Social skills are important in both personal and professional situations. Strong social skills can help you excel in your career, perform well during interviews, achieve career goals, and expand your professional network. There are numerous specific skills that fall under the category of social skills. In this article, we will look at what social skills are, how to improve them, why they are important, and examples of some of the most important interpersonal skills a professional should have.
So, What Exactly Are Social Skills?
Social skills are abilities that enable people to communicate effectively with one another. On a daily basis, we communicate in a variety of ways that require a variety of social skills. Written, verbal, nonverbal, and visual communication are all examples of social skills. You can practice your social skills in a variety of ways, including:
- The language you employ
- Your voice’s tone, pitch, and volume
- Physical movements you make
- Your expressions on the face
- Your nonverbal communication
- When communicating, make eye contact with others.
How to Improve Your Social Skills?
Improving your social skills can help you in every aspect of your life. Social skills are important because they can help you communicate more effectively and efficiently. As a result, you’re able to develop, maintain, and grow more meaningful relationships with colleagues, clients, and new contacts alike.
Here we’ve listed some tips which will help you to improve your social skills.
Participate in Group Activities
Find ways to continue conversations with friends, family, and close coworkers or practice open-ended questions. Set a small goal for yourself to present at least one project or business strategy at the next board meeting.
Begin With Small Steps
Begin by engaging with people you interact with on a daily basis to develop your social skills in small steps. For example, if you’re out shopping and a checkout clerk asks how your day is going, you might respond with a question rather than a one-word answer. Similarly, you can find ways to extend conversations with acquaintances or practice conversation skills with long-distance relatives you speak with less frequently.
Pose Open-Ended Inquiries
Asking open-ended questions can be a good way to get people talking. It can assist you by providing insight and understanding into your friends, family, colleagues, and even superiors. When you engage them with an open-ended question, they may feel validated in their thoughts and emotions, which can improve how you build relationships. Coworkers may appreciate being asked open-ended questions because it shows you are interested in their ideas. Experiment with the following open-ended questions: “What are your thoughts on…?” “Could you tell me more about…?” “How do you feel about…?”
Examine Your Coworkers’ Social Abilities
Observing your coworkers is another step toward improving your social skills. Take note of their nonverbal communication, body language (such as smiling and nodding), and the vocabulary they use to initiate a conversation. Consider what factors contribute to your coworkers’ effective and engaging social skills. You can use these observations to improve your own communication abilities.
Maintaining Eye Contact Should Be Practiced
Maintaining eye contact during conversations is a skill that should be practiced. Consider making it a goal to make and maintain eye contact with someone for at least three to five seconds each time you interact with them. You could practice with a close colleague with whom you are familiar. Inform them that you are working on improving your ability to maintain eye contact. Maintain eye contact at the start of the conversation, while listening to your coworker speak, and when thanking them and closing the conversation.
Improve Your Listening Abilities
Being an active listener is just as important as being able to share your own thoughts. As a result, others will feel more at ease sharing their ideas and feedback. Maintain eye contact, use nonverbal communication such as nodding when you agree, and ask clarifying questions when you hear something you don’t understand.
Invite a Coworker to Lunch or a Coffee Break
Building relationships with others can be intimidating, but it is beneficial to begin by developing a relationship with one person at a time. To begin, find a teammate who works in a similar role to you and invite them to lunch or coffee. Having a common role or job responsibilities can provide you with topics to discuss, but eventually, try asking questions to get to know them better as an individual. Connect on a one-on-one level with people who work in different areas of the business as you build more relationships. This can help you expand your professional network and gain a better understanding of how your work affects the business as a whole.
Make Genuine Compliments Available to Everyone
Complimenting others on a job well done is an excellent way to show friendliness and appreciation for others. They can serve as a springboard for a larger or ongoing conversation. Be genuine—a dishonest compliment can backfire on you.
Look for Social Skills Resources
There are numerous online and offline classes, books, podcasts, and tools available to help you improve your social skills. Try looking for resources on a particular topic, such as body language, networking, or active listening. Then, put what you’ve learned into action.
Keep Up to Date on Current Events
Keeping up with current trends, events, and news stories can provide you with topics to discuss with others. Consider signing up for local news alerts or industry-specific newsletters to have content delivered directly to your inbox. To keep conversations professional and friendly, avoid contentious topics such as politics or religion.
There are many different types of social skills. You may excel at some while struggling with others. Your first task is to determine where you are having difficulty.
This isn’t usually something you can do by yourself. To use social skills, you must be interacting with someone else. To learn, you must first understand how you came across to the other person.
Find a friend (or several) who can assist you in determining how good your various social skills are at the moment. Asking for feedback can come across as a request for reassurance, so explain why you’re asking for their assistance.
“I’m trying to improve my social skills, but I don’t always know when I’m doing well or bad,” for example. Could you please give me some honest feedback on how I come across?”
Determine Practice Areas
Because social skills are such a broad topic, you can’t work on them all at once. Instead, try to identify a couple to work on first. Where you direct your efforts is usually determined by your weaknesses and what will have the greatest impact on your life.
