With social media being so prevalent and
devouring much of our free (and not so free) time, what we once
considered important and valuable social skills now seem to be
falling by the wayside. Do we even need them?
Indeed we do - now more than ever!
We still need to know how best to interact with co-workers, supervisors, clients, acquaintances, and others we encounter daily. Simply put, we need to know how to get along with people.
Another way to describe social skills is 'social intelligence.' The concept of social intelligence was first studied and explored by psychologist Edward Thorndike in 1920. He defined it as the ability to interact effectively with others in any social situation, or “to act wisely in human relations.”
2. Active listening. Listening is an underrated social skill. To engage in successful communication, you must know and understand what the other person is saying and the only way to do that is to listen actively. Listening actively means paying attention to, and processing what the other person is saying, rather than thinking about what you will say next.
3. Making eye contact. A way to show someone that you are focusing on what they are saying is to make eye contact while they are speaking. Glancing at your phone or looking elsewhere is NOT acceptable when attempting to connect with someone. Making eye contact confirms you are paying attention.
4. Learning people’s names. There is nothing more validating than when someone remembers and uses your name after you have recently been introduced, or if you are an acquaintance, friendly grocer or cashier. We all like to feel significant and hearing someone use your name upon greeting you is gratifying and much appreciated.
5. Showing respect. During social interaction, it is important to be respectful of another’s point of view and in allowing them the time to express it. Even though you may not agree with them, everyone has a right to express their opinion. Once they’ve had the opportunity to do so, you may then state your position.
6. Being cooperative. Cooperation is essential when you’re working on a project, trying to solve a work problem, or resolve an interpersonal issue. Being contrary or obstinate makes matters difficult and the situation counterproductive. All projects work out better when there is teamwork, cooperation, and reciprocity.
7. Being empathetic. Being empathetic is the ability to put yourself in someone else’s shoes. Empathy builds trust and rapport with another person which, in turn, strengthens the relationship. Empathy also helps others understand that they are not alone and that life challenges all of us at times.
8. Smiling and being yourself. It may seem simple to smile and be yourself, however, many people feel they need to perform and impress others upon meeting them. They believe it necessary to make a great impression and end up appearing phony and disingenuous. Conversely, when you smile and are yourself, you put others at ease and allow for the natural flow of conversation.
9. Having a positive, optimistic attitude. We are all naturally drawn to positive, optimistic people. Positive people make us feel better about ourselves. We can be positive in any social interaction by approaching it with an open mind, a willingness to all sides of an issue, and by being helpful. When we interact with others with a supportive, problem-solving mindset we are being positive and optimistic.
10. Inclusiveness. An important ability and leadership skill is one of engaging and including others in conversation, a project, or exchange. When everyone participates in an undertaking, it enriches all involved. Ideas flow, brainstorming takes place and viable solutions spring forward.
As you may conclude, we must never let our social skills lapse. Much can be accomplished when we work in cooperation with each other using a variety of important social skills including effective communication, listening, and overall teamwork.
Employing social intelligence allows us to maintain successful relationships, excellent work culture, and broaden our career opportunities because it brings out the best in all of us.