How does social awareness help you with your work life balance?

Elissa Teal Watson
4 min readJul 8, 2021

This is part 3 of a 4-part series on how the 4 skill sets of emotional intelligence can help you create and maintain a work life balance that works for you.

Today, I’ll share with you how the 3rd skill set of Emotional Intelligence can help you with your work/life balance. That skill set is Social Awareness.

What is Social Awareness in the context of Emotional Intelligence? Social Awareness is your ability to recognize and understand the emotions and behaviors of others.

When you can understand others better, you can connect better with them and build stronger trust and respect.

Think about a time when you were talking to someone and you could tell that they weren’t really paying attention to you — that person was clearly thinking about something else — they were not mentally present with you — and you could probably tell by their body language.

Now, contrast that by thinking about a time when you were talking to someone and they were really paying attention to you. You could see by their body language that they were listening. They were not interrupting you. They were listening to you to understand what you were communicating.

In the first memory, you probably felt some negative emotions.

In the second memory, you probably felt more connected to the other person and were grateful that they were listening to you to understand what you were communicating.

There are many ways that social awareness skills help you to have a good work life balance, but, in this article, I want to focus on the need to be able to read other people to know their communication style and to know when it’s best to talk to them about important topics such as workload, assignments, schedules, etc.

The ways that I am able to read others is by:

  • Staying present in conversations (not think about other things while the other person is talking)
  • Not interrupting
  • Observing their body language
  • Listening for what they value and delivering interactions that support what they value
  • Using the Platinum Rule: Treat others the way that THEY want to be treated

Allow me to share some examples of how I use social awareness to maintain my work life balance.

At home, I use my social awareness to time my conversations with my husband. My husband is not a morning person. He regularly says out loud how much he hates mornings. Knowing this, I don’t try to have important conversations with him in the morning. I wait for the time of day when his emotions are elevated.

At work, I use my social awareness skills to determine what my boss and co-workers value. This means staying present in conversations, not interrupting, and watching their body language to get the fullest meaning of their communication to me and to others. I use my range of skills to communicate and interact with them according to what I figure out matters most to them.

When I was the assistant to the Executive Vice President of Operations, I made sure that I was well-prepared when we had our meetings. She was a busy executive, and I knew that she valued communication that was concise. I prepared my items for our meeting so that we could go through them efficiently.

I had a manager once who didn’t seem to like me much before she became my manager. I don’t know why exactly I felt that she didn’t like me much, but I wanted to develop a good relationship with her because I truly did respect her as a leader. I recognized that she was a smart woman who knew how to lead a team successfully. Now, I probably could not make her like me, but I wanted to try to have a good, working relationship with her. I came up with a strategy to develop that. I used my interactions with her to make sure that I focused on what she valued. And I determined those values through my social awareness skills (listening well, watching body language, etc.). Overall, my strategy was a success and we had a good manager / employee relationship. And by having a good relationship with her, I was able to maintain my work life balance because I could better negotiate with her when needed about work-related items.

As I wrap up this post, allow me to make the connection to work/life balance explicit.

How does Social Awareness help your work/life balance?

Connection, trust, and respect with others are crucial pieces in work/life balance. Using your social awareness skills, you can develop good connection, trust, and respect with others to negotiate what is going to work out (compromises) in both the workplace and in the home so that you can have a work life balance that works for you.

I’ll be back soon with the 4th skill set of Emotional Intelligence and answer the question of how Relationship Management helps you with work/life balance!

I hope that you have a great day!

I’d love to get your feedback and/or stories about your experience with using or developing your social awareness in the workplace and at home. Just comment below or email me at elissa@elissawatson.com.

Want to read the previous posts?

Part 1: Self Awareness for Work Life Balance

Part 2: Self Management for Work Life Balance

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Elissa Teal Watson

I write about mindset, emotional intelligence, self-care, productivity, habits, career, and relationship management.