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A 100% Scientific Guide to Developing Your Social Skills

The science of social relations remains a great unknown to many. There are still people who believe that charisma is not learned, that one is born with social skills. Or that they must feign confidence and confidence to succeed. Or that if they open emotionally they will be vulnerable and people will hurt them. For many years I also believed similar things. That’s why in this article you will not find anything based on opinions or beliefs.

What you are going to read is scientifically contrasted information that will help you understand what social skills are, why they can become your best ally to be happy and a simple system that will allow you to improve them from today. Let’s start. Keep reading: How to learn and remember new vocabulary forever!

How to develop social skills

how to develop social skills

What are social skills: definition

Although there is no single accepted definition, social skills can be defined as the communication tools , both verbal and non-verbal, that we use to relate to other people in an effective and healthy way .

These skills are closely linked to the way we judge ourselves ( our self-esteem ), so they are not simply isolated behaviors. And is that if we do not feel we deserve to be respected, we can hardly ask to be respected .

Nor is it necessary to be extroverted or the soul of the party to be socially skilled. This is a stereotype that, thanks to the work of researchers like Dr. Susan Cain , is beginning to be rebutted.

Avoid being the center of attention or prefer the company of a good book instead of a social act should not be obstacles to be able to relate in a brilliant way. Because social skills also consist of being able to adjust your behavior to the different situations you find.

However, many people still believe that they are born with social skills or without them. But social skills are learned . What happens is that you did it at such an early age that you do not remember doing it consciously.

But you did it. During your early childhood you were observing, copying and modifying the behaviors that you saw in others. And that means that, even if it takes an effort, you can do the same once adult.

The importance of social skills

how to develop social skills

It is paradoxical that during school we learn to solve double integrals, a knowledge that we probably never need again, and we do not receive any training on how to communicate in an assertive and empathic way.

And is that social skills are much more important than people think. Its usefulness is not limited to resolving conflicts, being convincing or having interesting conversations . Its usefulness will condition your entire life.

An investigation followed the lives of 724 participants for 75 years! and his conclusions were that what matters most in this life is the quality of our relationships.

Happy people with social skills

Your professional successes, the relationship with your friends and the image you project depend on your social skills, not your knowledge or university degrees. That’s why your ability to relate to people is essential to be happy .

In fact, in an investigation of the University of Stanford where it was tried to find what factors led to the professional success, it was observed as 10 years after having finished the studies they were the students with greater social abilities and capacity to express themselves those that had obtained better positions labor

The more communicative and determined students were able to sell themselves and their products or services, something critical to stand out as a manager. On the other hand, shy students tended to end up in technical positions and paid less.

A similar investigation showed other material benefits: more assertive workers earned more money, specifically about an additional $ 600,000 during a career of 40 years. However, those employees who expected salary increases to reach them on their own merits almost never ended up getting them.

The importance of social skills is indisputable: not only will you earn more money, but you will be happier .

Types of social skills

how to develop social skills

There is also no agreed classification for these skills. There are authors who organize them between basic social skills (behaviors that do not require too much effort such as listening, asking, thanking, etc.) and advanced (opinion, apologize, persuade, etc), while others separate them by topics such as the ability to say no , ask for favors or make requests, express feelings or initiate and maintain conversations.

In my opinion, a more logical classification would be based on the issuer, the receiver and the purpose of the communication.

  • Self-esteem (how you relate to yourself)
  • Self-control (how you manage your emotions)
  • Assertiveness (how you express your ideas and opinions)
  • Conversation (how you exchange information)
  • Persuasion (how do you affect the opinion or attitude of others)
  • Empathy (how you perceive the feelings of others)
  • Presence (how you make others feel)

Although all are related to each other, this classification allows differentiating social skills into three major sections: Confidence, Communication, and Connection skills.

Type and classification of social skills

Improving these skills is a process of acquiring habits, and as such, requires training and repetition of behavior. Although this process often occurs unconsciously in young children, it is also possible to do it voluntarily through a social skills training program.

In adults, it has also been empirically demonstrated that it is possible to develop them , but it usually requires more effort and perseverance.

The main obstacle is that, due to the widespread idea that they are innate, until recently the results of scientific studies about what types of behaviors and beliefs are most beneficial have not begun to be disclosed.

In fact, this lack of knowledge is the culprit that our usual response to a given situation (a conflict during a conversation, an attempt to persuade, etc.) is precisely the least appropriate , as many scientific studies have shown.

For this reason, below you will find the concrete strategies that have proven to be most effective in improving your social and emotional relationships, ordered step by step so that you can begin to develop your skills from today.

Strategies to increase your confidence

how to develop social skills

We will start with the main thing, with four strategies that will allow you to overcome shyness, feel more confident and begin to relate to new people without fear.

The key is that you first learn to manage your emotions so they stop blocking you, and then I will show you two ways to increase self-confidence so that you feel more comfortable initiating new social contacts. Read also: 7 school tips for choosing the best business school

Trust strategies

1. Do not avoid your negative thoughts (or they will come back more strongly)

Imagine you have a first date with a person you just met in a contact portal. It’s attractive, fun and you have a lot of interests in common. No doubt you feel very attracted.

The most normal thing would be for you to have doubts before the appointment, right? If you’re not going to like it, if it’s too good for you if it’s going to bore you …

In this case, what is the main advice that people would insist on giving you again and again?

Probably something like “do not think about that and be sure of yourself” , right?

Most of us do not accept our negative thoughts in these types of situations. We try to hide them in the back of our minds and we try hard to pretend the opposite.

But contrary to what would seem logical, that is a fatal mistake.

In a classic study it was shown that the participants who tried to suppress a thought ended up experiencing it twice as many times as the participants who simply accepted it.

Avoid negative thoughts

how to develop social skills

Put another way: the more you try not to think about something, the stronger it will come back.

This rebound effect does not only occur with thoughts. It has been proven that it also occurs with emotions, and that it is one of the main causes of depression.

Do not try to suppress your negative thoughts and emotions. Let them exist and you will suffer less.

2. Recognize your emotions out loud to reduce their effect

Let’s go back to the previous situation. In addition to letting you get into negative emotions like anxiety or nerves, can you do something else to feel better?

Yes. Science has shown that the best thing you can do to reduce the impact of negative emotions such as anxiety, nervousness or sadness, is to stop hiding them and start talking about them.

3. Maintain a dominant position to feel more confident

There is a lot of talk about the effect of our nonverbal language on others, but what few people know is that it also exerts another type of influence on someone else: yourself.

Dr. Amy Cuddy, the author of one of the most-watched TED Talks of all time and co-author of an investigation into the effects of body posture on our mood, came to a surprising conclusion.

In his study, he observed how adopting a position of power (head up, shoulders back, arms outstretched or hands resting on the hips) had significant effects both at the hormonal level and on the behavior of the participants.

Power postures

how to develop social skills

The results were that their testosterone levels increased while those of cortisol, the stress hormone, decreased. They also felt more confident and willing to take risks.

The best of all? That just by staying in that position for a couple of minutes already got those effects.

Although some research is recently emerging that challenges these results, staying upright and in a dominant position before facing a stressful situation, such as a job interview or public presentation, can be a great way to feel a little more sure of yourself.

4. Never wait to feel confident before acting

If you ask me what is the main obstacle that limits the lives of timid people or with little confidence, it would not last a second in the answer.

Do you know that kind of people who are always preparing for something but who never finish taking the initiative?

Maybe they want to expand their circle of friends but they do not attend social events. Or they want to find a partner but do not dare to show their interest to a stranger. Or have spent years talking about leaving that job that both enslaves them but never finish taking the step.

The problem is that all these people, between whom you and I also meet, are waiting to feel safe before acting .

But waiting to feel a certain way before doing something is absurd. Did you expect to feel safe and calm before driving a car for the first time?

No. Still nervous, you sat in front of the wheel and started driving. And little by little, based on repeating it, you have been gaining confidence.

What does that mean? So first come the acts of trust, and then the emotions . However, 99% of people expect it to happen the other way around.

Do not wait until you feel confident before facing a challenge, because it will never happen. You will only develop your security if you first face him without confidence.

Strategies to communicate better

how to develop social skills

Assertiveness, as well as the ability to hold interesting conversations and your power of conviction, are fundamental to establish open and healthy social relationships.

So now that you know the main strategies to develop your confidence and feel less anxiety in the presence of strangers, we will see how you can communicate and talk better. Like also: 7 things we can learn from elders

5. Talking about your needs multiply your assertiveness

Ah, assertive communication. How to say what you really want to say without anyone feeling upset or laughing at you?

Well, according to the psychologist Marshall Rosenberg, the expert in conflict resolution and creator of non-violent communication, a process that allows us to exchange the necessary information to reach agreements in a peaceful way, the key is to show something that we all tend to hide: our needs.

If your boss tends to yell at you and disrespect you, instead of remaining silent or counterattacking, try adding your real need.

Assertiveness needs

Your need would be the human value that your boss attacks when you lack it. And do you know something? We all share the same needs for security, appreciation, identity, and freedom.

“When you scream at me it hurts because I need to feel a little more valued (your need). Would you mind quitting? “

Identifying and exposing your needs means opening yourself up, and when you open up you generate empathy and pleasure in others, as demonstrated by a famous social study . This makes it easier to be assertive.

6. The favorite conversation topic of the whole world

Even though you now know how to be assertive, you may still avoid meeting new people or chatting with strangers for fear of running out of conversation topics and not knowing what to say (as if the responsibility of a good conversation was only yours and not shared!).

I could put here a list of topics to take during a conversation, but what is interesting to me maybe for another person is not.

But do you know what science has shown that is always interesting?

7. And everyone’s favorite word

how to develop social skills

One of the first things I observed when I started studying the behavior of the most socially skilled people was that they usually repeated the name of the people they were talking to.

Some time later I discovered that what they did naturally also had a scientific explanation: it is proven that when we hear our name a region of the left hemisphere of the brain associated with pleasure is activated .

However, most people ask the name of our interlocutor at the end of the conversation. Sometimes we even ask him for modesty and we say goodbye without that information.

For this reason it is important that you introduce yourself and ask for his name as soon as possible , to call him for him during the conversation. This way you will stop being a complete stranger (you already know each other by the name) and you will make a better impression.

8. The magic word to persuade is not “please”

Do you have trouble asking for favors for fear of being told no? It should not be like that, since science says that refusing a favor is more difficult than it seems to us.

However, there is a way to be even more compelling when you ask for something. And no, it’s not adding “please” .

To be more convincing in your communication the magic word you should use is, simply, why .

In a famous study by Professor Robert Cialdini it was found that when a student asked to be let in the queue of the photocopier using a reason (a reason) his success rate increased significantly.

9. The communication style that generates maximum empathy

Do you sometimes have the feeling that people care little about what you are saying? Or that when you want to have an important conversation you usually get defensive or angry?

That’s because you do not use emotional communication .

We are accustomed to speak objectively, inflexibly and sharply, without communication being born of what we have observed and felt.

“This movie is very boring” is a stationary message. The movie is like that, and if it’s not for you, you’re defying my message.

On the other hand, “When I went to see this film I had many expectations, but I got bored enough” is a message that does not cause conflict, because the experiences and emotions that we feel can not be discussed . Are our. What I have felt does not have to be the same as you.

10. The most effective way to improve your own empathy

Do you know how to call people who lack empathy?

Psychopaths, So it never hurts to train our ability to connect with the feelings of others.

For many strategies that you have read, there is only one way to be more empathetic and understand other people: striving to understand them better.

Okay, there are studies that say that reading fiction novels, having a dog or meditating are useful, but the fastest way to achieve it is simply trying to put yourself on their skin. You may also like: