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20 Practical Soft Skills Everyone Should Learn

20 Practical Soft Skills Everyone Should Learn
Every office, every building, everywhere you go, you see people who are just difficult to get on with. They can be obnoxious, rude, inconsiderate, or just plain clumsy. They may even be brilliant at what they do, but you just know that when it comes to socializing and interacting with people. They are terrible at it and you usually avoid these people whenever possible. Emotional intelligence, social graces, friendliness are just some of the things these people lack.
These things are known as “soft skills” and we all need them, otherwise we could end up as social outcasts or as ‘that weird guy’ who nobody wants to deal with.
To better improve your “soft skills”, here are 20 tips you can follow:
  1. How to remember people’s names, faces, or places. If you can remember at least one of these, you’re heading in the right direction.
  2. Opening successive doors for people. (It takes finesse if you’re doing it for multiple and consecutive sets of doors — and you have multiple people.)
  3. Keeping in contact with your relationships. A great way to hone your soft skills and maintain relationships.
  4. Learn to be a better listener. Don’t interrupt people, don’t try to control the conversation, and show genuine interest in what people are saying.
  5. Offer people something to drink and eat when they enter your home.
  6. Learn how to make fast healthy snacks for your visitors.
  7. The Elevator Rule. Let others out first. This also applies to “non-elevator” situations as well, such as on buses, boats, and trains.
  8. Practice writing emails to be short, respectful, and to the point. No one wants to read an essay in email format.
  9. Being discreet when giving tips to relevant service professionals. No one should see the money. This takes some finesse.
  10. Cell phone manners. No one wants to hear your conversation in public transport. It’s supposed to be a private conversation, not a public broadcast.
  11. Handwriting letters to people adds a personal touch. You can meet almost anyone with enough persistent handwritten letters.
  12. Take interest in the passions of others. This might mean feigning interest initially, but it’s likely that feigned interest will eventually transform itself into a genuine feeling.
  13. Taking pride in your appearance helps to make you feel good — and improves how people perceive you.
  14. If someone walks into a conversation, bring them up to speed or give them an idea of what you’re talking about…as well as a short intro. For example: “Kevin this is Frank, my friend from school. We were just talking about this new smartphone app.”
  15. Keep a mental note of people’s extroversion/introversion tendencies. It prepares you for their reaction to the events or situations around them and builds up your empathy.
  16. Make introductions. (Most people are awful at this and many more forget to ever do this… probably because they can’t remember people’s names.)
  17. Stay positive. Don’t whine and complain. It gives people a negative impression about your outlook on life and makes people think you are ‘grumpy’.
  18. Don’t babble. You know people who just won’t shut up. You usually avoid them because you want to engage in a conversation, not be talked at. Don’t be like them.
  19. Tolerance and patience. You will meet people who seem to have no redeeming qualities. Showing tolerance is a great way to accept people for who they are.
  20. Don’t argue. This doesn’t mean you should be a “yes man”, or act dumb. It means you should try to see things from their perspective or situation, even if you don’t agree. You maybe able to empathize with them.

Learning good social skills can make you more approachable, and people will see you in a better, more positive light. It will enhance your social aptitude and the more you practice it, the more you will improve in your sociability. It will help in your personal and work life.

Featured photo credit: Business portrait of tree presons – young man and two women having nice chat talk on modern office corridor via Shutterstock

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Last Updated on December 2, 2018

7 Public Speaking Techniques To Help Connect With Your Audience

7 Public Speaking Techniques To Help Connect With Your Audience

When giving a presentation or speech, you have to engage your audience effectively in order to truly get your point across. Unlike a written editorial or newsletter, your speech is fleeting; once you’ve said everything you set out to say, you don’t get a second chance to have your voice heard in that specific arena.

You need to make sure your audience hangs on to every word you say, from your introduction to your wrap-up. You can do so by:

1. Connecting them with each other

Picture your typical rock concert. What’s the first thing the singer says to the crowd after jumping out on stage? “Hello (insert city name here)!” Just acknowledging that he’s coherent enough to know where he is is enough for the audience to go wild and get into the show.

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It makes each individual feel as if they’re a part of something bigger. The same goes for any public speaking event. When an audience hears, “You’re all here because you care deeply about wildlife preservation,” it gives them a sense that they’re not just there to listen, but they’re there to connect with the like-minded people all around them.

2. Connect with their emotions

Speakers always try to get their audience emotionally involved in whatever topic they’re discussing. There are a variety of ways in which to do this, such as using statistics, stories, pictures or videos that really show the importance of the topic at hand.

For example, showing pictures of the aftermath of an accident related to drunk driving will certainly send a specific message to an audience of teenagers and young adults. While doing so might be emotionally nerve-racking to the crowd, it may be necessary to get your point across and engage them fully.

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3. Keep going back to the beginning

Revisit your theme throughout your presentation. Although you should give your audience the credit they deserve and know that they can follow along, linking back to your initial thesis can act as a subconscious reminder of why what you’re currently telling them is important.

On the other hand, if you simply mention your theme or the point of your speech at the beginning and never mention it again, it gives your audience the impression that it’s not really that important.

4. Link to your audience’s motivation

After you’ve acknowledged your audience’s common interests in being present, discuss their motivation for being there. Be specific. Using the previous example, if your audience clearly cares about wildlife preservation, discuss what can be done to help save endangered species’ from extinction.

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Don’t just give them cold, hard facts; use the facts to make a point that they can use to better themselves or the world in some way.

5. Entertain them

While not all speeches or presentations are meant to be entertaining in a comedic way, audiences will become thoroughly engaged in anecdotes that relate to the overall theme of the speech. We discussed appealing to emotions, and that’s exactly what a speaker sets out to do when he tells a story from his past or that of a well-known historical figure.

Speakers usually tell more than one story in order to show that the first one they told isn’t simply an anomaly, and that whatever outcome they’re attempting to prove will consistently reoccur, given certain circumstances.

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6. Appeal to loyalty

Just like the musician mentioning the town he’s playing in will get the audience ready to rock, speakers need to appeal to their audience’s loyalty to their country, company, product or cause. Show them how important it is that they’re present and listening to your speech by making your words hit home to each individual.

In doing so, the members of your audience will feel as if you’re speaking directly to them while you’re addressing the entire crowd.

7. Tell them the benefits of the presentation

Early on in your presentation, you should tell your audience exactly what they’ll learn, and exactly how they’ll learn it. Don’t expect them to listen if they don’t have clear-cut information to listen for. On the other hand, if they know what to listen for, they’ll be more apt to stay engaged throughout your entire presentation so they don’t miss anything.

Featured photo credit: Flickr via farm4.staticflickr.com

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