I was once asked: Why should students learn social skills?
I just rediscovered my answer. It's still worth reading, I think. Especially in these days as more and more people hide behind their phones and Covid has turned going out and meeting people into a lost art.
Social skills are essential to anyone who believes that interacting with others will be important to their personal or financial futures - which is just about everybody (except maybe lighthouse-keepers).
I define social skills as the behaviours and attitudes that help people interact with each other. This includes showing interest in other people, knowing how to conduct pleasant (and productive) conversations, and understanding social norms (e.g., don't talk with your mouth full, hold the door open for people coming in behind you).
It also includes body language (smile more, slouch less), adapting your behaviour to your setting (e.g., you likely act differently at a business meeting than at the bar with friends), making people feel valued, and finding congenial ways to express your opinions or disagree with others without eroding your personal relationships.
Social skills are essential to success in your career and your personal life. If you go around being rude or missing social cues, you can't expect many friends to hang around. If you are good at getting along with a wide variety of people – colleagues, bosses, subordinates, customers, suppliers, etc. – then you can expect to thrive in most professions.
Indeed, those who master social skills are likely to find themselves more popular and more successful than those who practice these skills half-heartedly. It’s the thoughtful gestures – offering to help someone, sending a thank-you note, or making people feel welcome in new environments – that get you noticed as a leader.
Based on old Hollywood movies, you might think that most business leaders succeed through greed and cunning. In truth, most people advance to the top by displaying social skills – acknowledging individuals’ contributions, making people feel part of a team, and continually extending their network of contacts.
Social skills alone won't get you to the top. But you’ll never get there without demonstrating empathy and respect for others.
Open your eyes, open your heart, and always open doors for other people.
(See also: "Every person is an adventure")