By TARCAYANI PREBAGARAN
Have you ever been in a situation where you would like to strike a conversation with someone but you are not able to because you lack the confidence to do so?
Do you feel like a loner when you attend group sessions, parties or even during lunch with your colleagues?
Has there been a scenario during a job interview where you failed to land the job not because you are technically or intellectually incompetent, but because you are overly introverted?
Developing social skills is imperative to achieve success in any area of your life be it in your relationships or career advancements.
Social skills are needed to engage positively with families, colleagues, bosses and friends.
Social skills are essentially a set of skills people use to interact and communicate with one another including verbal and non-verbal communication.
Verbal communication includes the choice of words and phrases. Non-verbal communication which is equally important comprises facial expressions, body language and eye contact.
With good social skills you can effectively improve what you say and how you say something during an interaction.
Max Messmer Jr in his book Managing Your Career for Dummies writes that “your career success in the workplace of today is independent of technical expertise and depends on the quality of your people skills”.
That statement goes to great lengths to illustrate the importance of social skills in your life.
Daniel Goleman, expert on emotional intelligence, once shared that social intelligence emerges as the make-or-break leadership skill set as for one, where leadership is the art of accomplishing goals through other people.
He adds that to lead, you need an additional interpersonal skill set: you have to listen, communicate, persuade, and collaborate.
To be an effective leader, you need to be able to build relationships, inspire, motivate and communicate powerfully and that is when your competency in social skills will shine and bring you to the next level.
Tan Sri Tony Fernandes, a renowned entrepreneur uses his admirable social skills to interact with his workers and to assist him in making business decisions.
He adopts a “walk about” management style and even works on the ground or as a cabin crew for a few days every month.
When it moved from the 737 to the Airbus, his employees said they needed belt-loaders which would have cost millions.
During his experience working alongside his staff he almost broke his back loading the plane and he understood the dire need for the belt-loaders.
His leadership style requires effective social skills that in turn helps improve the business overall.
Social skills are extremely important during job interviews. Believe it or not 55% of your communication relies on your body language. That implies how you say something carries more weight that your actual words.
Focus on being articulate and appearing confident without being arrogant. Your likability during an interview process plays a determining role in hiring decisions.
You ought to build a rapport and make a strong connection through your body language such as smiling appropriately and listening attentively.
USA Today published an article about how several human resources executives said that prospective employees between the ages of 18 and 34 most commonly displayed inappropriate and unprofessional behaviour.
It blamed the social media for the stunted social skills of the young people due to the casual way of communication via tweets and text messages.
Here are several ways to improve your social skills.
1. Interacting with new people
Even if you currently lack social skills, the only way you can improve is by practising and meeting new people. The more you interact with people, the better you will become.
2. One at a time
When you are trying to improve your social skills, it can be overwhelming when there are many different skills to work on such as conversational skills and body language. Choose one skill that you wish to improve on a certain time frame and patiently work on it.
3. Get to know socially skilled people
Interact with people that practise good social skills. This is one of the best ways for you to improve your own social skills as you will naturally over time gain insights about their good mannerism. As Andrew Carnegie once said “As I grow older, I pay less attention to what men say. I just watch what they do.”
4. Variety of resources
There are various resources to effectively improve on your social skills. You can visit websites such as improveyoursocialskills.com. Books such as How to Talk to Anyone by Leil Lowndes or What Every Body is Saying by Joe Navarro may help improve your social skills.
To sum up, mastering social skills is a great opportunity to scale new heights and beyond as this will assist you in breaking your comfort zone and broadening your horizons. The best part is that social skills are learnable! It takes time and effort to master this valuable set of skills but it is certainly worth accomplishing.
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