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What are some tips/tricks that you have used to improve your social skills/speech skills when dealing with clients/customers? Do you believe experience is best when it comes to improving speech/social skills for a career? Personal practice? Both?

I know social skills are very important when it comes to the career path that I want to follow; however, I am somewhat lacking in social skills. In discussion with a more professional context I have some difficulties, specifically interviews. This question pertains as much to a career as any question about study methods or career choices. human-resources social-work skills social-worker job-skills social-skills

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Mary’s Answer

Hi, Social and speech skills are extremely important. If you want your message to be heard, train, practice and practice some more! And be ready to accept feedback.


In college, I took a sppeeh class to focus on enunciation. It was meant to remove identifying accents that can reduce credibility or be distracting. Also work on removing filler words that can be distracting; such as, basically, kinda, uhm, so, etc Common these days (listen to local media and you will hear this) is ending words with a hard "ah". For example, tbat was exciting-gah.


Many places offer social media training and how to best use it. Remember if you are on social media, everyone is/could be watching no matter what your privacy settings!


Lastly, practice. As a facilitator you learn no matter the topic, the audience, tbe venue, practicing out loud will let you know how it feels. Practice with others to be prepared for the unthinkable. Lastly, videotape yourself, since in person, your body language is about half of your spoken message.


Hope this is helpful!
MJ

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Kim’s Answer

Maggie,


When dealing with customers/clients, if you have a good comprehension of the service/product that you offer, the rest will eventually fall into place. This is about self-confidence. Wearing a uniform truly helped, as people expected me to know what to do, and I had to "Act" the part. Entering the civilian world was a bit more difficult, and, with no uniform, I had to start all over to build self-confidence!


Remember to first listen to what the customer wants/needs. Too many people try to "sell" without first listening. Make eye contact. Smile. Ask a few questions. Sometimes you will make "small talk" first. I have pictures of my dog at my cubicle. Lots of people will comment on him. So we talk about dogs for a few minutes. This eases the transition into discussing being unemployed, not being able to pay the bills, problems at home, etc. , because we formed a bond first.


Public Speaking? Join a Toastmasters/Toastmistress organization, where you will be able to practice public speaking skills! A college course is also good, but won't give you enough practice.


Job interviews? Colleges usually have career placement offices. If you are in school, check out yours, and see what they offer. The key to interviews is preparation. Review your past work and school history, in depth. Be prepared for the most common questions: What are your greatest strengths? weaknesses? What would your friends/co-workers say about you? What kind of supervisor do you like? How would you handle an irate customer? Tell me about a time when. . . you could not finish a project/assignment on time; you disagreed with your supervisor; you had an irate customer; you were really proud of something you accomplished; you felt you did not do your best; etc, etc, etc!!


On these "tell me about a time" questions, your answer should have four parts. Just remember STAR:
What was the SITUATION? What TASK did you need to complete? What ACTION did you take? What was the RESULT? Try to use examples from work, rather than school or personal life.


If you think you have a disability, such as high functioning autism, or aspergers, it is important to get professional help with this issue.


Also, I know you asked this question a year ago, so, how are you doing now?


Kim

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Angela’s Answer

Hi Maggie:

Lots of good suggestions from others so I won't repeat those. Having good training is a good place to start. I was lucky early in my career to have experienced supervisors and/or colleagues who are willing to assist me. I was able to shadow experienced staff who were very good at their jobs, asked them questions, and practice my skills with their observing and they gave me tips on how to do better next time.

There are professional development opportunities that focus and teach specific skills. I think the combination of training, practice, shadowing experienced staff, feedback/critique on your work and improvement are important steps when learning any new skill for professional development.

Hope this helps,

angela
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