Are you tired of feeling awkward around others? Perhaps you have a hard time holding a conversation with others, or maybe you don’t know how to initiate conversations in the first place. If this is similar to how you feel, you may suffer from a lack of social skills. What are social skills? Generally, they refer to the ability to relate, converse, and interact with others.
Many people don’t have great social skills, so there’s nothing wrong with acknowledging that you could use a little help to improve your social skills for yourself. And fortunately, there are plenty of ways to learn how to improve social skills–whether 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, social skills training for adults alike, and other helpful information regarding social skills.
Watch Your Body Language
Often, people who lack social skills tend to make themselves look unapproachable without even realizing it. However, 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 it will eventually become second nature with enough practice.
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 shy people often lack the confidence to start a conversation with somebody–especially with somebody 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, how can you start a conversation? Well, the best way to do so is to go up to another person and politely introduce yourself. 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. For example, perhaps you’re both attending the same class together; maybe you can talk about a particular assignment you’re struggling with or something similar.
Once you find common ground with the person, you’ll find that continuing the conversation is much easier. The key is learning how to approach the person in the first place, which 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 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 brainstorm a hypothetical situation and then have 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, maybe 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 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, making a list of possible questions or replies you could respond with when they are done can also be helpful.
What About Children and Social Skills?
Many schools have a social skills curriculum that they must follow closely. All children should be able to master a list of social skills (including active listening and storytelling) by a certain age. 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 discussing a definition of basic social skills. Some of the most important social skills for kids include active listening, 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 under the stress of living out it.
In these worksheets, the children can be given hypothetical situations where an imaginary character must learn how to respond appropriately to a specific situation. Sometimes, these worksheets are multiple-choice, 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 how they communicate with others at home. However, students who are only children and have fewer interactions with children their age may sometimes fall behind in their social skills ratings.
When this happens, teachers may need to implement strategies from a social skills improvement system; usually, these systems need to be custom-tailored to each student to meet their needs. For example, if a child seems to have a problem with active listening, their instruction may be more focused on this than anything else.
Parents may also be asked to help improve a child’s social skills; after all, the instruction cannot just happen in the classroom; They must also carry it over into a child’s home environment. Otherwise, the child will never be able to master the skills truly.
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 their success in the future.
Not only do better social skills help children 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 as simple as that, which is why many 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 have a harder time getting along with others.
No matter your age, the good news is that if you feel you lack social skills, there are always some steps you can take to work on them.