The case of Emotional Intelligence
– Social Skills –
What is it?
Last but not least, Social Skills! This is where everything comes together: your self-awareness, self-regulation, empathy, and ability to remind yourself of the goal you are trying to achieve and why.
Social skills come handy in every situation: life, work, one to one, and groups. They are vital to building new relationships in a foreign country and when you work remotely.
While we are generally good at social skills in non-conflict situations, we may lose our “touch” when exposed to stressful events, tense conversations or disagreements.
Social situations are the largest trigger of emotions in human beings
V. Urch Druskat, Ph.D
Usually, in different settings and diverse groups contrasts get easily amplified and conflicts rapidly escalated. Global working and living emphasize the need for “next level” social skills. You need to master the ability to relate and adjust to a variety of people and styles. Welcome to the global world!
Global leaders with excellent social skills are inspirational, influencers, effective conflicts resolvers, and great team builders. They are coaches and mentors for their people.
How can you improve your Social Skills? Here are some good practices.
Create opportunities to be social
When we move abroad (and in every new environment), we may have to overcome the initial anxiety of being “the new kid on the block”. You need to be very intentional about finding social opportunities and opening up to people you do not know. In the beginning, defining a specific goal can help. For example, “I want to have a chat with at least one new person everyday”; “I want to have lunch with each of my team members once a week”; “I will participate in one networking event every month”.
Take a step-by-step approach
For some people being social is more difficult than for others. If you are an introvert, please do not punish yourself for that: take things gradually, set goals that feel a bit challenging but achievable, find a peer or a friend to go with you. Start with something you enjoy doing, and maybe with one to one interactions or small groups. Once you start building your network, it will get easier.
Open up, ask questions, show genuine interest in others, and listen to their stories. If it is difficult for you to share things about yourself, let them talk. Use breathing to self-regulate, stay relaxed and attentive. And, if the person you are talking to doesn’t awaken your curiosity, just move on.
Give people positive feedback and sincere compliments. In a work setting, you could be noticing something about a coworker that you admire (e.g. the way they present, their organization skills, their body language or attitude); let them know. People like to be “seen”!
In a social situation, it could be about sharing what you appreciate about a specific culture or the host country (e.g. the history, traditions, food…). Just ask yourself “What do I value about this country, culture, place, people?” Then, share with others.
Be aware of differences
Be aware of differences and respect them. It is possible that you may not like some characteristics of the host country, and that’s ok! What’s not ok is to criticize such differences. We often judge without realizing that we are doing it (unconscious bias). You may say “Who would do that?”. We all do! We fall into this trap because:
“We are conditioned to see the world in our own culture (…) that it is difficult to imagine that another culture would do things differently”
When you travel or relocate to a new country, ask yourself “How do I do this? And how do they do it? This is a key question to unveil differences and to start opening a dialogue about how to best work and live together.
Be aware of your body language
What you say should be supported by the way you say it: your tone of voice, body language and other non-verbal clues. These signs can provide plenty of information and make others think that you are not interested in them or what they have to say.
Observe your body, the position of your head, arms and legs. Do they convey openness? Are you maintaining eye contact? Are you using an amicable tone of voice? Observe others’ body language: what can you learn or unlearn from them?
“ When we focus on others, our world expands”
What is your plan to improve your social skills?