How do adults develop social skills

Social competence: Examples of which soft skills are important

Social skills is a key factor in job application and career. Behind it there are numerous characteristics and behaviors that significantly facilitate and improve dealing with other people. Social skills are therefore considered to be personality skills and are a subgroup of soft skills. According to studies, these account for around 40 percent of professional success. But what social skills are there? Which are important? And how do you promote social skills? Here are the answers and tips ...

➠ Content: This is what awaits you

➠ Content: This is what awaits you

What is social competence?

Social skills belong to the “soft” skills, the so-called “social skills” or “soft skills”. In contrast to the “hard” qualifications, the “hard skills”, they cannot be measured by a degree or a certificate. Rather, social competence only reveals itself in cooperation. They are important in every interpersonal contact and determine how positive, sympathetic and harmonious the relationship or cooperation is perceived.

Employers and HR professionals place great importance on social skills for years more and more value. Because they contain interdisciplinary key competencies such as the ability to work in a team, reliability, empathy, the ability to criticize or a willingness to learn.

Why are social skills so popular?

The potential of a person is hidden behind the social skills. Knowledge and skills can be acquired through learning. But they only lead to success in dealing with other people. In the end, social skills contain what is known as employability - the general employability and long-term development potential of a person.

Who has social skills, is able to align his action goals with the attitudes and values ​​of a group. This also allows the behavior and attitudes of the group to be influenced. Social competence is therefore also equated with social intelligence and empathy. Those who have both can always (re) act appropriately and intelligently towards others.

Or to put it another way: Social competence comprises two basic skills:

What are important social skills?

There is no general answer to the question of the most important social skills. That depends not least on the particular situation or the requirements of the job. But there are a few overarching competencies that help you almost everywhere in social interaction. They are among the so-called top skills (or "business skills"):

  1. Own initiative
    Initiative ranks first in many HR surveys. Those who have this competence act independently, of their own accord. Or to put it casually: you don't have to carry these people to hunt. Such people also make quick decisions and take responsibility for their actions.
  2. Communication skills
    Communication skills are unfortunately often a buzzword that appears in many job advertisements and somehow contains everything. What is meant, however, is usually the strength to formulate messages clearly and distinctly, to interpret the signals of others or to convince in the meeting.
  3. Teamwork
    The ability to work in a team is one of the absolute top skills in professional life. Nobody works alone. Wherever people work together, they have to compete such as cooperate, debate and compromise. A team player is someone who deals constructively and considerately with others, remains respectful of differences of opinion or is involved in the group and helps where necessary.
  4. Enthusiasm
    Those who enjoy doing their work are more successful. Such a person is full of enthusiasm for his work and is absorbed in it. Enthusiasm is the positive attitude that welcomes challenges and tackles them dynamically. It's a form of intrinsic motivation - and it can move mountains.
  5. Critical ability
    The ability to be critical always pays off in life. That doesn't mean you have to put up with everything. But you are able to deal with it constructively - and conversely, criticize it constructively. People with this competence do not take criticism personally, but see it as an opportunity for personal growth.
  6. adaptability
    The ability to adapt quickly to new situations and challenges is understood. At work, this means changing your behavior quickly and flexibly if necessary.
  7. empathy
    Behind this lies the ability to recognize, understand and comprehend the thoughts, emotions or motives of the other person, to engage with them and to react appropriately. It's a kind of anticipatory emotional response. This makes empathy one of the most important social skills.
  8. charisma
    This strength gives people an almost magical aura, aura and attraction. Above all in management and external impact, charisma is seen as the engine that inspires, motivates and convinces others. It even makes some brands.
  9. Intercultural Competence
    Most companies now operate internationally and have locations abroad. Or a diverse workforce from different cultures and nations. It is therefore important to adapt to the respective cultural backgrounds and mentalities. Intercultural competence can respect differences, consider special features and show consideration.
  10. Assertiveness
    It is not meant to win every discussion. The social competence means real persuasiveness and implementation strength. One could also speak of goal orientation. Assertiveness is the ability to perceive, pursue and stand up for one's own interests, goals and intentions - even against resistance.

Social competence test: how socially competent am I?

Therefore, someone who is socially competent does not have to be a better or more personable person. This is desirable, but in reality it is often just a naive wish. Even leaders of mafia organizations, con artists and dictators are extremely socially competent - otherwise they would hardly have managed to combine so much power and social credit. But that subsequently leads to the abuse of power. But this is another story…

Regardless of how and for what purpose they use their social skills, many ask: “Am I socially competent at all?” The following statements, for example, can give you the first clues as to whether you have these skills. The more often you can - honestly - agree, the more socially competent you are likely to be. However, you should observe and assess this over a longer period of time.

  • I find new friends easily - even among my colleagues.
  • I find it easy to understand the motives of others.
  • I am good at motivating others.
  • I find it easy to convince others of ideas.
  • I can criticize others without offending or demotivating them.
  • I praise more than I give negative feedback.
  • I notice things in common more than what separates me.
  • I like to trust others and also like to hand over responsibility.
  • I can easily come to terms with compromises.
  • I don't have to have the last word in discussions.
  • I can subordinate my interests to those of the team.

Reading tip: If you are interested in further self-tests on social skills, you can also use these tests (with resolution): 33 free self-tests on personality, job, intelligence.

Social competence training: how to prove it

Being able to talk is perhaps the most central quality in demonstrating social competence. Whether in a job interview, in a meeting or in small talk. Other ways of showing social competence are:

  • Listen actively
  • Understand and show understanding
  • Be trustworthy and trust others
  • Make contacts and friendships
  • Being able to convey and explain
  • Lead groups
  • Lead discussions
  • Arguing and debating
  • Put your own interests behind
  • To be able to be silent

Social skills can be learned and trained. There have long been targeted courses and courses that impart social skills and strengthen them through exercises. In the end, however, one thing above all helps: Concentrate on the social skills you want to promote and work on it in everyday life. Examples:

  • reliability
    Always keep your promises and never promise more than you can keep. Anything else leads to product disappointment - and damages your social reputation, the proverbial obituary.
  • Will to learn
    Learn from and through others. You don't develop social skills by pretending that you can do everything. Nobody can. Take advice, learn from the experiences of others - and pass on the knowledge on your part. Learning from and with one another and developing further promotes social skills.
  • Teamwork
    Do not withdraw into your snail shell, but often work in a team. This is all the more true when there are differences of opinion and different ideas that need to be shaped into a joint project. This may be difficult, but it is good training for your people skills.

Social competence in the application

In order to score points in the application with social skills, these must be relevant to the job. The right place to mention these is in the cover letter. Often, pronounced soft skills can outperform the better technical competencies of other candidates. You are therefore a clear competitive advantage and career factor.

However, it is not the quantity that counts, but the quality. Therefore, you should choose exactly what to mention in your cover letter and résumé:

  • Focus on strengths
    When applying, focus on your three greatest strengths. Of course, you really should have these skills. So you still have to survive the trial period.
  • Name only relevant skills
    The application is all the more successful, the more precisely you align the competencies with the desired job. Means: Only what is relevant for the position is mentioned. This results partly from the job advertisement, partly from the job description.
  • Demonstrate social skills through examples
    "I am a team player, resilient, motivated ..." - a lot can be said. In order to convince you with the mentioned skills, you should provide examples in the cover letter. Keep it as brief as possible, but as specific as necessary. Words and empty phrases are taboo.

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May 19, 2021Author: Jochen Mai

Jochen Mai is the founder and editor-in-chief of the career bible. The author of several books lectures at the TH Köln and is a sought-after keynote speaker, coach and consultant.

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