14 Social Skills to Help You Win in Life

The question is: Do you have social skills? If not, you are not alone. This graphic pretty much sums up my entire social life:

For a long time I didn’t understand the value of social skills.

  • I had tons of great work skills, but not many social skills. 
  • I built my resumé, but not my social strengths. 
  • I was super busy, but never with people.
  • I was lonely.

And when I did hang out with people I felt awkward. I wasn’t sure how to make conversation. I wasn’t sure how to connect with people. 

…and then the “awkwardness cycle” began. The more awkward I felt, the less I hung out with people. The less I hung out with people, the more awkward I got. Repeat.

Does this sound familiar?

Here’s the problem: Brilliant, creative, interesting people like you focus so much on their IQ, they forgot about their PQ (or interpersonal intelligence). They work so hard acquiring technical skills and job skills that they forgot about the social skills and people skills.

What are Social Skills?

Social skills are interpersonal tools we use to communicate, build relationships, and interact with others. They are also called people skills or interpersonal skills

I believe everyone (especially adults) should have social skills training.

Social skills are the only universal job skill.

But so few of us have any social skills training at all! It’s assumed that social skills will be learned by osmosis. Parents figure kids will learn them over time, and teachers hope they happen on the playground. Not true! 

When you have a solid social skills training you are able to:

  • make conversation
  • be memorable
  • ask for help
  • set up boundaries
  • make friends
  • communicate smoothly

Here’s the thing—a great social skills training will teach you there are multiple different types of social skills. In this post I want to teach you the 14 master social skills every adult should know.

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Social Skills Training for Adults:

The following 14 social skills are the skills I believe every adult professional should know. Have you ever heard of Strengths Finder 2.0? This is our Social Strengths Finder.

Typically you have a top 3 social skills that you can leverage and a bottom skill you should work on. 

As you read through these give yourself a rating to find your top skills.

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Linchpin

Linchpins would say yes to the following statements:

___ I am the glue that holds my social group together. 

___ As a team member I’m involved in lots of projects and bringing ideas and people together.

___ I am the only person who talks to everyone in my family and keeps people in the know.

If you said yes to these then you are probably a linchpin!

A linchpin has the following social skills:

  • You bring people together. You are the glue that holds your personal network, family, team together. 
  • You are a social organizer. Not only are you the person who initiates social activities and brings people together at gatherings and events, but also you are skilled at the logistics of planning and hosting. 
  • You are high in conscientiousness and like to be in charge.

Social Skills Training: Not great at being a linchpin, but want to be better? If you want to optimize your social conscientiousness then you should test your skills: 

Take our Big 5 Personality Test FREE

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Conversationalist

Conversationalists would say yes to the following statements:

___ You have been told you are a great conversationalist.

___ You are good at both leading AND facilitating deep discussions.

___ You speak articulately and can easily express yourself.

If you said yes to these then you are probably a great conversationalist! 

A conversationalist has the following social skills:

  • You are skilled at conversing with others, engaging in discussions in a meaningful and non-domineering way.
  • You are great at providing positive feedback to interactants. 
  • During conversation your behavior is gesturally animated, vocally varied and punctuated by positive nonverbal (e.g. smiling, laughing) that demonstrates genuine interest in the conversation. 
  • You focus on your interactant, giving them ample time to speak and encouraging them in both verbal and nonverbal ways. You speak fluently and articulately; you are vocally confident and your conversations are low in nervous gestures like fidgeting, hesitancies, and interruptions. 

Social Skills Training: Not a great conversationalist, but wish you were? Learn our 3 steps to amazing conversation.

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Comedians would say yes to the following statements:

___ I am funny.

___ I love to make people laugh.

___ I can always see the bright side of any situation.

If you said yes to these then you are probably a comedian!

A comedian has the following social skills:

  • You use humor in a positive way that is altruistic, amusing, or helps others feel better.
  • You do not use humor in a way that is other-deprecating, demeaning, or aggressive. 
  • Your comedic approach, which may involve saying funny things, telling jokes, or laughing at yourself, puts others at ease and helps forge a deep connection with them. Research shows that humor really is a social skill.
  • You are able to see the funny side of life even when times are stressful or anxiety-inducing.

Social Skills Training: Would you like to be funnier? I got you! You can absolutely learn to be funny. It is a great social skill to have in your back pocket. 

Learn How to Be Funny in 7 Step

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Speaker

Speakers would say yes to the following statements:

___ I can captivate an audience.

___ I love being on stage or leading a meeting (even on video!)

___ I love writing speeches, giving toasts and giving presentations.

If you said yes to these then you are probably a great speaker!

