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15 Social Skills That Will Make You Successful In Every Aspect Of Life

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15 Social Skills That Will Make You Successful In Every Aspect Of Life

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.

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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!

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

Featured photo credit: Early Telephone/Ryan McGuire via imcreator.com

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Last Updated on July 20, 2021

How to Overcome the Fear of Public Speaking (A Step-by-Step Guide)

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How to Overcome the Fear of Public Speaking (A Step-by-Step Guide)

You’re standing behind the curtain, just about to make your way on stage to face the many faces half-shrouded in darkness in front of you. As you move towards the spotlight, your body starts to feel heavier with each step. A familiar thump echoes throughout your body – your heartbeat has gone off the charts.

Don’t worry, you’re not the only one with glossophobia(also known as speech anxiety or the fear of speaking to large crowds). Sometimes, the anxiety happens long before you even stand on stage.

Your body’s defence mechanism responds by causing a part of your brain to release adrenaline into your blood – the same chemical that gets released as if you were being chased by a lion.

Here’s a step-by-step guide to help you overcome your fear of public speaking:

1. Prepare yourself mentally and physically

According to experts, we’re built to display anxiety and to recognize it in others. If your body and mind are anxious, your audience will notice. Hence, it’s important to prepare yourself before the big show so that you arrive on stage confident, collected and ready.

“Your outside world is a reflection of your inside world. What goes on in the inside, shows on the outside.” – Bob Proctor

Exercising lightly before a presentation helps get your blood circulating and sends oxygen to the brain. Mental exercises, on the other hand, can help calm the mind and nerves. Here are some useful ways to calm your racing heart when you start to feel the butterflies in your stomach:

Warming up

If you’re nervous, chances are your body will feel the same way. Your body gets tense, your muscles feel tight or you’re breaking in cold sweat. The audience will notice you are nervous.

If you observe that this is exactly what is happening to you minutes before a speech, do a couple of stretches to loosen and relax your body. It’s better to warm up before every speech as it helps to increase the functional potential of the body as a whole. Not only that, it increases muscle efficiency, improves reaction time and your movements.

Here are some exercises to loosen up your body before show time:

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  1. Neck and shoulder rolls – This helps relieve upper body muscle tension and pressure as the rolls focus on rotating the head and shoulders, loosening the muscle. Stress and anxiety can make us rigid within this area which can make you feel agitated, especially when standing.
  2. Arm stretches – We often use this part of our muscles during a speech or presentation through our hand gestures and movements. Stretching these muscles can reduce arm fatigue, loosen you up and improve your body language range.
  3. Waist twists – Place your hands on your hips and rotate your waist in a circular motion. This exercise focuses on loosening the abdominal and lower back regions which is essential as it can cause discomfort and pain, further amplifying any anxieties you may experience.

Stay hydrated

Ever felt parched seconds before speaking? And then coming up on stage sounding raspy and scratchy in front of the audience? This happens because the adrenaline from stage fright causes your mouth to feel dried out.

To prevent all that, it’s essential we stay adequately hydrated before a speech. A sip of water will do the trick. However, do drink in moderation so that you won’t need to go to the bathroom constantly.

Try to avoid sugary beverages and caffeine, since it’s a diuretic – meaning you’ll feel thirstier. It will also amplify your anxiety which prevents you from speaking smoothly.

Meditate

Meditation is well-known as a powerful tool to calm the mind. ABC’s Dan Harris, co-anchor of Nightline and Good Morning America weekend and author of the book titled10% Happier , recommends that meditation can help individuals to feel significantly calmer, faster.

Meditation is like a workout for your mind. It gives you the strength and focus to filter out the negativity and distractions with words of encouragement, confidence and strength.

Mindfulness meditation, in particular, is a popular method to calm yourself before going up on the big stage. The practice involves sitting comfortably, focusing on your breathing and then bringing your mind’s attention to the present without drifting into concerns about the past or future – which likely includes floundering on stage.

Here’s a nice example of guided meditation before public speaking:

2. Focus on your goal

One thing people with a fear of public speaking have in common is focusing too much on themselves and the possibility of failure.

Do I look funny? What if I can’t remember what to say? Do I look stupid? Will people listen to me? Does anyone care about what I’m talking about?’

Instead of thinking this way, shift your attention to your one true purpose – contributing something of value to your audience.

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Decide on the progress you’d like your audience to make after your presentation. Notice their movements and expressions to adapt your speech to ensure that they are having a good time to leave the room as better people.

If your own focus isn’t beneficial and what it should be when you’re speaking, then shift it to what does. This is also key to establishing trust during your presentation as the audience can clearly see that you have their interests at heart.[1]

3. Convert negativity to positivity

There are two sides constantly battling inside of us – one is filled with strength and courage while the other is doubt and insecurities. Which one will you feed?

