S ocial skills are the ability we have to develop in familiar and social situations. Throughout the day and throughout our lives we constantly interact with other people (for instance, family, work colleagues, friends, fellow students, or others). Being able to develop good relationships with other people is important for our wellbeing and our adaptation into society. In the end, we are social animals, and we strongly rely on each other for support and cooperation.
S ocial skills are learned, not born with. They are acquired throughout our learning with the family or at school but there are other contexts where one can learn these skills.
S ocial skills allow you to develop good relationships with other people which can be mutually beneficial (it allows you to trust, to ask for help, or to cooperate when needed). This will have a positive impact at home or at work, for instance. In contrast, deficits in social skills can lead to problems in our daily lives and can also be the source of problems for a couple. Sometimes, it may be difficult to realise that we need to improve our social skills because we tend to assume that the way we interact with other people cannot be changed. This is not true. It is helpful to examine how our relationships with others are and whether they can be improved.
S ocial skills involve knowing how to relate to the people we know and the people we just met. To know how to start, to maintain and end conversations, to ask for information, to accept a no for response, to do and to know how to receive criticism, to express positive feelings and comments, to know how to receive positive comments and feelings, to address conflicts, to stay calm, to be nice, to feel secure, to defend our rights when necessary, and to adapt to the role you have at that moment/place/person or to the expectations you have.
A ssertiveness is a form of communication that values the rights and views of others without being aggressive, and without allowing others to grossly ignore or deny your own rights and views. Therefore it is the ability of a person to be respectful with ourselves and others. A person with a lack of assertiveness can be aggressive or inhibited. An aggressive person will not respect the people around them, they will blame others or threaten them. Also, an inhibited one will not be able to face a problem by avoiding conflict (“not knowing how to say no”), and will allow himself to be dominated and influenced by others.
A person is assertive when he respects himself and others in a proportionate and reasonable way, which means having a good self-esteem, having his own criteria and ideas, knowing and defending his opinions, as well as knowing and defending his rights, wishes and feelings.