Having good social skills in the workplace allows you to engage with other people, make friends and influence aspects of your surroundings in a way that no technical expertise can. However, when you are learning the ropes of a job or studying for a career, they aren’t often explicitly taught, even though high levels of written and verbal communication are usually required for most jobs you apply for. Known as ‘soft skills’, these talents are important, because almost every workplace is driven by efforts and collaboration of people and your success relies on your ability to work with them. Abhishek Ratna, author of ‘No parking. No halt. Success Nonstop’ agrees, stating that “every single aspect of what we do at work comes down to people, managing people, selling to people and working with people”.
Being able to work effectively in a team, being able to create a positive, happy environment or being able to manage employees kindly and fairly are crucial skills that will help you shine wherever you are, getting you what you want in your relationship and career but also making all of your days more enjoyable.
We all know how to interact and socialise, but in the workplace it is important to learn strategies of how to do this purposefully and consciously. By bringing attention to your conversations and using inspiration from the list below, you can begin to unlock the highest level of potential from the relationships you form and leave a lasting impression.
Below we have compiled six social skills and ways that you can improve them:
To interact with other people effectively, you must first be able to relate to how they are feeling. It is important to show genuine understanding for people who need help or are in difficulty, a skill that is important for working with both customers and colleagues. Empathy can be honed by giving your undivided interest to a person, listening to what they are saying, trying to sympathise or by ‘putting yourself in their shoes’. It allows us to formulate positive relationships with others, allows us to predict their responses and provides insights into people’s motives.
Increase your empathy skills by:
- Mirroring body language, volume of voice and levels of formality.
- Remembering what people have said to you and repeating it back to them later.
- Asking more questions and listening carefully to the response.
Even if people in the workplace have their own individual dreams and goals, the team that they belong to have the same objective, which is to work happily and gain success. Cooperation means working together for everybody’s benefit and must be achieved through positive and open communication. Effective teams use the skills of the individuals in the team for the good of many and when you cooperate during a conversation, you make the other person feel listened to, heard and understood. Part of cooperation is also working with people that you find difficult. It is important to manage these difficult relationships by being polite and professional at all times.
Enhance your cooperative skills by:
- Taking into consideration the things people say when making any decisions.
- Actively trying to keep an open mind and not dismissing other people’s opinions.
There are many reasons why listening is such an important skill and its easy to see why it might be one that we frequently forget. We think of a social skill as something we have to actively practice, but half a conversation (at least) is understanding and responding to what the other person is saying. People respond incredibly well when they feel like they are being listened to and it also makes it easier to be in control of a conversation and its flow.
Strengthen your listening skills by:
- Maintaining eye contact throughout a conversation and giving nonverbal signals such as nodding or smiling.
- Waiting until a person has finished talking before responding.
- Paraphrase back what speaker has said to you to show that you are engaged (e.g. It’s hot today? – Are you too warm?).
4. Nonverbal communication
It’s not just what you say that helps you with your relationships, it’s how you say it. Nonverbal signals include our gestures, body language or even personal appearance. There are so many messages our body transmits in every conversation that we are unaware. Being mindful of these bodily signals can help make the rest of your skills more effective.
Enhance the effectiveness of your nonverbal communication by:
- Dressing professionally and taking care of your appearance.
- Looking people in the eye and nodding whilst they are talking.
- Standing straight and with an open posture to show that you are welcoming and actively listening.
5. Take a genuine interest
On the whole, it is very possible to tell when somebody does not take a genuine interest in you, and it hurts! Not only that, people are likely to disconnect from you when you are talking and not listen to what you want to share. Taking a genuine interest in someone’s work, hobbies or homelife is important in making them feel accepted and will likely strengthen and deepen the relationship.
Show a genuine interest by:
- Asking thoughtful questions in the context of the conversation.
- Sharing your own experiences with the things other people are interested in. For example, if somebody loves fishing, why not share your experiences with it or ask them to share more with you.
6. Positive attitude
It’s awful working in a negative space and it’s equally awful interacting with incredibly negative people that bring us down. Having a great attitude and ethic towards your work will affect many aspects of your everyday life. It can help you deal effectively with pressure and stress and can also influence the attitudes of the people around you.
Show a positive attitude by:
- Avoiding negative thinking and complaining when talking with others.
- Smiling and reacting enthusiastically when people share things with you.
- Employing cheerful small talk (such as ‘how is your day?’) with everyone you meet.
We hope that through reading this list, you have found something that will help give a boost to your relationships and work life. Once these skills are added to your repertoire, you will quickly notice the difference in how people are reacting to you. Thank you for reading and have a wonderful day.