People with low social intelligence often display these 13 traits

Even if you haven’t heard the term before, you know what low social intelligence looks like when you see it.

Some people just don’t seem to know the unwritten rules of society. They may be blind to the effect they have on other people, which can make it harder to communicate with them on any meaningful level.

If you suspect someone you know may have low social intelligence, keep an eye out for these traits.

1) They speak in absolutes

The world isn’t black-and-white.

No matter how the media may sometimes portray the world as divided into good guys and bad guys, intelligent people know that isn’t true.

According to Dr. Sandeep Atre, founder of Socialigence, “ [People with social intelligence ]… remain nonjudgmental for the longest time possible. They don’t see people as ‘how they should be’, but rather as ‘how they are’. They also understand that no one is good or bad, rather each one of us is good and bad.”

However, people with low social intelligence will often act otherwise.

People who lack social intelligence often believe that anyone who doesn’t agree with them is simply wrong. They are set in their ways and believe that only their opinions are valid.

That means they will often talk about people they don’t agree with as if they are deficient or evil, instead of understanding that they simply have a different view.

2) They are blunt

Politeness can be tricky. It varies from place to place and from one time to another. For instance, most of us have very different manners to what our great-grandparents would have had.

But just because manners are somewhat arbitrary doesn’t mean they aren’t important.

Being polite is how we show respect for each other, which is why it is even more important with strangers than it is with friends.

People lacking in social intelligence don’t understand that. Instead, they often see manners as being a kind of pretense, and one they don’t need to bother with.

This can lead to them coming across as blunt, or even downright rude. Often, they will ask personal questions that aren’t appropriate for the level of friendship you have, or offer criticism of your personal choices.

No wonder this makes them unpopular to be around.

3) They prioritize emotion over reason

It takes a certain level of social intelligence to understand that just because you feel something very strongly, that doesn’t make it true.

That’s an understanding people with low social intelligence don’t have.

This means they will often get into arguments with people in social situations about issues they feel strongly about. But it also means that such arguments are pointless because they will never listen to reason. Not when their feelings are involved.

4) They respond emotionally to criticism

People with low social intelligence think that their feelings are the most important thing in the world. So if somebody disagrees with them, they take it personally.

Point out that a person with low social intelligence is doing something badly or could improve in some area of their life, and they will almost always take it as a personal attack.

This often makes them lash out and become rude and even aggressive to the person offering the criticism.

This happens even when the criticism is quite mild and meant to be constructive.

5) They overgeneralize

People with low social intelligence often display these traits 2 People with low social intelligence often display these 13 traits

“Women are always…”

“Men never…”

“People from Asia constantly…”

You can insert your own trait or behavior here.

Because they see things in black and white, people with low social intelligence often see different people as representatives of a large group rather than individuals.

This causes them to make sweeping generalizations, often with very little basis in reality.

This doesn’t necessarily mean that someone with low social intelligence will be racist or sexist, although it can. 

But it does mean that they have a tendency to judge people according to characteristics they share with others instead of on their own actions.

This can make them very hard to have a meaningful conversation with.

6) They always need to be right

We’ve all met that person that has to be right in every situation.

They will argue with you all day long, insisting they are correct in the face of all facts to the contrary.

Here’s an example: once I was in a bar with someone when the song Piano Man came on. I mentioned that it was a Billy Joel song. They disagreed.

I knew I was right. I claimed it was one of his most famous songs, and they insisted I was wrong. 

Even when I pulled up the Wikipedia page for the song on my phone and proved I was right, they still kept arguing that I was wrong about it being a popular and well-known song.

It’s an infuriating experience to argue with someone like that. Most of the time, it’s better not to even bother.

7) They dismiss other people’s feelings

Having low social intelligence often makes people dismissive of the way others feel.

To the socially unintelligent person, other people’s feelings are irrelevant. Only their own matter.

If they are told how other people feel, they will try to come up with reasons why the person shouldn’t feel that way, or act as if they are lying about their feelings.

Meanwhile, they treat their own feelings as if they are most important thing in the world.

8) They try to ‘win’ arguments

There’s a difference between argument and debate. But people who lack social intelligence never seem to understand that.

The point of debating someone is to try to get them to see things from your point of view. Or, on the other hand, maybe you’ll come to understand their viewpoints better and even end up sharing them.

On the other hand, those who lack social intelligence don’t argue to understand anyone better. Instead, their only goal is to beat people over the head with their opinion until the other person admits they were wrong.

9) They don’t listen

Listening is a key part of having social intelligence. Iit means paying attention to what somebody is saying and making the effort to try to understand where they are coming from.

People without social intelligence never do this. Instead, at best, they pretend to listen to others while thinking of the next thing they are going to say. 

Or, at worst, they may ignore other people completely or talk over them.

10) They lack conversational skills

I have to hold my hand up here. Although I don’t display some of the other traits on this list, I’m not a great conversationalist. I can write about diverse topics all day long, but I tend to freeze up in social situations and struggle to find something to say.

People with low social intelligence have the same problem.

What makes it even worse is that they aren’t aware of this as a failing in themselves, and don’t bother to work to improve it.

People without social intelligence will often:

  •       not listen
  •       not asking questions about you
  •       be impolite
  •       talk about controversial topics with people they don’t know very well
  •       fail to create emotional connections with the person they are speaking to

No wonder most people try to avoid getting into conversations with people like this.

11) They don’t adapt their communication style for different audiences

We all have different communication styles. And speaking differently to different people doesn’t mean you’re fake. Instead, it means you have the social intelligence to understand that different people communicate differently.

I’m not talking about mimicking somebody’s accent or slang. Instead, I’m talking about adjusting both the words you use and the topics you choose for your audience. 

After all, you wouldn’t talk to a bunch of five-year-olds the way you would to your friends, or to your parents.

On the other hand, people without social intelligence don’t seem to realize this. They will often talk in the exact same way regardless of the audience. 

This doesn’t make them more authentic than the rest of us. It just means they aren’t aware enough to understand who they are talking to.

12) They create conflict instead of resolving it

For most of us, the last thing we want in a social situation is a big disagreement. That’s why we all take steps to try and be agreeable and avoid controversial topics.

Most of us.

However, people with low social intelligence don’t do this. They are happy to have conflict in social situations, as long as they think they can win.

13) They can’t read a room

Being able to ‘read a room’ is a key part of social intelligence.

According to psychology professor Dr. Nicholas Davidenko, multiple regions of our brain combine to allow us to pick up on the mood of a group of other people in mere seconds. In turn, that allows us to tailor our conversation and manners to the group.

People lacking social intelligence don’t do any of that. Instead, they blunder into every situation in the same way.

No wonder they are usually unpopular.

Socially unintelligent people

Often, people with low social intelligence are best avoided. Their lack of manners, combined with an occasionally aggressive need to be right, makes them frustrating people to talk to.

Instead, focus on spending your time with people who have the ability and manners to make conversation more pleasant for everyone.

Picture of Ryan Frawley

Ryan Frawley

Ryan Frawley is a France-based writer with a passion for psychology, philosophy, science, and anything that attempts to answer life’s biggest questions.

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