By Justin Sua
In a world where technology is increasing our capacity to connect with people worldwide, it is also diminishing our ability to effectively connect with people in person. Just like learning how to cook, develop software, or play a sport; the ability to connect with others is a skill and you can learn how to do it more effectively. Learning the social skills necessary to connect with others will help you be more successful in every aspect of your life. Here are 15 social skills you can develop to be more charismatic:
1. Speak Less, Ask More
Those who are great with people don’t necessary have the gift-of-gab, but rather, are great at asking questions. One of the most important social skills you can develop is the ability to ask questions; not in an interrogating way, but in the way that will help you understand people better and strengthen your relationship with them. People love talking about themselves, so asking questions that trigger memories (i.e. “What was it like for you when…?”); cause them to give their opinion (i.e. “What do you think about…?”); or ask for advice (i.e. “I have a dilemma and would love your thoughts…?”), will put you in the driver’s seat by allowing them to be the center of the conversation.
2. Celebrate Their Wins
When someone shares great news with you, instead of dismissing it, sharing good news of your own, or even bashing their good news — celebrate their win by being genuinely excited for them.
3. Lock-in On Group Settings
For many, the group setting is the perfect opportunity to pull back, check their phone, and zone out of the conversation–but not you. Pay close attention in a group setting, you’ll be able to learn how to connect with others by what they say, how they say it, and even what people choose not to say. Be aware of who likes to lead the conversation, what people like to talk about, and if someone is being excluded from the conversation.
4. Make Eye Contact — Or Not
On a daily basis you are bombarded with distractions competing for one of your most precious resources–your attention. Making eye contact with the person you are speaking with face-to-face is an outward expression that you are confident and fully engaged with that person. However, if someone isn’t looking making eye contact with you, before you jump to conclusions, be aware that it may be culturally unacceptable for them to do so; they are intimidated by you; or it makes them uncomfortable.
5. Show Positive Body Language
You can project confidence, kindness, and leadership just by the way you carry yourself. Keep your head up, shoulders back, and chest out. We learn from Dr. Amy Cuddy’s TED Talk, “Your Body Language Shapes Who You Are“, that how you carry yourself can impact how you think and feel about yourself–so get big!
6. Pay Attention To The Little Things
Life is hard. And many people are going through life in quiet desperation with little or no support from family or friends. The problem is, people are so good at hiding it, that they give off the impression that everything is good in their life and they don’t need help. Keep in mind that people have lives outside of work, school, and other places you seed them. A simple awareness of others’ body language, behavior, and facial expressions will give you insight into how things are really going for them.
7. Praise People’s Strengths
One way to bring the best out of someone is to praise their strengths. Could you imagine how you would respond if someone came up to you and said, “Just so you know, your ability to [insert strength] is incredible. I wish I was more like that.”? Giving praise to someone else is a sign of confidence on your part, and a tremendous confidence builder for the other person.
8. Build Others Up When They Aren’t Around
You can tell a person’s character by how they talk about others when they aren’t around. If you know someone who is constantly talking bad behind people’s back, you can be certain they are talking negatively about you when you’re not around. Be the kind of person who speaks highly of others when they are not around.
9. Listen To Their Voice
People will reveal a lot about themselves by not only what they say, but how they say it. Some people connect better when you speak loud and fast, while others prefer to be communicated to in a softer tone — know your audience.
10. Smile More
Research shows the confident people smile more. I’m not saying walk around with a beaming smile from ear-to-ear at all times–that’s creepy. What I am saying, is if you are in a good mood, make sure you don’t forget to tell your face. Additionally, smiling at others will trigger the mirror neurons in their brain to smile back at you–it’s contagious. People with great social skills are approachable, and nothing says, “Let’s be friends!”, than a genuine smile.
11. Be Polite
It’s easy to connect better with someone with manners. The simple things your parents taught you when you were a child, a little “Please”, “Thank-you”; and “You’re Welcome”, can go a long way.
12. Provide Value
To be at the top of your social skills game you’ve got to bring something to the table. Use what you know or do to be a benefit to those around, with no intention ask for anything in return. Share what you’re good at with others and you will experience the fulfilling joy of giving.
13. Say Nothing
Sometimes people don’t need to hear your opinion. The next time you want to chime in and give empirical data supporting your side of an argument, stop and ask yourself the question, “Do I want to be happy, or do I want to be right?” More times than not, being happy means conceding the argument and enjoying the company of others.
14. Focus On The Bright Side Of Things
Negativity is contagious and can spread quickly; refuse to be that person who transmits negativity through your family, friends, and coworkers by complaining all the time. Instead, be that person who can look at the bright side of a difficult situation and keep tough times in perspective. This doesn’t mean to be unrealistic and overly-positive, it means to be that person who can look adversity in the face and focus on what you can control.
15. See The Good In People
Develop the skill to see the good in others. It’s human nature to put others down in order to make ourselves feel better; but be that person who can spot the diamond in the rough; especially when they can’t see it themselves.
About the Author
Justin Su’a is a Leadership and Performance Psychology Consultant, helping people and teams develop high performance habits for success. His clients perform in the NFL, MLB, NCAA, U.S. Army, Dancing With the Stars, and corporate America. He is a key-note speaker and author of “Parent Pep Talks” and “Mentally Tough Teens.”