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What are Social Skills?

Rebecca Bennington Blog Picture

Do people like you?  Or, are you the person in the room that everyone is avoiding?  Maybe you’re a good person, maybe you are a lot of fun, and caring, and smart, but because you have poor social skills you cannot form relationships, so no one knows how great you are.  This can lead to feelings of isolation and loneliness.  Learning good social skills can help you to overcome this barrier to happiness.

Social skills are an important part of life.  Not everyone has them.  Generally, these are learned at home or in school and other group settings.  However, if your home was dysfunctional or chaotic, or you were isolated in school, you may have not learned how to interact with people.  That is what social skills are:  the ability to interact with others in a way that is socially accepted.

If you think about what it takes to get along with other people, you will realize that it is a complex process.  It requires communication skills, negotiation, empathy, and self-control, among other skills.  Humans exhibit nuances in their interactions so not all communication is straightforward.  We exhibit most of our communication via our body language and it can take practice to learn how to read another person’s body language.

Emotional Intelligence is the ability to acknowledge your emotions, recognize the emotions of others, and use that information to guide your behavior.  If you are aware of your emotional intelligence, you can use that to help you understand and improve your social interactions.  There are five components of emotional intelligence.  First, self-awareness refers to your ability to recognize and understand your own emotions, and the effect you have on others. Next is self-regulation.  This means that you can control your emotions and express them appropriately in non-hurtful ways. After this comes social skills, which is the ability to communicate with others verbally and non-verbally.  This is followed by empathy.  Empathy is the ability to understand other people’s feelings and see things from their point of view.  This is not the same as sympathy.  We will talk about each of these in additional articles and that will be explained there.  And finally, there is motivation. Specifically, this refers to intrinsic motivation which refers to being driven by internal achievements rather than external rewards such as money, fame, and recognition. These five elements comprise Emotional Intelligence.

How do you know if you need social skills?  Psychology Today has a test you can take (below).  You will get an immediate assessment but there is a charge for an in-depth analysis.  If you feel awkward in social situations or you feel like you don’t fit in you should consider taking the test to see if social skills are a problem for you.

We have some articles here to help you improve your social skills, along with some exercises and links to additional resources.  As always, if you would like someone to talk to please reach out to us to schedule some time. We are happy to help you in any way we can.





Rebecca Bennington


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