March 18

Social Skill Development -Skills for Success with Others


Social Skills are a critical category of emotional intelligence that encompasses our ability to interact, collaborate, and communicate effectively with others. Developing these skills is essential for building trust, forging deeper connections, enhancing influence, fostering a positive culture, increasing engagement, and empowering leaders to realize their leadership potential.


I have had the opportunity to meet and work with many very smart people. IQ smart specifically. It is rare that I meet someone with high IQ and high EQ, though that is definitely possible for people willing to grow their EQ.

A few years ago I met a person, let's call him John, who fits that "very smart person" profile. John started his own company in technology. He had some ups and downs getting it profitable, but then hit on a few innovations that opened the door to sustainable success. As John's company grew, he added more employees. Soon his small company grew to be a mid-size company.

 That is when the gaps started to show. There is something called "the founders trap", that can limit organizational growth. Basically, it is when an owner grows their organization to a point they can no longer control everything on their own. The trap happens when they continue to try to control everything. I had a conversation with John the first time I met him. It went something like this:

Me: John, what are you experiencing right now that is creating concern for you?

John: My company has grown to a point it is difficult to manage everything.

Me: Are you trying to manage everything by yourself?

John: Not everything, I leave the smaller stuff for my leadership team. I only focus on the important things.

Me: And those are?

John: Basically anything that impacts the bottom line.

Me: [considering that bottom line impact items probably encompass a lot more than John's capacity] It sounds as if things are falling through the cracks. Can your leadership team step up and help you?

John: I would like that.

Me: So what is standing in the way of that happening?

John: [taking a minute to consider the question] They do not think like me. I don't know if I can trust them with bigger things.

Me: What have you done to explore the possibility with them?

John: I am waiting for them to come to me!

From this initial conversation I learned some very important things. John is very smart from an IQ perspective. He likes the business model he has built but it is not working as effectively as before. His emotional intelligence is not very high (as confirmed through selected assessments later). His social skill development is a significant gap in his toolbox as a leader. He had bought into the myth that you only have to focus on your strengths to be successful. Now that those strengths were not working as well for him, he was at a loss as to what to do next.

This story has a happy ending. As I worked with John and helped him improve his emotional intelligence skills, his ability to connect, build trust, and engage his team grew. The more his social skills increased, the more he saw the potential in his team, and the better his leadership impact became. Today, John has developed a very good balance between his approach as an owner, his leadership, and his desire to invest in the growth of his people.

The Importance of Social Skills

The value of social skills lies in their role in fostering healthy relationships both personally and professionally. They allow us to navigate social complexities, lead with empathy, and create environments where people feel understood and valued.

Developing social skills involves:

  • Active Listening: Truly listen to what others are saying, without formulating your response while they speak.
  • Effective Communication: Share your thoughts clearly and concisely and tailor your message to your audience.
  • Empathy: Make an effort to understand others' perspectives and feelings.
  • Conflict Resolution: Develop the ability to address disputes and find mutually beneficial solutions.
  • Collaboration: Work effectively within a team, valuing each member's contribution.
By improving social skills, individuals become more adept at managing relationships, leading to increased trust and cooperation. This development can lead to a healthier, more engaging workplace culture and better team performance.

Key Elements of Social Skills

1. Interpersonal Relationships: Building strong bonds by being approachable and available.

  • Open Communication: Share your thoughts and feelings candidly. This fosters intimacy and trust, as both parties feel safe to be vulnerable.
  • Active Listening: Truly listen when others speak, rather than waiting for your turn to talk. This helps you understand the "real" person behind the words.
  • Mutual Respect: Respect for each other's opinions and feelings can go a long way in nurturing a deep relationship. It builds a foundation of trust and understanding.
  • Shared Experiences: Create and share new experiences together to strengthen bonds. This could be as simple as trying a new hobby or as grand as traveling to a new place.
  • Gratitude and Appreciation: Regularly expressing gratitude can enhance any relationship. It makes people feel valued and appreciated.

By deepening interpersonal relationships, we not only build trust but also connect at deeper levels which enhances our influence on each other, fosters a better culture, increases engagement, and empowers leaders to unlock their full leadership potential.

