Social Skills: 7 Characteristics to Develop

description: Is social competence something that you can develop? What steps should you follow to boost your social skills? Let’s find that out!


Social Skills — What Qualities are Worth Pursuing?

There are many myths and misconceptions about what social skills really are.

But if it is not about being outgoing, talkative, and the heart and soul of the party, then what is it all about?

We have made an attempt to put together some thoughts on what social competence might be. All of the seven points on the list below are the attributes and behaviors that we believe you can develop. And it doesn’t matter whether you are introvert or extrovert, shy or fearless, a party priss or a lone wolf, and so on.

1. To Accept Rules and Norms

Nowadays, it may be perceived a bit old-fashioned to call into question the existing rules and norms. In fact, shouldn’t one be norm-critical at all?

Absolutely not. But that does not mean that all standards are bad.

At the most basic level, social competence is actually about following norms, e.g., arriving on time for meetings, being well-groomed and presentable, acting polite and civilized, not having the southern state flag tattooed on one’s forehead, and so on. Many employers have testified that young people and young adults have problems with this particular type of social skills.

2. Listen Actively

This is a trait that almost all people can get better at. Listening actively is something quite different from just being quiet and waiting for your turn to speak.

An active listener interprets and evaluates what they hear and waits for their turn to join the conversation. Get rid of the idea that you have to reply at all costs – instead, just listen and put in your two cents when it is least expected and interesting for both you and your interlocutor.

It can also apply not only to your personal communication but in class. If you don’t want to have to order an essay from, listen to your professor!

3. Give and Take

The ability to give and take is closely related to active listening. It’s about sharing one’s own interests and knowledge – and taking in what others have to offer. Whoever teaches others shouldn’t neglect an opportunity to be taught themselves, and anyone who gives advice should also be able to take advice.

A socially competent person is aware that socialization is all about exchanging information. If your colleague listens to your story about a hockey match, then you should also listen to your colleague’s report on their fly fishing trip. Don’t just respond by saying that you are not interested. Give and take.

4. See Things From Other People’s Perspective

How does a party animal think? What’s going on in the head of a stamp collector? Seeing things from the perspective of others is partly a matter of empathy. It is also about trying to figure out, on a purely intellectual level, how other people think.

You can practice this ability in a simple and fun way. Imagine being a completely different person with completely different experiences and values. You can do it for an hour, a day, or a week, but don’t make it too easy on you. Choose a perspective you really don’t understand or don’t like and try to embrace it wholeheartedly.

Certainly, there may be reasons to genuinely dislike some people’s opinions and values. But if you want to be empathic – and socially competent – then you have to be able to see the world from other people’s perspectives. Even if that perspective feels absolutely weird and foreign to you.

5. Contribute to the Common Good

Contributing is basically about seeing oneself as equally responsible. Why not stay after the meeting and remove the coffee cups?

Now and then, you have to forget about your ego and do things that are good for the common good. If other people do something for the sake of the group, why shouldn’t you? And why not start now?

6. Dare to be Vulnerable

Most people are afraid to be vulnerable. Many of us tend to live in a shell where no one can hurt us, which unfortunately also means that no one can come close to us.

For those who have the courage to be vulnerable, it’s a great way to get closer to other people and make them relax and feel confident. To become socially competent, you simply have to dare to take risks and “expose yourself” to other people, no matter how uncomfortable you are. Do it step by step, and you will never regret it.

7. Say “Good Morning,” “Thank You,” and “Excuse Me”

Last but not least, social competence is a characteristic that resides in the language, in its small and seemingly insignificant words. Do you say “good morning” when you come to work and “hello” when you return home? Do you greet the cashier in the grocery store? Do you say “thank you” when someone holds a door for you? Do you say “sorry” when you made a mistake, even if it is something really insignificant?

Such minor things can have a surprisingly heavy impact on other people’s moods and the way they perceive you. Say “good morning”, “thank you” and “excuse me” every day. Do not murmur as if it were embarrassing for you to use these words. Instead, say them loud and clear, so everybody knows that you really mean what you are saying.

So, what do you think of these seven points? Can they be used to describe the concept of social competence? Which ones would you add or remove from the list?