Help me define some specific social skills-- which skills are necessary?
February 18, 2013 3:31 PM Subscribe
I see a lot of people refer to 'social skills' as an amorphous entity that encompasses being 'good with people', or apply extraverted-individual standards to define them (such as 'mingling at parties' or 'engaging in small-talk'). What I'd like to see is a set of actual skills, something like 'the skill of knowing how to write longhand', or 'the skill of tuning a piano': really specific and concrete, with broad applications regardless of one's lack of desire to mingle at parties or in bars. I guess I'd like to know what the hive mind thinks are the specific skills necessary to succeed in college (that is, with professors and/or fellow students) or with professionals in a semi-informal working environment. Bonus for specific skills needed for a teacher. Bonus-plus for breaking down any skill into aspects or components.
posted by reenka to human relations (17 answers total) 15 users marked this as a favorite
One thing that doesn't apply (at least in my case) is stuff like 'paying attention to people' or 'developing empathy' (which I've seen online and consider really overly broad and not super-useful); neither do I mean something like 'dressing neatly' and 'remember personal hygiene'-- it's not a skill if it's common sense and/or something you choose not to do for some reason. It's interesting to me because a lot of what people consider 'social skills' is unrelated to 'people skills' such as fashion or hygiene; regardless, I don't want to go into that. Take it as a given that people are better predisposed if you've learned how to brush your hair and button your shirt, don't loudly eat your lunch at meetings, and don't yawn broadly when speaking to someone.
I personally am very perceptive of 'the mood' in most situations; my general problem, such as it is, is that I sort of ignore it and do whatever I want (within limits of not getting too much attention-- ie, funny looks). A lot of the perception-based advice doesn't apply to me-- but people assume that if you 'get it', you'll just follow through. This isn't the case. I don't have the mental energy to go out of my way to play 'people games', though I should do it more. A lot of it is just that I'm lazy and prefer the path of least resistance-- so what I need is the specific stuff I have to do if I want to invite people I've already known or have contacted to be predisposed (rather than simply not offending random strangers-- or on the other hand, attracting random strangers at parties). I also want to reiterate that I don't really want to ever achieve the level of a person who believes 'social skills' means calling up all your friends every week (or day!) and saying 'hi, how's your chickens?' There are extraverts like this, or rather extraverts who believe this only to be expected. I will never be like this, nor do I want to be.
One example is a person I was talking to who accused me of the faux pas of not asking them personal questions in conversation. Generally, I do know (or 'perceive') that this is how people relate to each other; typically of my attitude, however, I ignore it 'cause I don't find it 'necessary' and have gotten away with depending on others questioning me and/or (preferably) the natural flow of conversation being sufficient. Another example is the above: I ramble. I sort of know rambling is not really 'on' for most people, and they think it's weird and sometimes off-putting: but to what degree is conciseness a social skill in informal situations? Clear, concise and direct communication is an obvious good, but is it a necessary skill to have in social contexts (outside interviews and calls to the credit card company, etc)? These are just examples. I really just want to know what we're talking about when we're talking about social skills (especially for students and/or teachers).