Social skills are the abilities and traits that make it easier for people to communicate and interact with others.
Social skills are also known as interpersonal skills, soft skills, or people skills and they encompass a wide range of behaviors, including verbal and nonverbal communication, empathy, active listening, conflict resolution, and respecting boundaries – just to name a few.
Whether you’re trying to make new friends, get a job through networking, or simply get along with your family during a holiday dinner, having good social skills can make a huge impact on most of life’s problems.
Like every skill worth honing, socializing needs to be learned and you can improve your social skills with practice, trying new social activities, and having patience with yourself.
In this post, we’ll break down real-life examples of social skills and show you why they’re the secret ingredient to personal and professional success.
What Are Social Skills, Exactly?
Social skills, often referred to as interpersonal skills, people skills, or soft skills, are the tools that individuals use to interact and communicate with others.
Social skills encompass both verbal and nonverbal communication, including speech, gestures, facial expressions, and body language. They also involve understanding how to behave appropriately in various social situations and comprehending both written and implied rules of communication.
Some examples of social skills
- Active Listening
- Nonverbal Communication
- Conflict Resolution
- Accepting Feedback and Criticism
These skills are essential for forming relationships, working in teams, and generally participating and being accepted in society.
Social skills can be learned and developed over time, and they vary significantly from one culture to another. They are also influenced by a person’s personal experiences and relationships.
How Do Social Skills Help You Achieve Success In Life?
Social skills make you more approachable, likable, and charismatic. They help you easily build rapport with more people, which can lead to more friendships and better connections.
Having good social skills are crucial to achieving success in many aspects of life, as they enhance your overall happiness and satisfaction, help you navigate social situations with ease, reduce the negative effects of stress, and boost your self-esteem.
In a professional setting, social skills translate to soft skills, and strong soft skills are what you need in order to work effectively in teams, and they can be a key factor in career advancement. Research from Harvard, Carnegie, and Stanford on engineering programs from over a century ago showed that soft skills account for up to 85% of career success. More recently, soft skills contributed greatly to more than half of LinkedIn’s 2023 Top 10 Most In Demand Skills report.
This is not surprising when you consider that people with good social skills are all about communication, and being able to express your thoughts and ideas clearly and effectively is a vital skill in many areas of life to avoid misunderstandings, resolve conflicts, and influence others.
What Are Real Life Examples Of Social Skills?
Social skills are the abilities that facilitate interaction and communication with others. They are critical in fostering effective, productive, and satisfying relationships with others. Here, we delve into some real-life examples of social skills that are crucial in our day-to-day interactions.
1. Active Listening
Active listening is a vital social skill that involves fully focusing, understanding, responding and then remembering what is being said in a conversation. This involves not just hearing the words, but also understanding the message behind them.
For example, the next time you’re in a situation where someone is sharing their experiences or thoughts with you, try to really focus on what they’re saying. Show that you’re engaged by nodding, making appropriate facial expressions, and giving verbal affirmations like “I see” or “That sounds tough”. Avoid interrupting or offering advice unless it’s asked for. This shows respect for the speaker and makes them feel heard and understood.
Empathy is the ability to understand and share the feelings of others. It involves putting yourself in someone else’s shoes and imagining how they might be feeling. This skill is crucial in building strong and meaningful relationships.
For instance, if a friend shares with you that they are going through a difficult time, expressing empathy could involve acknowledging their feelings and offering comfort. You might say something like, “I’m really sorry to hear that you’re going through this. It sounds really tough. Please know that I’m here for you.” This kind of empathetic response shows that you understand and care about their feelings.
Assertiveness is the ability to express your thoughts, feelings, and needs in an open and honest way, while also respecting the rights of others. It involves standing up for yourself in a respectful and confident manner.
In a very common real-life scenario, if a colleague constantly interrupts you during meetings, an assertive response might be to say, “I value your insights, but I would appreciate it if you could let me finish my points before jumping in. I believe this will make our discussions more productive.” This response is respectful, yet it clearly communicates your needs.
4. Nonverbal Communication
Nonverbal communication involves understanding social cues and expressing yourself without words, through gestures, body language, facial expressions, and tone of voice. It’s a powerful tool for conveying messages and emotions.
For example, maintaining eye contact during a conversation can show the other person that you are engaged and interested in what they have to say. Similarly, a warm smile can convey friendliness and openness, making others feel more comfortable around you.