2. Responsibility: Being reliable and dependable in your interactions with others.

  • Self-Acknowledgment: Recognizing that every aspect of our lives is a result of our actions, decisions, and choices. It involves understanding that blaming others or circumstances takes away our power to change our life for the better.
  • Self-Reflection: Continuously reflecting on our actions, acknowledging our flaws and strengths, and being committed to personal growth. It's about striving for betterment even when it's challenging.
  • Action-Oriented Approach: Taking responsibility involves proactive behavior—setting goals, making plans, and following through. It's about not waiting for things to happen but making them happen.
  • Learning from Mistakes: Embracing the lessons from our failures and mistakes as opportunities for growth. This helps us move forward rather than being stuck in regret.
  • Balanced Responsibility: While it's essential to be responsible for our part, it's equally important to not overextend and take on too much, which can lead to burnout and resentment.
By going deeper into responsibility, we can experience a more meaningful and empowered life, where we are in control of our destiny and can leave a legacy of lasting kindness and achievement.

3. Assertiveness: Communicating your needs and boundaries respectfully and clearly.

  • Self-Respect: Being assertive starts with self-respect—valuing your own needs and feelings as much as others'. Recognizing your self-worth is the first step to conveying your needs assertively.
  • Clear Communication: Assertiveness involves expressing your thoughts and feelings clearly and directly without causing offense or behaving passively or aggressively.
  • Setting Boundaries: Knowing and setting healthy boundaries is vital. It involves the ability to say "no" when necessary, without feeling guilty for prioritizing your own needs.
  • Honesty and Directness: Rather than hinting or expecting others to read your mind, assertiveness means being honest and direct about your desires or concerns.
  • Handling Criticism: Part of assertiveness is the capacity to receive and handle criticism constructively, viewing it as an opportunity for growth and self-improvement.
Developing assertiveness can lead to more authentic relationships, enhanced decision-making, and increased confidence. By being assertive, you can build trust, avoid misunderstanding, and create an environment where open dialogue flourishes. It is not just about getting your way but about finding a common ground where all parties feel heard and respected.

4. Persuasion and Influence: Guiding conversations and outcomes in a positive direction.

  • Active Listening: Truly understanding others' perspectives allows you to tailor your arguments to address their concerns and values, making your persuasive efforts more effective.
  • Empathy: Empathy helps build rapport and trust, which are crucial for influence. Showing genuine concern for others' feelings and viewpoints can open them up to be more receptive to your ideas.
  • Storytelling: A compelling story can captivate attention and make your message more memorable, thereby enhancing your persuasive impact.
  • Cialdini's Principles of Persuasion: Cialdini's widely respected work outlines key principles such as reciprocity, commitment and consistency, social proof, authority, liking, and scarcity, all of which are fundamental to persuading others effectively.
  • Communication Techniques: Knowing how to present your ideas clearly and concisely, and understanding when to use logical versus emotional appeals, are part of effective persuasive communication.
  • Difference Between Persuasion and Influence: It is important to distinguish between these two concepts. Persuasion can be a one-time act of convincing, while influence is built over time and can have a longer-lasting effect on someone’s attitudes and actions.
  • Building a Foundation: To go deeper in influence and persuasion, one must focus on credibility, consistency, and the quality of the relationships built with others. It's not just about what you communicate, but how you live out the values you advocate for.
Mastering persuasion and influence involves understanding human psychology, practicing clear and impactful communication, and building genuine connections with others. It’s a complex skill set that, when developed, can lead to more meaningful engagements and the ability to guide outcomes in various aspects of life.

These skills are integral for leaders who aim to inspire their teams, drive organizational success, and achieve high levels of performance and satisfaction.

By investing in the development of social skills, leaders can enhance their competence in all aspects of interaction. This investment pays dividends in the form of stronger teams, more effective leadership, and a more robust, dynamic organization.

Copyright © 2024 EQFIT® - Author: Steven Goodner. All rights reserved. No portion of this material may be reproduced in any form without permission from the publisher, except as permitted by U.S. copyright law. For permissions contact:


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