Having a great network; I like to think of it as “who you know” (relationships you have built both personally and professionally) is vital to your success in many ways. However, it is not something that can be bought in the market. The only way to have a great network is to build one. And the number one key to building relationships is having strong social skills.
Do you find it disconcerting and wonder why every time you are in a gathering of your peers at school or at a public function, and you say something; everyone fixes their gaze on you and suddenly goes quiet, making you wish the ground would open up and swallow you?
Nope, this doesn’t make you an extra-terrestrial life-form.
This phenomenon may be due to your lack of social skills which can also be responsible for all the times you make a comment that is irrelevant to the ongoing conversation.
Getting good grades as a student is important. But schooling is not just about getting all A’s to make your transcript look good or get you fancy jobs in multimillion dollar firms.
Schooling should be more than that.
It is also a period when you are supposed to master social skills. Mind you, these social skills are required if you intend to succeed in various aspects of your life. Your ability to communicate effectively, collaborate with others, respect the space and opinion of your peers and stand up for yourself in school and outside school all make up your social interaction.
Communication is an important skill to master as a student. Improving your communication skills can help polish your social skills. This would help you make a good first impression during job interviews and equally get you jobs.
However, knowing that social skills are really important is not enough. You need to find ways by which your social skills can be improved.
Try the Option of Face to Face Communication
With the world being in the jet age, many students find it more convenient to communicate over some social media platforms; through texting. Improving your social skill means you must try as much as possible to have lengthy conversations with your peers face to face. Whether these conversations happen between classes, during lunch break or after school hours. It should be done face to face and while you are at it, always make eye contact and try to avoid getting distracted.
Speak Your Mind
Being a good listener is important. But, active communication goes both ways. You have to be able to build your ideas and communicate them effectively. When in a group project, do not be afraid to speak up when a question is thrown at the group. Expressing your views in class, defending your idea and kicking against peer pressure all make up good social skills. This would help you later in the future when you start working to; share ideas in meetings, speak up when you or your co-worker is treated unfairly or negotiate a raise in your salary.
Ask for Help
You should be able to ask for help when it is needed. If you do not understand a new concept being explained in class, draw your teacher’s attention to it and ask that it should be explained again. There’s absolutely no harm in not knowing the office of say, “your science teacher”, ask a classmate politely to help locate his office. You are in school to learn and an important part of learning is asking questions. This happens to be one of the most important social skills to be mastered.
Get Involved in Team Activities
Always opt for team work. There is less pressure and awkwardness when you are in a group targeting the same goal. For example, you may decide to join the school’s Red Cross team. While you are there learning what they do, take this opportunity to also feed your social life positively. Do not stand at a corner during your meeting hours or run home immediately the meeting is over. Indulge your fellow “Red Crossers”. You can start by asking their names and when they joined the Red Cross team.
Get up Stage
A lot of people still struggle with stage fright. This is one symptom of poor communication skill. As a student, do not be afraid to take on activities that keep you on stage. Don’t shy away from participating in a debate competition because you are afraid of being in the spotlight. Come on, rule your world! Remember, you are trying to improve your social skills to be an overall better person. If you love singing, sign up for the schools upcoming singing contest. This approach would help you deal with the anxiety that comes with being in front of large crowds. The more you are in the spotlight, the more you get used to it. Later in life, at one point or the other, you would have to address more than five persons at a time. How do you do this if you don’t learn it now?
Build Your Confidence
One way you can do this is by gathering information from reliable sources. You cannot communicate effectively on particular subject matters if you do not know exactly what that subject matter is all about. Read books on different subject matter. This will not only make you aware but will also increase your confidence. For example, if you are among your classmates and someone raises a topic on the recent terrorist attack in the country, you may have little or nothing to say if you are not well informed. And if you try to speak from the little you know, you will notice that it becomes considerably more difficult to communicate because you are unsure of what to say. Remember, knowledge is power.
If you consider yourself introverted, it is natural for you to feel withdrawn and find it difficult to have conversations with people. However, don’t let his stop or hamper you.
The good news is… with social skills, the more you practice being social, the easier it will become.