5. Conflict Resolution
Conflict resolution is the ability to handle disagreements in a mature, respectful, and constructive way. It involves listening to different perspectives, finding common ground, and coming up with solutions that satisfy all parties involved.
For instance, if you and your roommate disagree about cleaning duties, a good conflict resolution approach might involve having a calm and open discussion about each other’s expectations, and then coming up with a fair cleaning schedule that works for both of you.
Teamwork involves working collaboratively with others to achieve a common goal. It requires good communication, cooperation, and coordination skills.
For example, if you’re working on a group project at work or school, effective teamwork might involve dividing tasks based on each member’s strengths, regularly updating each other on progress, and helping each other out when needed.
7. Respect for Others
Respect for others involves acknowledging and valuing other people’s thoughts, feelings, and experiences. It’s about treating others with kindness, fairness, and dignity.
In practice, this might involve listening attentively when others speak, refraining from negative or disrespectful comments, and being open to different perspectives and ideas. It’s about treating others as you would like to be treated.
Problem-solving is the ability to identify, analyze, and find solutions to problems. It involves critical thinking, creativity, and decision-making skills.
For example, if a project you’re working on is falling behind schedule, effective problem-solving might involve identifying the factors causing the delay, brainstorming potential solutions, and implementing a plan to get the project back on track. This could involve reassigning tasks, working overtime, or seeking additional resources.
Patience is the ability to tolerate delay, trouble, or suffering without getting angry or upset. It’s about staying calm and composed, even in challenging situations.
For instance, if you’re in a customer service role and dealing with a difficult customer, patience might involve listening to their complaints without interrupting, keeping your tone calm and polite, and addressing their concerns in a constructive manner.
Adaptability is the ability to adjust to new conditions or changes in the environment. It’s about being flexible and open to change.
In a real-life scenario, if your a busy software engineer and your company decides to switch to a framework or platform, adaptability might involve being open to learning the new system, rather than resisting the change. It could also involve helping your colleagues adapt to the new system by sharing what you’ve learned.
11. Positive Attitude
A positive attitude involves maintaining a hopeful and optimistic outlook, even in the face of challenges. It’s about focusing on the good in any situation and believing in your abilities to overcome obstacles.
For example, if you’re faced with a challenging project at work, maintaining a positive attitude might involve viewing the project as an opportunity to learn and grow, rather than as a burden. It could also involve motivating your team by expressing confidence in their abilities and celebrating small victories along the way.
Negotiation is a dialogue between two or more people with the aim of reaching an agreement. It involves persuasion, compromise, and the ability to understand and respect the other party’s perspective.
For example, if you’re buying a car, negotiation skills might involve researching the market value of the car, presenting your offer in a confident and respectful manner, and being willing to compromise to reach a fair deal.
Self-awareness involves understanding your own emotions, strengths, weaknesses, and values. It’s about knowing yourself and how you interact with others.
In practice, this might involve reflecting on your feelings and reactions in different situations, seeking feedback from others, and recognizing patterns in your behavior. For instance, if you notice that you often feel anxious before meetings, self-awareness might involve acknowledging this feeling, understanding its source, and taking steps to manage your anxiety, such as practicing deep breathing exercises or visualizing a positive outcome for the meeting.
Self-advocacy is the ability to speak up for your own interests and needs. It involves expressing your thoughts and feelings in a clear, assertive, and respectful manner.
For example, if you have a medical condition that requires certain accommodations at work, self-advocacy might involve discussing your needs with your employer and advocating for the necessary changes.
Politeness is a social skill that involves treating others with respect and courtesy. It’s about following social norms and rules to show consideration for others.
In practice, this might involve saying “please” and “thank you,” holding doors open for others, making small talk, and respecting others’ personal space.
16. Social Awareness
Social awareness is the ability to understand and respond to the needs and emotions of others. It involves empathy, respect, and consideration for others’ feelings and perspectives.
For example, if a friend is going through a tough time, social awareness might involve noticing their distress, offering to listen, and providing support in a sensitive and respectful manner.
17. Using Manners
Using manners is a basic social skill that involves following social norms and rules to show respect and consideration for others. It’s about treating others with kindness and respect, regardless of the situation.
For example, this might involve saying “please” and “thank you,” waiting your turn, and respecting others’ personal space and belongings.
