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8 Tips on Improving Social Skills And Becoming More Sociable (Quick tips!)
Were you the popular kid in school who had the most friends and who was seen in every nook and corner of the school, and who was a part of every gossip, every news?
Or were you the shy birdie? Who had its own nest and who was afraid that people might break his nest or make fun of how he had built that nest? And this fear never let him talk to anyone beyond that existing group?
Well, whoever you were, let me get to the point. What are social skills? I will prefer telling the conventional definition.
“Social skills are the ability or the competence to interact with the world. Society’s basis lies in this communication. It illustrates how we act in specific situations.”
We have always heard that proverb, “Man is a social animal.” Ask yourself, are you really a social animal? Do you have the ability to interact with people confidently? Does the thought of facing people or public speaking gives you shivers? If your answer is no, mazel tov! If you shook your neck in affirmation, read ahead. You might find these words helpful in improving social skills.
Understanding Social Confidence
Confidence is one of the most essential traits of an individual’s personality. Confidence is how one feels in his own skin. With confidence comes greatness, with greatness comes achievement, and with achievement comes happiness-the only thing for which the entire humanity yearns.
Confidence is something that makes people say, “Look at the nerve of that man!”
Social confidence is your confidence in social situations. How you deal with your tasks at work, how you deal with a girl you just met, how you deal with your colleagues, how you deal with your friends, how you are around strangers, how you are around your own family etc.
however confident a person, deep down we all fear the wrath of socializing - the not being accepted bit.
Social confidence in simple words is a feeling of knowing that what you do socially is not just accepted by the people around, but more so desired and applauded.
Improving Social Skills for adults:
Did you know the number of socially awkward people has doubled in America since the 1980s? Which means more and more people feel lonelier and socially less confident.
What could be the reason?
Well, unlike other skills, social skills are adapted with time and experience. You can’t go through a book and learn the right social skills, like you usually would with other skills such as learning a new language.
Social skills come from early childhood, if you haven’t been near good role models, or haven’t been socially active in your childhood, chances are you are going to have a hard time socializing as an adult too.
But that doesn’t mean you can’t learn to develop your social skills as an adult. And you are certainly not the only one who gets socially shy or awkward.
This brings us to the ulterior motive of the article - helping adults improve their social skills.
Where do we start?
The journey of developing your social skills is an awakening and a rather self taught one. Ask me and I would say a $600 course won’t give you the social skills you need to thrive. All you will have by the end of the course is a script and $600 less in the pocket.
What i mean to say is that there is no sure short way of learning or developing your social skills. If you really want to polish your social skills, keep in mind that it is a steady journey that will require you to work on yourself harder than ever.
By working on yourself i don't mean grooming your exterior self - buying new clothes, acing your styling game, having the latest gadgets - NO.
By working on yourself I mean, working on your Emotional Intelligence.
Now what is Emotional intelligence, you may wonder?
It is the core of all social etiquette.
In simple words, Emotional Intelligence is the ability to understand, control and express one’s emotions, all the while being empathetic to others in relation.
Here’s how to begin working on your Emotional Intelligence:
Step 1 - Self awareness:
This is the easiest of all steps, yet it is hard. I don't mean to confuse you, but that’s how it really is. The first step towards any journey always feels the hardest, although it really isn't.
Just like that Self awareness means recognizing your emotions and behavior. Nothing more nothing less. Simply acknowledging the fact about what makes you happy, sad, angry etc.
Aware yourself of the surroundings. Do loud conversations make you feel uncomfortable? Do you feel anxious when people sabotage or try to undermine you? Do you feel the need to speak up about your opinion? If you feel any of these emotions, it’s clear that you are aware of your emotions and that is all you need to do to begin your journey towards developing social skills.
Step 2 - Self Restraint:
Once you have become aware of your social and emotional behavior, i's time to start managing and working on them. Earlier I asked you to start being aware of how you feel in certain social settings, for example when you see an ex. Now is the time to begin to learn how to manage those emotions that you feel. For example if you feel angry/jealous when you see your ex, how do you deal with that emotion? Do you stare them to death or do you stop dwelling over the past and try to move on. If you choose the latter, viola you are at the winning end.
This certainly doesn’t mean you stop feeling emotions altogether. It just means you begin to tackle them better. While you might feel angry and maybe even jealous, know that these emotions will not do any good to your well being. In Fact they are further going to stress you and may even derail you from your present goals and opportunities.
So while that anger bubbles inside of you, you should know how to calm your emotions and rather focus all your energy towards the present. Give your ex a courteous smile and move on. Trust me it will put both your mind and soul at peace.
Step 3 - Empathy - Towards Self and Others:
Next step is recognizing your emotions and thoughts about yourself. In most cases, our thoughts and emotions are often very harsh and undesirable. We scrutinize ourselves far too harshly, demeaning our own value in front of not just ourselves but others too. Which leaves us feeling depressed and with no self-worth.
The problem lies in the fact that we don't give ourselves the benefit of the doubt. We don't consider ourselves human enough to make mistakes.
So the next step towards developing your social skills, would require you to be more empathetic towards yourself and here’s exactly how you can be more empathetic towards yourself:
1). Learn to forgive yourself:
Keep in mind that we are after all humans, who are made to make mistakes. And mistakes are nothing but stepping stones towards success.
This doesn't mean you excuse yourself from the mistakes you make, but instead learn to make amends. Because honestly mistakes are unavoidable, but amendments are often self avoided.
2). Practice self-compassion:
Did you know self-judgement can create havoc when it comes to building your social skills?
