6 Key Social Skills
Social skills are arguably
the most important set of abilities a person can have. Human
beings are social animals and a lack of good social skills
can lead to a lonely life, contributing to anxiety and
depression. Great social skills help you meet interesting
people, get that job you want, progress further in your
career and relationships.
Happily, like any skill, social strategies and techniques
can be learned�K
The main social skills are as follows:
1) The ability to remain relaxed, or at a tolerable
level of anxiety while in social situations
Regardless of how skillful you are in social situations, if
you are too anxious, your brain is functioning in way
unsuited to speaking and listening. In addition, if your
body and face give the unconscious message that you are
nervous, it will be more difficult to build rapport with
2) Listening skills, including letting others know
you are listening
When you had
dinner with Gladstone, you were left feeling that he was the
most charming person you had ever met. But after dinner with
Disraeli, you felt that you were the wittiest, the most
intelligent, the most charming person.
Dr Warren Bennis PhD, University of California
There is little more
attractive and seductive than being truly listened to. Good
listening skills include:
Making 'I'm listening'
noises - 'Uh-huh', 'really?', 'oh yes?' etc.
Feeding back what you've
heard - "So he went to the dentist? What happened?"
Referring back to others'
comments later on - "You know how you were saying
Physical stillness, eye
contact and attentiveness while the other person is
Empathy with and interest in others' situations
A major part of social anxiety is self consciousness, which
is greatly alleviated by focusing strongly on someone else.
A fascination (even if forced at first) with another's
conversation not only increases your comfort levels, it
makes them feel interesting.
4) The ability to build rapport, whether natural or
Rapport is a state of understanding or connection that
occurs in a good social interaction. It says basically "I
am like you, we understand each other". Rapport occurs
on an unconscious level, and when it happens, the language,
speech patterns, body movement and posture and other aspects
of communication can synchronise down to incredibly fine
Rapport is an unconscious process, but it can be encouraged
by conscious efforts.
Body posture 'mirroring',
or movement 'matching'
Reflecting back language
and speech, including rate, volume, tone, and words
Feeding back what you
have heard, as in 2) above
Knowing how, when and how much to talk about yourself -
Talking about yourself too much and too early can be a major
turn-off for the other party in conversation. Good initial
small-talk is often characterised by discussion of subjects
not personal to either party, or by an exchanging of
personal views in a balanced way.
However, as conversations and relationships progress,
disclosing personal facts (small, non-emotional ones first!)
leads to a feeling of getting to know each other.
6) Appropriate eye contact
If you don't look at someone when you are talking or
listening to them, they will get the idea that:
This doesn't mean you have to
stare at them. In fact, staring at someone while talking to
them can give them the feeling you are angry with them.
Keeping your eyes on them while you are listening, of
course, is only polite.
Of course these are not hard-and-fast rules, eye contact for
instance, varies between cultures, but in general,
practicing these will improve your social skills if you find
social situations difficult.