Pragmatic Vs. Social Skills: Differences, Examples And Tips

By Indeed Editorial Team

Published 13 July 2022

The Indeed Editorial Team comprises a diverse and talented team of writers, researchers and subject matter experts equipped with Indeed's data and insights to deliver useful tips to help guide your career journey.

Pragmatic and social skills are crucial for performing well in job positions in various industries. They can also aid with career advancement. By understanding the differences between pragmatic and social skills, you can list them correctly in your resume, impress recruiters with your abilities and improve your chances of getting an interview call. In this article, we compare pragmatic vs. social skills, provide examples of pragmatic and social skills, explain how to improve these skills, show their uses in the workplace and discuss how to highlight them for the job application process.

What Are Pragmatic Vs. Social Skills?

Pragmatic vs. social skills are comparisons of essential communication skills. While people often use the terms pragmatic skills and social skills interchangeably, they are not the same thing. However, they are related and both skills can be beneficial for professional success:

Pragmatic skills

Pragmatic skills are the verbal and non-verbal communication skills that are part of the social language skills you use in your daily interactions. These skills include using the proper tone when speaking, making eye contact, having appropriate facial expressions, nodding or shaking the head and displaying the right body language. Possessing pragmatic skills is important for expressing yourself and conveying your thoughts, ideas and feelings when you talk with other people.

Social skills

Social skills are all those skills that enable you to communicate easily and effectively with other people in various social situations. It encompasses social interaction skills, social cognition skills and language processing skills. Excellent social skills enable you to adjust to different circumstances and different people. You may change the language you use to suit specific interactions. For example, you may speak differently with a child than with an adult.

With good social skills, you can pick up conversational cues, view things from other people's perspectives and know how to follow the tacitly understood conversational and storytelling rules.

Related: A Complete Guide On How To Think Logically For Any Occasion

Examples Of Pragmatic Vs. Social Skills

The following examples of pragmatic skills and social skills can help you compare and understand them better. You can use this list to improve or develop these skills. They can make a positive difference in your professional advancement. Here are some of the skills:

Examples of pragmatic skills

Here are some examples of pragmatic skills:

  • Good conversational skills

  • Emotional intelligence

  • Spatial intelligence

  • Non-verbal communication skills

  • Self-regulation skills

  • Making eye contact

  • Changing facial expressions

  • Adjusting your body language

  • Nodding or shaking your head

  • Using an appropriate voice intonation

  • Asking questions

  • Asking for clarification

  • Asking for assistance if necessary

  • Offering to help

  • Responding to affection

  • Introducing a conversational topic

  • Maintaining a conversational topic

  • Making relevant responses

  • Waiting for your turn to speak

  • Knowing how and when to interrupt

  • Knowing how to get someone's attention

  • Adjusting language to suit a specific individual or group

  • Switching to a different language to make yourself understood

  • Ability to maintain personal space

  • Using humour in appropriate situations

Examples of social skills

Here are examples of social skills:

  • Spoken and written language abilities

  • Active listening skills

  • Observational abilities

  • Empathetic attitude

  • Kindness

  • Conflict resolution skills

  • Ability to mirror people

  • Ability to cooperate with people

  • Relationship management skills

  • Ability to share information

  • Ability to respect other viewpoints

  • Ability to filter relevant information

  • Ability to assume responsibility

  • Ability to make inferences

  • Cultural understanding

  • Ability to make presuppositions

  • Emotional competencies

  • Knowledge of semantics

  • Phonological skills

  • Ability to apologise

  • Ability to manage anger and other emotions

  • Ability to understand humour and sarcasm

  • Problem-solving abilities

Related: Skills Test: Definition And Examples

How To Improve Pragmatic And Social Skills?

Since pragmatic skills and social skills have an important role in facilitating your interactions with different personalities in your professional life, you can benefit from improving them. You may find it easier to get along with people and build stronger business relationships. Here are some suggestions for improving these skills:

1. Learn how to use language for different purposes

You can improve your pragmatic skills and social skills by becoming conscious of how you use language in different situations:

  • When you meet people, it is customary to say 'Hello,' 'Hi,' 'How are you' or 'Nice to meet you.' Depending on the hour of the day, you might say 'Good morning,' 'Good afternoon,' 'Good evening 'or 'Good night.'

  • When you are providing or sharing information, you may do so verbally in person, over the phone, over the intercom, by voice message or via video conferencing, or write using regular paper, digital document, email and text message. You could say something like 'We are starting the design project on Monday,' 'I have read the design brief' or 'I have sent you the design roughs.'

  • When it is necessary for you to instruct someone or demand something from them, you can use assertive language that indicates to them that you want them to listen to you. For example, you might say, 'I want you to send me the report this evening.'

  • When you promise someone something, reach an agreement or request something, it is important to use an agreeable tone that lets them know you are willing to cooperate with them. For example, you could say, 'Can you please send the products by Sunday?'

2. Know how to change language for different people and situations

By becoming conscious of how you use words and sentence patterns in your interactions with different people, you can become better at adapting your language for different situations:

  • When speaking to people of different age groups, you may use different vocabulary to communicate well with them and ensure they understand you.

  • If you are a subject matter expert or better informed about something, you may use simple terms to explain an issue to someone who is unfamiliar with the topic.

  • When you are discussing a topic with someone who is familiar with it, you may use terminology specific to that subject, and you may also skip details that your interlocutor may already know.

  • When you talk with someone at home or in a private setting, you use more informal language than you would when making a speech in a public place.

3. Understand the rules for conversation and storytelling in interactions

There are specific rules for conversation and storytelling that can facilitate communication. Here are some of them:

  • When you speak to someone or listen to them, make eye contact from time to time, nod your head and make facial expressions that show you are listening.

  • You can also use hand gestures and body language in a conversation to make your point.

  • During a conversation, listen to the speaker and wait for them to finish speaking before you respond.

  • Let people know what you are talking about when you start a conversation or a speech.

  • If you want to inform people about something, stay on the topic when speaking.

  • When someone does not understand, try to find another way of explaining it so you can make it clear to them.

  • When talking with other people, it is essential to maintain a respectful distance that does not intrude into their personal space.

Related: Social Skills: Definition, Examples And Why They're Important

Pragmatic And Social Skills In The Workplace

Your pragmatic and social skills are essential for creating a positive, collaborative work environment. You can be less stressed at work when you get along well with your colleagues, supervisor and employer. It can improve your work productivity, and, by performing well, you are likely to advance in your career. You can use the skills to do the following:

  • Be a good team player and collaborate well with team members on team projects.

  • Find resolutions for workplace conflicts impartially and reasonably.

  • Communicate information so that everyone on the team can understand you.

  • Develop strong, respectful professional relationships with work colleagues.

  • Manage work schedules, assign project tasks, monitor work progress and become more productive.

Related: Interpersonal Skills: Definitions And Examples

Ways To Highlight Pragmatic And Social Skills

Highlighting your pragmatic skills and social skills in the job application process can improve your chances of receiving a job offer. Most employers prefer to hire socially capable and emotionally intelligent people for the available positions. When applying for a job position, you can highlight your skills in the following ways:

1. Pragmatic and social skills for cover letter and resume

You can list your pragmatic and social skills and compare these with those mentioned in the job description. Pick the most relevant ones, include them in your cover letter and elaborate on them in your resume. You may impress recruiters by explaining how you used these skills to advance your career.

2. Pragmatic and social skills for a job interview

When preparing for a job interview, practice answering skills-related questions with calm self-assurance. You can video record yourself to study your body language and speaking style. You can then work on them to appear more confident.

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