Social skills are important at every age, but the social skills required by children are different from those required by adults.

Adults with strong social skills have an easier time at work, at home, and out on the town. Some people develop excellent social skills at a young age, while others require more time and effort to communicate effectively. Social skills are applicable to many facets of life. Those with excellent social skills are in a better position to deal with life effectively. Poor social skills make life much more challenging.

Build these essential social skills and transform your life: 

Eye contact. A lack of eye contact can be interpreted as disinterest, shyness, a lack of confidence, or as odd behavior. A certain amount of eye contact is necessary if you want to be taken seriously. How much eye contact is appropriate depends on the situation.

* While speaking, maintain eye contact for about five seconds, then look away for a couple of seconds.

* While listening, give more eye contact. Consider looking at one eye for a few seconds, then the other eye, and then the mouth.

2. Provide constructive criticism. This skill can be challenging because others have varying degrees of tolerance for any type of criticism.

* Sandwich the criticism between two compliments. The first compliment boosts their mood, then the criticism can follow. The final compliment lifts their spirits.

* Address the behavior or the situation, not the person. For example, telling someone that they’re a slob is less effective than telling them their clutter is creating challenges for you.

* Give recommendations. Offer up some advice on what can be done to improve.

3. Listening skills. Eye contact is a big part of listening well. The other major component is your focus. Give your full attention to what the other person is saying. Ask relevant questions and give feedback. Avoid looking around the room. Everyone knows you’re disinterested if you’re distracted or looking for an escape. Focus takes practice.

4. Building rapport. Communication is usually more than just sharing information. Communication is a tool for building relationships. Without rapport, there is no relationship.

* Maintain good eye contact and smile.

* Use the other person’s name.

* Ask questions about the other person.

* Find commonalities. What do you both like to do? What are your shared interests?

* Use their favorite words and phrases. Have you ever noticed that you and your closest friends eventually share vocabulary and phrases? You can start doing that right away.

5. Knowing how much to share. If you share too little, you seem aloof or reserved. Share too much and you’re viewed as inappropriate or weird. As a rule, only share a little more than the other person is willing to share.

* Consider the situation, too. A job interview, the office, and a night of drinking with your longtime friends are three different situations that call for different amounts of sharing.

6. Sharing time. The person that never stops talking is a bore. The person that never has anything to say is also a bore. Communication requires give and take. Ensure that you’re holding up your end on both fronts. Contribute to the conversation, but be prepared to listen, too.

Social skills can be enhanced at any age, so it’s never too late to learn how to communicate more skillfully. Social skills are perhaps the most essential skills you can possess. Without social skills, you’re forced to deal with the world on your own. Those with outstanding social skills have an abundance of opportunities available to them.

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