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Master social skills to excel at work or play

TO WIN with poise, to lose with grace, to communicate with clarity and convince with ease, to command respect and be endearing to all is an ideal, for many, especially at the workplace .To accomplish this task of universal endearment, positive attitude and appropriate action that exudes grace and elan all one needs is to have the correct social skills. Social skills are one's ability to interpret situations and to behave in an appropriate manner. To banish all sulking and rise above stress , to smile with ease, connect with most others and communicate effectively are all aspects of social skills that are bound to lead one to be acknowledged, liked and also triumph at the workplace.

Professional skills are in abundance at the workplace, the factor then that leads one to climb the ladder of success is impeccable social skills. How one comes across makes an infinite difference to the perception others have of you. An optimist who is always polite, works effortlessly in a team, doesn't flare up when crisis strikes, takes criticism with openness and finds solutions with eagerness is an absolute delight to work with. And it's his effective and appropriate social skills that affect his behaviour and action, making him a leader in his own right. How then can we also learn to master our reactions and make them seem effortless and impeccable?

Assess the situation
Every situation demands an appropriate response and is not just an opportunity to express yourself and vent your feelings. Assess what reaction would be suitable and what the situation demands. Step back rather than getting emotionally involved. Ascertain what the opinions of others are, what is their current mood, for example in a heated conversation; it would be disastrous to further blame anyone, rather offer a solution. Or if a colleague has received negative feedback, offering words of support will also demonstrate good social capabilities.
Take responsibility
It is your reaction that determines your external behaviour. By taking responsibility for your reactions and action you can choose to learn and rise above every difficult situation. Be it failure, defeat, criticism, by not blaming others, or the work culture, you can choose to not react with anger or frustration. Rather you can choose to be responsible for your reaction and calmly look at the lessons to be learnt. One has to accept the consequences of all actions. There is not point in holding grudges or complaining. No one wants to be around a person who complains.
Be positive
The optimist is universally liked. Playing the blame game, sulking or indulging in pessimism only leads to development of an eternally condescending attitude, which is not an endearing trait to possess. Exuding optimism ensures that people look forward to working with you as you create liveliness, zeal and turn disappointment into an opportunity for growth.
The golden rule
The golden rule of good social skills is being polite, at all times, under every circumstance. Congeniality is a much liked trait. Being friendly, connecting with others, being respectful, helps one command respect for one self. To begin with smile and greet others. Make eye contact when in conversation, maintain a comfortable distance, check your body language- a critical stance does leave behind an unsaid message and can be perceived negatively. Always use courteous language and an appropriate tone of voice. We tend to develop a shrill voice when complaining or in argument. This lead to swords being drawn as the tone of accusation gathers more attention, rather than the point being made. An assertive yet normal pitch can actually help you state yourself and be heard with openness. As the adage goes, "it's not only what you say, but also how you say it that also matters".
Engaging with others
Work is not done in a vacuum. Interaction is constant in team work. And often in many a situation, we do feel awkward, wondering how to behave or react. Pay attention, to which situation makes you uncomfortable and fidgety and how can you work towards this. When taking instruction listen attentively and clarify your doubts. When pointing out a problem stick to the facts and offer a solution, when being criticised, be humble and open to suggestions. Never put the person on the other end in a defensive position. Demonstrate a will to listen, acknowledge their ideas or authority and be appreciative of them. People tend to remember how you made them feel.
Clear communication
All is lost if expressions fails or is misunderstood. Without clarity of expression and behaviour, your good will, pleasant nature, amicable attitude, forward thinking ability will never really be given a chance to be completely understood or even known. Think before you talk. Ascertain beforehand what you want to say, and don't simply express every thought that comes to mind. Speaking, and behaving with clarity, avoids misunderstanding, helps one get across as they truly are, and is a sign of confidence.

What marks the leader, that brilliant worker who shines above all else? It is not only his capability but also his action and immaculate behaviour. With grace and humility, clear communication and smart adaptability, you will win all others, be an employee of repute and be on your way to great growth and success, such is the benefit of good social skills.

The Hindu - Education Plus - Wednesday, January 24, 2007