18. Public Speaking
Public speaking is the ability to communicate information to an audience in a clear, engaging, and effective manner. It involves planning, preparing, and delivering a speech or presentation.
For example, if you’re asked to give a presentation at work, public speaking skills might involve researching your topic thoroughly, organizing your information in a clear and logical manner, practicing your delivery, and engaging with your audience through eye contact and body language.
Persuasion is the ability to influence others’ thoughts, feelings, or actions. It involves presenting your ideas in a compelling way, understanding and addressing others’ concerns, and building trust and rapport.
For instance, if you’re trying to convince your team to adopt a new process at work, persuasion skills might involve presenting the benefits of the new process, addressing potential objections, and showing enthusiasm and confidence in your proposal.
20. Accepting Feedback and Criticism
Accepting feedback and criticism is the ability to receive and use feedback constructively, even when it’s negative or critical. It involves listening to feedback without getting defensive, considering the feedback objectively, and making changes as necessary.
For example, if your boss gives you feedback on a project, accepting criticism might involve thanking them for their feedback, considering their points objectively, and implementing their suggestions to improve your work.
21. Relationship Management
Relationship management is the ability to maintain healthy relationships with others. It involves communication, empathy, conflict resolution, and the ability to build and maintain trust.
For instance, if you’re in a leadership role at work, relationship management might involve regularly checking in with your team members, addressing conflicts in a timely and respectful manner, and showing appreciation for your team’s efforts.
What Happens If You Lack Social Skills?
Lacking social skills can lead to challenges across personal, professional, and social spheres. It can hamper effective communication, impede relationship building, and make it difficult to fit in with groups. It might lead to higher stress and anxiety levels, feelings of isolation, and can damage self-esteem.
Professionally, inadequate social skills can restrict career growth as it impacts teamwork, conflict resolution, and communication – all key workplace skills. Similarly, in academic settings, it affects student performance in group projects, presentations, and daily interactions.
Over time, these difficulties can potentially contribute to social anxiety, depression, or other mental health issues. Misunderstandings and conflicts can arise when one cannot effectively express or interpret emotions. If these issues persist, poor social skills can impact mental health negatively.
The positive note is that social skills can be developed and improved through practice, support, and specific training. Thus, everyone has the potential to enhance their social skills.
How Can You Improve Your Social Skills?
Some people naturally have strong social skills, while others may need to learn and practice them intentionally. It’s also important to note that people with certain neurodiverse conditions, such as Autism Spectrum Disorder, may struggle with social skills and require specific support and teaching methods to learn them.
Understand And Assess Your Social Skills
First, it’s important to understand what social skills are and why they’re important. This involves learning about different types of social skills, such as verbal and nonverbal communication, empathy, and problem-solving. Next, you need to identify which social skills you need to improve. This might involve self-reflection or seeking feedback from others.
Find Opportunities To Socialize, Practice, and Be Patient
Once you’ve identified your areas of improvement, you can start working on them. This might involve practicing new behaviors, seeking guidance from a coach or mentor, or even taking a course or reading books on social skills. Remember, improving your social skills is a journey, not a destination. It takes time and practice, but the rewards are well worth the effort.
Improving social skills can lead to more satisfying relationships, better job prospects, and improved self-esteem. Some ways to improve social skills include practice, observation, feedback, and professional guidance like social skills coaching or therapy.
Trying To Improve Your Social Skills?
Here’s How Jaunty Can Help
Jaunty is your personal gym for social skills and communication. We believe that everyone has the potential to improve their social life and communication skills. We’ve taught business people, singles, leaders, and even the shy – anyone seeking a life beyond their current imagination and capabilities.
Our experienced social coaches bring the best from philosophy, psychology, neuroscience, behavioral sciences, and our own experimentation to make people skills learnable. We teach the social intelligence and communication skills that help you truly thrive.
Working with a social skills coach from Jaunty can help you:
- Understand and apply the principles of effective verbal and nonverbal communication
- Develop empathy and active listening skills to build strong and meaningful relationships
- Learn to assert yourself in a respectful and confident manner
- Master the art of conflict resolution and problem-solving
- Improve your public speaking and persuasion skills
- Learn to accept feedback and criticism constructively
Are you ready to take your social skills to the next level?
Join the thousands of individuals who have exercised their social skills with the world’s best social instructors at Jaunty. Start your journey towards social skills success today.