“Sure” Is a Funny Word!
“Sure” is a funny word. When used in conjunction with a possessive pronoun it indicates total conviction – i.e. “I am sure.”
However, when used outside of the sentence (and especially without a possessive pronoun), it indicates reticence, passivity or sarcasm.
So how do you know which way to interpret someone’s “sure”?
This week, as part of our Emotional Intelligence Series, we explore two strategies to use in interpreting social cues. Having command over social situations empowers you to find success in any relationship and consciously choosing to be aware of how to respond during times of stress will improve your social skills.
Learning not to take things personally and how to communicate your intentions clearly will go a long way toward empowering your leadership potential.
Definition: The ability to manage relationships and build rapport with those around you.
The ability to build relationships and connect with coworkers as fellow human beings is, and always has been, crucial to both tangible and intangible success. Importantly, tangible success in the form of higher positions, more pay, etc., and intangible success in the forms of happiness, purpose, and connection carry an equal amount of value and importance in today’s purpose-centered workforce.
So, building relationships should be a skill that everyone is looking to grow.
Fostering healthy, valuable relationships requires an application of empathy to connect meaningfully with that other person. Most of all, a true empathetic connection comes from understanding what another person needs and then acting to help them. Thus, building strong relationships starts with recognizing common social cues, which helps us understand others’ needs.
What’s the first step in developing these social skills?
Understanding body language.
Strategy #1: Study Body Language
Whenever we interact with others, we only communicate seven percent (7%) of what we mean through our verbal language. The other 93% comes from nonverbal communication via tone of voice (38%) and body language (55%), which makes up a majority of the way we communicate with others.
Luckily, you can train your ability to read body language, and then interpret the emotions driving the actions of others. When you master reading body language, then you’ll be able to understand a majority of what others are trying to communicate; ultimately helping you form deeper connections.
To develop this important social skill, try the following exercise in reading body language.
Putting it into Practice
From time to time, we all experience a lack of focus and productivity. Whether we like to admit it, this lack of attention often comes out during meetings at work.
If you find yourself unable to concentrate on what others are saying in a meeting, try instead, to concentrate on what they are showing.
Practice this by making observations, asking yourself questions, and trying to answer them.
What do you think it means when your coworker is sitting slumped in their chair?
Or twirling their hair? Or sitting upright with eyes fixated on the speaker?
Learning the meanings and becoming aware of these social cues enables you to understand what others are feeling, what they need, and how to respond to help the group accomplish its goals.
Worried that your body language skills aren’t up to the challenge? You may surprise yourself when you discover how innately we understand language. We just don’t pay conscious attention to this behavior often enough.
Furthermore, this article by Fremont College goes further in depth to teach you about particular nonverbal cues, their meanings, and specific tactics for reading body language.
Strategy #2: Practice How You Give Feedback
Not only do we demonstrate social skills through our interpretation of communication, but also in the reverse; knowing how to deliver effective communication.
Moreover, the following exercise gives you the chance to practice the heavier side of communication—communicating difficult messages.
Putting it into Practice
In our previous article on self-awareness, we covered a social technique for handling criticism with care. Here, we work on the other side of that relationship by providing you with action steps for giving more empathetic, constructive feedback to others.
- Focus on Feelings – Notice your own feelings first. If you take the time to calmly identify and handle how you feel before you discuss the situation with another person, you’ll be in a much calmer state of mind.
- Avoid Accusatory Language – Specifically, the word “you” can come off as accusatory. Instead of placing blame on the person, respond by explaining how a specific action of theirs made us feel. If you don’t know what this looks like, try The XYZ Technique to get started.
- The XYZ Technique – By using this tried-and-true method, you give the other person an opportunity to address and correct a specific action of theirs. The process for critiquing someone’s actions to give them a growth opportunity looks something like this, “I feel X when you do Y in situation Z”
- For example, “I feel disappointed when you didn’t follow through when you told me you would.”
- Pay Attention to Them – After you give the feedback, pay special attention to how the other person responds and feels by studying their body language and tone of voice. This demonstrates empathy towards them and will make them feel more comfortable with the feedback while giving you insight into their reactions.
Yes, it may feel awkward following a structured pattern like this that exposes so much emotion. However, with practice, it will feel less awkward.
Over time, you will naturally come up with different ways to express how you feel without being constrained by a structured response.
If you enjoyed this article on Social Skills…
Social Skills represent a core component of emotional intelligence (EI), which is an incredibly broad topic that requires time and effort to hone.
In this series, we break down the 5 competencies of Emotional Intelligence, along with two strategies for developing each competency, and specific exercises/applications you can practice daily to increase your EI.
The previous article explained how practicing self-regulation empowers you to take control of your emotions and respond with compassion in any situation.
Also, keep an eye out for the article detailing our FINAL competency of Emotional Intelligence; Succeeding Through Internal Motivation.