To thrive in any workplace, you’ll need to master a specific set of social skills. In this guide, you’ll find useful tips about social skills that are popular among professionals, what social skills matter most in certain workplaces, and how you can improve them.
If you want to be a successful professional, you’ll need to do more than just master your primary technical/artistic skill. Strong social skills are vital when it comes to collaborating with colleagues, working with customers, and getting bosses to notice your potential.
The sections in this blog cover the following topics:
Why social skills matter
Popular workplace social skills
How to improve social skills
There may be a few modern professions that come with zero social interaction—a park ranger position where you patrol a wilderness preserve all alone, for instance. The vast majority of careers, however, have some form of social interaction as part of their daily responsibilities. If you don’t want to accidentally anger a customer, alienate a fellow employee, or lose the trust of a boss, consider evaluating and improving your social skills..
Working on your ability to communicate at work is important if you tend to be introverted and quiet. If you’re naturally outgoing and personable, you should still try to improve your social skills! By learning to converse better, you can become a much more valuable asset to your employer, better promote your technical skills, incryour chances of getting selected for promotions, etc.
Different jobs require different types of interpersonal communication. In general, though, the following social skills are always worth learning and will help you in and outside of the workplace:
Empathy—specifically, the ability to notice and feel the emotions of others—is a cornerstone of human interaction. With the innate sense of empathy most people develop as they grow up, they can sense whether their behavior is making someone feel better/worse, then adjust their actions/statements accordingly. In a workplace, professionals with a strong sense of empathy are better at:
Noticing colleagues who need help with work/personal problems.
Identifying the desires of customers or bosses.
Intuiting when an employee’s exhausted, needs a break, or is on the brink of work burnout.
Sensing whether a supervisor thinks they’ve done well at their latest task.
Active listening, as opposed to just listening, is basically the art of being a good conversation partner. Active listening is extra important if you’re a professional who uses negotiation skills, a customer service expert, or someone who regularly interacts with shareholders/stakeholders. Professionals who are good active listeners often do the following:
Stay quiet and give other people in the conversation space to talk.
Listen intently and memorize important details from the conversation.
Ask questions that show your sympathy to other people in the conversation.
Repeat back what you’ve learned to ensure you understand their point of view.
Conflict resolution is essentially the art of resolving disagreements between two or more people. In a sales career, for instance, you might use conflict resolution social skills to calm down an irate customer. In contrast, a project manager will use this skill set to reach a compromise between two team members who can’t agree on how to get a task done. Some popular conflict resolution strategies include:
Using language that’s not aggressive or judgemental.
Expressing disagreements using “I feel” statements that show respect for another person’s view.
Asking the different parties in conflict with each other to explain their viewpoints in clear terms.
Finding common ground between the parties in conflict that could be used to reach a fair compromise.
In Athens and other city-states of the ancient Mediterranean, oratory was once an essential skill for citizens who wanted to participate in government or represent themselves in court. In modern times, knowing how to make a good speech or argument can still be extremely useful if you’re ever called on to make a presentation, explain a topic, engage in professional networking, or persuade investors at your workplace. Key public speaking skills include:
Consistent eye contact and confident body language.
Memorizing key talking points so you don’t have to read off notes too often.
Using stories, anecdotes, and humor to grab the interest of your audience.
To learn new social skills or level up your current skill set, you’ll need to put in a lot of practice. Some professionals practice their social skills by reading self-help guides or experimenting with different conversational techniques while at work. If you’ve got a upcoming social event at your workplace that you can’t afford to mess up, however, you can also use the following socialization training methods:
Rehearsing talking points with a friend.
Observing and echoing the social graces of work colleagues.
Asking trusted colleagues for feedback on your rapport and outward attitude.
Using a mirror to practice confident body language, consistent eye contact, etc.
If you’re not sure how to list your social skills on your resume, take a look at Career.io’s Resume Builder service!
Strong social skills such as active listening or conflict resolution can help you make friends in the workplace, promote your accomplishments, and be more persuasive when talking to clients or customers.
Even if you’re outgoing and charismatic by nature, you should still try to improve your social skills by rehearsing speeches, mimicking the demeanor of successful colleagues, and asking friends for feedback.
Coleman is a professional writer specializing in creating standout resumes & cover letters. Aside from helping job-seekers create documents optimized for getting results, Coleman writes career advice blogs covering a wide range of in-demand career development topics. Whether providing clients with their perfect resume or comprehensive insights into trending professional topics, Coleman is there to lend his invaluable expertise.