Did you know that your dazzling smile, hearty laughter, and knack for finding the perfect ice-breaker could be your ticket to success? Yep, those warm fuzzies you give people are more powerful than you might think.
Those are your social skills at work—the unsung heroes of our everyday interactions. And not to mention an essential piece of your personal success puzzle.
In this digital age where we swipe right for friendship and double tap for admiration, it’s easy to underestimate the worth of good ol’ human connection. But let’s not forget, it’s our ability to navigate the complex waters of social interactions that often sets us apart.
As Keith Ferrazzi, the world’s leading networking expert and trainer of Mindvalley’s Mastering Authentic Networking Quest, says, “Success in life equals the people that you meet, and what you create with them, what you co-create with them.”
What Are Social Skills?
Social skills are part of the soft skills we use to interact and communicate with each other. Whether we’re talking about verbal cues like the words we choose, nonverbal signals like our body language, or even the way we listen.
Remember the movie The Pursuit of Happyness? Chris Gardner didn’t just wow people with his Rubik’s Cube-solving skills. It was his perseverance and his ability to connect and communicate—a.k.a., his social skills—that helped him overcome adversity.
“Everything you hope to achieve in your life, professionally or personally, is going to be achieved with and through other people, full stop,” explains Keith in his Mindvalley Quest. In essence, social skills are like your personal toolbelt for navigating the wilderness of human interaction.
They’re more than just a nice-to-have. They’re essential for personal success, helping us build stronger relationships, work more effectively, and yes, make the world a more pleasant place to be.
Why Are Social Skills Important?
For starters, they are the architects of your relationships. They help you create bonds, forge connections, and maintain relationships.
In fact, according to a study in the American Journal of Public Health, social skills for kids in kindergarten could predict future well-being and success. That’s right, even at the tender age of five, these skills are already shaping your life.
But their magic isn’t limited to your personal world. They’re equally powerful in the professional realm. These skills help you cooperate with colleagues, charm clients, lead teams, and navigate those oh-so-tricky office politics.
LinkedIn’s 2019 Global Talent Trends report emphasized the growing importance of soft skills, with a whopping 92% of talent professionals agreeing. Hiring managers also recognize that these abilities are increasingly important.
Why is that, you may ask? Because while technical skills can be taught, it’s much more challenging to instill empathy, effective communication, and teamwork abilities.
Examples of Social Skills
Here are some good examples of valuable social skills:
- Empathy. It’s about understanding and sharing someone else’s emotions, which helps us build deeper and more meaningful connections.
- Communication. This one’s all about expressing thoughts clearly, listening attentively, and ensuring understanding in both personal and professional settings.
- Conflict resolution. This is your inner peace negotiator. It’s about addressing disagreements constructively, without letting the tempers flare up.
- Teamwork. Teamwork is about contributing to the group, valuing others’ input, and working towards a common goal.
- Adaptability. This is your social chameleon skill. It’s the ability to adjust to new environments and changes.
- Problem-solving. Your Sherlock Holmes moment. It’s about identifying issues and coming up with effective solutions, all while keeping a cool head.
- Respect. It’s all about acknowledging others’ rights, values, and beliefs.
- Active listening. This is your Yoda skill, being fully present and in the moment to truly hear and understand what’s being said.
- Assertiveness. Not to be confused with aggression, assertiveness is like your personal advocate, expressing your needs and wants clearly and respectfully.
- Cultural competence. In our beautifully diverse world, this is your skill for understanding, communicating with, and effectively interacting with people across cultures.
Each of these skills is like a thread in the intricate tapestry of social interaction. As per a 2018 LinkedIn report, almost all of these soft skills topped the list of what employers look for in potential employees.
So the next time you’re feeling down about not having mastered Python or quantum physics, remember that it’s your social-emotional skills that can truly make you shine.
What are the most valuable social skills in the workplace in 2023?
Because social skills are so inherently characteristic of human nature, they are universally and continuously relevant. Here are a few examples of valuable skills to master in 2023:
- Digital communication. This skill is all about effectively communicating via emails, virtual meetings, and even the occasional emoji. The Covid-19 pandemic drastically changed our work landscape, making remote work the new norm.
Thus, according to a 2021 Deloitte study, the ability to clearly and effectively communicate in a virtual environment is a must-have, as the focus on digital marketing will increase by at least 15%.
- Emotional intelligence (EQ). It’s the ability to understand and manage not only your own emotions but those of others.
Insights from Daniel Goleman’s seminal book Emotional Intelligence, suggest that technical skills and raw intellect, while important, don’t account for all of our successes in life. A significant part of the equation is our social skills—our ability to navigate the complex world of human interaction and connection.
- Collaboration. This is your Beatles’ “Come Together” moment. With increased diversity and remote teams, the ability to work harmoniously together is crucial. Remember, it’s all about making the dream work with teamwork.
- Resilience. With all the challenges that the modern world presents, the ability to bounce back from adversity is a highly sought-after skill.
Each of these skills plays a pivotal role in the modern workplace, making you not just a valuable employee, but an irreplaceable one.
3 Benefits of Good Sociability
Good social skills can bring numerous benefits. Like any other set of skills, they are best learned at a young age.
Let’s take a look at some of the most prominent benefits:
1. Better communication
The ability to express your thoughts, ideas, and feelings in a manner that’s both clear and appropriate to the situation can improve your relationships with others. If you can relate to people easily, they will be more likely to confide in you.
