How To Be Socially Intelligent

By Dr Ibraheem Dooba

AREWA AGENDA – Socially intelligent people are reciprocal. The psychologist Jordan Peterson said “if you’re in trouble and you come to me, we talk it out, maybe I can help. Now, because we are playing an iterative game, you owe me a favour. I’m not going to be restrictive about that but socially intelligent people are reciprocal.”

For example, when you go into a neighbourhood and want to be part of the community, you can ask a member a small favour. Now you have the obligation to repay. And you should repay.

But the favour should be a small one. For instance, you can’t ask your neighbour to buy you a car or pay your child’s school fee. However, you can ask for their plumber’s number or, like Benjamin Franklin, borrow a book. If you don’t know the books they have, you can ask in a general sort of way. For example, you could say, “I’m looking for something fresh to read. Do you have any interesting books?”

While the Prophet of Islam didn’t encourage us to ask for favours, he commanded us to return the favour once we have received it. Indeed, how to return the favour is very specific in Islam. In “The Social Science of Muhammad (SAW),” I wrote:

“Actually, in one of his sayings, Prophet Muhammad (SAW) used the word ‘exchange’ gifts. In the book Al- Adabul Mufrad or Book of Morals, a sound hadith reported Prophet Muhammad saying: “Exchange gifts, as that will let you attain love of one another” (Bukhari no: 594).

“Aisha, his wife, narrated: ‘Allah’s Apostles used to accept gifts and used to give something in return.’ (Bukhari Volume 3, Book 47, Number 758.)

“He also said ‘Whoever does you a favour, respond in kind, and if you cannot find the means of doing so, then keep praying for him until you think that you have responded in kind’ (Book of Sunnan By Abu Daawood).”

Why is that?

To keep the cycle of social interaction going. As you can see above, giving also increases love. For a detailed discussion of how giving increases love, read my article entitled “Benjamin Franklin Effect: The Simplest Way to Choose Our Leaders” or read chapter 17 of “The Social Science of Muhammad.”

In sum, no one lives alone. And both science and religion encourage us to interact with others, to mingle. To be socially intelligent.

Arewa Agenda is a Publication of Young writers/journalist from Northern Nigeria towards Peaceful Coexistence and National Development through positive narratives

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