A speaker has the following social skills:

  • You are artful and impactful in the way you talk to others. 
  • You have presence and charisma in public speaking situations; you seem to command the room. 
  • You have the capacity to deliver insight in a way that seems instinctive, unplanned, and impromptu. Yet, as Oscar Wilde said, “spontaneity is a meticulously prepared art,” and you are highly organized. 
  • Your utterances are delivered with eloquence, passion, power and projection.

Social Skills Training: Not a great speaker? Oh boy, we can help! We have a master guide on public speaking to get your started:

15 Science-Based Public Speaking Tips To Be a Master Speaker

Quick tip for you next time you are on stage:

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Influencer

Influencers would say yes to the following statements:

___ People typically listen to what I have to say.

___ I can be very persuasive.

___ I am good at pitching myself.

If you said yes to these then you are probably an influencer!

An influencer has the following social skills:

  • You have the ability to influence or drive change, with or even without formal authority
  • You are skillful in motivating others to support and champion your cause. 
  • You can read both people and situations, and strategically select and present behaviors in such a way as to influence others towards particular end states
  • You have a great balance of being both assertive and relatable, but you may use tactics such as rational persuasion, exemplification, self-promotion and supplication, as required. 
  • You can sell anything and have no problem pitching yourself.

Social Skills Training: Need help influencing people? Try our free training on how to influence (and transform) difficult people:

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Listener

Listeners would say yes to the following statements:

___ People always come to you to vent, complain or talk about their problems.

___ You tend to listen more than you talk.

___ You are very good at being fully present with people and giving them your full attention.

If you said yes to these then you are probably a great listener!

A listener has the following social skills:

  • You are generous with your ear; encourage others to share their feelings, concerns and interests with you; and demonstrate appreciation for their time. 
  • You grasp and can distinguish between both the words that are said, and their inherent meaning. Talking to you is like therapy. 
  • You give people your full attention and place the focus on others. You are observant of surroundings and naturally curious. 
  • You treat others with respect and bring value to relationships.
  • Researchers Wolvin and Coakley identify different types of listening: discriminative listening, comprehensive listening, therapeutic listening, critical listening, appreciative listening. You might be good at all or some of these social listening skills.

Social Skills Training: Not a great listener? Welp, I struggled with this social skill as well. In fact, I was such a bad listener I took a vow of silence to learn how to be a better listener. Maybe consider taking one too?

Take a Vow of Silence

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Magnet

Magnets would say yes to the following statements:

___ People usually like you.

___ You are charismatic and authentic.

___ People find you approachable and warm.

If you said yes to these then you are probably a magnet!

A magnet has the following social skills:

  • Even without knowing you, people are attracted to you.
  • You light up the room when you enter. You ooze charm and charisma, and you are clearly high in self-esteem. This makes you contagious.
  • You are what the research calls “prosocial” because you have interpersonal appeal to many people. This makes you approachable and relatable. 
  • You are desirable as a friend. You are captivating. People would describe you as likable.

Social Skills Training: Magnets have such an edge in relationships, business, and social situations. In fact, I wrote an entire book about how to be captivating. If you haven’t already, please consider checking out my bestselling book, Captivate: The Science of Succeeding with People. It has been translated into 16 languages and helped people around the world learn how to listen and connect.

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Storyteller

Storytellers would say yes to the following statements:

___ I always have a story to share.

___ I save and remember good stories.

___ People always ask me to give toasts or introduce people.

If you said yes to these then you are probably a great storyteller!

A storyteller has the following social skills:

  • You have the capacity to create stories that spur interest, inspire, and motivate others. (And research shows that stories can do this!)
  • You narrate anecdotes in a compelling and engaging way that provokes an intended emotional reaction from the audience. 
  • When you tell a story, you can use many different verbally persuasive techniques like elaborations, emotive language, and attention to detail.
  • You can always change the mood and atmosphere of a room. People might have told you that you bring scenarios to life. 
  • Your narrative method is imbued with an indefinable magic or spark that helps to form a connection with your listeners and truly involve them in a shared journey through imagination.

Social Skills Training: Not a great storyteller? You can learn:

How to Be a Great Storyteller

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Nurturer

Nurturers would say yes to the following statements:

___ You love taking care of people.

___ You tend to be a people pleaser and have trouble saying no.

___ You are very empathetic and compassionate.

If you said yes to these then you are probably a nurturer!

A nurturer has the following social skills:

  • You demonstrate concern, care, and warmth for others. 
  • Since you have high empathy and compassion, you can equally understand others’ positive and negative feelings. 
  • You love to share in others’ joy and can share their suffering when they are in pain. 
  • You have a strong desire to improve the well-being of others. 

