Social Skills Training: Definition, Uses And Types

By Indeed Editorial Team

Published 13 July 2022

The Indeed Editorial Team comprises a diverse and talented team of writers, researchers and subject matter experts equipped with Indeed's data and insights to deliver useful tips to help guide your career journey.

Improving your social skills can be a great way to improve your professional life, as it helps you to become more competent in the workplace. In addition, individuals with behavioural issues such as autism can also benefit from improving their social skills. Learning about ways to develop your social skills can help you effectively interact with friends, family and colleagues at the workplace. In this article, we define social skills training, discuss its uses, explore its types and outline the steps to improve your social skills.

What Is Social Skills Training?

Social skills training (SST) is a method to train individuals and teach them how to convey their emotions and become more socially competent. This can help them to achieve their goals and learn to live independently. Improving social skills can also help individuals with behavioural disorders who find it difficult to show their emotions, feelings and thoughts in the right way. Social skills are the basic elements of an individual's behaviour that allows them to adapt, learn and understand various social circumstances.

Training based on social perception can be very helpful in allowing individuals to learn and adapt the ways of developing social information. You can learn how to give appropriate responses to the people and make the right decision. You can also learn the basic communication skills required to start a conversation.

Read more: Social Skills: Definition, Examples And Why They're Important

Uses Of SST

Individuals who struggle with learning and gaining interpersonal skills can benefit from developing their social skills through a training programme. Many trained professionals like teachers and therapists build a specialised programme for training social skills. Some individuals may find it difficult to make eye contact during conversations. Eye contact can be one of the first steps which help in starting a conversation between two or more people.

Therapists often teach their patients about making eye contact and using it to maintain and hold the conversation. Many teachers divide the entire training programme into different lessons which include several activities and practices focusing on developing social skills. Here are some other situations when SST can be helpful:

  • Learning to respond appropriately in various social situations

  • Developing self-esteem and confidence

  • Improving verbal and non-verbal communication skills

  • Improving work efficiency and productivity

  • Reducing stress in different social situations

  • Developing teamwork skills and the ability to cooperate with various professionals

  • Advancing in professional careers

Types Of SST

There are different types of SST based on the methods and techniques used for the training. Here are some common types:

  • Social stories and scripts: Describing a specific topic through social stories and scripts can be an effective method of improving social skills. Many therapists combine social skills with rehearsal models to help individuals as per their weaknesses.

  • Video modelling: In this method, therapists may use videos to explain social concepts to individuals. Video demonstration of how to respond accurately can be an effective method to train social skills.

  • Group sessions: A therapist can help individuals improve their social connections through group sessions. In this method, therapists conduct lessons and group activities for individuals with behavioural disorders.

Read more: Types Of Public Speaking Skills And How To Improve Them

How Do Trainers Implement Social Skills Training?

The method of implementing SST may vary from one person to another. There are several factors that a teacher or therapist may consider when building a specific training programme. Some examples of such factors may include the requirements of a patient, speed of adapting to new situations, level of processing thoughts and confidence level. Trainers can focus on changing the current conditions and behaviour of their students in a positive way. Here are some steps that a trainer may follow to effectively implement SST:

Finding the problem

A trainer can develop training programmes after identifying the social problem of each trainee. Trainers may talk with trainees or conduct certain tests to find their areas for improvement. For example, group discussions can help in determining if an individual has a fear of speaking in a crowd. Once trainers identify the problem, they can create a training plan accordingly.

Setting clear goals

Trainers can help individuals find social skills they can learn and set their goals. For example, a trainer may suggest you work on your interpersonal skills to effectively collaborate with others in the workplace. Consider setting achievable goals in milestones.

Read more: How To Set And Achieve Long-Term Goals (With Examples)

Modelling and rehearsal

After setting goals and knowing what social skills require improvement, trainers can model them for trainees. Modelling the skills allow trainees to observe and try it by themselves. Many trainers conduct rehearsals or role-play to help trainees practise their social skills. Rehearsals can help trainees practise their social skills before implementing them in real-life situations.

Receiving feedback

After conducting role-play and group activities, trainers can evaluate the skills of each trainee and provide them with corrective feedback. It can help you strengthen your social skills and perform better in the next session. Feedback can motivate and encourage trainees to practise further.

Read more: A Step By Step Guide On How To Give Feedback (With Examples)

Skills You Can Improve Through SST

Here are some common social skills you can improve through training:

Active listening

Developing active listening can help you throughout different situations in your personal and professional life. Practising active listening can help you improve your communication and understand other professionals in the workplace. With the help of active listening, you can thoughtfully respond to others. Consider keeping patience and focus when others are speaking. Avoid interrupting them between the conversation. Active listening can also be helpful in understanding the details of a certain project or receiving feedback from your seniors.

Empathy

Another important social skill that you can develop is empathy. Having empathy can help in understanding the emotions and feelings of others. Professionals can use empathy to recognise the mindsets of their colleagues in the workplace. With the help of empathy, you can help in developing a socially aware environment in the workplace. You can develop empathy by asking about others' opinions and how they approach various situations. Appreciating their perspectives can help you encourage them to share new ideas.

Read more: Why Personal Development Is Crucial (With Examples And Tips)

Non-verbal communication

In SST, many trainers focus on teaching ways to communicate without using language. Non-verbal communication can help you create a professional appearance through your body language. Some of the most common non-verbal communication include keeping an upright posture or maintaining eye contact during professional interactions. Consider using body language that presents you as an attentive and active listener. Maintaining eye contact and nodding can tell that you are listening and understanding the speaker.

Teamwork

Teamwork can also be a great social skill you can learn through SST. Trainers may conduct various group activities to improve the cooperation and teamwork abilities of their students. With the help of teamwork, you can create a productive work environment. Teamwork also helps in developing innovative ideas and strategies in the workplace. Improving your ability to work in a team may involve other skills such as conflict resolution and active listening.

While working with a team, consider acknowledging the contributions of other professionals. Many employers hire candidates who are able to work in a team of various professionals. Developing and highlighting teamwork skills in a resume or during an interview can increase your chances of getting hired.

Read more: 10 Skills You Need For Team Building (And How To Develop Them)

Positivity

Another social skill that you can improve through training is positivity. Having a positive attitude can help in creating healthy boundaries in the workplace. Many employers hire candidates with positivity and motivational skills for leadership roles. Developing a positive perspective and using positive language can present you as a suitable candidate. Setting goals and focussing on achieving them can make you feel positive and motivated. You can encourage and appreciate other professionals to maintain a positive attitude in the workplace.

Explore more articles