Social skills are important in life. We, human beings, are social creatures. We do not do well in isolation.
There’s a saying that “no man is an island,” and this is about how we all do better with other people helping us out.
The problem is, some of us just aren’t naturally good at social skills. We may be shy when talking to other people or freeze up when people ask us a question.
Sure, it may be that some people are born with a better ability to socialize. However, the good news is that we can all learn to improve our social skills.
They are called “skills” after all, not social talents.
What Social Skills Can Be Improved (And How)?
A number of social skills can be improved, including:
1. Listening to Other People
If the only thing you worked on improving was listening to other people, then you could potentially be the most popular person in town in no time.
People love being listened to. It makes them feel cared for and validated. And far too often, people do not have an opportunity to be listened to genuinely these days.
You can improve this social skill by doing active listening. The next time someone talks to you, really strive to understand what they are saying. Listen carefully to their words and tone of voice.
Also, ask questions. The more questions you ask, the more you can learn. You will also show that you are interested in the other person, instead of just veering the conversation away from them and on to yourself.
2. Nonverbal Cues and Eye Contact
Nonverbal cues include how people hold their arms when they talk or whether they are giving you eye contact or not.
One of the biggest mistakes you can make when socializing is to avoid eye contact with people. You might do this unconsciously because you are shy. However, if you avoid eye contact too much, then it might make people suspicious of you.
Conversely, if you hold eye contact with someone else for too long, or in an intense fashion, it could creep people out.
Try to find a middle ground between no eye contact and too much eye contact.
3. Making Other People Feel at Ease
If you are shy and anxious around other people, you may be worrying what they are going to think of you. Did you ever stop to think that maybe the other person is a little shy and worried about impressing you?
Instead of worrying about what other people are thinking about you, try to focus your energies on making them feel at ease.
You can do this by smiling, listening, and giving people genuine compliments.
4. Being Kind and Considerate
Speaking of compliments, telling someone something nice about them is a great way to break the ice with people and make them feel good. Being kind in general is a great way to connect with people. Notice what is going on with another person and try to anticipate their needs. Be considerate and caring.
For example, if you notice that someone is sniffling a lot, and you happen to have a pack of tissues in your purse, offer them a tissue. They might not need your tissue, but the act of offering one up shows that you care.
5. Turning Off Your Smartphone
Social skills are being stunted with adults and especially kids today because of too much smartphone use. Are you one of these people who has become more comfortable texting than talking to someone?
Turn off your smartphone and shut down social media. This is especially important if you are out with other people. While it is now done regularly these days, it is still rude to be buried in your phone when you are out to dinner with other people.
The cellphone may be serving as a crutch. Shut it off when you are around other people and force yourself to interact. You may be uncomfortable at first, but it will get easier the more you do it.
Your Social Skills Can Be Improved with a Little Effort
Don’t fret if you weren’t born with a natural knack for getting along with people. While it might be scary at first, you can get better at socializing with others through lots of practice. Don’t worry if you get things wrong. Honestly, nobody is keeping score and most people are nice. They probably like you a lot more than you realize.