So, you want to learn how to navigate the sometimes sticky waters of the social scene, but don’t know where to begin? Don’t know what’s necessary and what’s a waste of your time? Everything on Google coming up with advice only for children? Here’s what a social skills training program for you should include:
CONFIDENCE-BUILDING – You need to believe in yourself. Most social situations boil down to persuading others that you are worth their time and effort to associate with. No one wants to waste their time on someone who themselves doesn’t believe is worth the effort. Believe in your self, and others will follow.
HOW TO RECOGNIZE SOCIAL SITUATIONS – Awkward social interactions usually occur when one party is suddenly surprised to find themselves in the middle of it. They often sneak up on you, be it a conversation at the grocery checkout line or chit-chat that happens spur-of-the-moment in class, on the bus, at work, or any of a number of places. Rarely do such situations come with an engraved invitation, and the few that do – parties, weddings, etc. – usually go much more smoothly since you’ve often prepared ahead of time subconsciously. A good social skills training program will work you through the intricacies of recognizing the types of social situations you find yourself in and how to navigate them.
COMMUNICATING, VERBAL & NON – Any program needs to walk you through the hows and whys of communicating, through words, through body language, through non-verbal cues and show you how to pick up on these elements in other people to bolster your own confidence and keep the interaction moving forward.
ICE BREAKERS – Every conversation, every introduction begins with one person “breaking the ice” with another, and this simple gesture works in nearly every type of social interaction. Any training program will help you craft a mental repository of flexible ice breakers for you to use in any situation, and will help you respond gracefully and adroitly to others attempts to break the ice with you.
MOVING BEYOND SMALL TALK – Any social skills training program needs to focus its efforts on teaching you the crucial skill of making the transition from small talk to meaningful connection. Ice breakers are great, they get you in the door, but you need to learn how to steer the conversation – and your interaction – to something more meaningful. Small talk is not a means unto itself, it is merely a means to an end.
LISTENING & HEARING ARE NOT THE SAME THING – Social skills training hinges on teaching you how to listen to another person, not merely hear what they are saying. The distinction is crucial. Hearing is passive and relatively effortless. Listening – processing another’s words – is active, it requires effort and skill.