Navigating your way through social situations and dealing with people is the fabric that holds society together.  If your business involves people then social skills are essential to your success.  The book How To Make Yourself Unforgettable by Dale Carnagie Training lists 5 social skills that are vital to success with people:

Learn To Relax in Any Social Situation

People can sense when someone is nervous, scared, filled with anxiety.  On the other side of things people can also tell when someone is confident and full of energy as well.  The things about any of these states of being is that its contagious.  So take a deep breath and do your best to relax.  Monitor and change any negative mental chatter in your mind and turn it into positive and you will be perceived as cool and confident.

Ability To Listen

Most people don’t really know how to listen to someone when they are talking.  They think they know but if you want to be a good listener you must focus on what they are saying.  WAIT for them to finish speaking and then answer.  Even if you think you know how the conversation is going to end wait for them to finish.  Also don’t be doing something else while someone is talking to you because its rude.  If you absolutely have to be doing something while the conversation is going on then apologize if appropriate for being slightly distracted.

Empathy & Genuine Interest

Empathy is the ability to “feel” what the other person is feeling.  When you empathize with someone you are showing a genuine interest in what they have to say and they will be more open to you.  If they are in a situation that you have never been in don’t pretend to empathize, because people can see right through that.

Building and Maintaining Rapport

Rapport at its basic level is “i am like you we understand each other.”  There are entire books and seminars written on building rapport with people so I am just summarizing how to build rapport with a person or persons.  The other 4 social skills are of course key to helping you build rapport however there are other things you can do.  People like people who are like themselves.  Which is why great speakers and leaders will practice something call mirroring and matching.  Whether it be their body movements, voice intonation, or rate of speech mirroring and matching is a valuable tool in building rapport.  One warning about this, don’t COPY them.  If she crosses her leg then you may cross your arms.  Be subtle about it because if someone thinks your copying them you will be losing rapport.  Also DON’T ever copy their accent, or if they have a stutter as they will think you are making fun of them.

Maintain Appropriate Eye Contact

Some people have difficulty with this one because they tend to stare.  Have a relaxed “kind” or “concerned” look depending on the situation in your eyes when you look at someone.  Usually break eye contact every every 3-5 seconds so its not perceived that you are staring at them which will make them uncomfortable.

Master these 5 basic social skills and you will be among the top people in your field.

/Ethan Caine