As children we are taught to comprehend and react to a particular social setting by using our developmental skills: seeing, thinking and doing. They inculcate these skills in you as a chill to make sure that you grow up to be well adjusted adult. Being able to understand context, interpret behaviour and respond in a positive social reaction shapes an individual and allows you to develop proper social skills.
With relevance to social skills, two questions will began to linger in my mind when it comes to working with a class of 20 people form 20 different places:
(1) Maybe I should have listened to my father when he told me to learn mandarin and maybe I should learn to speak a little Bahasa…;
(2) Am I a social person- how are my interactions perceived by my classmates?
Prior to coming to Singapore my exposure to the kinds of people I have interacted with were very one dimensional to say the least. Most were from the say region, the same culture, and the same financial backgrounds and therefore they shared similar interests and as such so did I. My self-perception has always been that I am introverted person by nature. It’s not that I do not want to interact with people but I get anxious to do so. Coming into a new country has been an eye opener as it has pushed me out of my comfort zone making me question the how my interactions are perceived and more importantly what social skills I would need to improve before my professional career begins.
A social skill is a way you communicate your personal image and branding to your audience via verbal and non-verbal cues (body language). It comprises of communication, building relationships with your colleagues, team work and most importantly coping with uncertainty. Take the fashion event for instance: if you’ve read my previous posts (“There’s no I in Fashion”) you will know that we shall be planning a fashion event for Singapore ode to Orchard roads fashion fiesta– Fashion Steps Out 2017. Working as a class proves to be challenging because there seems to be a barrier in every step. The class is divided on the basis of geographic area and common demographic connections (the Indians sit with the Indians and speak in Hindi, the Indonesians sit with the other Indonesians and speak Bahasa…) which in turn leads to disparities and rigorous debates. This happens because there is a lack of communication between the different groups which leads to poor relationships built and in turn a poor sense of ‘team’ is formed. Eventually the concept of teamwork kicked in when the progress status was bleak and a sense of uncertainty grew with the deadline approaching. The class began work towards attaining a common goal which led to an improvement in their social skills.
The only thing that’s certain is Life is uncertain
One point really stood out to me while the discussion on social skills progressed- to have empathy and inclusion. Immediately that resonated with me. Working in the fashion industry as a fashion editor, most of your assignment will be team based and involve you coordinating with groups of people (be it the stylists, the designers, celebrity entourages, senior writers, photographers, etc.). To be able to comprehend an individual’s feeling can help you gauge the situation and by including the individual you can come up with a better compromise.
The lecture ended with an ability which I think will be tried and tested through my final year in college- emotional intelligence. To handle a problem judiciously and empathetically and not result in a stressful outburst comes across as a test to say the least. Stress is as issue I have been tackling after coming to Singapore (due to the tremendous work load) and it still presents itself as a challenge. I’ve started dealing with by removing myself from the situation before my angry gets the better of me. Trying to use the concept of empathy and inclusion can help in overcoming the problem and I suspect there shall be quite a bit to deal with in the coming months considering I have been assigned one of the leadership roles for our fashion event.
At this point the picture of my future self seems a little less blur than it was before. The challenges placed ahead of me don’t seem daunting but exciting. Just one more step in the direction of the new age editor-in-chief attitude of today.