We're creating a range of training toolkits at Pick Everard, designed to help our people learn on the go on a range of soft skill subjects. As we were researching new ideas for one on communication skills I stumbled across the below blog from a civil engineer, sharing ideas on how to be more socially successful. I think it's got a great range of easy to access ideas and it got me thinking about my own tips in this area.
Improving our social skills can help us get the most out of many social situations, whether it be developing new networks, business development, creating stronger working relationships, or holding more constructive conversations generally. For some it seems to come so naturally, others have to work hard at it. It's important to keep practising our skills in this area for them to really stick, so here's some ideas for you to try out along the way.
- Do more and share more: When we invest in ourselves we become much more well rounded and we enrich our experiences of life. This in turn increases the chance of us having the same shared experiences as someone else. It's much more effortless to click with others when you have common ground. Doing more and taking an interest in more will not only increase your confidence, it will mean you have a wider range of people to relate to, and if you open up more about yourself, it will be so much easier to find that common ground quickly.
- Focus on meaningful conversations: Cain (2017) suggests that if you're introverted your focus should be on having more meaningful conversations, rather than more conversations in general. Research has shown that the happiest people have twice as many substantive conversations and engage in much less small talk, than the unhappiest.
- See things through the eyes of others: Actively seeking to understand things through the eyes of others has multiple benefits. To quote just a few examples from Johnson & Johnson (1989) 'perspective-taking results in more information, both personal and impersonal, being disclosed; increases the capacity to phrase messages so that they are easily understood...increases understanding and retention of the other’s information and reasoning...and promotes more positive perceptions of the interaction, the other person, and the joint cooperative efforts.' Put yourself in the other persons shoes and ask more questions.
- Develop your emotional resilience and regulation: It's important to learn how to manage your emotions, rather than let them manage you. This might start with recognising what triggers unhelpful behaviours and developing your own personal strategies for dealing with setbacks and disappointments. Learn to process it and respond to it more effectively rather than directing your frustrations at others.
- Cooperate, collaborate and compromise: Recognise that you can't always be right. Sometimes it is appropriate to come to joint agreements or drop the debate all together. Recognise that there are times to push your point and times to let go a little for the needs of someone else and the wider group. Adapt your style and develop your skills in handling conflict in different modes (Thomas-Kilmann).
- Know your audience and adapt your communication style: Anticipate what will be of most importance to your audience when you're communicating - whether that be with an individual or a group. Think about what is most relevant and of interest to them, explore this with them and take an interest in what they say. Adapt your content, tone and level of detail. Carefully position what you are saying. In any communication the focus should be on the needs and interests of the receiver, for it to have maximum impact.
- Mirror: Pay attention to body language and social cues. Look open to starting a conversation and approach people (don't always expect them to approach you). Then mirror and match them - in your stance, your posture, the energy and pace of the conversation and the direction it is going in. High-energy conversations aren’t meant to be intellectually stimulating and you don't always have to be thoughtful or thought provoking.
We are all a bit egocentric and we tend to LOVE people who are interested in our stories. Interested people are interesting. Ask people questions. Try to learn something you did not know before from your interlocutor.