It seems that social skills are usually taken for granted as if they were something we can’t improve or educate. However, that is not true. Social skills can be educated, but we have to go deeper than to the 101-of-small talk in order to unlock the full potential we humans have.

What are social skills?

Social skills are developed through socialization, that is when becoming a member of a culture [1]. We learn how to interact with people with appropriate manners, and we learn to take others’ feelings into account.

The value of social skills is priceless. The ways in which an individual can get along with others, feel empathy, lead others and be led by others has an impact on countless aspects of that person’s life but also in lives of others surrounding that person.

Why we need social skills?

Social skills are needed in teamwork. From the evolutionary perspective, social skills have been crucial in order to human species to survive and evolve. Without the ability to communicate in difficult situations, for example in hunting mammoths [2], human species would not have been able to catch the food; and evolve to this point where we stand today.

Social skills are literally social, but their influence can be seen in personal well-being [3][4]. Some people learn them easily early on and can use them managing their lives and their personal wellbeing.

Social skills reduce bullying

Not everyone, however, possesses social skills that would help them in their personal growth, wellbeing, and success. Based on recent research, lack of social skills has been linked to bullying, lack of important relationships and severe problems in life at all ages[5][6][4]. That is why one way to look at them is to consider them as coping skills. By acquiring good social skills, an individual has also tools to manage personal feelings, relationships, and goals.

Social skills create success

In many respects, good social skills make our lives easier. In addition to personal wellbeing, social skills have an impact on personal success by enabling better academic and cognitive skills [7][4].

Improve your innate ability

The great magic behind social skills is that they can be learned. We humans are innately social, and our minds and bodies are ready to tune in to learn social skills at any given time [4]. Acquiring these skills requires practice and reflection.

It’s important to experience what consequences one’s actions have in other’s feelings. For example, what happens when I tell my friend she is great dealing with pressure? Or, when I just walk by, saying nothing.

The easiest way to learn good social skills is through practicing in a safe environment with people that are close to you. You can start now!

Mightify your friend:

Observe your mate’s behavior during the day. At the end of the day, tell your mate what you observed and what was great in what you saw. Pay close attention to your mate when you give the feedback and observe your own feelings as well.

References

[1] Mead, G. H. (1934). Mind, Self and Society. Chicago, IL: Chicago University Press.
[2] http://www.vermoedensenverhalen.nl/mammoth-hunters/mammoth-hunters/
[3] Segrin, C., & Taylor, M. (2007). Positive interpersonal relationships mediate the association between social skills and psychological well-being. Personality and Individual Differences, 43(4), 637-646.
[4] Durlak, J. A., Weissberg, R. P., Dymnicki, A. B., Taylor, R. D., & Schellinger, K. B. (2011). The impact of enhancing students’ social and emotional learning: A meta‐analysis of school‐based universal interventions. Child development, 82(1), 405-432.
[5] DeRosier, M. E. (2004). Building relationships and combating bullying: Effectiveness of a school-based social skills group intervention. Journal of Clinical Child and Adolescent Psychology, 33(1), 196-201.
[6] Segrin, C., & Rynes, K. N. (2009). The mediating role of positive relations with others in associations between depressive symptoms, social skills, and perceived stress. Journal of Research in Personality, 43(6), 962-971.
[7] Zins, J. E. (Ed.). (2004). Building academic success on social and emotional learning: What does the research say? Teachers College Press.

suvi

 

 

 

 

Suvi Uski
Ph.D., Social Psychologist