‘What if I mess up this speech? What if I’m not funny enough? What if I forget what to say?’

It’s no wonder why many of us are uncomfortable giving a presentation. All we do is bring ourselves down before we got a chance to prove ourselves. This is also known as a self-fulfilling prophecy – a belief that comes true because we are acting as if it already is. If you think you’re incompetent, then it will eventually become true.

Motivational coaches tout that positive mantras and affirmations tend to boost your confidents for the moments that matter most. Say to yourself: “I’ll ace this speech and I can do it!”

Take advantage of your adrenaline rush to encourage positive outcome rather than thinking of the negative ‘what ifs’.

Here’s a video of Psychologist Kelly McGonigal who encourages her audience to turn stress into something positive as well as provide methods on how to cope with it:

4. Understand your content

Knowing your content at your fingertips helps reduce your anxiety because there is one less thing to worry about. One way to get there is to practice numerous times before your actual speech.

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However, memorizing your script word-for-word is not encouraged. You can end up freezing should you forget something. You’ll also risk sounding unnatural and less approachable.

“No amount of reading or memorizing will make you successful in life. It is the understanding and the application of wise thought that counts.” – Bob Proctor

Many people unconsciously make the mistake of reading from their slides or memorizing their script word-for-word without understanding their content – a definite way to stress themselves out.

Understanding your speech flow and content makes it easier for you to convert ideas and concepts into your own words which you can then clearly explain to others in a conversational manner. Designing your slides to include text prompts is also an easy hack to ensure you get to quickly recall your flow when your mind goes blank.[2]

One way to understand is to memorize the over-arching concepts or ideas in your pitch. It helps you speak more naturally and let your personality shine through. It’s almost like taking your audience on a journey with a few key milestones.

5. Practice makes perfect

Like most people, many of us are not naturally attuned to public speaking. Rarely do individuals walk up to a large audience and present flawlessly without any research and preparation.

In fact, some of the top presenters make it look easy during showtime because they have spent countless hours behind-the-scenes in deep practice. Even great speakers like the late John F. Kennedy would spend months preparing his speech beforehand.

Public speaking, like any other skill, requires practice – whether it be practicing your speech countless of times in front of a mirror or making notes. As the saying goes, practice makes perfect!

6. Be authentic

There’s nothing wrong with feeling stressed before going up to speak in front of an audience.

Many people fear public speaking because they fear others will judge them for showing their true, vulnerable self. However, vulnerability can sometimes help you come across as more authentic and relatable as a speaker.

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Drop the pretence of trying to act or speak like someone else and you’ll find that it’s worth the risk. You become more genuine, flexible and spontaneous, which makes it easier to handle unpredictable situations – whether it’s getting tough questions from the crowd or experiencing an unexpected technical difficulty.

To find out your authentic style of speaking is easy. Just pick a topic or issue you are passionate about and discuss this like you normally would with a close family or friend. It is like having a conversation with someone in a personal one-to-one setting. A great way to do this on stage is to select a random audience member(with a hopefully calming face) and speak to a single person at a time during your speech. You’ll find that it’s easier trying to connect to one person at a time than a whole room.

With that said, being comfortable enough to be yourself in front of others may take a little time and some experience, depending how comfortable you are with being yourself in front of others. But once you embrace it, stage fright will not be as intimidating as you initially thought.

Presenters like Barack Obama are a prime example of a genuine and passionate speaker:

7. Post speech evaluation

Last but not the least, if you’ve done public speaking and have been scarred from a bad experience, try seeing it as a lesson learned to improve yourself as a speaker.

Don’t beat yourself up after a presentation

We are the hardest on ourselves and it’s good to be. But when you finish delivering your speech or presentation, give yourself some recognition and a pat on the back.

You managed to finish whatever you had to do and did not give up. You did not let your fears and insecurities get to you. Take a little more pride in your work and believe in yourself.

Improve your next speech

As mentioned before, practice does make perfect. If you want to improve your public speaking skills, try asking someone to film you during a speech or presentation. Afterwards, watch and observe what you can do to improve yourself next time.

Here are some questions you can ask yourself after every speech:

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  • How did I do?
  • Are there any areas for improvement?
  • Did I sound or look stressed?
  • Did I stumble on my words? Why?
  • Was I saying “um” too often?
  • How was the flow of the speech?

Write everything you observed down and keep practicing and improving. In time, you’ll be able to better manage your fears of public speaking and appear more confident when it counts.

If you want even more tips about public speaking or delivering a great presentation, check out these articles too:

Reference

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