Career Development

How to Develop Social Skills for Work

Social skills are important in any industry and work environment. Learning about social skills and how to develop them can help you excel throughout the hiring process. Developing social skills can also improve your performance in your current job. Follow the steps in this article to develop social skills for the workplace.

What are social skills?

Social skills are the ability to effectively interact with others in different situations. Also known as soft skills or interpersonal skills, it involves using verbal and nonverbal communication to deliver a message, understand instructions and be a more helpful team member. All industries require social skills to work with coworkers, managers and customers. 

Including social skills on your resume and demonstrating them during the interview process can show you’re capable of performing the job. You should consider learning more about which social skills you have and where you can improve to be a more competitive candidate.

Examples of social skills include:

  • Communication. This skill could be written, verbal and nonverbal. It involves how you speak or write to others and how you present yourself. 
  • Conflict resolution. An important skill in many workplaces, conflict resolution is your ability to agree to a course of action with others. You may use conflict resolution to develop team goals, better assist customers and solve problems. 
  • Negotiation. The ability to find a reasonable solution for everyone involved in a situation involves good negotiation skills. Negotiation can be useful to close deals, agree on a salary or raise and develop goals that work for an entire team. 
  • Emotional intelligence. This skill is the ability to interpret a person’s body language and speech, and then respond accordingly. To develop emotional intelligence, it’s important to pay close attention to details to fully understand the conversation. 
  • Active listening. When having a conversation or during a meeting, you need active listening skills to ensure you understand the message of the speaker. Active listening could involve taking notes or asking questions when you need clarification. 
  • Teamwork. Most workplaces require you to work with others. Teamwork is a social skill that can help you collaborate with your coworkers to complete tasks and goals. 

How to improve your social skills

Here are some ways you can improve your social skills:

1. First, ask someone you trust for constructive feedback on your social skills

One of the first steps you can take to improve your social skills is asking for feedback. You can ask your coworkers, trusted friends or family members for constructive feedback about your social skills. They should be able to tell you what social skills you already have and what you can work on. For example, a coworker could tell you that you speak clearly, but that you could look more confident if you keep your shoulders back. 

If you need to, ask for specific examples so you can get a full perspective. That way, you can better identify specific areas to improve. It can also be helpful to ask for feedback throughout the process. If you’re unsure of your progress when developing certain social skills, you ask others to see if you’re excelling or if you need to change your course of action. 

2. Second, make a list of your current social skills

After you get feedback, make a list of your social skills so you can evaluate them. Consider how you interact with others, the way you sit and stand, if you make eye contact, and if you smile at the appropriate times. You can also read through emails and other written forms of communication you’ve sent to learn more about your written social skills. 

3. Third, focus on the skills that you can improve

Once you have your list, determine where you can improve. Look at the feedback you got from others and how it fits into your list. There may be some similarities between the feedback and your list. These similarities are likely a good foundation for your improvement.

For example, if a family member suggested to make your written communication a little more clear and you also wrote that you needed to develop your email correspondence skills, this could be a good place to start. 

4. Fourth, set realistic goals that will keep you motivated

The next step is to make goals that you can meet in order to develop your social skills. Create specific goals that you can measure to see your progress. These goals can help you stay motivated throughout the process, making them easier to achieve. 

It may be easier to separate your goals into smaller objectives. For example, if you want to improve your listening abilities, an objective could be taking notes during a phone call. Your next objective could be to give a summary of what someone said during a conversation to ensure you understood the message.

5. Fifth, take self-improvement courses

There are many courses and classes available to help you develop certain social skills. You can take courses online that you can complete at your own pace. There are also many classes that cover a wide range of social skills all at once. For example, a public speaking class can improve your verbal communication and body language. 

You can also attend local seminars that help with social skills like negotiation and conflict resolution. These seminars could last a weekend or a day, or you could watch a webinar online. 

6. Finally, practice your new skills in the workplace

You can continually develop and improve your social skills by practicing. Take as many opportunities as you can to develop these abilities. There are many ways you can practice daily at work. 

For example, starting a conversation with a coworker about a hobby or interest can be a good way to work on your verbal communication and active listening skills. Volunteering for group projects can help your teamwork and active listening skills.