Social cues are key to career success, networking success, and job search success but it isn’t a topic many people think about or act on when in the midst of trying to find that success.
What are social cues?
Social cues are the signals that people send through body language and expressions. Many people understand social cues inherently but people who may not have high level social skills often miss social cues and they misunderstand people and situations. You need to understand social cues to read other people and react appropriately. The four times of social cues are:
- Facial Expressions
- Body Language
- Voice Pitch and Tone
- Personal Space
All of these social cues are there to help us when we are in situations where we need to succeed. However, if you never develop the ability to read social cues, you run the risk of wondering why you often feel left out of the conversation or you think no one is listening to you. Developing the ability to read social cues and act on them will save you from embarrassment and make you more successful in social situations and interviews.
3 examples of what happens people fail to read social cues
- The off topic socializer — often this person failed to develop the ability to read social cues as a child. They don’t pay attention to facial expressions and their listening skills are very low. When this person is in a gathering, he or she tries to be part of the conversation but he has his own agenda so he changes the topic to fit what he or she wants to talk about and doesn’t listen to the others. He or she never notices the facial expressions from others or their body language. If they did, they would recognize that they are not giving anyone else a chance to talk and they are not talking about what the group was discussing.
- The life story-teller — This person also has an agenda. They feel that for people to understand them, they need to tell them the story from their first job to today. Whenever they meet someone, they tell their life story even in the grocery store or at the Chamber meeting. Their listening skills are also very low and they don’t notice when people are shifting from foot to foot hoping to get away.
- The personal space invader — This person does not understand personal space and often crowds into other people’s personal space. Personal boundaries are invisible but when someone invades the personal space of others, they often miss other social cues such as facial expressions or body language too that would remind them to back up or move away.
If you recognize that this is a problem and can find ways to change, you will find yourself much more accepted and happy in social situations.