7 Factors that Influence Your Social Skills

10 March, 2021
To develop and improve your social skills, the most important thing you need to do is observe and evaluate how you relate to yourself and how prepared you are to understand and respect others.

Social skills help us relate to others effectively. You may be born with a certain disposition towards them, but, basically, they’re skills that you need to learn and develop.

It’s very common to hear people say that social skills are communication techniques. However, they’re much deeper than that. To genuinely develop them, you first have to achieve an inner harmony and balance.

Having social skills doesn’t mean being extroverted, nor does it mean having millions of friends or followers. They’re related to your ability to establish and manage relationships with others. In other words, avoiding conflict and fostering healthy relationships.

A study conducted at Stanford University concluded that social skills have a direct impact on career success. This means better jobs, better salaries, and a greater sense of well-being. What factors influence these skills?

Two friends having a coffee.

Factors to help improve your social skills

1. Self-esteem

Having self-esteem basically means that you value yourself as you are. It doesn’t mean that you consider yourself better than others or imposing yourself on others. Nor does it mean conformism or passivity.

Instead, it’s the ability to see yourself as you are and to feel comfortable with that. You need to feel that you deserve to have positive things happen in your life. In addition to that, you need to easily forgive yourself for your mistakes and look after yourself. In short, you need to have a good relationship with yourself!

2. Self-control

Self-control isn’t the ability to repress your emotions when you should. Rather, it’s the ability to manage your emotions in such a way that you don’t harm yourself or others.

You’re self-controlled when you voluntarily set limits to your behavior. You develop mechanisms and strategies so that you don’t overstep those boundaries. This is a decisive factor in developing social skills because it places the responsibility on yourself and not on others.

3. Assertiveness, a factor that influences social skills

Assertiveness is something that’s closely related to communication skills. It’s a defining factor in the whole area of social skills, and something you have to learn and practice. People aren’t born assertive.

It’s easier to be assertive when your parents were also assertive and instilled it in you by their example. However, if they weren’t (or aren’t), then you can still work on the way you express your ideas and emotions, being clear, precise, and empathetic with those around you.

4. Conversation

Conversation is when social skills come fully into play. It’s related to the way you exchange information, ideas, and feelings. It’s strongly linked to assertiveness.

A good conversation consists of a coherent and balanced exchange. It assumes that those involved are talking about something they really want to talk about. They express themselves and listen to each other, without the desire to impose themselves or prove something to the other person or people.

5. Persuasion

Persuasion is the ability to influence the beliefs, behaviors, attitudes, intentions, and motivations of other people. It’s a complex skill due to its psychological and ethical implications. This is very characteristic of leaders.

Healthy persuasion is based on agreements, moral authority, and reciprocity. What people are basically saying here is that they accept what the other person says because they have a foundation for saying it, they don’t lie to them, and they feel that the other person believes in them. They agree to do what they suggest because they lead by example and they can trust them.

Two men talking.

6. Empathy

Empathy is one of the cornerstones of social skills. It’s related to the ability to perceive and respect other people’s feelings. You can’t have good relationships with others without a high dose of empathy.

An interesting aspect here is that someone who’s genuinely empathic helps to make those around them empathic as well. People who have this ability are very valuable wherever they are, because it makes it much easier to recognize, value, and respect diversity.

7. Presence

Presence is how other people feel when they’re with you. Or, to put it another way, how you make others feel. It’s what we colloquially call good or bad “vibes”.

Some people wear you out in two minutes but others help you feel at peace. This idea of presence depends on the attitude you have towards others and on the conscious and unconscious expectations and demands towards others.

Working on improving your social skills is a worthwhile practice because, when they increase, they also increase your quality of life. Rather than looking at your relationship with others first, the most important thing is to look inside yourself and observe.

Which of these factors do you need to strengthen in order to have better social relationships? That’s the big question.

  • Caballo, V. E., & Carrobles, J. A. (1987). Teoría, evaluación y entrenamiento de las habilidades sociales. Valencia: Promolibro.