Social skills involve picking up on social cues, interpreting the behavior of others, and interacting with others in positive ways. Examples of social skills may include self-confidence, problem-solving, being flexible and adaptable, displaying empathy, dealing with conflict, smiling, being polite, showing interest, actively listening, and many more. Necessary social skills can vary based on the social norms of a given culture or setting. Some social skills may be innate, but many can be learned. As Daniel Goleman noted in his book, Social Intelligence, a crucial component to acting wisely in relationships is to develop an understanding of how our moods or reactions are influenced by our interactions (past and present) with others and equally important, how our actions, words, and nonverbal behaviors make others feel and react to us.
Example of good social skills:
- Maintaining eye contact. When talking with individuals, it is important to maintain regular eye contact, but okay to look away so you do not remain in an awkward stare. In groups, make eye contact with different people in the group
- Being able to elicit conversations with and acknowledge others when walking into a room or entering a face-to-face social setting
- Taking turns when talking, not interrupting others
- Identifying a tone of voice that is not too loud, too soft, or monotone
- Considering the receiver’s emotional state and modifying your own speech if necessary
- Being able to empathize with others
- Laughing at appropriate times and refraining from laughter at inappropriate times
- Using appropriate body language and touch for certain settings
- Employing facial expressions that match what you or another is saying
- Being able to detect if the receiver does not understand what you are saying
- Asking for clarification if you do not understand what the other person is saying
These are just a few examples of good social skills. Ask your mentors or professionals you know what social skills they value in students or employees. Do you believe you have good social skills? Do others perceive your social skills the same way? You may want to do your own research among your friends and ask them to tell you how you might be portraying yourself to others.
Additional resources on social skills: