Building Social Skills - Business Results
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Building Social Skills

Building Social Skills

As Aristotle said, “man is by nature a social animal.” Relationships have always been the foundation of our ability to survive and thrive, and it is no different in business, where relationships and networking are the keys to the gates of success. But sometimes it can be difficult to gain or maintain the social skills needed to maintain those relationships. We can have personal stressors, mental health, or childhood issues that prevent those skills from forming properly.

So how do we develop those skills, or improve them if they’re already there? First, we must understand Emotional Intelligence (EI), which is just as it sounds – intelligence around emotions. EI examines your ability to recognize and understand your and others’ emotions, and your ability to behave according to that information. The five bases of EI are: self-awareness, self-regulation, internal motivation, empathy, and socialization.

The first two skills, self-awareness and self-regulation, deal with the recognition and management of your own emotions. The third, internal motivation, means that you are inspired to complete projects out of your own choice and inspiration rather than a reward, or external factor. The fourth skill, empathy, involves the awareness of the emotions of others around you and interpreting their social cues. Finally, socialization involves how you move through various social situations using the information gathered from the other four bases of E.I.

By being aware of what these skills are, they can be practiced, and you can develop and utilize your own EI There are three situations that many people struggle with where this practice is exceedingly helpful: confrontation, being heard in a group, and forming new relationships.

Confrontation sounds scary, but it doesn’t have to be. Conflict is how we generate discussion, that then allows us to accomplish goals and help everyone around us. Set aside time with the individual you need to talk to, so that the issue doesn’t feel rushed. Approach the situation with high self-awareness and empathy skills, as healthy confrontation needs to come from a place of being aware of how a situation made you feel as well as understanding of where the other person may be coming from. Use “I” statements to avoid blame and accusation.

Group meetings can be difficult to deal with. People talk over each other, thoughts are left unfinished, and sometimes it can just be all around chaos. Don’t fight the current, or you’ll get swept away by the tide. The best strategy is to go with the flow. Look for the best spots to jump in with relevant thoughts (keeping stories and side bars short), and when you do jump in, do so with confidence and speak loudly. Don’t let the group dynamics frustrate you; remember those self-awareness and regulation skills are your life buoy.

Initial meetings with strangers can be awkward. But if you practice a little bit of empathy, you may realize that almost everyone feels that way as well. Think about what that relationship may create for you and focus on the internal motivation to inspire you. In the end, whether the result is a new working relationship or a new friendship, awareness of the EI skills can smooth and uplift those first meetings.

Remember that not every social situation is black and white, and that there is no “correct” answer to them. But you can make them easier to navigate by practicing EI skills, to then strengthen your business relationships for the future.