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Social Skills in the Workplace

Victoria L. Rayner November 2008 issue of Skin Inc. magazine
paper cutout people

There are many different relationships that can be formed in this world, but few are as important as the ones developed between those who share their workspace. The way team members relate to each other in a professional environment is vitally important because these individuals have such an impact on the overall quality of an employee’s life. If you do not relate well to those with whom you interact on a daily basis, it can cause enormous problems that can affect not only your health and emotional well-being, but also can threaten the very core of your financial security. Following is advice to help minimize friction and assist you in better understanding and relating to the people with whom you work.

Team-friendly

If you are a career-conscious professional, you may want to investigate the meaning of the term“team-friendly.” When any relationship exists between two people, tension and opposition are very real possibilities. The reason for this is simple—each person has limitations and unique qualities and each will affect the other. Getting along with other professionals requires finesse.

In a workplace setting, the use of social skills is often called “emotional intelligence.” Today’s workforces are synergized; it is worth the trouble to practice and perfect your communication skills. Team-friendly workers know that what they say and do affects the entire workforce, and their unsuitable actions do more harm to themselves than anyone else. See Transforming Your Image for ideas on how to improve your social skills in the workplace.

How to lose professional support

Although certain personalities are endearing, others are likely to trigger negative responses and could be used against a person in a business environment. For example, if you try to dominate a group of your peers, you most assuredly will have a tougher time inspiring them; whereas, if you were to coach, you would more easily persuade them to go along with your ideas. The distinction between the two is the element of choice and cooperation as opposed to dictating and creating feelings of oppression. Compulsive behavior or poor planning are key areas that need attention and improvement if you feel you are not connecting with others at work.

Social skills

The old workforce structure has slowly been reformed, and the hierarchy that once was the last word in operational management has been abolished to make way for a more team-based organization. To fit in to just about any professional environment these days, you have to show up for work fully prepared to use the following social skills.

  • Sensitivity that demonstrates your highly attentive listening abilities.
  • Confidence to communicate and bring forth new ideas that will stimulate group discussions.
  • Inquisitiveness, or the ability to ask the right questions that will allow you to intermingle easily with others in collaborative situations.
  • Influence in order to ask those who oppose your suggestions to at least reconsider their adamant positions.
  • Respectfulness in order to demonstrate to others that you are flexible enough to explore the possibilities they are trying to share.
  • Cooperation in order to contribute to the cohesive structure that is so essential to successful teamwork.
  • Generosity in order to help others see that you are capable of lending your support to buoy their tasks and career undertakings.

For some, these principles will present a welcome challenge and for others, perfecting these workplace attributes will be slightly more difficult. The idea is to arrive at a place where you are socially skilled enough not to argue and open-minded enough not to judge.

One of the greatest personal satisfactions that can be experienced in a work situation comes from successful professional relationships. On the other hand, the opposite is equally as true. Great humiliations and disappointments can stem from being rejected and betrayed by fellow employees. It is very uncomfortable to have to show up to a place every day where you feel that no one wants you. It can play havoc on a person’s self-confidence and self-worth, not to mention destroy a career.

If this has occurred, how does a person who is perceived as far-from-favorable get over it? Step back and take the time to evaluate the changes in the new work culture. By taking this action, leverage can be gained, and you can begin to build yourself up from there. All that really matters is to get yourself up to speed again and back on track as part of the team.

A worthy challenge

Given the power of this knowledge, you now have the opportunity to identify and connect better with those you work with instead of being tormented by things that you should never have said or done. It is always easier to say “this feeling is only temporary” rather than “I am going to have to do some serious damage control.” If you can use these formulas to turn your attention away from gloating and gossiping and the other moldy stuff that drives you crazy in the workplace, you can look forward to the best of times. Be it a huge or a trivial disagreement, the result will always be the same: Workplace conflicts are a real threat because they fuel fears and insecurities, no matter how you justify or rationalize the situation. The more in sync you are with your own feelings and those of the people around you, the better you are going to relate.

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Transforming Your Image

Relating to people at the workplace can be tricky. The following recommendations should help to avert problems. You can immediately alter the dynamics of your workforce circumstances by doing the following.

  • Be thoughtful of others and practice basic business manners.
  • Maintain self-control when unexpectedly encountering the wrath of an angry co-worker.
  • Conceal frustration and don’t give in to transient emotions.
  • Ask permission from others before just assuming or taking liberties.
  • Rethink what could be interpreted by others as a strictly self-directed focus.
  • Come into work rested and refreshed instead of exhausted and irritable.
  • Don’t demand the completion of a task during the last hour of the workday.
  • Don’t exaggerate or distort the truth, or make excuses for uncompleted tasks.
  • Don’t brag about personal successes or acquisitions.
  • Listen to the feelings of others without judging them.
  • Be more aware of the signals being communicated through nonverbal gestures.
  • Use encouraging phrases to show support to peers.
  • Discard old prejudgments and beliefs about peers and begin to see them in a whole new light.

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