SO C I A L S K I L L S
I have really bad social skills, so I am constantly noticing
how the whole world revolves around social skills.
Research that really blows me away is that people would
rather work with someone who is incompetent and
likable than someone who is a competent jerk. And
then I saw that in some cases elite British crew teams
will put a weaker, but very likable, rower on a boat
because people row faster if they row with people they
In my life, I have had to learn social skills one by one,
because I have Asperger Syndrome. I learned to smile at
jokes even though I’m too literal to understand most of
them; I listen to the rhythm of a sentence to know
when it’s time to laugh. And I learned how to say, “How
are you,” with the right tone of voice – to express
interest – although to be honest, saying that phrase
gives me so much anxiety that I never actually say it.
A few years ago I found myself smack in the middle of
the recruiting industry. I ended up, somehow, being an
expert on how to attract candidates, and an expert on
how to present yourself well to employers. At ﬁrst I
thought it was absurd. I’ve never worked in human
resources, and I’ve never been a recruiter. But then I
realized that I’m an expert on the hiring process because
it’s all about social skills, and I’ve been studying them
my whole life so that I don’t look like a freak.
In fact, it’s not just getting a job. Or giving a job.
Getting or giving anything is about social skills. e
world is about being comfortable where you are and
making people feel comfortable, and that’s what social
skills are. What’s important is to be kind, and be
gracious and do it in ways that make people want to do
that for someone else.
Penelope Trunk is the founder of BrazenCarerist.com. Her blog is