Social Skill Training and Breakthroughs
People do not acquire social skill without undergoing some kind of social skill training. While itís not always easy to define what is meant by social skill, itís easy to identify individuals who lack them and need social skill training: they tend to be socially isolated, frustrated, depressed, even prone to anger and acting out.
Social skill training for both children and adults focuses on creating individuals who are able to make and maintain friendships, understand and express emotion, work cooperatively, and develop assertiveness and self-worth. In the workplace, good social skill helps employees embody the traits most valued by employers: compliance, civility, and cooperativeness.
Mental health experts have identified four primary areas of social skill:
1. Survival skills, such as listening and following directions, focusing on the task at hand, and using positive self-talk to reward success.
2. Interpersonal skills, such as sharing, participating appropriately in activities, and learning how to take turns.
3. Problem-solving skills, including knowing how and when to ask for help, deciding upon the correct course of action, and accepting consequences for behavior.
4. Conflict resolution skills, such as dealing with misunderstanding or accusation.
The goal of social skill training is to facilitate desirable behaviors while minimizing the incidence of undesirable ones. Through positive modeling, coaching, and role-playing, effective programs need to:
1. Teach listening skills, conversational skills, and social participation skills. Central to social skill is eye contact, knowing when (and when not) to speak, and how to show interest in what other people are saying.
2. Describe how to ask questions and favors appropriately of others, and how to follow directions. Good social skill training helps people determine the best time to speak, how to know who to ask for help, and how to get another personís attention in a friendly and non-aggressive way.
3. Provide direction in how to interpret body language. People communicate volumes through their facial expressions and by many other non-verbal cues that can be nuanced and challenging to understand. Teach participants to observe other people closely through role-play and through modeling to ensure good social skill development...
4. Teach the skill of working cooperatively. Working well with others involves being able to listen, to identify what needs to be done and how it should be accomplished, and to be attuned to the needs and feelings of the people involved in the task.
5. Train people how to communicate positively and productively. Teach them when and how to say thank you, how to give constructive compliments, and how to give and receive positive feedback. Accepting a compliment is not easy for some people, but learning how to do it graciously and appropriately is a valuable social skill.
6. Instruct on the proper techniques of conflict resolution. Accepting the consequences of behavior means knowing when and how to apologize, understanding how actions influence other people, and demonstrating the ability to empathize. This is key when learning social skill.
Social skill has been referred to by some psychologists as ďlife skills.Ē Therefore, social skill training is really about giving people the skills they need to succeed in life.
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