Not everyone has an easy time getting out, meeting people, and making friends. Some individuals tend to avoid social situations because of the anxiety and discomfort they might experience. Others are simply introverted and like spending time alone rather than being surrounded by people. No matter which category you fall into, it’s still best to cultivate healthy social skills and effective strategies for communication with others.
Why Do You Need Social Skills?
Having a solid set of social skills allows you to communicate, relate to, and connect with other people. This is essential for establishing friendships and navigating your way through life with a better degree of satisfaction. It can be surprising how many doors open in life and how many opportunities can fall into your lap when you have good social skills. Now, how can you develop and build those skills?
1. Learn Nonverbal Communication
Social skills are about much more than just speaking. Nonverbal cues also go a long way in building trust and connecting with people. Make eye contact when speaking with someone, give an occasional nod to indicate you’re listening, and display open body posture so you don’t seem closed off.
2. Ask Your Friends and Family
Rather than trying to improve social skills all on your own, get some help from friends and family. Ask them how they feel about your current social skills, how they would grade them, and how you can improve. You have your own ideas about how you present yourself to the world, but by talking to someone close to you, you can gain deeper insights you might not have realized before. Your friends and family will also be there for you when you are ready to move forward and learn other important life skills.
3. Use Everyday Interactions to Your Benefit
Everyday errands or activities present the perfect opportunity for you to build your social skills. Try branching out when you go to the grocery store or out for a walk, check the mail, or get something to eat. While you might hate small talk, sometimes it can lead to a great conversation. Making an effort can go a long way. Remember to integrate the nonverbal skills touched on above.
4. Learn How to Keep a Conversation Going
A great conversation is like a fire on a frigid day; it keeps you warm, comfortable, and engaged on various levels. Going back to small talk, you can use it as a doorway to have a deeper conversation. Once you’ve talked about the weather or have made a surface observation about a person, such as an article of clothing, you can ease into a topic that’s a bit more personal. For example, you can ask about family, personal feelings, and relationships. Stick to open-ended questions, and try to talk just as much as you listen.
5. Learn How to Say “No”
Learning to say “no” is just as important as learning to say “yes.” Refusing a request, no matter how minor, shows you know your limits and what you’re comfortable with. Know that you don’t have to explain your reasons for refusing and embrace it. You will see that others respect you saying “no” more than you would expect them to. Saying no to a request will give you time to care for yourself, which is a way of recharging your batteries for your next social interaction.