I believe that if you’re lacking in the social skills department, then knowing how to build social skills is crucial. It’s crucial because your social skills play the key role in building a social life, and your social life plays the key role in being happy.
Over the years I’ve met people who did some amazing things in their life: they climbed the career ladder to the top, they made millions, they traveled the entire world, etc. And yet if they didn’t have a circle of people they enjoyed quality relationships with, they weren’t truly happy.
Your social life is a huge component of your overall life. And when you understand how to build social skills and you’re able to develop them to any level you want, you effectively take control of your social life.
Over the last 6+ years, my main focus as a coach has been on helping others with building social skills and confidence. I’ve discovered that there are 4 very effective strategies you can employ to develop your interpersonal skills.
Some of them might be things you’re already aware of to some degree but you may not have given them the attention they deserve, some of them may be completely new to you. Either way, I’d like to share them with you one by one.
1. Hang Around With and Study Socially Successful People
One of the best ways to learn effective social behavior is by modeling people who are already very good at it.
This modeling process is part subconscious and part conscious. Just by hanging around people with good social skills and witnessing the way they interact with others, your mind will involuntarily absorb data and tweak your own social behavior in order to improve it.
To this, it’s ideal to also add mindfully analyzing the social behavior of such people, seeing the patterns, and then deliberately incorporating some of their mannerisms in your own conduct. But the trick is to never simply imitate them: seek to understand their actions and adapt them to fit your own personality, as well as the social situations you run into.
If you lack social skills, you may be tempted to hang around people with a similar level of social skills, because you don’t feel inferior around them. But as the logic above concerning how to build social skills demonstrates, this is a huge mistake.
Try to befriend and hang around people with sharp social skills. Talk to these people, joke around, be a positive presence and you’ll notice that most of them are very open to making new friends. After all, that’s part of what makes them successful socially.
2. Build Your Social Confidence
Social skills and social confidence go hand in hand. In fact, what often seems like a lack of social skills is only a lack of social confidence. You just feel nervous around others and this makes you act rather awkwardly.
But if you would feel confident and relaxed, you’d be amazed how easy it would be to know the right things to say, be witty, keep a conversation going and be a very likable person. I talk more about this in this video, which you should really watch.
Do you often feel anxious in social settings or during conversation? Then I encourage you to focus on gaining social confidence even more than concerning yourself with how to build social skills. Abilities take a backseat to attitude here.
Gaining social confidence is a matter of rewiring some of your automatic thinking patterns, using both cognitive and behavioral tools.
This is a serious but relatively simple psychological process. I discuss it separately in this special presentation. Make sure you watch it as you’ll get in it solutions for building social confidence that you don’t wanna miss out on.
3. Get Specific Feedback and Use It
A challenge you may encounter as you seek to improve your conversation skills is that you won’t be able to see certain things about your behavior, because you need an external perspective to see them.
We all have blind spots when it comes to our own behavior. And the best way to correct them is to obtain some form of an outsider perspective, which you add to your own insider perspective.
There are multiple ways to do this. You can, for instance, ask some of your friends to give you feedback about your communication style, what they like about it and what they think it’s a good idea to change about it. Do try to get feedback from several friends though, because a single feedback can be biased.
You can also work with a professional coach who can observe your social behavior, either in real social situations or by using role-plays during coaching sessions, and give you the most pertinent feedback.
And you can also find creative ways to record some of your social interactions and review them yourself. For example, record a few of your phone conversations and play them back to you. Your perspective when you replay them will be quite similar to an external perspective.
4. Practice Does Make Perfect
Ultimately, all these ways to build social skills mean nothing if you don’t practice. Above all, you develop your interpersonal skills by going out there and having lots of social interactions with others.
Your mind wants you to improve. It will do all it can to make you better at interacting with others. But it needs you to have real social experiences. It is from these experiences that it will learn the most and it is within these experiences that it will correct your behavior and construct better social habits for you.
What folks with much better social skills than you truly have on you is more social experience. Because they go out, meet people and talk to them while you stay home and watch TV or something.
But if you amplify your social life and you interact more with others, you’ll be amazed how much better your people skills will get in just a few months.
Ever since I started teaching the ropes of how to build social skills, I’ve seen this phenomenon happen over and over again. With consistent practice, good models, specific feedback and work on your confidence as well, you’ll see your social life and skills take off in no time.
Image courtesy of Vicente Alfonso