On being more socially skilled

Social skills allow us to form connections, influence decisions, and motive change in others. However, last time in a seminar, social anxiety came to my mind with fear to approach strangers to make new friends. When the speaker asked the audience questions and asked for a volunteer to speak up, everyone avoided raising their hands and no one dared to present their ideas on stage. Social skills would be a vital skill for me to have and hone, as a lack of them would have an enormous negative impact on my career and level of success in life. I spent 2 hours travel a long way to the event, with the hope to meet more people outside of my circle, since I am an ex-pat without knowing many people here. After the event, I could have talked to the local people sitting next to me, tried to learn from their life story and made a new connection. It felt quite lonely sometimes sitting at the corner being quiet without being noticed. This felt safe and guaranteed not losing face, but this is an unnecessary self-consciousness to prevent me from talking to strangers. Instead of being sociable, I walked straight out of the classroom and got zero contact whatsoever, not even eye contact with others to avoid a socially awkward situation.

I might have done differently in that situation by overcoming social anxiety and be confident in meeting new people. I should have the awareness that even popular celebrities suffer from this nervousness from time to time. I am not the only one in a networking event feeling stress, but at least I tried by attending it, instead of running away, go home and sleep. I should stop creating self double and scaring myself with what might go wrong. The truth is I have my strengths and ability to handle this kind of social situation, as I can visualize myself doing it successfully with a bit of imagination. I would have prepared my opening lines in advance and tried to be approachable. This also requires practice, practice and practice to grasp all sort of opportunities to socialize. I shouldn’t limit myself to only MBA events and dinner to network. And I don’t need to give up trying to be perfect. Understand that it is fine to make mistakes. I don’t need to compare myself with seasoned presenters as they spent years honing their skills and craft. I can arrive at events earlier so that I have time to be familiar with the audience. I can do some practice run to get into the groove of things. Lastly, I don’t need to be discouraged if I did not do a good social connection. All masters were once disasters.

In general, to work on improving my social skills, I need to be more social, since the best way to learn is by doing. Once I began to talk to strangers, I can improve myself with self-observations, or according to the feedback I hear, both positive and negative ones. Face a social event as frequently as I can, and I will soon stop shying. I will tend to remove all fear of talking to strangers and will lead to confidence. Remember that myself is not the most important person in the social situation, I am only the secondary. For social connection, I must not let my ego fill up my mind, and the strangers will not hurt me. Take a deep breath, relax and begin in a conversational tone as if I were speaking to a friend. I will not find myself as bad as I imagined, the reality is, I would have something important to say. Because I read widely and daily, with knowledge and up to date news to share, including jokes to give him or her a laugh. Lastly, I would keep it to a minimum, just enough friendliness and energy to make a connection instead of scare people away from thinking I have some agenda to take advantage of people by pleasing them. It is just a normal social skill and it takes practice to work on my charisma.

Originally published at https://victorleungtw.com.

By Victor Leung

Experience in software development, consulting services and technical product management. Understanding of business and technology with an MBA in Finance and a Master degree in Computer Science. AWS Certified Solution Architect with experience in building products from scratch and serving as a charismatic leader.

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