Social communication refers to a collection of verbal and nonverbal skills, such as conversation, social interaction, and social cognition. This type of communication is often regarded as a form of communication that is unwritten and most people seem to possess and express instinctively. Social communication includes elements such as interactions with peers, family members, caregivers, teachers, and educators. Social communication behaviors include the comprehension and use of appropriate facial expressions, eye contact, gestures, and body language. For some people, these skills are not innate or instinctive, and they may struggle with their social skills. Difficulties with social communication can affect confidence, as well as one’s ability to succeed in a social, academic or professional setting. Speech therapy can be a highly valuable resource when it comes to strengthening and improving one’s social communication skills. You can learn more about social communication and how speech therapy can help by scheduling your free introductory call today!
What are Social Skills?
There are three major skills that are part of Social Communication:
The Appropriate Use of Language for Various Reasons – for example:
- Simple Greetings – Saying “hello” or “goodbye.”
- Conveying Information – “I’m going to get a drink.”
- Expressing Demands. – “Give me a drink right now.”
- Making Promises – “I’m going to get you a drink.”
- Making Requests – “May I have a drink, please?”
Altering Language to fit the person or Situation – for example:
- Speaking differently when addressing a baby vs an adult
- Providing more information to someone who is not familiar with the context or topic.
- Knowing when to omit certain details when someone is already familiar with the context or topic.
- Speaking differently in a classroom than they would at a park.
Following Simple Rules When Engaging in Conversation or Storytelling – for example:
- Taking turns when speaking with someone
- Informing others about the topic when you begin talking
- Stay focused and on topic.
- Try another way of expressing what you mean when someone did not understand what you said
- Using the appropriate gestures and body language, like pointing, nodding, or shrugging.
- Knowing the appropriate distance to stand near someone when talking to them.
- Use of appropriate facial expressions and eye contact.
It is important to remember that these rules can vary significantly between cultures.
What Causes Poor Social Skills?
It is important to note that difficulties related to social communication and social skills are different from someone who is anti-social or not “being social.” Individuals with poor social skills may have the desire to interact, but when they do engage socially, it doesn’t go smoothly or easily for them. They also may seem to be out of sync, awkward, struggle to engage in conversation, or behave in a way that deters others from interacting with them.
Someone with poor social skills may have trouble picking up on and interpreting social cues. They may also have difficulty following basic social rules and norms. These challenges can make it hard to fit in, establish friendships, and collaborate with others. They may avoid interacting altogether and become withdrawn, isolated, and alone with their problems. There are many different reasons that people have poor social skills and sometimes, the cause is temporary. However, in most cases, difficulties with these skills are part of larger, persistent challenges. This doesn’t mean that poor social skills are unchangeable and there are many ways to build and strengthen skills so that connecting with other people and having naturally smooth social interactions comes easily.
How Can I Practice Social Skills Alone?
While it is true that the best way to work on and improve your social skills is to engage and interact with others, there are ways that you can practice your social skills on your own. Here are some simple things you can do in your everyday life to practice and master basic social skills:
Start Small: Start with simple greetings and phrases, such as offering a “thank you” to the checkout person at your grocery store or a friendly “hello” to a neighbor.
Create Goals: Identify some small goals that you have for yourself. Maybe you want to master one particular skill or perhaps you want to attend a social activity in your community. Once you establish a small goal and find some strategies that will help to improve your social life.
Read About Social Skills: There are so many books available that can help empower you to learn certain social skills and succeed in specific social situations. It is important to keep in mind, however, that reading about these skills won’t turn you into an expert without lots of repetition and practice as well.
Eliminate Negative Thoughts: Some people with poor social skills experience a lot of negative thoughts about their social interactions, which can sometimes become a self-fulfilling prophecy. A person who thinks, “I’m going to be awkward and embarrass myself,” may enter the situation already defeated and sit in the corner. They may even leave the party thinking that they have failed because nobody spoke or engaged with them. It is important to Identify negative thoughts as they appear so that they don’t end up dragging you down. Try replacing them with more positive and realistic thoughts such as, “I can make new friends and enjoy conversations.”
You can learn more strategies to practice and improve your social skills by connecting with an experienced speech therapist. Click here to schedule your free introductory call today.
What is the Difference Between Communication and Social?
Communication at its core is inherently social. Our ability to communicate was created out of a need to interact with others and express our thoughts, feelings, and ideas. That being said, not all communication is social. In some cases, we use our communication skills in non-social situations – such as reading a novel, writing in a journal, and other solitary activities.
How Can Speech Therapy Help with Social Skills?
An experienced speech-language pathologist, (also referred to as an SLP) works to help and support people with poor social skills and other social communication challenges. A speech therapist is qualified to test speech and language skills and diagnose possible conditions and disabilities in both adults and children. The speech and language pathologist can then work with the individual and help them learn how to use language properly and appropriately with different people and in various situations. Speech therapy can be highly beneficial for anyone who wants to improve their social communication skills, even those who don’t have a disorder or disability. Increased confidence and independence are possible – get started by scheduling your free introductory call today!