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12 Sneaky Ways to Improve Social Skills

Good social skills build great networks—whether personally or professionally. Having effective social skills allows you to flourish in many possible ways. It drives you to the right people, goals, and opportunities. It’s a universal skill that everyone should brush up on to have a better reputation and more substantial networks. So, if you’re looking to learn how to improve social skills, here’s a quick read to guide you.

What are social skills?

Social skills are the set of skills used to interact and communicate with other people. It encompasses verbal and nonverbal communication, including speech, gestures, facial expression, and body language.

You need strong social skills in almost any aspect of your life. It comes in handy in making friends, talking to strangers, doing well in your interview, working with coworkers, and more circumstances that require interpersonal communication.

Some of the common social skills you need in your day-to-day activities include:

  • Empathy – Understanding other people’s feelings, thoughts, and ideas
  • Interpersonal skills – knowing how to interact effectively with others
  • Intrapersonal skills – Understanding your own thoughts, feelings, and ideas
  • Communication skills – Having the necessary skills like active listening, written and verbal communication

Social skills lay the foundation in building positive relationships with people you love and work with. It lets you connect with them on a deeper level. This allows you to form a network that’s good for you.

How to improve social skills

Here are the sneaky ways on how you can improve your social skill generally:

1. Listen intently.

When talking to others, let them know that you are listening actively. Listening shows your genuine interest in learning their stories. This makes them feel appreciated since you give them the time to speak and share what they have to say.

Remember, listening is different from hearing. You need to show them you are focused by having the right responses, facial expressions, and a healthy amount of silence. When people know you know how to listen, you can make more meaningful conversations. 

2. Be present and put down your gadgets.

It’s a common courtesy to put down your phone as you eat. Why not practice this as well when you’re talking with someone? Doing so proves that you are invested in getting to know the person well. It allows you to be in the moment because, after all, people want proof that you are actually listening. 

That said, minimize scrolling through your phone as you talk to someone. It’s not courteous, and it makes you seem like you don’t care. Also, skip wearing your headphones if you want to socialize—it screams, “Leave me alone.” 

3. Avoid pessimism when talking.

A little reality talk is fine from time-to-time. However, if you put too much pessimism as you talk to new people, you might scare them off. You wouldn’t draw new friendships with a negative attitude. After all, who wants to hang out with someone who’s got a dark cloud hanging over their head all the time? No one. 

That’s why you need to be more considerate of how you talk to others. People naturally gravitate towards positive people—it’s healthy. No one will speak to you if you are constantly spouting negative things about everything. 

4. Know people’s names.

An effective way to get people to like talking to you is by remembering and calling them by names. It’s not right, but it’s thoughtful as well. It makes people feel valued since you care enough to remember names. Even more, calling them by their name shows your respect. 

If you are bad at remembering names, you need to brush up on your memory techniques. Here is an online course that will teach you just that. So that in your next meeting, you’ll remember everyone’s names. 

5. Remember their stories.

Knowing people’s names is sometimes not enough; you also need to remember their stories. This comes in handy when you are meeting the same people again. If they have previously shared a story with you, make an effort to use that opportunity to spark a conversation the next time you meet. It’s thoughtful and lets people know you actually remember.

However, don’t dig too deep. This will make you appear nosy, which is a major turnoff, especially when you are not particularly close yet. Just start a small talk using the memory you have about them. 

6. Compliment generously.

Giving compliments is one easy way to start a conversation. It’s a deeply appreciated habit, and it shows you are somewhat interested in common things. Let’s say you like your coworker’s new bag, don’t hesitate to compliment them by saying how cute it is. That little greeting will instantly light her up and may encourage her to gush over where she bought it. 

Compliments are a good conversation starter. It proves you notice people and that you are an appreciative person. 

7. Study your/other’s nonverbal cues.

Nonverbal cues include your facial expressions, body language, and gestures. You can be a more effective communicator if you fully understand what they mean. If you want to appear friendlier, smile more often and act accordingly. Understanding nonverbal cues will help you act better and respond more appropriately.

If you want to learn more about how you can improve on nonverbal communication, check out this online class that’ll teach you the ropes. 

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8. Ask open-ended questions.

Open-ended questions are queries that require a detailed answer. Unlike its counterpart, close-ended questions that can only be answered with a “yes” or “no,” open-ended questions aim to expound on the concerned matter. 

This is a critical practice to keep the conversation going. Doing so prevents the person from uttering single-word replies, which is pretty awkward, to be frank. Instead, try to be more creative and shoot exciting questions that the person may willingly answer. 

9. Avoid talking relentlessly.

Conversations are two-way streets. You have your turn to talk—the same goes with the one you’re talking to. Don’t ruin the conversation by filling every gap with your own follow-up story. Sometimes, it’s better just to nod, say an affirmative statement, and encourage them to continue talking. 

When you make the conversation about yourself, people will feel like you’re too egocentric. It’s not healthy, and they might start avoiding you for that exact reason. It’s draining to deal with someone who doesn’t stop talking

10. Encourage others to share.

We brushed on the part where you need to ask open-ended questions, and here’s another similar practice to keep the conversation going. To be a good communicator, encourage people to talk about themselves more. Ask them genuinely about how their day, their interests, career, family, and more. Showing your interest in knowing they will plant the seed of a potential friendship.

11. Maintain eye contact.

Maintaining eye contact falls under the nonverbal communication skills you need to learn. However, it deserves the highlight as the habit has a massive impact on how people feel about you. When you practice maintaining eye contact with people you’re talking to, it makes you appear sincere and interested in the topic. 

On the contrary, avoiding eye contact may mean you are insincere, indifferent, and worse, lying. Thus, you need to learn how to maintain eye contact to become a more effective communicator. 

12. Take up classes to improve your social skills.

Several more habits can help you learn how to improve social skills. If you want to dig deeper on those, you can rely on reliable resources to guide you throughout, like this online course from Skill Success, Social Skills for Business and Personal Improvement. This class will teach you precisely what it takes to become more effective in communicating with others.

Ready to learn how to improve social skills? Click here to get started.

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