Posts By

Why Social Skills Matter in Today’s Age: How People With Social Skills Draw Higher Salaries Than Domain Experts - Pearl Academy

Did you ever think that your robust social skills could land you with a fatter pay packet or place you higher up
the ladder in your organizational pecking order than your technically expert counterpart with comparatively
weaker social skills? If you did, you were spot-on. According to a 2014 research paper by Professor Alexandra
Lucs of the Feinstein Institute for Medical Research, `Soft skills have been found to be positively associated
with workers. A 2010 research paper by Assistant Professors Marigie P Bacolod from the University of California
and Bernardo S Blum of the University of Toronto establishes a direct relationship between soft skills and
occupational status, while a 2006 research paper by Professor Heckman, University of Chicago, and others,
established a positive correlation between soft skills and higher salaries. But here’s the paradox. In the
highly technologically advanced world that we live in today, it is likely that robots will soon replace almost
half or more jobs presently being done by humans; the only armor in favor of human beings then, is their social
skills. Studies evidence that the flattening of organizational hierarchies has meant that workers at all levels
are now required to have higher levels of soft skills. According to a 2011 research paper titled `The
Differences Between Hard and Soft Skills and Their Relative Impact on Training Transfer’, by Professors Laker &
Powell of Widener University, `technical skills would still be necessary for workers to get jobs, but they may
not be adequate to move beyond entry-level jobs and subsequent success would require proficiency in ‘soft skill ‘areas’.

Simply put, social skills are `interpersonal skills’ that are important for those who interact and communicate
daily with a lot of people. In the context of a workplace, it could be something as simple as written, verbal,
nonverbal and visual communication with colleagues; body language, the tone of your voice, expression, eye
contact; all fall in this category. At the higher end of the spectrum, it would include skills such as
self-management, leadership, conflict resolution and emotional intelligence, among others.

Irrespective of the industry you work in, strong social skills are essential because they enable you to
effectively work as a team member, communicate with everyone simply, nurture healthy relationships within the organization as well as with external work contacts and contribute to fostering a healthy and enjoyable
workplace. Some of the relevant social skills at work include being observant, being respectful of coworkers,
understanding group dynamics, showing empathy towards colleagues, cooperating with them, and having a conflict resolution disposition. In the external environment, your people’s skills would be extremely relevant in, say, profiles such as marketing, customer services, relationship building and so on. If that’s the case, then a `socially adept’ worker would have an edge over his `technically stronger’ but `not-so-social’ colleague, but even a domain expert could benefit by sharpening his social skills. Here are some quick tips to polish up your social skills and be a better fit in the fast burgeoning `social skill friendly’ employment market. It’s not that many have the gift of the gab, as a matter of fact many famous personalities are introverts, shy and awkward in a large group. Unlike skills like science and math, social skills were not taught till recently: you would learn them on the job, and depending on the type of job, some may learn faster and better than others, but we all learn. Keep learning. Look inwards. Identify your own emotions and how they work. Do you get stressed when someone says something nasty, or do you withdraw in a crowd? If you are aware about yourself, then you are at the first step towards developing social skills. Social skills are not something that we are born with, these skills can be built upon, and the more you put them in practice, the more they shine Ask your workplace colleagues and friends on what areas of social skills they feel you need to improve. List them out, prioritize them and plan to address the need for training, one skill at a time. Social skills are now taught through workshops, online and offline. Today organizations also regularly conduct soft skills training programs for their employees; Keep up skilling. We all have some social skills or the other, but unlike our education, qualifications, and professional achievements, we ignore mentioning them while building up our resumes. Highlight your social skills in your CV and focus on those that are directly related to the job you are applying for. For example, if you are applying for a front office position at a hotel, mention your ability to maintain relationships with guests and solving their problems through effective conflict resolution. When appearing for an interview, remember to highlight your social skills by using the right body language, tone and gestures, highlight your strengths and allude to how you dealt with specific situations. In recent years, leadership-training events have emphasized the importance of emotional intelligence, i.e. the ability to understand our emotions and control them. Undoubtedly, this is a skill all leaders must work on, but emotional strength and balance are also important at all levels in the organizational hierarchy. The key is to be aware of your emotions, own them and practice patience. The present and the future are signalling towards a `golden age’ for people with strong social skills. Besides economic benefits, socially skilled people spend more time with family or friends, which improves mental health too. It’s a win-win skill to add to your kitty.

By Aditi Srivastava
President, Pearl Academy



Share This: