Spence mentioned that over a hundred social skills have been listed in literature out of which communication skills are regarded as the most important. Spence 1983 distinguished the social skills as micro-social and macro-social skills. Micro-social skills include verbal and non-verbal communication and social perception where as macro-social skills include empathy, helping behavior, altruism, co-operation, and conflict resolution skills. According to Argyle 1983, one of the basic characteristics of social skills is that these are acquired through learning. Bandura 1977 has shown in his social learning theory that the social learning of the children is influenced by modeling, imitation, reinforcement etc. Forgas 2004 stated that majority of non-verbal communications are culture bound e.g. in some cultures down eyelids of eyes are a sign of respect rather than an indication of shyness or social anxiety and females in some cultures may be considered as immodest if they look directly at others specifically at adult males. Therefore, the social skills to a large extent are culture specific.
While studying the social skills that crucially affect the social behavior of children in school by Aniko Zsolnai and Laszlo Kasik it was found that social skills are slightly better and more developed among girls than boys. Hence girls show better social competence than boys. Argyle (1983) defined social competence as an ability and the mastery of social skills which makes it possible to generate the desired effect of social relationship where as Brown, Odom and McConnel, (2008) defined social competence as the complex system the social abilities, habits, skills and knowledge.
Basic social skills (Verbal and non verbal) which are very crucial for successful social interaction include:
Facial expression: It includes showing interests, smiling etc.
Quality of voice: It is related to clarity of content, pitch, volume etc.
Eye contact: Being able to maintain eye contact with others.
Greeting others: It involves initiating contact and responding to the greetings from others.
Making conversations: Expressing the feelings, asking questions & showing interest etc.
Playing with others: It includes sharing, helping, complying with rules & complementing etc
To cope with conflicts: Accepting criticism, controlling aggression & dealing with anger are few important skills which help in managing conflicts.
Social skills, problem behaviors and academic functioning are inter related. The students who are socially skilled spend more time on the given task and devote more time in helping others which results in increasing the achievement level and decreasing the classroom problematic behavior.
The interpersonal social skills play a significant role in facilitating the achievement of the student in reading and mathematics by influencing motivation. Out of the very long list of social skills the top ten social skills have been recognized by Lane et al., are listening to others, to follow directions, to follow classroom rules, ignoring peer distractions, asking for help, taking turns in conversation, cooperating with others, to control temper in conflict situation, to act responsibly with others and to show kindness to others.
An individual having appropriate social skills may also have other behavioral characteristics i.e. not showing high level of irritating behavior like poking, shouting, interrupting or impulsive behavior, unpredictable reactions, and use of abusive language. These undesirable behavioral activities need to be modified by the cognitive behavior modification process.
Social skills deficiencies: It is also essential to note down various signs which indicate that the child is experiencing social skill deficits. Some general signs might include behavior such as disturbing other children, inadequate independent work habits, aggression, frequent bragging, shyness, peer relation difficulties, defiance, bossiness, temper tantrums. These indicators can be categorized as acquisition deficits, performance deficits, fluency deficits and adaptive deficits.
Acquisition deficits: Acquisition deficits include the inability of a child to have the skills such as not responding to others interaction and there are some children who find it difficult to make friends, they don’t play appropriately with other children, don’t share the toys and accept criticism. Children who are failing in development of cordial relations with the members of immediate family and with the other children familiar but belong to different family and even don’t interact with mothers in desirable manner show acquisition deficits.
During the normal course of growth and development the children interact with mother, father and other members who are familiar, they also interact with the people outside the family & they are able to build relationships. This process helps the children to inculcate social skills such as communication, sharing and interacting for their day to day life activities. Children failing in these activities may give an indication of cognitive or neuro developmental failure such as autism or aspergers’ syndrome.
Performance deficit: Performance deficits are exhibited when children know how to perform a certain task but actually the task is performed in different manner that may be socially unacceptable and may be considered as incompetent or inconsistent. In some instances, such children may get too much annoyed when confronted for such poor performance. In fact the children know how to perform a certain task but often do not perform in appropriate manner which could be interpreted by many parents and teachers as incompetence or stubbornness in such children and the children may be punished for it. However lack of motivation could be one of the reasons for not performing the task in appropriate manner. The children with such behaviors are considered to be kept under the category of social skills deficit children and they are likely to be best served through timely and remedial interventions.
Fluency deficit: Fluency deficit is one of the major indicators of social skill deficits. The children with such deficits know how to perform a certain task and they are motivated to do so but they fail to execute the same task only because of the lack of sufficient practice. It may be due to the lack of exposure in performing the task or lack of regular or consistent practice. This sign of social deficit also has remedial based intervention and likely to be beneficial for the children.
Adaptive deficits: Adaptive deficits take place when children find it difficult to adapt to the new external and internal socio- economic environment. They are known to have enquired certain skills and are able to perform those consistently and appropriately moreover children who have been taught and motivated to perform the certain task but can’t perform due to some of the external or internal factors such as depression hyperactivity, high verbal ability and anxiety, due to the factors mentioned here , children may face difficulty to interact with others at school and at home which results in the weak and inappropriate social adaptation which is also one of the signs of social skill deficit & makes the child unable to change as per the changing environmental conditions.