Early in Kobe Bryant’s career, legendary coach Phil Jackson pulled him aside one day and encouraged him to spend more time with his teammates rather than in his hotel room studying game tape.
By 2009, Kobe was a leader on the court and in the locker room.
The Lakers won a championship that season.
As a social skills coach, I love that lesson - that all of us (whether we like it or not) - connected to and influenced by others.
But let’s dig a little deeper...
What made Kobe great?
All those things matter, but every other elite NBA player did those things too.
So what was Kobe’s secret weapon?
He realized that he didn’t have to do it all on his own.
He had his team and coaches there to support him.
No one is a 10/10 in ALL areas of life. - we all need help from our peers, our mentors, and our coaches.
What is a Social Skills Coach?
A social skills coach is someone who has a lot of knowledge and experience helping others communicate more effectively.
A social skills coach can help people become more socially skilled in their career and personal life. Social skills that a coach might help a client improve can be wide ranging and include...
What does a social skills coach do?
A good social skills coach will help a client improve by breaking down social situations step-by-step, asking good questions, giving perspective, action steps and accountability.
They'll help you figure out what you want to get better at and make a plan for it. They'll also check in with you and make sure you're on track to reach your goals.
They'll give you advice and tips for things like making conversation and building connections with others.
Overall, a social skills coach helps you improve by breaking down social situations, giving you new perspectives, set actionable steps and hold you accountable for progress.
"Asking For Help Is Hard!" Do I Really Need a Social Skills Coach?
It can be HARD asking for help in areas where we feel like we should just “know” what to do.
I bet you’d ask for help with a tough line of code, an error in an Excel formula, or the next PowerPoint presentation for the board.
But social skills coaching?
Tips on how to tell a great story, or make amazing first impressions?
It can feel scary to ask for help.
I think the root of that fear is feeling like you should already know how to do it.
We all learn things at different points in our lives.
Hell, I JUST learned how to change a tire at age 31. (My man-card was FedEx’d to me the next day. It smells of leather and whiskey.)
Consider this - what is easy for you?
Whatever your answer, hear this...THAT’S NOT EASY FOR MOST PEOPLE.
Everyone has strengths and weaknesses. What’s important is that you recognize your weaknesses for what they are - opportunities to grow.
When to Hire a Social Skills Coach
Think of me as the Phil Jackson to your Kobe Bryant and let’s take a look at some of the classic signs that it’s time to consider private social skills coaching.
1. You’ve Done the Research, But the Results Just Aren’t There
You watch YouTube how-to videos, blaze through blog articles (hey there!), and you’ve re-read How to Win Friends and Influence People...for the 38th time. And it’s not working.
If it were, you wouldn’t be reading this article.
It's so easy to get caught in an overthinking cycle.
I'm all for getting information to improve, but if you binge on information, you might be making it more difficult to move forward.
Most of my private coaching clients are overthinkers by nature.
They like getting as much information as possible before taking action. While the intention here is good, it’s important to internalize that MORE information isn’t the answer, taking action is.
Jeff Bezos famously said, “If you’re getting more than 70% of available information then you’re actually moving too slow.”
When I work with my clients, I gently push them to take action by giving them action steps after each call.
Action steps might be finding and attending an interesting event in their city to be more social, or coming up with an engaging story for an upcoming happy hour.
These are examples of “social wins.” These small steps lead to bigger successes and help build a lasting foundation of soft skills that you can rest that corporate ladder on. (Or just have the option to make friends and connections anywhere you go!)
Check out these cases studies with my clients, Trudy & Faiz:
2. You’re Doing Well, But You Want More
This is another classic stage that my clients reach before they come to me for help.
And the reason is that advancement almost always means management. And management means people.
Even if your career path is solitary, you’re working with a department or with clients - and guess what? Those are people too.
Technical skills may have got you where you are, but social skills will get you where you want to be.
If you want to advance quickly in your career, being able to build relationships with your coworkers and bosses is crucial. Take a look at this haunting story I found on Reddit:
This person was demoted because their social skills weren't where they needed to be. Imagine working for years to get ahead in your career and then...poof! It's gone in an instant.
If you're a top performer who wants to be successful in your career, being able to make great first impressions, tell great stories, or just be socially confident and likable will make a huge difference.
3. You’re Taking Action But It Just Doesn’t… Feel Right
Sometimes what we need most to diagnose a problem is an outside opinion.
If you’ve never cooked chili before, you’d ask your coworker who makes amazing chili where to start. Or you’d like to. You know that’s the most direct source of wisdom, but you feel so uncomfortable asking... (See where I’m going with this?)
With confidence coaching, applicable exercises, and realistic goal setting, you could be chatting with your coworker and learning how to cook in no time flat.
Kobe did not become Kobe overnight, people.
It took hard work and consistent training and gaining skill and muscle memory in inches.
It took consistent, thoughtful coaching.
If you’ve been test-driving those YouTube tips on social interaction with some success, think how much faster the process would be with an unbiased third party gently correcting you.
It’s like going to the gym and having a personal trainer give you real time feedback on your lifting form. All of a sudden, your spine is aligned, and you get it. If you were just watching a video, you’d never have felt that “Aha!” moment and you’d likely have lost interest and given up.
Having someone walk you through the process will always be faster and more helpful than trial and error alone.
Kobe on coach, Phil Jackson: “We've had our disagreements and not always seen eye to eye, but for the most part we've been on the same wavelength."
And that’s what you want in a social skills coach - someone who will tell you the truth in a constructive, supportive way and who understands what long-term goals you’re trying to achieve.
Next Step: Apply For Social Skills Coaching!
If you've been thinking about leveling up your social skills, and you'd like to learn more about my coaching services click here.
Not Quite Ready For Social Skills Coaching?
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Over the last 15 years, I’ve learned... (Read More)
• 5 Ways a Communication Coach Can Help You Become a Better Communicator
• The Ultimate Guide To Joining & Enjoying Group Conversations
• How to Never Run Out of Things to Say