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Why are social skills so important and how can they be promoted?

Reading time 7 minutes
Why are social skills so important and how can they be promoted?

People who are socially competent are much more confident in their dealings with others. This has advantages, particularly in professional life. The term social competence covers a wide range of personal qualities that make it easier to get along with others.

Social competence is partly due to disposition, but also to upbringing. The good news is that these desirable traits can be fostered later in life. Below we explain how this works.

What is meant by social competence?

Social competence is one of the so-called soft skills. Unlike hard skills, social attributes cannot be measured by grades or degrees. Social competence only reveals itself in direct interpersonal contact. Socially competent people are perceived by those around them as likeable, reliable and sociable.

Furthermore, social competence is essential to successfully apply newly acquired knowledge. Learning something in theory is easy. Your skills only become really useful when you interact with other people. So social competence says a lot about a person's potential.

If the necessary social competencies are lacking, it is difficult to communicate with others. Inspire people for their own ideas. However, the latter is necessary to achieve personal and professional goals.

Social competence is therefore synonymous with empathy and social intelligence. If you have these skills, you can always react appropriately even in critical situations.

Put simply, social competence comprises two essential components:

  1. Constructive Conflict skills
  2. Willingness to cooperate
social skills examples

The most important social skills at a glance: 6 examples

Social competence is based on the following four basic building blocks:

  1. Dealing with yourself (also referred to as personal competence).
  2. Dealing with other people
  3. cooperation
  4. People management

The individual basic building blocks in turn comprise a variety of characteristics such as personal responsibility, ability to work in a team, Self-confidence or persuasiveness. It is hardly possible to name the most important social skills across the board. Which skills prove to be particularly advantageous always depends on the (professional) context.

Nevertheless, we would like to take a closer look at six important social skills below, which are basically always beneficial:

1. communication skills

Communication skills are understood to be the ability to formulate facts clearly and concisely so that there is no room for Misunderstandings or speculation is left. It is important that no one feels hurt or ignored by your statements. Because those around you feel understood by you, they are more likely to follow your suggestions (or instructions).

Example: As a supervisor, you can accurately explain to your employees the necessity of work processes that at first glance seem cumbersome or even irrelevant.

2. ability to work in a team

In almost every job posting, applicants are expected to be able to work in a team as a hiring criterion. There is a perfectly good reason for this: Where many people come together - as is the case in most companies - compromises have to be made. Common ground must be found in order to achieve the best possible work result.

The ability to work in a team means working with each other instead of against each other. Even in the event of disagreements, people who are able to work in a team always remain respectful of each other. They help each other instead of competing with each other.

Example: You notice that a colleague at work is struggling with a new project. Instead of ignoring his distress and focusing solely on your work, you are helpful to him.

3. critical faculties

No one reaps praise exclusively. That is perfectly normal. What is important with regard to your own sovereignty is how you deal with criticism. Social competence is characterized by the fact that you do not value criticism as a personal attack, but see it as an opportunity for growth. Conversely, you should also express points of criticism to other people objectively.

Example: You receive an assessment that you believe is incorrect. Of course, you can and should express this accordingly. Nevertheless, it makes sense to deal with the points of criticism: Couldn't there be some truth behind it - perhaps just worded in an unfortunate way? What can I change in order to no longer create such an impression?

4. empathy

empathy means being able to empathize emotionally with other people. You are able to understand why a person acts in a certain way. This is true even if the action seems irrational at first. Empathic people can respond appropriately to the emotional states of their fellow human beings and give them new courage.

Example: You notice that one of your employees is unfocused and makes mistakes. Instead of giving him a harsh reprimand or even a warning, you try to find out the reasons for his lack of concentration. In a personal conversation, you learn that there has recently been a death in the employee's family. You then offer your condolences and provide relief at the workplace.

5. charisma

You know those people who make an entire room shine with their presence as soon as they walk into it? In this case one speaks of a pronounced Charisma. Charismatic people manage to win others over in the blink of an eye and inspire them with their ideas. It is a seemingly almost magical attraction.

Example: A new employee starts in your department. He or she is immediately popular with all colleagues and superiors and is often asked for advice. Almost all colleagues feel inspired by the person's manner and try to make contact.

6. assertiveness

Assertiveness does not mean enforcing one's own will with (verbal) force. Rather, it is about convincing other people with sound arguments. Assertive people pursue their goals with great vigor and do not allow themselves to be diverted from their course even by difficulties that arise.

Example: You want to start your own business and are applying for a grant. You are aware that your business idea must be absolutely convincing in order to receive the grant. You prepare for the interview with a sound business plan. You stand up for your idea with conviction, so that you can convince all the people involved.

social competence definition

Social vs. personal competence: What is the difference?

The difference between social and personal competence is explained quite quickly and simply: The social competence describes your interaction with other people. The personal competence describes how you treat yourself.

Example: You have the ability and willingness to reflect on yourself. It is a great concern for you to develop yourself personally. You shape your life in all areas according to your own ideas, without acting recklessly. Personal competence also means being aware of your own strengths and weaknesses to be aware.

It makes perfect sense to work on both competencies, as they often complement each other.

Promote social competence step by step with these 5 tips

Unfortunately, you can't acquire social competence as easily as theoretical expertise. Nor can it be faked. Social competence is either present or not (yet). Nevertheless, it is possible to train your social skills in small steps. As long as you work on yourself continuously, you will soon achieve your first successes.

The following tips can help you do this:

1. survey the status quo

The first step is to analyze your social skills: Which skills would be useful in your specific professional context? Which of these skills do you already have? Which aspects do you still need to work on? Feel free to ask other people who you know would give you an honest assessment. give feedback.

2. define your goals

After the analysis, the next step is to define a concrete goal: What overall goal do you want to achieve by promoting your social skills? Do you want to shine in a job interview or get promoted? Or do you want to improve the interpersonal interaction in your work department?

3. determine appropriate measures

Think about how you can develop your social skills, which you currently (still) lack. There are several options open to you in this regard: For example, how about a special training course or a professional Coaching? Some companies even offer social skills training for their employees. If this is the case in your company, take the chance.

4. use your social skills in everyday life

Practice makes perfect: This also and especially applies to your social skills. Try to consciously use your newly acquired skills as often as possible in everyday life to gain routine.

5. ask for honest feedback

As already in the first step honest Feedback is also important after the fact. Consult regularly with people you trust. This can be either your coach or friends or family members. Ask them to evaluate the development of your social skills.

Social competence: Why managers need it

Professional competence is a basic prerequisite for holding the position of a Executive to dress. This is completely indisputable. However, the most outstanding expertise becomes useless if you don't reach your team on a human level.

Social competence is therefore of particular importance for managers. Otherwise, it would not be possible to realize one's own leadership goals. After all, these must be brought into line with the behavior and values of the employees. This requires all those skills that are summarized under the term social competence.

An successful Leaders must be able to build sustainable relationships with customers and employees and maintain them in the long term. If you want to lead, you have to gain the trust of other people and behave empathetically toward them. Only then will employees recognize their leader as such.

The following behaviors often lead to problems in a leadership position:

  • too low Self-esteem
  • a small self-esteem (arrogance)
  • Lack of willingness to cooperate
  • Hardly any impulse control
  • little empathy
  • lack of critical faculties
  • contradictory conduct

Conversely, it is now easy to deduce which social competencies are important for a manager.

Interesting to know: The importance of social skills for customer satisfaction was demonstrated in several Studies proven.

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Conclusion: Social competence forms the basis for professional success

If you want to achieve your professional goals, you should put your social skills to the test and work on existing deficits. A successful career is not only based on specialist knowledge. People in leadership positions must have soft skills to gain the trust and support of employees and sponsors.

With intensive Self-reflection and professional guidance, you can succeed in effectively improving your social skills. In our free workbook "Ten business coaching tips for your career"we provide you with tried and tested practical tips from the field of coaching. You can implement these immediately in your everyday work.

You will learn how to improve your own as well as the Potential of your (future) employees profitably. Impress your colleagues and superiors with your new skills and pave the way for your dream career!

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Reviewed by Dr. med. Stefan Frädrich

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