It can create a feeling of worthlessness that may sometimes break one beyond repair.
We often scrutinize each and every one of our thoughts and feelings. Which is exactly what needs to be stopped. We need to stop judging our thoughts and emotions.
Because doing so leads to two things, either we ponder over them for longer than its necessary or we end up dismissing them immediately, rendering them useless.
Learn to strike a balance. Keep in mind that thoughts come and go. Feelings keep changing. It's all part of a big process that eventually passes before we even know!
3). Never compare yourself to others:
Last but clearly not the least, never compare yourself to others. All individuals have their own set of skills, opportunities and mindset. Comparing and evaluating them is a clear cut recipe for stress.
More importantly people only show what they want others to see. Have you ever seen someone encouragingly tell about the disasters their children create? But you do see them posting and boasting about how their children are the most well-mannered children on the face of this earth.
Similarly couples don’t fight and post about it all over their social media, but they sure post the tiniest details about their vacations.
Basically you only know the better half of what the person is really going through in life.
You are clearly barking up the wrong tree, by comparing yourself to them without knowing their struggles and shortcomings.
Empathy towards others:
As important it is to feel empathetic towards yourself, it is equally necessary to empathize with the emotions and feelings of others.
This means that not only should you learn to recognize their emotions and feelings but also value them. For example, you should be able to realize immediately if someone around you is acting uncomfortable or anxious.
Once you realize that the person is uncomfortable, your basic instinct should be to value their emotion and ease their discomfort, especially if you are the reason behind it.
Even if you are not, the first step towards being mindful of others is that you should be able to value their emotions despite your relation.
Another great resource on improving emotional intelligence is this article by HelpGuide.
Be a better listener:
The last and clearly the most vital part of building your social skills include becoming a better listener. In this fast paced era, we have lost the charm of interacting with people one on one.
Text messages and calls have made us lose the essence of real conversation. We have become multi-tasking zombies who although communicate more than ever before but most of the communication has now become meaningless.
There was a time when people would contact one another after weeks at stretch, and have the most wonderful and meaningful conversations. While now, people text each other almost everyday but there is seldom any real affection or meaning to the conversation.
All each of us want to do is talk, but without having to listen to the other person. More like when two people are having a verbal fight. None of them are ready to listen to their partner’s point of view, but are forcibly throwing their point of view across!
Although these discussions give a sense of relief to each, they never result in a sensible solution.
Just like that, when you don’t pay attention to other people when they are speaking, you may have an outward relationship, but emotionally you are pretty much unavailable for each other, which renders the whole point of a relation.
How To Become A Better Listener?
Remove all distractions.
Do not judge.
Show positive body language.
Speak where necessary.
How To Improve Social Skills At Work?
Having a good set of business skills is one thing, but having a good set of social skills is quite the other. You may know all the right tips and tricks that help ace your daily work grind, but if you lack in making good social conversation, you may not be considered the best.
There is a high percentage of people who lag behind in their office not because they aren’t good at what they are doing, but because they are socially shy and lack the confidence needed to ace the entire game.
Here are a few tips that will help you ace your social skills at work:
There is always that one person in the office who stays afar and keeps to himself. Nobody approaches him or vice versa. Keep in mind you don’t want to be that guy. Period.
Remember the key to becoming socially present begins from within. You cannot accept others to welcome you with open arms if you yourself are shy and timid.
Build a welcoming aura around yourself, so that people can easily approach you and vice versa.
Work On Your Body Language
In order to look and be welcoming, you will need to work on your body language. As that is the first thing that anybody will notice, before approaching you.
A stern look on the face and crossed arms will immediately put you in the unwelcoming zone.
So make sure your expressions are always mild and not rigid. Shoulders straight and not slouched. And your glance welcoming.
Be A Better Listener
A major part of developing your social skills relies on how well of a listener you are. Imagine you are excitedly talking to someone but you realize mid conversation that there eyes and mind are somewhere behind you. Feels devastating, right?
That is exactly why it's highly necessary to keep all ears, eyes and mind on the person you are having conversation with. Give them your undivided attention - make eye contact and nod when necessary. It may not take long but it will certainly leave a lasting and rather amazing impact of your personality on the person.
When it's your turn to speak, make sure you speak well. Your tone is confident but not overpowering. Your voice is timid but clear enough to reach each and every person whom it is meant to reach.
Make Small Talk
Making small talk helps build a palpable relationship that goes beyond just work. But keep in mind making small talk means both talking and listening attentively. Share some of your experiences and listen to some of theirs. This helps grow your social skills vastly and may also result in lifelong relationships.
Patience And Empathy Go A Long Way
Nobody wants to be around an impatient and self centered person that's for sure, especially in a work environment where teamwork is key.
Remain calm and patient when someone is explaining their point of view and make sure to consider it before jumping to conclusions or disregarding their point altogether.
Take Up New Challenges
Growth is the only way how you can develop better social skills. And what better way to grow than taking up new and exciting challenges?
Scared of giving a speech? Dare yourself to do it every now and then.
Unsure about making a presentation? Take up the challenge and prove yourself.
One thing I have learnt from experience is that Positivity is the key to success. Never disrespect or wrongly criticize anyone. Instead encourage and make them look at the positive side of life.
Be Your True Self
Last but not least, remain true to your roots. Never for the sake of acceptance change colors like a chameleon. Stand strong with your personality.
All in all, improving social skills is an easy yet slow process that requires core knowledge of your surroundings. Add in self love and empathy for those struggling and you have the perfect recipe for positively boosting your social skills.
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