy.


By social intelligence is meant the ability to understand and manage men and women, boys and girls --- to act wisely in human relations. Edward Lee Thorndike (1920, p. 228)

Way back in 1920, Thorndike defined ‘social intelligence’ as “the ability to understand and manage men and women, boys and girls – to act wisely in human relations”. During the period between 1920 and 1990 when Salovey and Mayer introduced the term ‘emotional intelligence’, the ideas expressed in Thorndike for ‘social intelligence’ overlapped those expressed in later articles on the subject of ‘emotional intelligence’. Gardner in 1983 described social intelligence as “the capacity to know oneself and to know others is an inalienable a part of the human condition as is the capacity to know objects or sounds, and it deserves to be investigated no less than these other ‘less charged’ forms.” The two aspects of social intelligence, namely (a) the ability to understand others and (b) to act wisely in social situations, have been researched by many psychologists and social scientists since Thorndike’s days. Recent research has shown that it is important to distinguish between socially intelligent thought and socially intelligent action (or behavior) and to distinguish both of these from sociability. Whilst sociability is simple a personality trait, indicating the ability to be fond of the company of others, a socially intelligent person has a combination of sensitivity to the needs and interests of others (termed the ‘social radar’) and an attitude of generosity and consideration. The difference between socially intelligent thought and socially intelligent action needs no elaboration as a thought is just a mind-set whilst an action illustrates that mind-set in demonstrable form.

In 2006, Daniel Goleman rediscovered social intelligence in his book ‘Social Intelligence: the New Science of Human Relationship,’ revealing that the...
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