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How Many Social Skills Will Make You Successful?

Aug 4, 2008
The thing with social skills is that just having a couple won't make you succeed socially. It's a collection of skills, ranging from being able to introduce yourself and knowing what to say after "hello," to non-verbal communication to giving feedback and a whole bunch of other skills in between. We find ourselves in many different situations everyday where we need a combination and variety of skills to make us socially well-rounded.

Will good social skills make you the most popular person at work or at school? Probably not, but they will help you make friends easier and be more comfortable in group settings. They'll also help you build your self-confidence so that you're more willing and less stressed to go out to be with and meet other people.

Like any skill, social skills have to be learned. We may start off knowing several of the "biggies," like saying please and thank you, but there are also many more subtle yet valuable skills that take some conscious awareness to recognize and rehearse. Over time and with practice, social skills become more natural. The length of time it takes to be socially proficient depends on you and how much you're willing to think about what to do and how to act in social situations and how often you put yourself in places where you're meeting people and building relationships.

But just going out and being around people doesn't make you socially skilled. It means that you go out a lot. It means that you're not at home by yourself. It means that you've gone to the company picnic every year. It doesn't mean, necessarily, that you have the skills to interact well with those around you. Having good social skills requires action and one that doesn't always improve as your social attendance increases.

At the end of the day, if you're establishing and building various types of relationships, contributing to them, maintaining and growing them, then you've got social skills. If you're not and your relationships are non-existent to poor, you can learn social skills and get to the point where you're not just with people, but have relationships with them. It may take a bit time, but it's doable. Just don't assume that if you know a couple social skills that you'll take a flying leap to the top of the social ladder. Learn a range of skills, practice them, use them and you'll be fine.
About the Author
Laurie Wilhelm manages the Express Yourself to Success website, a one-stop e-source with information and techniques on interpersonal and social skills, public speaking, networking and conflict resolution. Achieve your success by working effectively with others. Find out how you can boost your career and get a free white paper, What Everyone Needs to Know About Social Skills, by going to www.expressyourselftosuccess.com.
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