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How to Improve Your People Skills as a Professional

Updated: May 11, 2020

What helps you build a strong network and forge meaningful relationships with people? That’s right; it’s people skills.

People skills is an essential element for growth and success; professionally, as well as in personal life.

Your people skills can help you grow as a person and live a happier life. They can help you build a better career, constantly delivering excellent results, and establishing fulfilling relationships in your social life.

Just as people skills are vital for your personal life, they are also essential for your work.

You could be outstanding on the job, but lacking people skills may make it a bit challenging to fit in. It may even be why others who are not as qualified as you keep getting promoted.

On the other hand, you may be quite communicative, yet freeze every time you need to speak publicly in front of a large group of people. That doesn't bode well for your presentations, conferences, and networking events.

Where you could potentially serve more people, have greater influence, and professional increase your network.

Wherever you are on the people skills spectrum, there is always room for improvement.

Fortunately, it's not rocket science. Improving your people skills is possible and within reach.

Even if you’re an introvert, you can overcome the barriers that stand in the way of you enhancing your social power.

Without further ado, let’s dive into the crucial people skills rituals you could start practicing for immediate positive results.

Rituals to Include in Your Daily Dealings

What you’re about to learn here are authentic, tried-and-true, golden rules that if you implement into your every day life. I trust will serve you well, as they have served me.

Let’s get to it.

Regular Interactions with Contacts and Colleagues

Image: Sharma Harsish Pixabay

How much time do you spend with people at your workplace? Forty hours a week? Maybe more?

That’s quite a lot of time, which means it’s imperative to have great relationships with them. After all, you’re all working towards the same goals and likely collaborate regularly.

Forming strong work relationships will even help you do your job better.

That’s because getting along with people makes you happier. Working in a friendly atmosphere filled with positive vibes improves your mood, builds your confidence, helps you grow, and makes you more productive.

The same goes for all your professional contacts. Staying in touch with them can be a huge professional advantage. It could be that one of them is trying to fill a position for which you would be ideal.

Regularly mingling with people may just help you get that dream job.

Perhaps someone starts searching for a business partner, and your friendly face comes to mind. See how powerful people skills can be?

Share Values, Goals and Passion Openly

Passively living your life isn’t the way to go. If you have passive communication with colleagues, managers, and contacts, you may be losing a lot of opportunities for personal and professional growth.

Instead of being passive, you need to be more assertive.

Sitting silently in a corner won’t help you improve your social skills and build good relationships. Remember, effective communication is a two-way street.

Openly and honestly sharing your goals and values with people around you will paint a picture of a confident person who works hard to achieve those goals.

It may also spark some interesting conversations. Perhaps someone shares the same values and goals, so they bring you closer together.

Show Credible Interest in the Dealings of Your Contacts

A conversation is not a monologue.

This is a very simple rule that many people easily forget.

You have a person in front of you, who is listening to what you have to say to try and get to know you better.

But are you doing the same?

Sharing your thoughts is important for good networking, but you also need to show interest in other people.

You need to be an active listener. It can’t be all about you. It's all about them, and what they're concerned about, and/or interested in. You don’t want to come across a self-centered person, because no one wants to hang out with such a person, let alone do business with them.

Oh, remember to avoid all distractions. Put your phone and electronic devices away.

Showing genuine interest in your contacts’ dealings will make them feel more comfortable sharing their own goals and ideas. Your relationship will start blossoming before you know it.

Learn Non-Verbal Cues and Watch out for Them

Image: Pixabay

Maya Angelou once said: “I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.”

This is absolutely true. What you say is important, but how you say it often carries more weight.

So, you need to make sure your body language gives off positive vibes. It needs to show that you are confident, relaxed, friendly, open for communication, and enthusiastic about working with people.

If you want to make a good first impression (which may be a lasting impression) and avoid appearing closed off, you need to practice good non-verbal communication.

Picking up non-verbal cues in others is also vital, as it will help you approach them properly and at the right time.

Here are some simple dos and don’ts to keep in mind

Body Language Dos

  1. Have an open and relaxed posture.

  2. Stand up tall or sit up straight with arms by your side.

  3. Maintain good eye contact with the person you’re talking to.

  4. Turn your body towards your interlocutor.

  5. Nod when agreeing to something.

  6. Always remember to smile. Smiling is the most important body language cue when networking.

  7. No matter who you’re talking to, approach them as a friend you’ve known for a long time. That way, they will feel comfortable in your presence, so they too will relax and focus on forming a good relationship.

Body Language Don'ts

  1. Don’t cross your arms, because you would seem closed off or shy.

  2. Don’t hide your hands in pockets.

  3. Don’t look down. You want to show interest and confidence.

  4. Don’t roll your eyes. It may look disrespectful.

  5. Don’t fidget, as you may come across as impatient or nervous.

  6. Don’t pat your legs, as you would seem uncomfortable.

  7. Don’t invade someone’s personal space.

How to Pull Them Off Properly

Now that you know what to do to improve your people skills, it’s time to learn a couple of ways to apply them.

You may already have a few ideas by now, let's enlarge your toolbox a bit more, and explore some suggestions for properly pulling these rituals off.

