Have you ever heard the quote; “No man is an Island, no man stands alone”? Ever thought about it and wondered why this is? Human beings were created to be social beings. Whether one likes to be around others or to spend time alone, eventually one has to interact with others be it at school, work or other social settings. So what does one have to do to get along with others whether they enjoy socializing or prefer taking time to themselves? They need to develop social skills.
Social skills are the skills we use to communicate and interact with each other, both verbally and non-verbally, through our gestures, body language and outward appearance. Human beings are sociable creatures and we have developed many ways to communicate our messages, thoughts and feelings with others. Social skills can be used to build healthy relationships. Furthermore, social skills function interdependently with emotional skills and together they form social-emotional skills. This kind of interdependence requires one to develop both their social and emotional intelligence. This then requires one to be aware and appreciate other peoples’ emotions which enables one to feel empathy. Much more, it is about exploring, experiencing and interacting with people around them. This includes peoples’ ability to adjust their reactions and behavior to a specific social situation.
Social-emotional skills are key to having and maintaining healthy relationships. The ability to balance personal needs and that of others while appropriately getting those needs met is essential for all individuals. Good examples of social skills are as follows:
Sharing is a part of daily life. That doesn’t mean it’s easy! Even though it’s hard to share, doing so is critical to a child’s social skill development, as it helps them keep and advance friendships. It’s also a great way to bond and show appreciation.
Active listening is an important skill that even some adults struggle with. Properly deciphering and absorbing information requires significant focus. We all know that this can be challenging for many people, but active listening can strengthen their receptive language skills (the ability to comprehend spoken language). Receptive language skills help a person to:
- Handle social interactions
- Answer questions
- Understand stories
- Comprehend what they’re told/hear or reading
- Understand gestures
Paying attention to what someone is saying and responding directly to their statements or questions is a big part of healthy communication.
3) Following Directions
The cousin of good listening skills would be executing the instructions a person hears— a.k.a. following directions! Following directions becomes particularly important once a person enters into the social world. Keep in mind, however, that multi-step directions are challenging for many people. To develop the ability to follow directions, pursue one direction at a time.
4) Collaborating & Cooperating
Similar to sharing, a person will learn how to move beyond sharing objects to sharing ideas, stories, and work. With good collaboration and cooperation skills, a person will learn that working in a group gives them a chance to express their ideas and listen to the ideas of others. It allows them to see that it can be fun to work on a shared project! This may sound simple but for most people cooperation can often require real effort. It takes time to learn to respect others’ opinions even when they’re different. By working together toward a common goal, a person can advance their sharing skills to include the intellectual.
“Patience is a virtue”. How many times have you heard this cliché? It’s normal for a person to be impatient. However, patience really is one of the most rewarding social skills. Patience is critical for many things, including maintaining friendships and relationships and achieving long-term goals. Patience takes practice and you have to trust that it takes time to learn it.
One would wonder why empathy and not sympathy. Let us delineate the difference first. Sympathy is a feeling of sincere concern for someone who is experiencing something difficult or painful or simply, feelings of pity and sorrow for someone else’s misfortune.
On the other hand Empathy is the ability to understand another person’s thoughts and feelings in a situation from their point of view, rather than your own or simply put – the ability to understand and share the feelings of another.
A person learns how to appreciate the similarities and differences between their lives and those of people they meet. With this they learn how to empathize rather than sympathize with people, no matter how different they are.
Empathy is a skill that does not appear overnight. It develops over time and across a variety of scenarios. The best way to cultivate empathy is by actualizing it. When you show empathy to others, they in turn learn how to reciprocate and extend it to others.
7) Respecting Boundaries
This comes from different levels from social, emotional, financial, intellectual, material and physical boundaries. All human beings have their own levels when it comes to boundaries at different levels hence it is important to know and understand one’s own personal boundaries and that of others for a healthy relationship. A person who is extroverted, may assume everyone is OK with hugs, questions, or lots of chit-chat. In some cases, they may be right! In others, they may accidentally cross boundaries in their efforts to be friendly. When one makes their boundaries clear and ask for others to do the same, it will make both parties feel much more at-home and improve their relationship if not maintaining it.
Working on positivity can make it exponentially easier for a person to tackle many of the other social skills we’ve mentioned, especially patience, boundaries, listening, and sharing. The easiest way to demonstrate positivity is by modeling it. The more positive a person is in social skill development (including their inevitable slip-ups), the more reassured and positive they will become themselves. With a positive attitude, a person will find it easier to make and keep friends, succeed in school or work, and achieve their goals. This doesn’t mean you have to be positive all the time. In fact, a healthy amount of honest criticism can be beneficial in helping a person learn to express their feelings.
9) Emotional Intelligence (EI)
This is the ability to manage both your own emotions and understand the emotions of people around you. People with high EI can identify how they are feeling, what those feelings mean, and how those emotions impact their behavior and in turn, other people. It’s a little harder to “manage” the emotions of other people – you can’t control how someone else feels or behaves. But if you can identify the emotions behind their behavior, you’ll have a better understanding of where they are coming from and how to best interact with them. Ultimately this would help to boost your relationship with them.
9) Conflict Resolution Skills
As it is said, conflict is inevitable. Think of it, we are imperfect social beings hence are prone to at times consciously or unconsciously make mistakes or wrong others. Handling conflict can be difficult but this then begs the need to know how to get through or rather handle conflicts whenever they arise by having strong conflict resolution skills. Let us understand first what conflict resolution is- it is the process that two or more parties use to find a cordial solution to a problem. So then, how you handle conflict can make or break a relationship. Conflicts are natural in both personal and professional relationships, and you shouldn’t try to find a way to avoid conflicts but instead, you should work on your conflict resolution skills. This means that conflict resolution skills are crucial for both the workplace, any social settings and client relationships.
Social Skills For People Are Essential
The more a person experiences the benefits of social skills, the more intuitive these skills will become for them. However, everyone learns at different rates. With practice and patience, we know you will get there. Many studies support the long term outcomes of developing social-emotional skills at an early age. As adults, a person becomes better equipped to handle stress and get through tough times. However, short-term benefits are relevant too. It is not just about social acceptance and being well-behaved. Above all, it is about relationships.
Social and emotional skills are imperative in helping people adapt and become comfortable in social situations. As a matter of fact, they develop feelings of pride, confidence, trust, affection, humor, and friendship. Having excellent social skills makes both getting along with others and becoming more independent easier. Friendships and peer relationships are more enjoyable and stronger, with good social skills.
Can one get help to improve their social skills? The definite answer is, YES!
At Mental 360, with the help of our licensed psychologists, they will help you explore ways to improve your social skills that ultimately improves your relationships in different spaces by using Social Skills Training (SST). Social skills training (SST) is a type of behavioral therapy used to improve social skills in people with mental challenges or developmental disabilities.
Do you need to improve your social skills? Is there anyone who you know who needs to improve their social skills and you can refer them? Reach out to us today at Mental 360 and we will get you in touch with our professional psychologists.