You could be the most qualified and skilled person for the job but be lacking in the social skills department, finding it extremely difficult to fit in and talk about anything other than work. Or you may be super chatty, but when it comes to networking events and public speaking you crawl into your shell and turn into a nervous wreck.
But if your job involves interacting with clients and colleagues on a daily basis, it might be time to invest in yourself and improve your social skills.
So, how do you go about beating the social phobia and developing good people skills? We’ve got you covered! These top tips will help you improve your interpersonal skills and become more confident and assertive in the workplace.
1. Show Interest in Others
This is such a simple social rule, but one many people forget. It’s all good and well being able to talk to others, but if you spend the whole time talking about yourself instead of asking about the other person, they will soon get tired of speaking to you.
So, start showing an interest in what others have to say, and you’ll soon notice how your relationship is blossoming.
2. Focus on Your Body Language
It’s not always about what you say; sometimes it’s about how you say it. You could be delivering a great piece of information but if you’re unenthusiastic about it, chances are nobody is going to take on board what you’re saying.
In the workplace, your body language needs to be open at all times, so stand up tall, sit up straight, keep your arms by your side and avoid crossing them. You may also want to monitor how your boss speaks to you and mimic his pose – remember: you want to appear confident, not shy and closed off.
3. Speak Clearly
In order to seem confident when you’re engaged in conversation, you need to speak clearly. If you find yourself mumbling, train yourself to speak slower and clearer so it doesn’t seem like you’re uninterested in the discussion.
4. Speak in an Acceptable Tone
As well as speaking clearly, you need to make sure that you’re speaking in an acceptable tone. You don’t want to speak too loudly and end up disrupting everyone around you. On the other hand, you don’t want to speak too softly and make others struggle to hear what you’re saying, either.
Figuring out how loud you should talk in a particular environment can be tricky, especially when you’re working in a quiet one. In this case, take notice of how your colleagues communicate and follow suit.
5. Work on Your Listening Skills
It’s one thing to hear someone and quite another to actively listen to them.
Have you ever engaged in conversation with a coworker and noticed that their attention has drifted mid-conversation? You can tell that they’re most likely thinking of what to have for lunch than listening your story. Rude, right? But you, too, might be guilty of doing this without even realising, so next time you find yourself in a discussion with someone, make sure you are all eyes and ears.
6. Socialise in New Settings
By placing yourself in social environments that you wouldn’t usually be involved in, you can build your confidence and overcome any anxiety you had. And the more you become accustomed to different situations and environments, the easier it will become.
Why not sign up for a dance class or another hobby you’re interested in and get to know new people?
7. Maintain Eye Contact
Take your eyes away from your phone or monitor for a second and look up when you’re speaking to someone else or being spoken to.
Even though today’s working environment is a fast-paced one, it’s important to keep a little humanity and give others the time of day that they deserve. I can’t stress how important eye contact is in the workplace is, so be sure to maintain it at all times (in a non-creepy way of course - you are allowed to blink).
8. Be Assertive, Not Aggressive
Having an opinion and sharing your passion about a specific subject is acceptable. However, be sure not to overstep the line and make the other person feel as if they are wrong or, even worse, stupid. If you are bordering on being offensive, then you should steer clear of the conversation before you engage in an unwanted and heated situation.
9. Choose Effective Communication Channels
Choosing the right communication channel in the workplace is essential. Oftentimes, messages can get misconstrued as there is no sense of emotion or feeling. In other words, if you want to deliver an important message, do so in person. If it’s something that’s unimportant, though, you can do this via email instead of interrupting someone’s workflow.
10. Be Flexible
Having an open and flexible mindset can help you in any social situation. You may feel as though your way is the best way, but unless you’re running the ship, accept what your boss is telling you and be open to their ideas. Without an accommodating attitude, you’ll miss out on opportunities to progress within the workplace.
11. Take on a Challenge
If you’re afraid of public speaking, offer to hold the next team meeting or prepare a presentation – do whatever it is you’re scared of doing at work to make you more sociable. You’ll learn how to discover different skills and build up the knowledge and experience to be more confident in these scenarios.
12. Remain Positive
A positive attitude is essential in any office environment – no one wants to be around the pessimist of the bunch who constantly criticises the boss and the company. It soon becomes tiresome and ineffective.
As Doug Sandler, the author of Nice Guys Finish First, says: ‘Highly social people tend to be very positive as well, making them much more likely to be successful’. So, stop feeling sorry for yourself and start looking at the positive in your life!
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13. Accept Criticism
It’s hard to accept criticism, especially if you’re a perfectionist, but none of us are perfect and we all make mistakes at times (I know, it’s hard to even admit that). Yet, constructive criticism is essential in order to progress at work.
When you’re presented with an opposing view, don’t jump on the defensive straight away. Take time to think about what is being suggested and whether it, in fact, is a better solution.
14. Be Respectful
Having good manners and being respectful of others is an essential social skill. Indeed, a simple ‘thank you’ can go a long way.
You should also be respectful of people’s personal space; you don’t want to come across as invasive by touching a colleague or constantly bothering them when they are busy.
15. Be Yourself
As Oscar Wilde once said: ‘Be yourself; everyone else is taken’. Although you should be mindful of how you come across in social situations, you shouldn’t change your entire personality to conform to company culture. Just be more mindful of making a few alterations to adjust to different social situations.
16. Have Patience
It’s important to have patience when dealing with others, especially in a working environment. Let others finish explaining themselves before jumping to conclusions. It will avoid any misunderstandings and confrontations.
17. Ditch the Distractions
With so many distractions – from social media to TV and radio – we can easily get distracted at work and shut ourselves out from our surroundings. To truly be engaged, ditch these distractions and focus on the people in front of you or the task that you’re supposed to be doing.
18. Show Empathy
Are you able to put yourself in other people’s shoes and understand the point from their perspective? If so, you’ve got empathy nailed. If not, you need to learn how to understand others and appreciate what it is they have to say.
19. Be More Confident
Generally, being more confident at work can help you be more sociable. People are more likely to approach you and will be more inclined to engage in conversations. If you’re shy and timid, on the other hand, your colleagues may not want to make you feel awkward by constantly asking questions.
20. Learn How to Small Talk
Small talk is a vital step in building a solid relationship. The best salespeople have the knack of creating small talk with their clients and making them feel special. This effectively shows your personality and it helps you connect with others beyond any business matters.
As many of us spend most of our waking hours in the digital world rather than the real one, we often find it difficult to snap back into reality and conform to social situations. This list of tips will help you build the skills needed to socialise in the workplace.
Are there any other tips that you’d suggest to fellow workers? If so, join in on the conversation below to let us know…