Have you ever wondered how your social skills rate? And what are they anyway? Odds are, however you define them they can stand to be improved. If your social skills are so-so, or a bit below par, polishing them up might be the best thing you could ever do to invest in your new self. Getting confident in these must-have skills will supercharge your business and personal life!
Social skills, just like confidence, are the result of things we’ve witnessed, learned, and experienced. They’re very different for everyone. No matter what areas you feel a little weak in, with some focused attention your social skills will dramatically improve. And when they do, everyone will notice the new and improved YOU…because you’ll see they react differently to you.
Here are seven main areas of social exchange. How do you measure up? Try out these easy actions to get a feel for what will help create your social foundation:
Likeability. Being likeable has so many social benefits. It can even help you attain, maintain, and advance faster in the workplace than less likeable folk. It increases the number of friends you can have because people are attracted to and want to be around likeable people. It helps with your love life, too. There are tons of books and courses available on how to be more likeable. If you’re a self-starter, you can figure out a lot of what it takes. If not, I can help.
ACTION: Think about someone you know that everyone seems to like. Ask yourself: What specifically is different about them from you, or the average person? Become like Sherlock Holmes. List out as many of their attributes as you can notice. Do you have them, too? Do you want them?
Listening. This skill is a rare superpower. Oddly, we’re not taught how to do this and therein lies the problem. Socializing isn’t just about talking. Aim to be listening at least 50%-80% of the time in your conversations. Fewer and fewer people can really focus on another person in this modern age of rapid soundbites. You’ll really stand out in a positive way if you can focus intently on the person you’re communicating with. Listen for the clues they’re giving you about their extraordinary life. Be polite and show genuine interest. Everyone you meet will teach you something you’ve never thought about before. That’s exciting!
ACTION: Keep your thoughts and attention on the person who’s talking. Look them in the eye and avoid looking at your watch, phone, or your surroundings. Focus on the other person’s words and try not to allow your thoughts to drift. Bring them back if they do and regain focus, because it’s rude to not stay engaged. You might be asked a question at any time so you have to pay attention and follow along. It’ll be your turn to talk again soon, but don’t start talking the same exact moment they stop or that might seem like you’re cutting them off. That suggests disinterest in what they were just sharing with you. Follow along out of respect, if not interest. Whatever it is it’s a big deal in their world so honor them by listening.
Reading body language. Our body language is carrying on conversations and sending a lot of signals unbeknownst to us. Most people aren’t aware of the signals they’re sending. Naturally this leads to a lot of assumptions and misunderstandings. It can be worthwhile to do some work and develop this reading skill if you feel this area needs some work.
ACTION: Every gesture and posture you make is either bringing people closer or driving them away from you. Start spending 15-mins a day and just watching people – maybe when you’re waiting in line somewhere. Start noticing the body postures around you. Are they are repelling or attracting others? Get used to noticing these subtle clues.
Respectfulness. Everyone deserves a base-level of respect no matter who they are. We all enjoy the feeling of being respected and having our opinions respected, too. Always be willing to consider the perspectives of others. How could anyone possibly think exactly like us anyway, because everyone has been raised in a totally different family?
ACTION: After each conversation interaction, consider how the other person now feels. How does the pre-conversation vibe compare to the post-conversation? Did your convo lift them up in some way so you both part on a good note?
Eye contact. Eye contact is an important part of listening well. It’s also a sign of confidence, dominance, and submissiveness depending on how it’s used. The proper amount of eye contact is tricky though. You don’t want stare down at the ground and appear weak or disrespectful, but at the same time you don’t want to stare like a crazed serial killer either. It’s ok to take a momentary look away before coming back and get reconnected. Never look at your phone during a conversation. Put it away before you begin speaking.
ACTION: The best way to understand this in action is to pay close attention the next time you speak with someone who you think has great social skills. Pick someone you’d like to be similar to. Notice their eye contact patterns while they’re talking to get some clues. Then try imitating what they did as a starting point in your own conversations.
How to make small talk. This is the deal breaker for many because other people use to create an impression of who we are. For some lucky folks it’s a piece of cake to talk with people they don’t know yet. For the rest, it’s a struggle to interact effectively or confidently with strangers. It’s a mystery for most and people just avoid it like the plague rather than understand it. But your business or love life may suffer if you do that. Realize that small talk is a learned skill just like any other skill. You can learn to be a relaxed and confident small talker with guidance and some practice. I’ve perfected a system to teach this if you want to have less social anxiety in your life.
ACTION: Some easy things to begin with when approaching someone is give a natural smile, maybe make a small nod as you make eye contact, extend your right hand to shake hands (if it’s business), and then begin talking. Choosing topics that the other person can easily talk about will make you more at ease. Many of my programs dive into this territory so you’re in the perfect place to investigate it more with an expert. Check out some of my other helpful content for more tips, too.
Groups dynamics. Are you comfortable talking one on one, but can’t seem to hold your own in a larger group setting? This issue is similar to making small talk. If so, you’re not alone. You may be an introvert.
ACTION: If you find quiet time alone preferable to stimulating social settings with lots of people, you may be an introvert. Look up what that means. Knowing if you’re introverted will explain a lot of things you’ve struggled with. Introverts find group settings agonizing and prefer smaller more intimate groups. Extroverts are in hog heaven within groups. It takes both kinds to make our business flourish and the world go around.
Do you want to improve your small talk? Maybe you never know what to say to avoid the awkward silences? Perhaps you spend too much time thinking about what you want to say so you stop listening to others? Or maybe you’re sick and tired of struggling to interact well in group settings for business or on the social scene? Ultimately, nobody wants to be a worried rabbit - remember the body language exercise?
Wherever you rated your social skills, could it be time to up level a few of them? Knowing what’s going on takes a lot of the stress away. Imagine how fun it will be to get everyone around you curious and wondering about the new and improved YOU? TIP: Making people curious is a form of magnetism.
Confident social skills literally affect every interaction with people at home, work, or play. Stop struggling in the areas you want to feel real ease in and we’ll get started. It won’t take very long either, so take me up on my free complimentary call if you know you have some social skills that could be buffed up. Feel really comfortable on the playing field for a change. It’s never too late to start…you just have to start.
If you've enjoyed this, please leave a comment and tell me what your takeaway was. Feel free to share the goodness on social media, too.
Tracey Dobbins, ACC
Founder & Chief Friend Instigator
#social skills, #introvert
I'm in my element when I'm exploring thoughts of this challenging topic of female friendships. Sometimes things spill out into the real world and end up here in this blog,
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