Improve your social skills to achieve professional success. The science of social relationships remains unknown to many.
There are still people who believe that charisma is not something we can learn, that we are born with it or in it, or that we must feign security and confidence to be successful. Or that if they open up emotionally, they will be vulnerable, and people will hurt them. For many years we also believed similar things. That is why in this article, you will find nothing based on opinions or beliefs.
You will read scientifically proven information that will help you understand what social skills are, why they can become your best ally to be happy, and a simple system that will allow you to improve them from today. In this sense, everything you read in this article will help you improve your social skills to achieve professional success.
What are social skills?
Although there is no one accepted definition, we can define social skills as the communication tools, both verbal and non-verbal, that we use to interact with other people effectively and healthily.
These skills closely link to how we judge ourselves (our self-esteem), so they are not simply isolated behaviors. And it is that if we do not feel that we deserve to be respected, we can hardly ask to be respected.
You also don’t need to be outgoing or the life of the party to be socially adept. That is a stereotype that is being challenged.
Avoiding being the center of attention or preferring the company of a good book instead of a social event should not be obstacles to relating brilliantly. Because social skills also consist of adjusting your behavior to the different situations that you encounter.
Yet many people still believe that you are born with or without social skills. But we can learn social skills. What happens is that you did it at such a young age that you don’t remember doing it consciously.
But you did it. During your early childhood, you observed, copied, and changed because of the behaviors you saw in others. And that means that, even if it takes an effort, you can do the same as an adult.
The importance of social skills
It is paradoxical that we learn to solve double integrals during school, a knowledge that we will probably never need again, and we do not receive any training on how to communicate assertively and empathetically.
And social skills are much more important than people think. Its usefulness does not limit to resolving conflicts, being convincing, or having interesting conversations. Its usefulness will condition your whole life.
Your professional successes, the relationship with your friends, and the image you project depend on your social skills, not your knowledge or university degrees. That is why your ability to relate to people is essential to be happy.
The importance of social skills is indisputable: you will not only earn more money, but you will be happier.
Types of social skills
There is also no consensus classification for these skills. Some authors organize them between basic social skills (behaviors that do not require too much effort such as listening, asking, thanking) and advanced (expressing opinions, apologizing, persuading). In contrast, others separate them by topics such as the ability to say no, asking for favors or making requests, expressing feelings, or initiating and maintaining conversations.
In our opinion, a more logical classification would base on the sender, the receiver, and the objective of the communication.
- Self-esteem (how you relate to yourself).
- Self-control (how you manage your emotions).
- Assertiveness (how you express your ideas and opinions).
- Conversation (how you exchange information).
- Persuasion (how you affect the opinion or attitude of others).
- Empathy (how you perceive the feelings of others).
- Presence (how you make others feel).
Although all relate to each other, this classification allows us to differentiate social skills into three main sections: trust, communication, and connection skills.
How to develop social skills?
Improving these skills is a habit-building process, and as such, requires training and repetition of behavior. Although in young children this process usually occurs unconsciously, it is also possible to do it voluntarily through a social skills training program.
In adults, it has also been empirically demonstrated that it is possible to develop them, but it usually requires more effort and perseverance.
The main obstacle is that, due to the general idea that they are innate, it was not until recently that the results of scientific studies about what types of behaviors and beliefs are most beneficial have been disseminated.
This lack of knowledge is the culprit that our usual response to a certain situation (a conflict during a conversation, an attempt to persuade, etc.) is precisely the least appropriate, as many scientific studies have shown. For this reason, below, you will find the specific strategies that have proven to be most effective in improving your social and emotional relationships, arranged step by step so that you can start developing your skills from today.
Strategies to increase your confidence, improve your social skills
We will start with the main thing, with four strategies that will allow you to overcome shyness, feel more confident, and relate to new people without fear. The key is that you first learn to manage your emotions so that they stop blocking you, and then we will show you two ways to increase your self-confidence so that you feel more comfortable initiating new social contacts.
1. Don’t avoid your negative thoughts (or they will come back stronger)
Most of us do not accept our negative thoughts in these types of situations. We try to hide them in the back of our minds and try to pretend the opposite. But contrary to what would seem logical, that is a fatal mistake. A classic study showed that participants who tried to suppress a thought ended up experiencing it twice as often as participants who accepted it.
In other words, the more you try not to think about something, the stronger it will come back.
