Get ahead in life

Everyone who wants to get ahead in life eventually figures out that to go anywhere in life, you must have social skills. If there were a recipe for a better quality of life interpersonal skills would be one of the top 5 for knowing how to develop social skills should be one of your top goals for attaining a greater good for yourself. Really good social skills allows you to interact with the decision makers who can help you be more successful, because successfully interacting with them means a better career and a better life. If you have ever gone to a social event and watched people move from one social group to another, talking easily and meeting new people while you stood in the corner and watched, then you probably need to work on your social skills. 


Just What Are Social Skills?

Social skills, specifically speaking, consist of active listening, persuasion, leadership, and delegation. Let’s start with the first social skill, active listening, because this is the skill that everyone needs to work on the most and is also the key to developing other social skills as well. A person who spends more time listening in a one on one conversation reaps rewards. Having the speaker see how much attention the listener has given to the dialogue gains great respect. Active listening is also important because unless you can listen to someone and hear what they are really saying - you cannot persuade, lead or delegate to them – the other social skills you need to master to improve your quality of life. 

If you notice, this first social skill is active listening. This is because active listening is different from just waiting until someone finishes what they are saying and then talking because it is your turn. Active listening means hearing what someone has to say and then responding. When you are actively listening, a correct response is to acknowledge that you have heard what the other person has said and that you understand it. 

A response like “I see,” or “Tell me more about...” or “How long have you felt this way?” are examples of what an active listener would say to another person after they have presented their point of view.  Active listening does not need any opinion about the person or their ideas. This is judgment, and is not a good social skill. Keep in mind that a constructive conversation leaves strong opinions out and sound more like a dialogue and less like a debate.

To develop your active listening skills, every time you are in conversing with someone, just tell them that you understand what they are saying and would like to hear more about how they feel. Imagine the amount of relief and gratitude one would have from hearing somebody tell that they understand what they are saying, opening up greater possibilities for richer much more satisfying relationships. Forget about what you think or your opinion, what you are trying to do here is build a relationship of trust. 

Once you master active listening, is time to master the art of persuasion. As an active listener, you can persuade people to see your point of view. This is because as an active listener, you can pinpoint the main thrust of someone’s argument. Then when they're done and believe that you understand them – they are open to let you persuade them to your point of view.  This is the give and take in conversation, when people feel that you have given them a listening ear in return they agree to do the same for you. If you haven’t yet read Dale Carnegie's book "How to Win Friends & Influence People," it is a great place to start. 

Once you can listen and then persuade people to your point of view you can become a leader. This is because people feel comfortable following someone who cares enough to listen and then give them an answer that is not only well-thought out, but also takes their point of view into consideration. That sense of admiration is what makes a leader so special. If a balance is present within the conversation, giving both the speaker and listener a chance to express themselves you have done your job. If you have ever been a conversation and had somebody continuously cut you off, turn away, and shout out over your words then you have tasted the ingredients of a bad conversation and know what I’m talking about. No one wants to follow a bully who talks over him or her; they want to follow an active listener who cares about them.


Of course, the last social skill to develop is delegation. Being a leader means not having to do everything yourself. Especially in the workplace, being a leader is the only way to get ahead. However, you must have people on your side and wanting to do things for you. You do this by being an active listener. If someone has a bad day, be their shoulder to cry on. If someone has a faster way to do something, let him or her do it and give him or her full credit. At their highest point, interpersonal skills are all about inclusion, not pushing people away. It’s about teamwork, not over board individualism. It’s about cooperation, not total control. If you are spending more time mastering your interpersonal skills then you are on the right track. People will want to follow you because you have mastered the most important social skill of all: active listening - and this social skill will make all the difference in your quality of life. 

Social Skills and Competences

Closing thoughts - Learn to improve your interpersonal skills