What are social skills?

Social skills are the skills necessary to appropriately communicate and interact with others.

Why do we need to teach children social skills?

We are not born socialized. When we are born, we fail to understand the culture in which we live, the language of our people, the roles that define us. Parents, teachers, and other members of society mold and develop babies into socialized members of society by teaching children social skills, cultural customs, and language. Socialization happens over time as people grow and change and take on different societal roles.

The hardest job kids face today is learning good manners without seeing any. Fred Astaire

Imagine a world without social skills, where people are not socialized. In poorly socialized society, people would always put their needs before the needs of others. There would be no compromise or negotiation, and kindness and generosity wouldn’t exist. Without socialization, it would be next to impossible to interact with other members of society because communication would be unpleasant and unproductive.

Social Contract for Civility

Just like members of society follow a well-defined and established set of laws to maintain order, society has a social contract for civility. The social contract for civility contains manners rules (like laws) that we call social skills. We uphold these “laws” to maintain a polite and civil society. Nobody is going to be thrown in jail for violating a manners rule however we can damage our relationships and limit our opportunities.

Little Hints

We enforce these rules through the clever use of social cues. Social cues are verbal or non-verbal signs we provide to keep each other in check during an interaction. Social cues regulate our social interactions. For example, we smile when someone is kind, we glare when someone is rude. The ability to read social cues properly is one of the signs of a well-socialized person.

Don’t Leave Home Without Them

We practice proper manners to ensure that we treat each other respectfully, kindly, with dignity and integrity. Social skills allow us to brush elbows with strangers and know, with 99.9% certainty, that we won’t be bothered. We might even enjoy the encounter.

Surveys show that people believe thirty-three percent of their fellow citizens have poor manners. The twist is eighty percent of people believe that they themselves have excellent manners. The math doesn’t add up. Clearly, some people lack awareness about their own behavior and are likely displaying bad behavior without even knowing it.

You Can’t Know What You Don’t Know

The statistics (and my own observations) tell me that people are not learning appropriate manners and etiquette-they might think they are, but they aren’t. One need only observe people’s obnoxious cell phone manners, poor table manners, ineffective conflict resolution skills, disregard for other people boundaries, and inability to accept blame for their own mistakes, to highlight where we as a society are falling short in socializing our members.

Society Has a Problem

For whatever reasons, parents are failing to properly socialize their children. Perhaps they are too busy or maybe they weren’t taught proper social skills and simply don’t have the necessary tools to do the job. This is a big societal problem because people who are not well-socialized are:

  1. difficult to interact with
  2. challenging to educate
  3. hard to employ
  4. limited in what they can achieve.

Society Needs Social Skills Trainers

Social skills trainers are the solution to society’s poor manners problem. Social skills experts can pick up where parents leave off. Opportunities exist for them to:

  • open social skills businesses that provide training for children and teens
  • offer social skills programs within local youth organizations
  • provide social skills classes at their places of worship
  • school teachers can integrate social skills curriculums into their classrooms.

We have a responsibility to ensure that the members of society are fully socialized. We are failing our youth if we don’t provide them the proper manners training they need to succeed. If parents aren’t teaching manners and etiquette than social skills trainers are willing and able to do the job.

If you feel concerned about the quality of children’s and teens’ social skills and you would like to be a part of the solution, become a certified social skills trainer. Our online programs make it easy to have a career that you love and make a huge contribution to society.