Social Intelligence: Being Socially Inept isn’t so Bad

The good news is nobody is born socially inept!

A Grain of Salt | ElbyJames
4 min readNov 11, 2022


Three women | A Grain of Salt | by elbyjames
Photo by Gemma Chua-Tran on Unsplash

Have you ever wondered how some people can just walk into a crowded room and easily socialize and interact with anyone and everyone?

We call these people the “life of the party” or a “social butterfly.” These amazing humans are able to “work the room” with an hors d’oeuvre in one hand and a martini in the other. Not only are they talking to every Tom, Dick, and Harry, but also genuinely engaging with everyone they talk to; they aren’t socially inept by any stretch of the imagination.

These people are masters at social intelligence, the fine art of understanding people and social situations. Some people might call it “common sense” or “street smarts.” I think of it as having people skills.

What If We Aren’t Socially Intelligent?

How do we become masters of social intelligence? Some of us are socially inept and don’t have any people skills what so ever.

Have there been times when you’ve felt socially awkward you’d rather withdraw than to try your hand at a conversation with a stranger?

Or you told an off color joke, you said something out of tune, blurted out something inappropriate, or forgot someone’s name?

If the idea of small talk or talking to new people causes your heart to jump out of your chest then you’re not alone.

The good news is no one is born socially intelligent. Instead, it involves a set of skills an individual has to work at and practice over time.

Social intelligence — introduced in 1920 by American psychologist Edward Thorndike — according to British psychologist Philip Ewart Vernon (1933) is:

“the ability to get along with people in general, social technique or ease in society, knowledge of social matters, susceptibility to stimuli from other members of a group, as well as insight into the temporary moods or underlying personality traits of strangers.”

The masters of social intelligence know what to say, how to say it, and when to say it. They are experts at unspoken social norms, in other words they know how to play the game of…



A Grain of Salt | ElbyJames

ElbyJames is an American disabled combat vet exiled in the UK & a free speech absolutist. He’s an occasional Top Writer .