For example, you may struggle to read other people’s facial expressions. If you work in an office, this could be a problem, so you should prioritize improving your ability to read other people’s emotions. However, if you mostly work from home, being unable to read facial expressions may not be a problem. In that case, you should consider prioritizing something else.
Make a Strategy
Improving your social skills can be challenging. Make it easier on yourself by making a plan. Set attainable goals for yourself to help you work on the priorities you’ve identified.
- Your objectives should be specific and focused on what you want to accomplish, but here are some examples:
- Every day, smile at three new people.
- When you go shopping, ask the cashier how their day is going.
- Each week, read one new article or post on social skills – extra points if you discuss it with a friend.
- Spend at least 20 minutes at a social event that makes you nervous.
Make a point of reviewing progress and setting new goals in your plan. Recognizing your progress is essential for staying motivated, even when it feels awkward.
Which Are Workplace Social Abilities?
Because communication is central to most business success, social skills in the workplace can be critical to how a business operates. When applied to the job, the following social skills can be beneficial:
From emails and phone calls to working on a group project, effective communication skills can be developed by clarifying misunderstandings, using professional language, and finding ways to engage your coworkers to support teamwork.
You can improve your interpersonal skills by interacting with others, learning common workplace social cues, and figuring out how to understand your colleagues’ ideas and input.
The ability to follow directions is two important social skill in the workplace because most employers expect their instructions to be followed. Improve your listening skills by using nonverbal communication skills, asking clarifying questions if you don’t understand, and offering input when asked or at the end of the conversation.
What Are Some Examples of Social Skills?
Because social skills can include a variety of skill sets, it is important to develop these areas, particularly in the workplace. For example, effective communication skills are essential in careers that require regular contact with clients and customers, which characterizes the majority of job industries. Even if your job does not require you to interact with customers, you will almost certainly need to communicate with your team, supervisors, and other employees in order to do your job effectively. Here are four of the most in-demand social skills in the workplace:
Empathy is essential for connecting with others and identifying shared interests. Empathy also enables us to truly comprehend another person’s feelings, thoughts, and ideas. Empathy in the workplace can be advantageous to team projects. When you understand your coworkers’ perspectives, respect their ideas, and feel comfortable sharing your own, you’re much more likely to collaborate effectively and find successful workplace solutions.
Knowing how to effectively interact with others can help you engage in workplace discussions, identify and interpret social cues–such as reading your coworker’s current mood–and find ways to understand the personalities of others to help you develop your work relationships. Better work relationships, in turn, provide more opportunities for advancement.
Intrapersonal skills refer to your ability to comprehend your own thoughts, emotions, and ideas. Developing your intrapersonal skills may include knowing how to express your ideas inappropriate ways, knowing when to share your thoughts in professional situations, and being able to set social boundaries and goals for yourself. For example, you could learn and apply strategies for positively engaging with a negative colleague, or you could learn and develop strategies for presenting project ideas in team meetings.
Effective communication skills, such as active listening, written communication, and nonverbal communication, can be very useful in your career field. If you interact with customers, you may learn and develop active listening skills to assist them in resolving problems. As a team manager, you may learn and implement strategies to improve the efficiency and clarity of your team’s email and video conference communications.
What Are Some Benefits of Having Good Social Skills?
Identifying with others leads to relationships and, in some cases, friendships. And, as most people are aware, you can’t get very far in life unless you can leverage relationships. Focusing on relationships will help you get a job, advance in your job, meet new people, and have a more positive outlook on life (a large social network equals satisfaction with life).
Excellent Communication Skills
Inadvertently, relating to people and being able to work in large groups improves one’s communication skills. After all, you can’t have great social skills unless you have good communication skills, and being able to convey one’s thoughts and ideas is, in my opinion, the single most important business skill of all time.
If you’re good with people, you can probably avoid spending time with people you don’t particularly like. Many people, for example, dislike social interactions because they do not want to spend time with people who do not share their interests and viewpoints. So, if you’re at a business gathering and don’t want to spend time with Joe because he can’t help you close a specific deal, a strong set of social skills will allow you to politely express that you need to spend time with other people at the gathering.
A More Successful Career
Most worthwhile jobs involve interacting with people, and the most lucrative positions frequently involve a significant amount of time spent interacting with employees, media, colleagues, and so on. It is a rare person who can isolate himself in his or her office and still excel at his or her job. Most organizations seek individuals with a specific, tactical skill set as well as the ability to persuade others to get things done.
Improved Life Quality / Happiness
Getting along with others will open many personal and professional doors. A conversation at a work-related conference may result in a new job offer with a higher salary, or a smile and hello at your local tennis club may result in a new tennis partner! It’s also widely accepted that retirees with a large social network are happier in their later years than depressed and lonely 60-somethings who spend the majority of their free time watching TV with little or no social activities planned.
So this is how and why you should improve your social skills. Now, when you go to events, take advantage of the opportunity to meet new people. For that short period of time, stay present and disconnect from the rest of the world. And, as you build your network – that vital collection of mutually supportive relationships that follows you wherever you go – keep in mind the role that social skills play.
Whatever you do, continue to hone your social skills. They truly distinguish you, especially as you advance in your career and people look to you for more than “just” your technical expertise.
Even the most accomplished of us can continue to improve our social skills.