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Work on your social skills

Teens need to learn how to get along with people if they are to flourish as adults Chitra Jha Reports

education Updated: Oct 21, 2009 09:27 IST
Chitra Jha

We concentrate hard on acquiring professional skills for a career, but social skills are just as important, because it is mostly well-rounded individuals who get ahead in life.
Social skills — being able to function in a team, being able to talk and listen — help us in our personal sphere and also play a great role in our work/study space. Possessing these skills is an important pre-requisite for developing self-confidence.
Generally, social skills or lack of them become apparent during adolescence. The same child who had happily played along with other kids suddenly starts feeling isolated as a teenager. S/he cannot seem to strike up friendships any more. This happens because of the changed social interaction requirements of teenagers. All that a small child has to do is take turns at certain games; a teenager must take a lot more into consideration.
As an adolescent, or a young adult, you need to be able to grasp verbal and non-verbal cues. You need to distinguish between literal and non-literal language. While most of us manage to make this transition, some find it tough. The world takes these skills for granted, and teenagers are just supposed to know all this as they grow up. This pressure makes some teens give up trying and become introverts.
These introverts want to make friends and have an active social life, but do not know how to go about it. They fear being ridiculed, or worse, ignored. They are the ones who most often get bullied at home, school, college and work. The label they are stuck with is ‘weirdo’. Unfortunately, people tend to live up to the labels they get.
Parents, teachers and peers just wonder, “Why doesn’t this guy just get it?” No one realises that such people are suffering. Unless they are helped, the consequences can be devastating, including substance abuse. Socially recluse people experience anxiety, depression and social isolation. If you are someone who feels so, you could try the following:
. Smile at people more often
. Learn to offer help wherever needed
. Become genuinely interested in people
. Pay attention to what others are saying, and ask one or two questions that show
you have been listening
. Instead of asking “What’s in it for me?”, ask “What can I do for you?”
. Look at your strengths, not your shortcomings
. Appreciate yourself and others. Yes, you will have to say it out loud and be genuine
about it. You can easily find one good thing to appreciate in everyone you meet,
including yourself
. Last but not the least, love and respect yourself for what you are

The author is a life skills coach, time-line therapist, and new consciousness writer. She can be contacted at