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How To Improve Your Social Skills

Dr. Agya Jit Singh

Hardeep (name changed) was a very studious student when I was working as a school teacher at Chandigarh. He was introvert, shy but snobbish in nature. He used to stand first in his class. He completed degree in mechanical engineering and joined an organization as an engineer. One of his classmates, Sandeep (named changed) was an average student in studies but extrovert, smart and jovial in nature. He did civil engineering but could not find a suitable job. He joined M.B.A. where he sharpened his social skills. After completing his management studies, he was able to find a job as  personnel manager in the same organization. After few years, by the dent of hard work and social qualities, he was made CEO and later on promoted as vice-president of the company where Hardeep was also working. He did not relish being his subordinate as he was quite superior to him in academic matters in the school. He felt frustrated and left the job and joined some other organization as an engineer. Due to the social skills the later student rose to a good position. Social skills matter a lot to be successful in life and to be effective in one’s professional life.

Social skills are the most important attribute of human personality. Developing the charismatic personality of a human being is one of the main objectives of modern education. Personality is not which appears only overtly but it also involves the inner beauty of a person. What the covert qualities a person possesses cover the basic dimensions of one’s personality. A well-integrated personality means that a man is physically fit, mentally alert, emotionally matured and socially adjusted. In fact social adjustment is the main prerequisite of one’s personality. Social adjustment depends how a person has developed his social skills.    
Social skill is the ability to respond to a given environment in a manner that produces, maintains and enhances positive interpersonal relationships.  Social skill is a part of man’s total social competency, which is the overall social functioning. It includes a composite or a multitude of generalized social skills. Social competency can be improved by teaching social behavior or social skills. It is also related with the process of socialization.

Social skills are a group of skills that human beings use to interact and communicate with others. Communication is one of the components of social skills. Communication may be verbal or nonverbal. Verbal communication includes talk or conversation with others, cracking and sharing jokes with others, sharing views and discussing ideas which may be related to politics, current events, religion, fashion, music, technology, sports or movies etc. These are the common topics, which are discussed among friends while conversing with others. How much exertive and impactive you are in convincing others to your view points shows your smartness, ingenuity, knowledge, way of expression and also the technique of presenting your ideas to others.

The verbal talk should be in a sequence and in smoothness of delivery i.e. it should avoid stuttering or giving any awkward pauses etc. Your speech should be audible and comprehensive i.e. neither too loud or harsh or too soft or slow. Your speech should help in getting ideas across  i.e. words are designed to grab the attention of the listener.

The non-verbal communication includes how patient listener you are and secondly how your body language works. What are your actions, reactions and responses to others in your movements, gestures, facial expression etc? Moreover how much confidant you are in your stance i.e. standing up straight, putting your eyes into the eyes of others while conversing.  It will enhance your confidence. Your body language should also be attuning to your verbal message.

Good communication helps a person to develop self-expression in speech, which should be fluent, flawless and rhythmic. Self-expression will definitely increase the self-confidence, which will enhance your self-image, self-concept, self-prestige and self-esteem. Hence communication is one aspect of social skills.

The following guidelines are suggested which will help you in increasing and improving your social skills.

- Have a positive attitude towards others. Positive attitude will lead to positive thinking and positive action.
- Be optimistic in life. Never think of the adversities likely to occur.
- Have a pro-social behavior. Develop the feeling of altruism and imbibe a helping attitude to others.
- Consider the good and positive qualities of others and ignore their negative points..
- Express empathy in thoughts by giving accurate picture of the situation.
- Give kind and sympathetic hearing to show that you understand the whole matter.
- Work with smile and show your smiling and pleasing face to others while greeting.
- Show good mannerism while interacting with others.
- Be broad-minded and ignore the trivial matters
- Make peace with the past. Forget the unpleasantness of the past, face the present with reality and think about the future rationally..
- Adopt the policy of forget and forgive.
- Be very objective and don’t criticize others for nothing.
- Don’t give disparaging remarks even if you don’t agree on some arguments.
- Ask for help when you need it
- Participate in the discussion when it is being held in a group of your peer mates.
- Encourage others when it is required and praise others when it is needed.
- Give feedback to your friend when he is wrong and convince him without any rancor.
- Say kind words in the conversation.
- Accept the differences and listen to them patiently.
- Try to resolve conflicts amicably when they occur.

These social skills are very useful in transforming one’s life. They can bring incredible effectiveness in your professional life. They can add new meaning and purpose to your life. They act as motivational tools and energize you to work more and more at your work place. You can win over friends with your pleasant demeanor and lead a happy, harmonious and prosperous social life.

(Dr. Agya Jit Singh, Retd. Head Dep’t of Psychology, Punjabi University, Patiala. )

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