Communication Skills

Social Skills: Seven Things Everyone Should Know

Social skills



Social skills are the big variety of skills using which we communicate (visual, verbal, non verbal - auditory, written, body language, etc), behave and interact (attitude, manners/etiquette), and present ourselves (personality, clothes) in the company of fellow human beings, either for friendship, business/professional needs or any other purpose.


Not for nothing they say humans are social animals, right?


The meaning of communication skills: Communication skills cover the 'give and take' of relevant information clearly and concisely (and repeated if needed) in different modes (verbal, written, non-verbal, and also electronic/offline, in-person methods etc) to reinforce better understanding. Advertising legend David Ogilvy talked about the best ad being a man saying the same phrase over and over repeatedly for a minute. You get the idea.


The meaning of interpersonal skills: Interpersonal skills are thus a part of our social skills, and more concerned with our communication and interaction (meetings, negotiations, etc) with other people.


That is the difference between interpersonal and social skills.


The meaning of people skills: Interpersonal skills and people skills are same on most points, except that, while interpersonal skills mostly mean our one-on-one dealing with another person, people skills mean how we come off for other people in general.


For example, a salesman negotiating a deal with a prospective client is using her/his interpersonal skils, trying to make a one-on-one connection. While a celebrity doing an ad for a product on the television is excelling in people skills, here the charisma (and trust) is the skills being used to convince a large number of people.


That is also the difference between interpersonal skills and people skills.


Interpersonal/people skills can also be used to non-ethical ends using tricks such as 'social engineering' (e.g. Imposter says, 'I am from the FBI ma'am') or 'brainwashing' ('socialism is evil, people').


In summary:


Social skills = Communication skills + Interpersonal skills / People Skills.


Note: Some people have put interpersonal skills as the umbrella under which all people skills and communication skills reside. Others have made communication skills the big umbrella. This writer thinks otherwise. For example, you may be a great writer but a terrible person with people - not going to events, avoiding interviews etc. What are you then? A person with a confused set of interpersonal skills, or someone good at writing (a communication skill) but bad at people skills? The second description sounds better to the person hitting the keyboard.


But this is all semantics. Whichever umbrella you make/choose, the big set of communication and interpersonal skills is perhaps the most important skill set for success, other than your key trade skills and work ethic.


Seven things everyone should know about social skills:


What are social skills? (Social skills meaning/definition)

Social skills are a broad set of skills that help us interact and communicate effectively with other people. We all start learning to be social when we are kids and for all our life we try our best to follow the social norms of group/s and get ahead in life.


When we talk about learning social skills, they call it we are learning to socialize.


1. The best tip for having good social skills is simple: Adjust your behavior to fit any group or situation. In other words, wherever you are, live and let live.


2. Example of social skills (there are so many): Being friendly, leading people, communicating well, listening actively, having manners, saying only you have something useful/interesting to say, having an open mind, having a tolerant mind (there are all kinds of people in this world), having control your emotions (emotional intelligence), being assertive not aggressive, and many others.


3. Social skills need to succeed at the workplace include:


- Great communication skills: Saying the relevant stuff clearly, concisely and simply. Smile. Eye contact. Taking turns when talking. Listening and nodding head in agreement. Knowing how much to tell about yourself.

- Great networking skills: Knowing the value of 'give and take'.

- Public speaking/presentation skills: To convince people to your ideas.

- Being adapting and flexible: Learning norms and skills related to new situation/group quickly.

- Sturdy and proactive work ethic: Working hard, thinking ahead, always prepared.

- Getting on with fellow co-workers: Give and take, finding common ground/rapport, working as part of a team, helping others, being cooperative, having empathy towards fellow co-workers (by being in their shoes), using humor to break the tension, letting the boss know about your contribution, being on your guard when boss is around etc.

- Good manners: Being calm, table etiquette, phone manner, email etiquette, meeting etiquette or any general workplace etiquette such respecting each person’s need for space and privacy, etc. Basically, make people feel respected and don't waste their time.


If you take out the work-related bits, these are also the social skills students need to succeed.


4. Learning social skills: We learn to socialize by asking, researching or just role playing the different situations.


Role playing is a great way to learn up social skills, and this is how teachers teach social skills to kids. Even at the workplace, you can use role playing to know the tricks and norms of the place - asking for help, introducing yourself (elevator pitch, for example), starting a conversation, etc.


5. Social skills for any event: Fake it till you make it. Even if you aren't in mood, show you are having fun (if the event is important to you). Use elevator pitch to introduce yourself. Tell an interesting story or two. Be interested in other people. Listen more, talk less. Show your specialty (one thing you know or stand for - 'There is no global warming fact I don't know', or a special skills you have - palm reading is a popular one). Participate in a game everyone is playing. Be helpful (the hostess needs more cups). Don’t forget the manners and 'golden three' - thank you, sorry, please.


6. Social skills for children (and why it matters): We all start navigating the world as a child through seeing, thinking, and doing. In school, our teachers help us with the starter set of social skills - getting teacher's attention, seeking permission, apologizing, asking (and saying please), expressing gratitude (saying thank you), working with others, minding your business, listening, criticizing, having patience, finishing the task, minding peer pressure...all this sounds very familiar? This is what we are supposed be doing when working as adults.


7. A personal social skills checklist:


Here are 25 questions waiting for you to answer.


Can you pay attention to someone who is talking?

Can you talk to others about simple and then more complicated stuff?

Can you decide what question to ask someone and then ask it? (asking)

Can you let people know you are thankful for things? (gratitude)

Can you go up to people on your own and meet them? (introduce yourself)

Can you help people meet each other? (introducing others)

Can you tell people you like something about them or things they do? (compliment)

Can you call for help when you need it?

Can you say you are sorry when you have done something wrong? (apologizing)

Are you aware of what emotions you are feeling? (emotionally aware)

Can you let others know which emotions you are feeling? (expressing feelings)

Can you figure out what other people are feeling?

Can you understand other people’s anger? (handling people's anger)

Can you let others know you care about them? (expressing affection)

Can you know when and why you are afraid, and do something to reduce your fear? (handling fear)

Can you say or do nice things for yourself when you deserve it? (rewarding yourself)

Can you know when you need permission to do something, and what you need to do to get permission?

Can you share things with others who might need or want them? (sharing things)

Can you help others when they need or want it? (Being helpful)

Can you come up with a plan that satisfies both you and someone with a different opinion? (win-win negotiation)

Can you stay out of situations that might get you into trouble?

Can you decide when you have been left out and then do something to feel better? (coping)

Can you compare another person’s opinion, compare it to your own, and then decide for yourself what to do? (Handling persuasion)

Can you prepare for a job before you have to do it? (proactive)

Can you get along with someone older or younger than you are? 1 2 3 4 5


(Source: Arnold P. Goldstein, Robert P. Sprafkin, M. Jane Gershaw, and Paul Kline. 1980. Skill-streaming the Adolescent)


Please search Google for 'social skills checklist'.


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