Social skills are an important component in both a personal and a professional capacity. Having strong social skills can help you excel in your career, perform well when interviewing, help you achieve career goals and expand your professional network. There are many specific skills that fall in the social skills category. In this article, we explore what social skills are, why they are important and examples of some of the most important interpersonal skills you should possess as a professional.
What Are Social Skills?
Social skills are skills that promote effective communication with others. There are various social skills as well as several different ways in which we communicate on a daily basis. Social skills include written, verbal, nonverbal and visual communication used to relay a message to others. Common ways in which you exercise your social skills are:
- The language you use
- The tone, pitch and volume of your voice
- Physical gestures you make
- Your facial expressions
- Your body language
- Eye contact with others when communicating
Working as a team with other employees, keeping your emotions in check in stressful situations and communicating with clients and team members are some of the situations where social skills need to be applied when working in a professional environment.
Why Are Social Skills Important For Professionals?
Social skills, also referred to as soft skills or interpersonal skills, are important because they enable you to foster and maintain meaningful relationships with employers, colleagues and network contacts. No matter which industry you work in or the experience level you have, social skills are beneficial to and can elevate your professional career.
A few of the many ways that good social skills can benefit your career include that they:
- Allow you to effectively work as a team on projects
- Let you share your own perspective in an effective manner
- Help you expand your professional network and stay updated on new opportunities
- Make the workplace more enjoyable
- Let you gain valuable feedback and referrals from those who can attest to your abilities
- Enable you to successfully communicate with employers, coworkers and clients
A good example of why social skills are important can be seen in the interview process for a new job. During the hiring process, recruiters and human resource personnel concentrate on understanding you as a person based on how you conduct yourself in the interview. They read your cover letter and resume to understand your ambition and achievements. To understand your personality, they study your body language, listen to how you talk about yourself, the language you use and whether you maintain eye contact.
Examples Of Important Social Skills In The Workplace
The following are a few of the many important social skills you should possess as a professional:
- Active listening
- Conflict resolution
- Written and verbal communication
- Relationship management
The ability to observe serves you well in a professional setting. Though it comes naturally to some and is closely associated with people who are slightly introverted, anyone can develop this trait by trying to pay attention to what is going on in the lives of people around them, in both educational and professional environments.
Detaching yourself from your surroundings while observing how others behave in given situations can help you understand complex concepts such as group dynamics, group mentality, relationships between others, non-verbal communication and a general understanding of colleagues and their personalities.
Active listening is the ability to pay attention to a person when they are communicating with you without interrupting or losing focus. Active listeners are able to pay close attention to others when they speak, as well as show respect for what the other person is saying. You can improve your active listening skills by avoiding distractions while communicating, focusing only on the speaker and demonstrating that you understand what the other person is saying through your body language and by expressing your concern or appreciation.