Before we cover the eight most important social skills worth developing in life, let’s examine just what are social skills and how we use them in today’s world. Essentially being the manner in which we interact with others, in a verbal and nonverbal manner, social skills can be expressed through body, eye or hand gestures such as a shrug of the shoulders or the rolling of the eyes.
It can also be the tone of one’s voice, how loud we speak and the words we choose to speak. Within a social context, all affect the feelings of others.
Do You Need More Social Skills?
If you are a shy person or wish you had more friends but feel uneasy in large groups, then you need to develop your social skills. If you are at a loss in maintaining a conversation and/or really prefer to be alone, chances are you are in need of learning some social skills.
That said, let’s explore the eight most important social skills worth mastering and how to best hone in on them.
Being A Good Listener
Many people seem to talk more than they tend to listen. Perhaps it’s because they feel that they have something important to say or that they need to display their knowledge to others. Whatever the case, allow others to have their say without dominating a one-sided conversation. Basically, take turns speaking.
Engaging others translates into knowing how to interact. Listen to what a person says and then show interest by nodding, smiling or responding with small talk. In addition, make more eye contact and basically be polite with phrases such as "thank-you," "how are you" and "see you later."
Building And Maintaining Friendships
Always showing interest in someone else's experience or welfare is an excellent starter. Practice going up and approaching someone you don’t know well and being confident about it.One of my favorite blogs talks about this and more.
Likewise, being able to compromise or negotiate when needed is a good way to build friendships. A friendly tap on the shoulder or a quick wink demonstrates affection as well as appreciation of a job well done. Being supportive when the other person is going through a tough time is vitally important as is allowing others to have their “space.” Staying connected to people even when not in close proximity to them is extremely important. A text message, a phone call, a special card or letter goes a long way in building and keeping your friendships.
Do not confuse having empathy for another person with feeling sorry for them. Empathy simply means understanding another person’s feelings. Be sensitive to the demeanor of others: how they behave or look outwardly. Be quick to notice when a person shows signs of distress. Be diplomatic and tactful if a need arises for making critical comments.
Dealing With Confrontation
Life happens and so do confrontations and disagreements. Learn to make a point emphatically and don’t back down when compromise doesn’t seem possible. However, in doing so, make sure to not be too overly aggressive or even arrogant.
Take Responsibility For Yourself
Yes, social skills can be learned, but it’s up to you to develop them and recognize in what areas you need improvement.
From time to time, every human being needs encouragement. Life is full of opportunities for discouragement. But someone who knows how to say a kind word in season or gives someone hope when it is most needed, will never be lacking a circle of friends and acquaintances.
Whether it’s a wedding event, a church dinner or simply a night for eating popcorn and watching TV around a fireplace, be sure to accept an invitation. The gathering won’t take up a lot of your time and your social skills will be put to good use, so just go! You’ll never know if your future soul mate is lurking behind that office plant with eyes fastened on you.
Mastering just a few social skills will give you the confidence to go on and develop more. In the end, you have achieved success in an essential part of life--learning to expand your circle of friends.