Regular Interactions with Contacts and Colleagues

Limiting your interactions to “hello,” “thank you,” “goodbye,” and the like is not going to cut it. You’re not networking to simply smile and show off your wardrobe.

You need to start making some small talk if you want your networking to be fruitful.

What you need to do is become a hotcake networker both in the office and at networking events.

How? By being approachable, natural, invigorating, applicable, and, most of all, authentic. Be the person people want to talk to.

Come up with an icebreaker, such as mentioning the latest trend in your industry or an interesting event that has been making the headlines. You can also use a joke, a compliment, or anything else that will get the conversation going.

Don’t try to make everyone like you. We’re not wired that way. Simply be yourself, be open, love who you are, and others will see you and appreciate your authenticity.

Share Values, Goals and Passion Openly

Image: creozavr. Pixabay

How to share your goals, values, and ideas if you’re not used to doing it?

How to be open if you’re an introvert?

The key is not to hold yourself back. Behave like you are in a room filled with lifelong friends who want to hear all about your thoughts and passions.

When you let people in on your passion path, they will see you as someone optimistic, open, resilient, and dedicated.

And that passion of yours doesn’t have to be anything related with your job. If you value loyalty and respect in business above anything else, talk about that. But if you love gardening, don’t shy away from talking about that too.

Networking is about making meaningful connections, and you won’t make them by only talking about the weather. You need to open up and let people see you.

Showing Interest in the Dealings of Your Contacts

Care about what they care about.

How to show a networking contact that you’re interested in their lives, and genuinely want to hear what they have to say? By asking questions.

Ask your conversation partner about their dream job when they were young, and growing up. Their life-defining moment(s), their passions, whether they caught the game last night, how their weekend was, or what the highlight of their week was.

They’ll start talking and, before you know it, you’ll be sharing personal stories as if you’ve known each other for years. It’s really that easy to spark a meaningful conversation.

Again, you need to really listen, be fully present and empathetic. Sometimes, you may not feel like it, open will you be if your conversation partner "appears" not to feel like making a conversation with you? Usually, it's not a good feeling. So, don't do it to them.

When you're really listening, fully present and empathetic, you’ll show that you're friendly. That'll open the doors to follow-ups, and more in-depth interactions in the future.

Learning Non-Verbal Cues and Watching for Them

Putting your body on lock-down at networking events is the worst thing you could do. So, how to get your body language to speak volumes about your personality?

You need to have an open and relaxed posture, ensuring you stand up tall or sit up straight with arms by your side. Don’t cross your arms, because you may come across as closed off or shy.

Make sure you maintain good eye contact with the person you’re talking to and turn your body towards them. Avoid fidgeting, nod when agreeing to something, and don’t invade someone’s personal space.

And always remember to smile. Smiling is the most important body language cue when networking. No matter who you’re talking to, approach them as a friend you’ve known for a long time. That way, they'll feel comfortable in your presence, enabling them to relax and focus on forming a good relationship with you.

In a Nutshell

Statistics Related to Social Skills Used by Professionals

I’ve done a bit of research on social skills and found some very interesting stats that prove these skills can be quite powerful.

So, if you happen to think that people skills are overrated, you are (hopefully) likely to change your opinion. Let’s take a look at some social skills stats that may be eye-opening for you.

Good Social Skills Improve Job Opportunities

Social skills are quite valuable in the job market.

According to research by David Deming, the importance of social skills at work has grown significantly from between 1980 and 2012.

During that time, job candidates who combined social and technical skills had seized much better job opportunities than those without social skills.

Available jobs for such candidates rose by 7.2%, while their wages increased by 26%.

The latest Pew Research Center study estimated that employment in occupations requiring social skills is expected to grow by 13.1% by 2024.

HR is Searching for People with Social Skills

According to a 2015 LinkedIn study, social skills are one of the top 10 in-demand soft skills that employers are looking for.

A Job Outlook 2020 survey by the National Association of Colleges and Employers (NACE) revealed that employers are still looking for the same soft skills.

They want to hire college graduates with strong communication, leadership, interpersonal skills, all of which are, in fact, social skills.

They are also looking for people with a strong work ethic, good problem-solving skills, and the ability to work well in a team.

Yet another study, “Hard Facts About Soft Skills” by Wonderlic, showed that employers find soft skills, including social skills like communication, teamwork, and professional behavior, essential or very important when hiring.

Managers with Soft Skills Have Improved Performance

Just like other team members, managers, too, can improve work performance by improving their soft skills.

This was proven by a study on the effect of soft skills on employee performance at the University of Malaya. According to the research, managers who acquired social skills during the time of study managed to increase their work performance by 14.5%.


Hopefully, you realize by now how important people skills are in the business world. They can help you seize a wealth of possibilities and become a better, happier version of yourself.

If you're wanting to improve your social skills, such as communication, and becoming a hotcake net-worker, you’re in the right place.

At Orankan Resources and Training, we equip individuals and businesses looking to master communication and people skills with the important tools to get the job done.

We can help you perfect your social skills by teaching you how to break the ice when networking, present like a professional, and negotiate and sell successfully.

We offer business classes, people skills training, and more in Berlin and Hamburg. you're welcome to reach out and engage in our personalised and fun training courses.

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