7 Skills of Social Intelligence


Since the UN formulated the SDGs in 2015, much has been done to improve the global situation and we have come closer to achieving a lot of the goals. However, in terms of the SDGs related to how we treat each other, the situation is looking dire. A lot of change needs to take place to ensure equality, peace and community, and we can all do our part to make this happen. All we need to achieve are some soft skills of social intelligence.

Niki Ernst, Business Therapist and founder of Silicon Valley Inspiration Tours, is an enthusiastic expert in this field. According to him, there are especially 7 skills of social intelligence one should be aware of and learn how to use:

Body language

Only 7% of our communication is transmitted by our words. The rest is connected to our body, like posture, eye contact, speed, facial expression, and gesture. For example, if you make yourself small, speak with a low voice and avoid eye contact, you can say the most brilliant things – no one is going to believe you or really listen to you. For people to trust your word, you need to use your body language to radiate authority.

Conversational agility

In relation to those 7% related to our words, the main strategy to be aware of here is using your words to ignite curiosity instead of establishing understanding. Anyone can explain, but few can inspire; however, that is what we should aim for. To do this, we need to consider:

Who am I talking to? (Are they a listener or a speaker? Are they bored or genuinely interested? What do you have in common?)

Why should they care? (They could be doing a thousand other things than listen to you; make it worth their time!)

What should they see differently? (Surprise them, make them curious!)

Why me? (What makes you special? What gives you the authority? Why should they listen to you?)

What is my social agenda? (Why are you talking to these people?)


Regardless of where you are in life and where you will go, at some point, you will have to give (and receive) feedback. This can be an uncomfortable experience for everyone involved if done badly. The key to giving good feedback is to care, but not too much. Stay kind, but stay truthful, and always let them know that your feedback is your experience and that they can take it or leave it. 


Some people are born comedians, others have to learn it. In any case, humor is a fantastic tool to open up conversations, to turn negativity into creativity, and to create a positive and engaging atmosphere. 


How you behave and what you radiate either has a magnetic or a repulsive effect on the people you engage with. Consider how you move, whether you touch, how you orient your body and head towards others, and how you tell your stories. 


Even before we start communicating, there are things to be aware of: Whom do we approach, and how does the approaching take place? In social situations, we should always avoid people who are alone and on their phones. Instead focus on groups of 2-3 people, who stand in an open circle with room for you. And seek to be the one approaching others – in this way, you are choosing whom you talk to. 

Default setting

Lastly, and most importantly, always think of how you can be the person you want to be. You will not only feel better, but you will also attract people, jobs, and situations with your authenticity. Each night Niki asks himself: “Was today a good snapshot of myself?” It helps him to cut away the bullshit and to stay true to himself, and he suggests you ask yourself the same.

These soft skills of social intelligence are not only important in order to achieve the SDGs, but also create a positive and productive atmosphere in a team. So all of you joining the #beapirate challenge, we suggest watching Niki’s webinar on the topic below, for only a good team atmosphere will produce moonshot ideas that can save the world (and get you to Silicon Valley). 

About Niki
Niki will turn you into the next Business Pirate! He is a serial entrepreneur, speaker coach, Curator & Founder of Global Inspiration Tours in Silicon Valley, New York, Hong Kong, and London. He is the person to go to when you want to know more about exponential growth strategies and the art of storytelling. Meet Niki, the Business Therapist.

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Tagged as future skills, silicon valley, , soft skills

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