There are many reasons why a person may have a social skills deficit. It could occur because of a lack of knowledge, such as the inability to acquire new skills, or because of a competency deficit. Sometimes, the person may know how to perform the social skill, but they may struggle to perform because of limited practice or inadequate feedback. There may also be internal or external factors that interfere with the person performing the social skill, such as anxiety or chaotic surroundings. Here are five common types of social skills deficits.
Basic Communication Skills
These include the ability to listen, follow directions and refrain from speaking. For example, listening skills involve the ability of concentration and ignoring distractions. Good listening skills are demonstrated by indicating attention, such as nodding and smiling and giving feedback on what has been said or discussed. It also includes the ability to refer to past comments, such as tying a current statement to a previous one, or query about potential, future ideas, actions, and events. Basic communication skills include body language and behaviors, like eye contact, physical stillness, and emotional attentiveness while the other person is talking.
Empathy and Rapport Skills
Certain cognitive, behavioral and mental health conditions may limit an individual’s ability to feel empathy and connect with others. This includes Autism, which comes with documented social impairments, and Borderline Personality Disorder. Those who suffer from severe social anxiety and those who are highly self-conscious may display either too little or too much focus on someone else. This means that some people with anxiety are desperate to please others and avoid confrontation, so they will pay close attention to what others say, or always volunteer to help or do favors. Opposite of this, some people will feel overwhelmed by their social environment and simply shut down around others.
Interpersonal skills include the abilities of sharing, joining activities, asking for permission and waiting turns. Those who have a social skill deficit may struggle with asking accurate and concise questions. Being unable to ask a simple question creates barriers to obtaining information and initiating a conversation. Those who struggle to ask questions will appear disinterested and even anti-social. Those with poor social skills may prefer to ask closed questions because these elicit brief and controlled responses. For adults with limited social skills, they may struggle to understand proper manners in different social contexts and settings.
Problem Solving Skills
Problem-solving involves asking for help, apologizing to others, deciding what to do and accepting consequences. Some people may struggle to identify the root causes of problems, so they can’t fully understand potential solutions or strategies. Those who struggle with solving problems may be morbidly shy or clinically introverted. They may prefer to avoid problems because it makes them feel uncomfortable. Those who struggle with solving problems will most likely have poor conflict resolution skills. Some children struggle to appropriately deal with teasing, while some adults have difficulties dealing with losing to competition.
Some people are petrified of being criticized in public. They may struggle with accepting blame for problems or dealing with constructive feedback. Some people naturally associate accountability with reliability and maturity. Someone who promises to do something and then fails to do it may have a legitimate excuse, but their overt lack of accountability may indicate that they are unreliable and immature. Accountability is also an essential part of conflict management because recognizing mistakes is an excellent way to indicate a conciliatory and cooperative attitude.
Those who want to improve their social skills should focus on imitating desirable attitudes and eliminating undesirable behaviors. They can use modeling, role-playing and performance feedback to improve their specific social skills deficit.