Social skills for adults are as important as they are for children. Although we don’t face bullies on the playground, we encounter a variety of difficult situations with friends, family and colleagues.
Children encounter many negative influences, such as bad role models, when developing social skills. For adults, interpersonal skills can suffer from stressful environments and relationships, as well as long-term
struggles with self-esteem
. These skills are critical to conflict resolution, healthy relationships, and the creation of a positive home and work environment, so it’s equally important to address them in adulthood.
Some professions include social skills training for adults who work with the general population or with those who benefit from supportive services.
Success in nursing, social work and in a variety of other occupations can depend on the person’s level of interpersonal skills, as they are the basis for effective communication and genuineness in relationships. However, these skills are just as important to success in all other roles and life situations.
You may have heard the common saying that we have two ears and one mouth for good reason—and you probably know a few people who could benefit from hearing it, too! We don’t often think of listening to others as being a skill—our ears hear for us—but active listening requires effort, practice and concentration.
The first step to active listening is to shut off your internal dialogue while someone else is speaking. This means, no thinking about what you’ll have for lunch or about what you’ll say to this person when he stops talking.
Active listening can be much more difficult than it sounds, but you will improve your skill and strengthen your relationship to the speaker by restating the key points of what he or she is saying to you.
By practicing empathy and paying attention to the speaker’s verbal and non-verbal behaviors, too, you will master active listening.
Speaker (with clenched fists): “I can’t handle this anymore! I don’t know what she expects me to do in this situation, and nothing I do is good enough.”
Active Listener (relaxed and nodding): “You’re angry that she won’t give you any idea of what she wants. Is that what you are saying?”
Active listening ensures mutual understanding and strengthens the relationship between people. It can make a huge difference in spousal and other familial relationships. Start really listening, and repeating back what you hear so there can be no misunderstanding.
Effective communication stems from
, and an understanding of those around you. It’s helpful to examine your own reactions to the behaviors of others to gain a better understanding of the effect you have on other people.
For example, if you shy away from people who speak loudly and use wildly animated hand gestures, you know the same behaviors from yourself could make others uncomfortable. If you appreciate a calm, nonjudgmental tone from others, you know others will appreciate the same from you. This doesn’t account for the many different types of personality, but it does promote
self awareness and understanding.
Success in work and relationships greatly depends on social skills. For adults, there are many situations that can benefit from these skills, so it is always favorable to evaluate and practice personal development for interpersonal relationships.