two people having a conversation


Introduction > Table Manners > Telephone Manners > Professional Manners > Conversation > Social Skills > Conclusion

Social Skills


Respecting other people means you also respect their wishes. If someone tells you a secret or asks you to keep something in confidence, you should. If you don't feel comfortable doing this, it's fine to say that you don't feel comfortable keeping secrets -- just be sure to do this before the person shares their secret with you.

There are some very rare exceptions to this rule: if you find out that someone is being hurt or is in danger and they are afraid to tell anyone, you should encourage them not to keep their secret. If that person is too afraid to talk, you may want to ask an expert (such as a doctor, therapist, or policeman) for their advice - you don't have to give away your friend's secret, but they may be able to help.

Body Language

Consider this, someone starts to tell a story and you sigh and roll your eyes -- your body is telling that person that you're not interested in their story and find it (and perhaps them) boring. If, on the other hand, you make eye contact with them while they are talking and nod or smile in response to what they are saying, your body is telling them "I'm paying attention to what you are saying and find your story and you interesting."

How we carry ourselves can send a message just as clearly as what we say. Standing or sitting up straight, appearing confident, looking people in the eye, and having a smile or pleasant expression gives people the impression that you are polite, confident and pleasant. Scowling, crossing your arms, slouching, or staring off into the distance (even if these are just nervous habits) may make people think that you are angry, unapproachable, or disinterested.

Actions can speak as loudly as words, so the next time you're in a social setting, ask yourself what your body language is saying to people. If you are having a hard time judging the message your body is sending, you may want to ask friends or people you know and trust what they think. Or, you may want to get the opinion of someone who doesn't know you as well. The MTSTCIL staff could help you if you want to work on your body language. Call the center nearest you for advice, tips, or even to set up a meeting and practice role-playing and body language in different settings.


The first thing people notice about other people is the way they look. And whether we like it or not, how you look makes an impression on people. But you can use this knowledge to your advantage.

If you look neat and clean, people will feel as though you're the kind of person who makes an effort. A nice appearance shows that you value yourself and what other people think of you.

Putting forth a nice appearance doesn't mean you have to spend a lot of money on clothes or accessories. Someone can look slovenly and messy in an expensive suit if they don't brush their hair or clean their clothes. Someone else can appear put together in a old shirt and slacks that have been cleaned and pressed. Showing that you take care over your appearance is more important than what you wear or how expensive your hair cut is.

In addition to taking care over your appearance, it's also important to consider if your appearance is appropriate for the situation. You may look lovely in your party clothes or feel confident in your business suit, but these would look out of place in a more casual setting such as at a picnic or at the movies.

It's important to be comfortable in what you're wearing, but you also want to fit in (within reason!) with what other people will be wearing. Wear what suits both you and the situation best: jeans and t-shirts are fine for friends and the movies; a nice shirt and slacks or suit is more appropriate for work; party clothes should be saved for parties or fancy occasions. The same goes for accessories and make up: glitter eye shadow and elaborate hair might be fun after work, but look odd for a business meeting; you may feel most comfortable lounging in sneakers and a baseball cap, but not at a fancy restaurant or party. Think about what the majority of people will be wearing in the situation and wear something that fits in and makes you feel comfortable.

Resources Huntington:

Need appropriate clothing for an interview? Call Information and Referral, located on the 3rd floor of the Cabell County Library, 455 Ninth Street Huntington, WV 25701 , 304-528-5660. The hours are Monday through Friday from 9:30 a.m. - 3:30 p.m. Bring verification of interview and they will provide a voucher for one outift for their interview. If you get the job, return to Information and Referral with verification of employment and you will receive a voucher for a week's worth of clothing. Note: Nursing or health care uniforms not provided.

Goodwill has a jobs program to help people get back into the work force. They provide training and help you to put together a resume and they video tape you doing a mock interview, so you can see how you do in the interview and what you need to improve on. They also provide training on how to dress professionally. Call 304-523-7461 for more information.

For more information on business attire, visit the Job Readiness course on this Web site.

Next: Conclusion: Getting Along With People

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