Are you tired of feeling awkward around others? Perhaps you have a hard time holding a conversation with others or maybe you simply don’t know how to initiate conversations in the first place. If this is similar to how you feel, then you may simply be suffering from a lack in social skills. What are social skills? Generally, they refer the ability to relate, converse, and interact with others.
There are lots of people out there who don’t have great social skills, so there’s nothing wrong with acknowledging that you could use a little help when it comes to improving social skills for yourself. And fortunately, there are plenty of ways to go about learning how to improve social skills–whether it be on your own from home or with a little help from a professional. Read on to explore some examples of social skills activities for kids and social skills training for adults alike, along with some other helpful information regarding social skills.
Watch Your Body Language
A lot of times, people who lack social skills tend to make themselves look unapproachable without even realizing it. Body language has a lot to do with a person’s social success, so it’s important to be aware of your body language at all times. This may seem like a bit of a challenge at first, but the good news is that with enough practice, it will eventually become like second nature.
Specifically, it’s important to make sure that your body language always makes you look as approachable as possible. This means that you’ll want to be careful not to:
- have an upset or angry look on your face
- have your arms crossed
- have your head down
Instead, you can make yourself appear more approachable by:
- keeping a pleasant smile on your face
- keeping arms at your sides
- always looking straight forward rather than down
Learning to Initiate Conversation
A lot of times, shy people lack the confidence to start up a conversation with somebody–especially with somebody that they don’t know. However, being able to strike up a conversation with a stranger is a great and important skill to have, which is why it’s something everybody should learn how to do.
So, just how can you go about starting a conversation? Well, the best way to do so is to simply go up to another person and politely introduce oneself. However, where do you go from there? Generally, it’s best to try and find some kind of common ground that you have with the person. Perhaps you’re both attending the same class together; maybe you can talk about a particular assignment that you’re struggling with or something similar.
Once you find common ground with the person, you’ll find that continuing the conversation is a lot easier. The key is just to learn how to approach the person in the first place, as this is often the hardest part.
Try Some Social Skill Building Activities
Believe it or not, there are all kinds of great social skills group activities that you can try as a means of improving your own people skills. Generally, it’s best to try these activities with people that you’re already comfortable with. This way, you won’t have to feel self conscious or as though you’re being judged while you work to improve your skills.
So, just what kinds of social skills games can be helpful? A good (and fun) one to try involves having somebody in your group come up with a hypothetical situation and then having a conversation about it. For example, somebody may come up with a hypothetical situation where you’re all at a party and none of you knows each other.
The challenge, then, may be to come up with a conversation starter or figure out how to approach a person in the group with the ultimate goal of finding some common ground and having somebody to spend time with at the party.
Become an Active Listener
Another great way to improve one’s social skills is to learn to become a better listener. All too often, it’s easy to become bored during a conversation or to not pay much attention to what a person is telling you. We’re all guilty of doing this from time to time. However, with the right social skills lessons, you can learn to become an active listener and thus be able to hold better conversations with the people around you.
One of the most important aspects of active listening is to make it clear to the person talking that you’re actively engaged and paying attention to what they’re saying. You’ll often find in social skills videos that the most successful people are the ones who are nodding, smiling, and otherwise acknowledging the person who is talking.
Furthermore, as the person is talking, it can also be helpful to make a list of possible questions or replies that you could respond with when he or she is done.
What About Children and Social Skills?
These days, many schools have a social skills curriculum that they must follow closely. Ideally, all children should be able to master a list of social skills (including active listening and story telling) by a certain age, and this is done through implementing social skills lesson plans.
In many schools, this starts by talking with children about the importance of having good social skills and going over a basic social skills definition with them. Some of the most important social skills for kids include not only active listening, but body language and the ability to start a conversation. However, teaching social skills isn’t always a walk in the park, as some children are more exposed to social skills at an early age than others.
One way in which many schools these days have begun teaching social skills is to give students social skills worksheets. In some ways, these can be better than real-world scenarios because they allow the child to imagine the situation rather than being in the stress of actually living out the situation.
In these worksheets, the children can be given hypothetical situations where an imaginary character needs to learn how to respond to a specific situation appropriately. Sometimes, these worksheets are multiple choice in nature, whereas other questions may require the student to come up with a short answer or longer response. This will depend greatly on the reading level, writing level, and age of the student.
From there, the child can be graded using a social skills rating system, which helps to place the child in one of several categories. Those who are the most successful are typically students who already have a mastery of basic social skills, often due to the way they communicate with others at home. However, students who are only children and have less interactions with children their own age may sometimes fall behind in their social skills ratings.
When this happens, it may be necessary for teachers to implement strategies from a social skills improvement system; usually, these systems need to be custom tailored to each individual student to meet his or her needs. For example, if a child seems to have a problem when it comes to active listening, then his or her instruction may be more focused on this than anything else.
Parents may also be asked to help when it comes to improving a child’s social skills; after all, the instruction cannot just happen in the classroom; it must be carried over into a child’s home environment as well. Otherwise, the child will never be able to truly master the skills.
Why Do Social Skills Matter?
Children are taught a lot of different subjects in school these days, so why do they need to be explicitly taught social skills? Well, the short answer is that a child’s social skills can have a big impact on his or her success in the future.
Not only do better social skills help children to develop better relationships with the people around them, but social skills are also directly related to a child’s confidence. Finally, when it comes time for these people to go out into the “real world” and find jobs for themselves, having great social skills is a must. Otherwise, all the formal education in the world isn’t going to prepare them for being out in the real world as working adults. It’s really as simple as that, which is why an increasing number of schools have begun providing formal social skill education.
Overall, there’s no denying the importance of having social skills at any age. Those who have them are more likely to be successful and live happy lives full of great relationships. On the other hand, those who don’t have good social skills may find themselves having a harder time getting along with others.
No matter what your age, the good news is that if you feel you’re lacking in social skills, there are always some steps you can take to work on them.