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What Are Social Skills & How To Improve Your Social Skills

Updated on November 18, 2012

What Are Social Skills?

Social skills are the term given for the way that people interact in a social environment. Social skills are a vital tool in life, and you would do well to improve them if you feel that they are lacking. Possessing good social skills can open up doors for you throughout your life, that might otherwise remain closed. To have good social skills is to have a fair grasp on what is socially acceptable and what is not, and to behave in accordance with social standards.

What Is Or Isn't Socially Acceptable?

Although there are no official rules or guide lines stating what is socially acceptable behaviour and what is not, it isn't all that difficult to assume, a little common sense and logical thinking goes a long way. Consider how others may perceive you in a social environment if you are to act a certain way. For instance if you are to become aggravated in public and to display your anger publicly, you will grab the attention of others surrounding you, this is an open invitation for judgement. If you behave in a way that leaves you open to judgement by others, generally that is what you could consider to be socially unacceptable behaviour. It is natural for human beings to be judgemental of others, and there are certain behaviours which will provoke judgement. Don't give others a reason to judge you.

What is socially acceptable behaviour is generally being polite and courteous towards others. No matter what happens try to maintain your dignity in public, one slip up could leave you with a bad reputation, which is not easy to get rid of.

Why do i struggle with my social skills?

Think about the people you know who have great social skills, these people will be confident, self-assured individuals. You could observe these people who seemingly have good social skills, and learn a thing or two by watching them, but attempting to mimic these people in an effort to improve your social skills will not solve your problems. At the heart of strained social skills are generally, low self esteem issues. When you work towards improving your self esteem, you will find that naturally your social skills will improve also.

There are many reasons for low self esteem issues, and you should be aware of what those are, in your case. In any case, a lack of social skills can be put down to fear of being judged, fear of looking or sounding awkward. This fear is often obvious to others, which might be why a person chooses to avoid social situations. Try some of the following tips to help you face your social fears and address your self-esteem issues.

Tips To Improve Social Skills

  • Dress and present yourself in a way that makes you feel comfortable. Wear clothes and style yourself in a way that makes you feel good. Don't worry about whether you look fashionable or not, if you are too concerned about what others might think of how you present yourself, you will only feel more awkward socially. If you feel good about the way you dress and style yourself you will appear more confident in social situations.
  • Body language speaks volumes. Stand up straight, hold you head high, and look people in the eye when you are speaking to them. If you feel awkward within you body, use you hands to gesture when you are speaking, this will take focus away from the other parts of your body. Avoid crossing your arms or putting your hands in your pockets, as this is a sign that a person is either uncomfortable or trying to hide something.
  • Think before you speak. Pay attention to what is being said to you by another person, and process what has been said properly before responding. If you feel pressured to respond i to someone you might say something that does not reflect your true thoughts and feelings. When you speak your true thoughts and feelings you will feel more confident within yourself rather than if you say things that you don't really mean.
  • Relax. Develop and practice some relaxation methods that you can use socially without others noticing. The easiest way is to focus on your breathing, taking slow and steady breaths will help to relax your whole body and mind. Or try something that distracts your mind from worrying about the thoughts of others, try counting seconds in your head, or thinking about something you are looking forward to.
  • Smile. Smiling for the sake of smiling can actually make you feel happier, and make you appear more confident. Try smiling at strangers in public and you will find that most people will smile back, this can instantly make you feel good.
  • Focus on the surrounding environment rather than the people in it. Notice the clouds, what is in the store windows, the weather, what ever is around you, don't focus on the people and you will be less concerned about their thoughts.
  • Initiate conversations. Think of some topics for some good conversations about things that you enjoy. Talking about things that interest you can put you right in your comfort zone.
  • When you feel intimidated by others in social situations, remind yourself that we are all human and we all have insecurities.

With these points in mind, practice, and you will be well on your way to improving your social skills.

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