This rebound effect occurs not only with thoughts. It has been proven that it also occurs with emotions and is one of the main causes of depression. Don’t try to suppress your negative thoughts and emotions. Let them exist, and you will suffer less.
2. Recognize your emotions out loud to reduce their effect, improve your social skills
Science has shown that the best thing you can do to reduce negative emotions like anxiety, nervousness, or sadness is to stop hiding them and start talking about them. That’s how it is. Even though common sense and most of the advice you’ll find out there tell you things like “look confident even when you’re nervous,” if you feel invaded by anxiety when you’re in public, it’s better to acknowledge it out loud. You will see how you immediately feel better because you no longer have to worry about hiding it.
After all, if you’re on a date, the other person is probably feeling the same way.
3. Maintain a dominant posture to feel more confident
There is much talk about the effect of our non-verbal language on others, but what few people know is that it also exerts another type of influence on someone else: yourself.
In one study, it was observed how adopting a power posture (head upright, shoulders back, arms outstretched, or hands resting on the hips) had significant effects on a hormonal level and the participants’ behavior. The results were that their testosterone levels increased while those of cortisol, the stress hormone, decreased. They also felt more confident and willing to take risks. The best of all? Just by staying in that position for a couple of minutes, they would already achieve those effects.
4. Never wait to feel confident before acting, improve your social skills
If you asked us about the main obstacle that limits the lives of shy or low-confidence people, we would not last a second in the answer. Do you know those kinds of people who are always preparing for something but never quite taking the initiative?
Perhaps they want to expand their circle of friends but do not attend social events. Or they want to find a partner but do not dare to show their interest to a stranger. Or they have spent years talking about leaving that job that enslaves them so much, but they never finish taking the step.
The problem is that all these people are waiting to make themselves safe before acting. But waiting to feel a certain way before doing something is absurd.
5. Talking about your needs will multiply your assertiveness
If your boss yells at you and disrespects you, instead of keeping quiet or fighting back, try adding your real need.
Your need would be the human value that your boss attacks when you lack in this regard. And do you know what? We all share the same needs for security, appreciation, identity, and freedom.
“When you yell at me, it hurts because I need to feel a little more valued (your need). Would you mind stopping? “
Identifying and exposing your needs means opening yourself up, and when you open up, you generate empathy and like in others. This makes it easier to be assertive.
6. Everyone’s favorite topic of conversation, improve your social skills
Although you now know how to be assertive, you may still avoid meeting new people or chatting with strangers for fear of running out of conversation topics and not knowing what to say (as if the responsibility for a good conversation was only yours and not shared!).
A study found that when we talk about ourselves, our brain feels pleasure. And if people feel pleasure in your presence, they will want to have you close.
So, don’t be afraid to take an interest in your interlocutor and ask about them. A very simple way to have a conversation centered on the other person is to ask what they do and why they do it.
Avoid becoming questionable by adding information about yourself from time to time, but it’s a good idea to talk less and ask more.
7. And everyone’s favorite word
One of the first things we noticed when we began to study the behavior of the most socially skilled people was that they habitually repeated the names of the people they were talking to.
We discovered that what they did naturally also had a scientific explanation: it is proven that when we hear our name, a region of the left hemisphere of the brain associated with pleasure gets activated. However, most of us ask the name of our interlocutor at the end of the conversation. Sometimes we don’t even ask out of modesty and say goodbye without that information.
For this reason, it is important that you introduce yourself and ask their name as soon as possible to say it from time to time during the conversation. That way, you will stop being a stranger (you already know each other by name) and make a better impression.
8. The magic word to persuade is not “please.” Improve your social skills
Is it difficult for you to ask for favors for fear of being told no? It shouldn’t be this way, as science says that refusing a favor is more difficult than it seems to us. However, there is a way to be even more convincing when you ask for something. And no, it is not adding “please.” To be more convincing in your communication, the magic word you should use is why.
It never ceases to amaze how many people have gotten used to asking for things without explaining their reasons. It is true that this way they reduce the amount of information they communicate, but it is very inefficient. If you add a reason to your requests, clear it, you’ll increase your chances of success because people would like to know who has reasons to do what they do.
Now that you know how to improve your social skills to achieve professional success, it’s time to take your social skills to another level to forge stronger relationships.
For this, you must be able to get others to empathize with you, understand you better, and develop your empathy and listening skills so that they feel you are connecting with them.