Social skills: are they necessary to get along in the society?
Are social skills really necessary in present-day society? Has the use of technology reduced our ability to function socially and to communicate effectively? How do you develop good social skills and use them most effectively?
I am sure that you have experienced people in this world who seem to lack even the most basic of social skills. They are socially awkward and they are lacking in interpersonal communication skills. There are many people in this world who march through the world as if they are the “bull in the china shop,” he socially. These people do not seem to recognize that other people exist and must function in the same world, or in the same space, as they do.
In social relationships, these people may seem awkward and difficult to communicate with. They may seem insensitive and sometimes disruptive. They do not seem to understand basic social interactions and so they seem to blunder through social experiences in often entertaining ways. (It is entertaining only if you have the right attitude and can identify the shortcomings of these people. When you are not in the right mood, these behaviors may be very irritating and annoying. And the sad thing is, that these people do not even realize that they have been annoying or that their behaviors have been lacking in good social skill.
In business, the lack of interpersonal social skills can be a real detriment to success and to long-term positive business relationships. There are many job descriptions where the lack of social skills is more accepted and perhaps even valued, however, it can create very difficult and awkward in situations in the higher functioning business activities. In social and business situations, you are often, but not always, given one chance to make a good impression and can be forgiven for a single social faux pas. Repeated social awkwardness can label you as unworthy for long-term business relationships. Depending on the business situation, there are behaviors, vocabulary, dress codes, and presentation skills that can either support or deter business relationships. If you do not know the appropriate behaviors, your blunders may really get in your way.
But where do you learn good social skills that can help you in interpersonal relationships and business situations? Many children, very early in their lives, learn by watching and interacting with the people in their lives. If their parents do not have social skills or if they are left too long with their young peers, they may find it difficult to get along in school, business, and interpersonal relationships. It can often be embarrassing and from this embarrassment a person can either choose the path towards greater self-awareness and development of social skills or they can continue to isolate themselves. All of us have had our socially awkward moments, but most of us who have gained success, have learned from our mistakes or awkwardness and have developed better interpersonal skills and effective ways of communicating and leading other people. There are even some leadership programs such as Toastmasters where people can develop better communication and leadership abilities. People who refuse to develop these skills can still be successful but may have a more difficult path to follow.
With the use of technologies, more young people do not have face-to-face contact and the opportunities to develop good verbal and nonverbal communication skills. This may cause social awkwardness in school, in business, and in developing important interpersonal relationships. Sometimes we have to quit text messaging and actually sit eyeball to eyeball with another person to learn the skills of both verbal and nonverbal communication. An important consideration is that we learn to trust our gut feelings in social situations and learn to read the people that we are interacting with. Again, there can be many times when we make mistakes and come across as “communication challenged.” We must learn from these important experiences.
Sometimes we need to find a mentor or a coach who can help us develop our own personal insights, awareness, and interpersonal skills. Since these skills are not always taught in school, even in college, we must honor the importance of these experiences and abilities and pursue them to be able to achieve our highest levels of success. I challenge you to find the best situations and mentors so that you can develop these social skills and find the success that you deserve. (Organizations like Toastmasters may be a good place to start.)
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