Here’s a Method To Enhance Adult Social Skills

adult social skills

adult social skills

“Loneliness breaks the spirit.”  Jewish proverb

Adult Social Skills: Can We Learn Them?

In eighth grade, I spent three weeks with my father in a remote part of the Amazon rain forest with the Sanuma Indians.  I didn’t know any words from their Sanuma language, so it was very hard to get to know people during my stay there.

Some things helped.

I played soccer with the Indian kids my age.  I went swimming with them.  We roamed through their fields and forests.

But it was kind of lonely.

After all, I looked different from them, and I couldn’t speak their language.

It helped that we smiled at each other.

But that was the extent of our communication.

My father, a linguist,taught me how to write down the sounds and syllables of the language so that I could start picking up some words.  I’d point to things, listen to their word, and write it down.

That’s how my father documented their grammar.

At the end of three weeks, I noticed that my limited vocabulary built a bridge of connection to the Yanomami acquaintances I’d started to get to know.

 Learning Adult Social Skills

There are many nuances and “vocabulary” terms to pick up with relating to others.  Navigating the social world can be difficult and confusing.

But it’s possible to learn!  Here’s a method to help you improve your adult social skills.

Video Modeling

Video modeling helps you “see” yourself in real life situations.

When I was in graduate school, I had to make a videotape of myself “counseling” a peer.  When I saw myself, many of my “blind spots” came into sharp focus: I noticed that I interrupted my peer; or that my voice was really monotone.  When I made adjustments, I became a better counselor.

Here’s another example.  A friend of mine wanted to become a public speaker.  Every time he would give a speech, he had someone videotape him.  In this way, he was able to critique himself.

You can do the same thing to improve your adult social skills.

Find someone (not on the spectrum) who is willing to help you learn about yourself.  Record yourself (or have a friend record you) making small talk and carrying on a conversation.  Your friend can give you tips about what to do more, what to do less, or what to do instead.

Here’s another idea.  You can post the video on Google hangouts or on Facebook (use the appropriate privacy features if you don’t want the video to go viral!).  In this way, you can get feedback from other people on the internet.

Caution: make sure you are posting to a group of people who are “safe” and can be trusted.

You can also look up Facebook autism support groups, and posting your video there once you get to know and trust the members of the support group.

Here Are Some Online Resources For Adult Social Skills

Succeed Socially

This is a 100% free social guide written by a “formerly social awkward guy”.  He’s written an extensive number of articles you can learn from.

Wrong Planet Adult Social Skills Thread 

I found this thread particularly interesting.  This Aspie shared her experience with her therapist in learning small talk.  It was particularly challenging and exhausting for her, but here’s the quote from her I love the most.

I am learning that my “disabilties” are not something I cannot alter to some degree.  Even though I have to accept my “label” doesn’t mean I have to accept where I am today.  I can continue to work on improving me and my abilities.  This stuff may be hardwired, but I can resolder this chip of the motherboard of mine for an upgrade.  It isn’t as easy as just flashing a BIOS, but it is doable. :)

There’s hope of improving your situation!  Don’t give up!

Indiana Center for Autism

This article explains some strategies for making friends.  The last section of the article explains video modeling in more detail.

What are some actions you’ll take today to get started improving your adult social skills?  What other adult social skills resources would you recommend?  Please tell us below!

Image credit: iqoncept / 123RF Stock Photo

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About Stephen Borgman

 I'm Steve Borgman.  I'm a licensed clinical professional counselor and blogger committed to bringing you hope, understanding, and solutions that you can apply to your life immediately.
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  1. shirehouseinc says:

    Thrilled I came across your website.
    Our visions are similar, one of the reasons we started Shire House.
    Thank you.

  2. Stephen Borgman says:

    I stopped by your blog. What a great work you are doing! If you ever would like to share information about Shire House and how this vision of housing can help in other parts of the world, I would welcome a guest post from you :)

  3. marquita.herald says:

    I love this article Steve! First of all I am green with envy for the opportunity you had to make that trip to the Amazon with your father – what an unforgettable adventure! I’ve never been videotaped, but I can still relate to the experience because early on in my sales career I went through a 10 month executive training program that placed me firmly under a microscope and every phone call I made, every sales pitch, every move was observed by my council of advisers. For a classic introvert like me, it was horrifying, but – as you know – the true indicator of how bad we want something is just how much we’re willing to go through to get it. Ironically, over time I became quite the attention hog and “graduated” 3 months early.

  4. SteveBorgman says:

    Marquita, thank you for stopping by!  Pardon the pun, but it is pretty green in the Amazon ;-)   I’m sure you learned quite a bit from the videotaping experience.  If videotaping and audio recording is good enough for corporate enterprises, so much more for helping all of us improve our social skills!

  5. Chery Schmidt says:

    Hi Steve, I couldn’t ever imagine myself in the 8th grade in the Amazon’s WOW This had to be quite and experience and not to be able to communicate with any of the other kids. HUM 8th grade, no talking HUM Again Nope I probably wouldn’t have done as well as you.. HEHEHE Just kidding!
    What a great suggestion to video yourself dong a presentation, I have heard about recording your voice but never thought about an actual video.  I have practiced with a few friends and family members, but seeing yourself live surely would give you an better idea on how you could improve..
    Thanks for sharing Chery :)

  6. SteveBorgman says:

    Chery Schmidt Thanks for the feedback, Chery!

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