With Jonathan Bradshaw in the last week of his annual break from delivering the weekly ‘Meetology® Minute’ vlogs, we are delighted to share the sixth and final post from our guest blogger Ruari Fangman. We met Ruari through our partnership with the University of the West of England from where, under the tutorship of our lead psychologist (and Senior Lecturer at UWE) Dr Paul Redford, Ruari has recently graduated with a Msc in Occupational Psychology. You can find more our about what Ruari’s has been up to post-graduation here: www.linkedin.com/in/ruari-fangman-419090110
From the moment you leave your house in the morning until you come home at night your day can consist of hundreds of professional and personal interpersonal interactions, and research suggests that if you could improve the experience for both parties in each of these interactions the benefits could be greater than you think.
For instance, researchers (1) from Nikon University in Japan examined the impact that social skills training had on 20 beauticians. The training encouraged pretty basic things that most of us think we would do anyway, like smiling, speaking in a clear voice, listening actively, chatting and providing explanations of what they were doing to the customers. After the training the researchers then measured them on the skills they had just been taught and also counted the number of times the customers asked for that specific beautician the next time they came in.
Unsurprisingly, it was found that after the training the beauticians scored better for each of the skills; what is slightly more surprising is that customers were then also more likely to ask for the beautician by name the next time that they came. Now at first this might not seem that big of a deal, but the fact remains that there had to be a significant level of rapport in that first interaction for the customer to ask for them the next time, and of course for the beauticians this meant more business and ultimately more money in their pocket.
In another study (1) from Japan, researchers investigated the importance of social skills within a musical ensemble. They point out that essentially such a scenario is in fact a highly social situation where interpersonal skills are important because performers need to discuss with co-performers, share their own performance interpretations, performance goals & performance ques with one another and address conflicts.
The researchers from Soai University in Japan gave 68 female musicians questionnaires that measured their social skills and asked them to self-evaluate their performance. The results showed that daily social skills were positively correlated with self-evaluated performance.
The researchers pre-empted the inevitable criticism that using self-report methods for evaluating performance could potentially lead to results that are inaccurate by pointing out that the ensemble musicians are likely to be quite self-aware of their performance, as whilst playing a musical instrument next to your band-mates it’s quite hard to hide a bad performance. Although the research by Soai University investigates quite a specific situation, it highlights the impact that having effective interpersonal skills can have on any situation where you interact with a number of other people.
There’s also evidence of much broader benefits of effective interpersonal skills, for instance researchers at the University of Arizona (1) conducted a study in which they examined the relationship between social skill and overall psychological well-being.
They recruited a sample of 703 adults who were aged between 18 & 87 and asked them to complete measures of social skill, positive relations to others and a set of indicators of overall psychological well-being (life-satisfaction, environmental mastery, self-efficacy, hope, happiness and quality of life). The results indicated that social skills were consistently positively related to the measures of overall psychological well-being. The researchers point out that the relationship with poor social skills has often been reported as a correlate of mental health issues, but the positive relationship between good social skills and overall wellbeing has been understudied. As this relationship is perhaps underappreciated, it might well be the case that by increasing your social and interpersonal skills, you might also experience a number of other positive effects through other areas of your life.
1: References and further reading can be found in the references tab.
References & Further Reading
Kawase, S. 2015, “Relationships between performers’ daily social skills, social behaviors in ensemble practice, and evaluations of ensemble performance”, Musicae Scientiae, vol. 19, no. 4, pp. 350-365.
Matsumoto, K; Murai, K; Manabe, K. Effects of social skills training on increasing the number of customers who request specific beauticians. Japanese Journal of Behavior Analysis. Japan, 29, 1, 2-18, 2014. ISSN: 0913-8013.
Segrin, C, Taylor, M; Positive interpersonal relationships mediate the association between social skills and psychological well-being. 2007, Personality and Individual Differences 43 (2007) 637-646.
Segrin, C., McNelis, M. & Swiatkowski, P. 2016, “Social Skills, Social Support, and Psychological Distress: A Test of the Social Skills Deficit Vulnerability Model”, Human Communication Research, vol. 42, no. 1, pp. 122-137.