Develop Your Social Skills: Become a “Brazen Careerist”

As I point out in Straight Talk for Success, successful people create positive personal impact.  If you want to create positive personal impact, you need to do three things: 1) create, build and nurture your personal brand; 2) dress for success; and 3) know and follow the basic rules of etiquette.

A while back, I did a post where I asked for advice on how to build the positive habit of commenting on blog posts written by other people.  I got some great advice, most noticeably to choose a few blogs that I like, subscribe to their rss feed and then comment when they post something that strikes a chord with me.

As a result, I have become a huge fan of Penelope Trunk’s Brazen Careerist blog.  You need to check it out.  You can find it at  Penelope is dynamite – a great writer; witty, self deprecating and full of common sense advice.

I was searching through Penelope’s archives the other day and I came across a post she did entitled “Social Skills Matter More Than Ever, So Here’s How To Get Them.”  You need well developed social skills if you are going to create positive personal impact.

Here are a few of the nuggets Penelope shares in that post.

  • “When it comes to holding down a job, social skills matter today more than ever… Many fields that used to be havens for loners, like programming, increasingly require exceptional people skills. The people landing those jobs have great social skills because of the difficulty of managing teams that are distributed across cultures.”
  • “Being good at talking to people requires that you figure out what interests them.  Find the hook that makes your similarities more visible.”
  • “Figure out how to help someone else get what they need. Recognize what you’re trying to get done and who you are trying to get it done with. Then think beyond your own stuff to what the other people want.  Think of this as project management synergy, or resume empathy; you need to help others reach their goals. This will make you more likeable and then more likely to reach your own.”
  • “People are much more likely to notice an increase in your likeability factor than an increase in your skills. So next time you consider areas for self-improvement, choose interpersonal coaching over office skills and you’ll likely get more bang for your buck.”

This is great advice – and it’s only common sense.  I always tell people that the most important thing to remember about etiquette is that a polite, well polished person always does what he or she can do to make other people feel comfortable. 

The common sense point here is simple.  Successful people create positive personal impact.  Social skills are very helpful when it comes to creating positive personal impact.  The more that you can make others feel comfortable, the more you will be thought of as a person with exceptional social skills.  As Penelope Trunk points out, you make other people feel comfortable when you engage them in conversation about the things that interest them and when you are willing to help them achieve their goals.

That’s my take on social skills and making others feel comfortable.  What’s yours?  Please leave comment letting me know your thoughts on business etiquette and social skills.  And, don’t forget to check out Penelope Trunk’s Brazen Careerist blog.  Thanks for reading.



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  1. Hi, Bud. Thanks for the nice words about my blog. And I want to say that I really like how you talk about good social skills as being an issue of common sense. Sometimes I think that people make social skills out to be really complicated only as a way to justify bad social skills. Like, somehow they take more learning or concentration or something. But you’re right that they are common sense, and if people genuinely care about being nice, they will be.

  2. Dear Bud,
    I’m so glad to see that you’re enjoying Penelope’s blog as much as I do!
    Margot, the Marrakesh Mystic

  3. Margot:
    The Brazen careerist is dynamite!
    Thanks for turning me on to it. I hope that you’re having a great day.

  4. Peneolpe:
    Thanks for your comment.
    I really like your blog because of the common sense wisdom you dispense.
    And you’re right, there is no excuse for poor social skills — all they take are a little consideration of other people.
    All the best,

  5. I love the sentence “. . . you make other people comfortable when you engage them in conversation about the things that interest them and when you are willing to help them achieve their goals.” As a Personal Life Coach, these two points are the foundation of my work. Learning what people are interested in is key to finding and keeping clients. And, of course, helping them achieve their goals is what life coaching is all about.

  6. Thanks for your comment Pat.
    Life is simple, really. Focus on others, and you’ll be rewarded.
    Have a good week.

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