As the internet and technology continue to gain more traction, so has our liking for it. We are increasingly becoming glued to our smartphones – mindlessly browsing our Facebook feed or spending our idle times looking at cat videos. As if, gone are the days of having interesting dialogues over a cup of steaming coffee. Catching up with friends after a hectic day of work, cracking a few jokes and sharing the laughter have unfortunately been replaced by us going to fast food joints, ordering food and focusing on taking photos of our dishes for our Facebook or Instagram profiles. And this is alarming warns Farhat Zishan Chowdhury.
At the brink of the Fourth Industrial Revolution where robotics and automation are growing at an unthinkable rate, it has become more critical for us to nurture our social and human skills. Is it that difficult to strike up an interesting conversation? Can we easily break our workplace monotony and form intimate relationships with our colleagues? How difficult can it possibly be to improve our social skills? The tips below can easily help you to get started.
- Start with the small things – It will be quite impossible for anyone to wake up one day and become an expert at communicating with others. Instead, start paying attention to the smallest aspects of your life and try to add value wherever you can. Respond to the Salaam (peace be upon you) of your apartment’s security guard, smile at your colleagues as you proceed to your desk and exchange an innocent “Good Afternoon” as you proceed to the canteen. It’s these little things that will eventually help you gain more social skills.
- Step away from Social Media – Deliberately try not to bring out your smartphone when you are with a crowd. Stop browsing your social media profiles when you are sitting together with your friends, family members or colleagues. Instead, try to be in the moment and make the most out of it. One sure-fire hack to decrease your smartphone addiction is to change your smartphone screen to grayscale. The key reason why we barely get to stop our mindless smartphone browsing is that the red notification dot and the colors of the Facebook, Snapchat or Instagram icons seem increasingly appealing. However, turning the entire seen to greyscale takes the appealing part completely out of the equation.
- Try asking open-ended questions – Whenever you are having a decent conversation, try asking questions that cannot be answered in a short sentence. Try giving the other person a room to explain his or her side of the story, so that both of you can actively engage throughout the conversation and your bits to it. Remember, people open up only when they understand that you are genuinely interested in knowing them with good intentions.
- Be a good listener – To become social does not essentially mean that you need to blabber the entire night away. Rather, try to actively listen to what the other person has to say and grab a solid understanding of the message that he or she is trying to convey. Only then you will be able to ask more insightful questions and carry the discussion forward. As renowned Russian novelist Alexander Solzhenitsyn likes to put it, “The less you speak, the more you will hear”.
- Keep an eye on your body language – It is not always the talk that ‘does the talking’. Your body language plays a vital part in it as well. So, in your next attempt to become more social, try not to only focus on being vocal. Instead, also pay attention to your posture, the amount of eye contact that you have and even how firmly you shake hands with the other person. One secret tool that you can add in your weapon is a good smile. Not only will that make you more welcoming, but it will also go on to show that you are appreciative towards the other person and is genuinely interested in getting to know more about them.
- Be generous about offering compliments – Your colleague’s son stood first in his half-yearly exam. Your friend got an amazing scholarship. Your niece managed to land a promising internship. We are always surrounded by our social circle achieving good things and making progress in life. Whenever you come across the news of such an auspicious occasion, don’t be shy in appreciating them. Offer your wholehearted appreciation and express how happy you are. And if you can, try to initiate or partake in a small celebration. But do keep in mind that showering someone with compliments is effective only when it is genuine. Faking it or unwillingly trying to compliment someone has a higher chance of backfiring – that is, creating a wrong impression about you.
- Try to stay relevant – The next La Liga match, upcoming shows on Netflix or even current global political situation – try to keep yourself updated about the recent happenings around you. Every social circle more or less has the distinctive themes that they usually discuss in their gatherings. So, try to have an idea and gather information about them. In case you do not have much idea about the topic being discussed, do not try to force your way into it or even feel low about knowing much about it. Rather, be an active listener and just play along.
In this day and age, it indeed pays to be human. Technology is indeed necessary, but do not let it define who you are. Instead, get out of your comfort zone and look at the world around you. Witness the amazing possibilities that the world has to offer. Strike up a good conversation, whether with a stranger or with an acquaintance. For you never know where the human connection can lead you to.