2. More meaningful relationships
Good social skills will allow you to connect with those who bring out the best in you through active and deep listening. In turn, this fosters more profound and meaningful connections.
3. Better career
Knowing how to act in a professional environment can open many doors for you. If you work well within a team and are responsible and reliable on your own, more and more opportunities will continue to present themselves.
What causes deficits in social skills?
Certain behaviors and medical conditions can diminish one’s social skills. For example, the neurotoxic effects of drugs and alcohol on the brain may impair social skills.
People suffering from depression and anxiety disorders may also struggle with their social skills. This happens as a result of excessive fear of rejection and failure.
Also, individuals suffering from anti-social disorders, autism, and ADHD may experience significant difficulties with social interactions.
How to Improve Your Social Skills: Tips From Mindvalley Trainers
“You simply can’t get anywhere far alone,” highlights Keith. Therefore, it’s crucial to develop your communication skills.
Here are a few expert tips to help you along the way:
1. Discover the genius of audacity
Keith advises you to reflect on how getting out of your comfort zone will expand and improve any area of your life. And of course, you can start by doing so with the people you most want to connect with.
He shares a few examples of actions you can take:
- Career-wise. Pick someone that you admire. Send them an email. Ask for a coffee or lunch. Come prepared with questions. Ask for homework. Follow up with gratitude by sending an email. Say that you respect and admire them.
- Sales-wise. Ask a current client or a prospect what they are interested in learning more about. Offer your research. Connect with an influencer on social media.
- Social-wise. Reach out to somebody who is interesting to you. Research their hobbies, their passions. You can invite them to an event.
You can try these out and just let yourself be surprised by how much people can open up and admire your audacity to take the first step. Getting out of your comfort zone will also act as personalized social skills training.
2. Choose your people wisely
Human beings are social creatures, explains Jon Butcher, trainer of Mindvalley’s Lifebook Online Quest. We all have this basic need to connect and interact with each other, whether intellectually or emotionally.
“Call it a clan, a network, a tribe. Call it a family. Whatever you call it, whoever you are, you need one,” Jon points out. And in fact, research shows that social support actually improves our overall health and well-being.
It’s true that engaging in activities for your social skills is going to benefit you a lot. However, choosing the right people with whom to invest your energy will enhance your sense of sociability, too.
Socializing with people who share common values can shed new light on your behavior. What seemed like shyness or emotional distance may have just been your intuition preserving your energy from potentially draining interactions.
After all, you’re a reflection of your five closest friends, or so they say. Remember to choose them wisely.
3. Use mirroring in your body language
Mirroring, in the realm of social skills, is a subtle yet powerful tool, explain Allan and Barbara Pease, trainers of Mindvalley’s Mastering Body Language: Truth, Love, Lies & Power Quest. It involves gently reflecting on another person’s body language, gestures, or even tone, helping establish a sense of rapport and mutual understanding.
Remember, though, the trick is in the subtlety. If you go all in and start copying their every move, you might end up looking like you’re locked in a perpetual game of charades.
However, done properly, mirroring can accelerate the bonding process, creating connections quicker than a speedy internet connection.
So, whether you’re in a professional meeting or a friendly gathering, try to incorporate a bit of this mirror magic. Just be sure to keep it subtle and natural.
4. Honor and acknowledge the person you’re talking to
Instead of worrying about the next thing you have to say, focus on honoring and truly acknowledging the person you’re talking to. When someone feels listened to from a place of utter presence, the conversation may flow smoother, and connections can form with ease.
That’s why, Lisa Nichols, trainer of Mindvalley’s Speak and Inspire Quest, recommends using the following phrases when wanting to connect with someone authentically:
- “What I appreciate about you is…”
- “What I respect most about you is…”
- “What I admire about you is…”
Moreover, a great way to have more genuine, heartfelt conversations is to address someone by their name, especially when you’ve just met them. This shows your willingness to pay attention and be present in the conversation.
5. Change your narrative
Make sure you don’t unconsciously only focus on the negative, says Vanessa Van Edwards, trainer of Mindvalley’s Magnetic Charisma Quest. That’s a huge part of nurturing your charisma and ensuring future positive experiences with other people.
Watching how you express yourself, especially with new people, may be key to presenting yourself as the most likable version of who you are.
Do you often point out small things that you don’t like about your environment? Things like “it’s so cold in here,” “the music is so loud,” or “it’s so difficult to understand.”
Even if they are small things that don’t purposely matter so much, people will naturally be more drawn to those who give out positive energy. And if you focus on creating more positive energy within yourself, you might be surprised at how much your social skills can benefit too.
Great Connections Start With You
People need people to thrive and survive, so enhancing your social skills may positively impact many areas of your life. And it’s no surprise that life gets hundreds of times better when shared with others who value and cherish who you are.
If you need a little guidance to develop your abilities to connect, Mindvalley is the place to be. With powerful insights from transformational quests, you can dive deeper and create the social life you’ve always dreamed about.
Here are a few options for you:
- Mastering Authentic Networking Quest with Keith Ferrazzi
- Lifebook Online Quest with Jon and Missy Butcher
- Mastering Body Language: Truth, Love, Lies & Power Quest with Allan and Barbara Pease
- Speak and Inspire Quest with Lisa Nichols
- Magnetic Charisma with Vanessa Van Edwards
And the best part of it all is that you don’t have to be alone on your journey of personal development, no matter what area of your life you want to focus on. You can join a community of like-minded people who are as ready to take on the world as you are.
It’s the togetherness that brings joy and shows you the true magic of living.
Images generated on Midjourney.