Social Skills Training: For this skill, I actually want to help nurturers protect themselves. Sometimes nurturers need to learn:

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Decoder

Decoders would say yes to the following statements:

___ I am very perceptive.

___ I can usually tell what people are thinking and feeling.

___ I am very good at decoding body language.

If you said yes to these then you are probably a decoder!

A decoder has the following social skills:

  • You have a strong ability to perceive and understand your interpersonal and social environment. 
  • You are curious and have a strong motivation to observe and understand human behavior without falling prey to cognitive biases. 
  • Strong in emotional intelligence, you are highly sensitive to both verbal and nonverbal cues, can detect whether others are truth-telling or deceiving, and can decode social roles, social situations, and social scripts.
  • You are incredibly perceptive and consider yourself a sleuth.

Social Skills Training: Not a great decoder? This is my favorite social skill! The best way to improve your decoding skills is to learn how to read facial expressions.

How to Read Faces Guide

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Leader

Leaders would say yes to the following statements:

___ I like to empower others.

___ People often come to me for guidance.

___ I am better at giving directions than following directions.

If you said yes to these then you are probably a leader!

A leader has the following social skills:

  • You are comfortable taking charge of both people and situations. 
  • You are approachable and authentic in your mannerisms, inspire and empower others to achieve goals, and stimulate others’ intellect. 
  • You take time to truly understand others and are considerate to their needs. Your influence and charisma is idealized by followers. 

Social Skills Training: Do you want to be more of a leader? We have a leadership guide for you to check out:

How to Be a Great Leader: 16 Science Backed Skills

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Connector

Connectors would say yes to the following statements:

___ I spend a lot of time and effort networking with others.

___I am good at building relationships with influential people.

___I have developed a large network of colleagues and associates whom I can call on for support when I really need to get things done.

If you said yes to these then you are probably a great connector!

A connector has the following social skills:

  • You are able to build new relationships easily, and to nurture and maintain existing ones. You expend effort in understanding others and forging a connection with them.
  • You know a lot of important people and are well connected because you actually enjoy spending time developing connections with others.
  • You are good at using your connections and network to make things happen for yourself and others. More on this research here.

Social Skills Training: Not a great connector? Networking is a very unique skill. Read this before your next networking event.

Networking Master Guide

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Dreambuilder

Dreambuilders would say yes to the following statements:

___ You are great at solving people’s problems.

___ You love to encourage people.

___ You are known as a fixer.

If you said yes to these then you are probably a dreambuilder!

A dreambuilder has the following social skills:

  • You are a positive and optimistic person. Some people might even see you as a cheerleader since you have the capacity to boost morale, empower, motivate and inspire others. 
  • You are a source of strength. You love to polish people’s rocks into gems. You are always offering to help people with their goals. 
  • Everyone comes to you with their problems. So you have the delicate balance of being a great listener and problem-solver. 
  • You try to view problems from many different perspectives and points-of-view. You emphasize accuracy over speed, and you are willing to keep your options open. 

Social Skills Training: Not a great dreambuilder? This social skill is a little different from all the others. To encourage others, you have to also have a strong sense of purpose and know your own goals.

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Chameleon

Chameleons would say yes to the following statements:

___ You can get along with anyone.

___ You are a floater socially or professionally–seamlessly flowing to different types of people.

___ You have a variety of friends and interests.

If you said yes to these then you are probably a chameleon!

A chameleon has the following social skills:

  • You are flexible and adaptive to your social environment. Some researchers would say you actively observe social roles and contextual cues, and subconsciously mimic the mannerisms, postures, and behaviors of the people you interact with. 
  • You scrutinize situations so as to know what is expected of you before developing a response. If you feel that your behaviors are not having the intended effect, you can readily change it to something that does. As a consequence, you are welcomed by and integrated into many different social groupings. 
  • In social settings you might be known as a “floater” seamlessly floating from one group to another and being seen as friends with everyone. Snyder calls these prototypic high self-monitors (HSMs). They “read the nature of the situation, invoke an image of the type of person the situation calls for, and then use the image as a guide to their own behavior.”

Social Skills Training: Not a great chameleon? This is the most advanced social skill because it involves elements of all of them! To be a better chameleon work on all of these social skills and tackle your people skills.

10 Essential People Skills

(There is a slight difference between people skills and social skills, so be sure to learn both!)

If you really want to be a master at social skills, work your way through each of these as your own social skills training. Or if you really want to level-up, consider joining People School.

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