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8 social skills examples: How socializing can take you to the top

July 27, 2022 - 13 min read

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What are social skills?

Why are they important?

5 components of social skills

6 benefits of social skills

8 social skills examples

The role of social skills in the workplace

Your next step: How to include social skills on your resume

As a preschooler, developing our social skills was a core part of our education. We learned how to share toys, say “Yes, please” when offered snacks, and play nicely with others. 

We’re still exercising those skills in adulthood but in different ways. When we’re in social situations, we need to know how to get along with others and show respect.

Nobody wants to be the person who barges in without any social graces. We understand intrinsically that mastering these social skills is key to building both personal and professional relationships.

But that’s easier said than done. After preschool, people become less and less likely to call us out for our bad behavior. When our social skills are lacking, we often find ourselves alone before we’re given the opportunity to improve them. 

Changing these skills as an adult isn’t easy. We’re much more conscious of what others think of us. Depending on the traits we identify with, trying to change or improve our social skills might feel uncomfortable. We often mistake habitual communication patterns for authenticity.

In truth, we all have times when we feel confident and at ease, and we all have times when we don’t know what to say. 

Being quiet and shy doesn’t mean that you don’t have outstanding social skills. Conversely, being an extrovert who loves meeting new people doesn’t necessarily mean you have superb social skills, either. 

We can always find ways to improve our social and communication skills. The truth is, social skills aren’t one-sided. In other words, it’s not just about what you do or say, but understanding how you’re perceived by others.

It takes understanding different examples of social skills, why they’re essential, and how you can use them to your advantage.

What are social skills?

Our social skills are how we approach and communicate in social interactions.

Also known as interpersonal skills, people use many different social skills to communicate. These include nonverbal communication skills (like facial expressions or body language) and spoken conversation.

We use our social skills to make good impressions on hiring managers, make new friends, and interact with people respectfully. 

We appreciate social skills because they’re important to developing our personal and professional relationships. As far as soft skills go, these ones are vital. We rely on our social skills to make ourselves and others feel more comfortable.

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Why are they important?

The way we communicate with others will always have importance. The more we can effectively articulate what we want to say, the better others will understand us. They won’t be confused about how we feel, and our well-being will thrive.

Good social skills also help with problem-solving, conflict resolution, and emotional intelligence. If a friend or family member is upset, our social skills help us offer advice or support. Similarly, in romantic relationships, these skills allow us to develop trust and an emotional bond with our partners. 

It doesn’t matter what industry you work in, either because social skills help all of us grow our networks. Meeting new people or being a good team member isn’t as challenging when you know how to interact with others — and it’s always important. 

Ultimately, strong social skills benefit our friendships, romantic relationships, and workplace relationships, and even make your day-to-day interactions more pleasant.  

A BetterUp coach can help you develop the communication skills you need to articulate your thoughts and feelings with confidence and build your connection with others.

Your social health is a critical part of your Whole Person. We can work with you to strengthen your social skills to better care for your social health.

5 components of social skills

Social skills aren’t as straightforward as introducing yourself, or how well you can answer a question. Apart from verbal skills, there are many other components involved in successful communication. 

According to psychiatrists John N. Constantino, Thomas Przybeck, Darrin Friesen, and Richard D. Todd (2000), there are five components of social skills to be aware of: 

1. Social awareness: How we pick up on social cues, like when it’s our turn to talk or when someone wants to leave.

2. Social cognition: How we process the social signals we encounter and respond accordingly.

3. Social communication: How we reciprocate and respond when someone expresses non-ball cues or communicates verbally.

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4. Social motivation: Things that compel us to respond, like expressing empathy or social anxiety.

5. Autistic mannerisms: Behaviors that people with autism engage in, like repetitive behavior or tics.

6 benefits of social skills

People are inherently social, and they want to interact — and connect — with others in meaningful ways. When we can communicate clearly with others, it does much more than just put us at ease. 

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Here are six benefits of having good social skills:

  1. Helps us build strong relationships with friends, family, and colleagues
  2. Reduces risk of heart disease and high blood pressure
  3. Combats loneliness and social isolation
  4. Boosts our self-esteem and builds self-confidence
  5. Increases our productivity and job performance
  6. Builds stronger mental health and overall happiness

8 social skills examples

As we talk about how important social skills are, we need to highlight poor social skills. Take a moment and think about how you behave when you’re at a party for your friend, or when you’re at work and you have to deal with rude clients.

What kind of social skills do you put on display? What makes the difference between “good” and “bad” social skills??

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Here are some strong and poor social skill examples:

Strong ones

  • You make eye contact with people you’re talking to
  • You practice active listening when someone’s expressing themselves
  • If a friend or colleague is upset, you express empathy and compassion
  • You respect people’s personal space and boundaries

Poor ones

  • You don’t acknowledge others, invite them, or try to include them in activities
  • You say hurtful and offensive things to people in times of conflict
  • You interrupt people when they’re talking
  • You don’t take responsibility for your actions or apologize

The role of social skills in the workplace

A business relies on employees at every level to work together to accomplish its goals, and the power (and influence) of good social skills in the workplace can make or break a team. 

When a new co-worker joins a workplace, it tests their and existing team members’ social skills. It takes time to build relationships and trust. Team building doesn’t happen overnight, but team members find ways to click with excellent social skills. 

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Morale is boosted, and so is productivity. People are more inclined to learn new skills, challenge themselves, and offer guidance. When everyone cooperates, it’s easier to trust one another to do their job and focus on your own tasks. 

On the other hand, when a team lacks strong social skills, their work and well-being pay the price. If they lack respect for each other’s emotions and feelings, it could create a toxic workplace.  

A team with poor social skills will struggle to understand each other well, and they can’t communicate effectively about projects, deadlines, and more. Plus, it makes teamwork a nightmare. Employees don’t work well together so their productivity plummets and they start to enjoy their job less and less.

Your next step: How to include social skills on your resume

Nobody is born with perfect social skills. They take time to develop and start from a young age, and they never stop improving. Our skills grow when we try new things or experience new social situations.

Sometimes we make mistakes or we don’t come across how we wanted to, but that’s okay. Signals get crossed and it can confuse others — or even ourselves. What matters is that we take the time to be self-aware, consider our social presence, and do our best to be understood. 

One place that really matters is on our resumes. When we apply to new jobs, we want our values, goals, and skills to come through. 

Here are some tips on making your skills shine, even on a piece of paper.

  • Use keywords like cooperation, listening, and empathy
  • Don’t forget to convey that you’re interested and passionate about the work
  • Make your cover letter count and include specific examples of your social skills in action
  • Show respect for the company you’re applying to
  • Read the job description carefully and follow all instructions

Find someone to help you stay focused on your long-term goals. A BetterUp coach or mentor will provide the accountability you need to strengthen your social skills so that your professional and personal life will flourish.

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Published July 27, 2022

Allaya Cooks-Campbell

BetterUp Staff Writer

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