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An Adult's Guide to Social Skills, for Those Who Were Never Taught

https://www.nytimes.com/2020/01/23/smarter-living/adults-guide-to-social-skills.html

nytimes.com

An Adult's Guide to Social Skills, for Those Who Were Never Taught
It's a shame so few of us are taught the basics of how to interact constructively with each other. If you never were, we're here to help. Unlike topics like math or science, social skills are more of a "learn on the job" kind of skill.

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The social foundation: emotional intelligence

Emotional intelligence (or E.I.) is your ability to be aware of your own emotions, to recognize emotions in others and use that information to guide your behavior.

When you develop your own E.I., you can understand and improve your social interactions.

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The general categories of E.I.

  • Self-awareness: Do you get anxious in loud environments? Self-awareness is knowing these things about yourself.
  • Self-regulation deals with your ability to manage your own emotions. 
  • Motivation: You know how to motivate yourself and create or continue projects because you choose to.
  • Empathy: It means recognizing the emotions of others.
  • Socialization: It is your ability to navigate social situations, including conveying your ideas to co-workers or dealing with a conflict in a relationship.

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Constructively confront someone

Our own fears keep us from confronting others. We fear that we'll lose something, hurt someone we care about, or that it will accomplish nothing.

  • Recognize that fear in yourself and identify the real issues that led to the conflict.
  • When you are able to discuss the issue, instead of firing accusations, describe your behavior using "I" statements: "I feel hurt that .............................."

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Speak up in a group

Group conversations are loud and can seem chaotic. Don't get frustrated. Go with the flow of the conversation and look for opportunities to jump in.

When you say something, speak loudly and with confidence. Keep your stories short or frame a complaint as a story.

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Make (and keep) new friends

The most important aspect of developing a new friendship is to show up.

  • Decide that you're going to make friends and then put yourself in situations where you can find friends. Take a class or join a club.
  • Make a point to follow up if you found someone you want as a friend. 

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Strike up a conversation

Most of us are willing to talk to a stranger. Few are eager to make the first move.

If the person seems open to a conversation and is not busy, start by saying hello or opening with a compliment. After that, you can keep the conversation flowing by offering an observation or insight and follow it up with a question.

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SIMILAR ARTICLES & IDEAS:

Emotional intelligence

It is the ability to manage our own emotions and react to the emotions of others.

People who exhibit emotional intelligence have the less obvious skills necessary to get ahead in life,...

5 key areas of emotional intelligence

  • Self-awareness: it involves knowing your own feelings. 
  • Self-management: it involves being able to keep your emotions in check when they become disruptive.
  • Motivation, for the sake of personal joy, curiosity or the satisfaction of being productive.
  • Empathy: the skill and practice of reading the emotions of others and responding appropriately.
  • Social skills: this can include finding common ground with others, managing others in a work environment and being persuasive.

Improving self-awareness

  • Keep a journal of your emotions. At the end of every day, write down what happened to you, how you felt, and how you dealt with it. 
  • Ask for input from people who know you well about where your strengths and weaknesses lie, to gauge your perception from another’s point of view.
  • Slow down (or meditate). The next time you have an emotional reaction to something, try to pause before you react.

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Observe and recap

The Non-violent communication (NVC) process begins with neutral observation.

In conversations, this is most easily done by recapping what someone has said, without emotional input.

Describe emotions, not positions

For NVC, talk feelings, not issues. 

The hard part in nailing this step is expressing only your own emotional turmoil, rather than translating your emotions into blame. 

Describing feelings of concern, fear, heartbreak, rage, dismay, or confusion are useful.

Identify needs

According to NVC teachings, all of the emotions we experience when we’re upset are connected to an unmet need, which is a requirement for contentment.

In a heated conversation, returning to identifying needs can remove roadblocks.