The 4 Types of Basic Social Skills (Children and Adults)

Developing the types of Basic social skills and most important social skills-in children and adults-is one of the critical aspects of living a full life.

Some of its most important functions are: building relationships, maintaining self- esteem, reducing stress and rewards.

Basic Social Skills

You can have a high level of any kind of intelligence in Basic social skills, although if you do not know how to interact with people, you will have obstacles that will sometimes be insurmountable.

  1. As a student you will have to have good relationships with classmates and teachers
  2. As a family it is good for you to get along with your people nearby
  3. As an employee it is a great point in your favor to know how to relate to colleagues, boss and clients
  4. As an entrepreneur you will have to interact with employees and clients

In short, being socially competent is one of the skills that will help you the most in life. Not only personally, but professionally.

Personally because with it you can better understand others, you will make yourself understood, you will respect and you will respect. You will not do things you do not want to do, you will build relationships, you will resolve conflicts, you will learn to communicate what you like and dislike and you will feel better in social situations.

Professionally because you will learn how to establish contacts, negotiate, persuade , direct groups or communicate, your work will be more effective and you will achieve more professional goals .

Some important characteristics of social skills are:

  • They are a characteristic of your behavior, not of your person
  • They are rules of behavior, not rigid patterns
  • They are a prerequisite for good psychological functioning
  • They are learned behaviors that are shown in social situations You can learn them!
  • While it is true that you will have more developed social skills depending on the environment in which you live and your personal experiences, you can learn from practice.

Types of basic social skills and how to practice them


Listening helps to create and maintain personal relationships.

To listen correctly, it is essential to demonstrate to the person who is speaking to you that you have understood what he says. To do this, avoid interrupting it and you can support what it says by nodding or with a “yes, clear or understand”.

A very good technique of listening is the reformulation:

  • Selective re-formulation: once the other person has finished speaking, you summarize part of what you have said and in what interests you to focus the conversation.
  • Restatement by summary: once the other person has finished speaking, you summarize what you have said. This way you can confirm if you have understood correctly and communicate to the person you have been listening to.
  • Reformulation in echo: it is simply a matter of repeating the last words the speaker has said. With this you make him understand that you have been listening and also encourage him to continue explaining what he was talking about.

This is called active listening; Participate in the conversation by transmitting to the interlocutor that we understand.

Also Read : What is Social Psychology?

Other forms of active listening are:

  • Clarify: It is simply asking about some aspects of the conversation so that the other person perceives that you are listening.
  • Feedback: refers to giving your opinion about the content of the message of the other person.
  • Listen with interest and empathy: put a real interest in what you are saying and learn to put you in the other’s place. Ask yourself: What do you feel? What is your intention in communicating that to me?
  • Listen openly: it refers to not selecting what you want to hear and avoiding believing that others have nothing important to say. To listen openly, put yourself in the other person’s place and listen to the details of the information you give.


To stimulate conversation, start with open and general questions and continue with closed questions.

With the questions, in addition to obtaining information, you transmit to the other person that interests you and you are listening. An open question would be What worries you about all this and why? A closed would be How old are you?


Speaks positively, avoid transmitting negativism because you associate it.

  • Find points in agreement with the other person, express them and try to solve the difficulties
  • Recognize your own mistakes
  • Uses simple but not vulgar, present and short phrases
  • Use direct words (I think, I want, I feel)
  • Avoid words associated with problems (problem, doubt, restlessness), doubtful (I think, I think), roundabout (you’re not right, never, you’re wrong) or ask for trust (believe me).


Assertiveness is the ability to respect others and make us respect others. Here are some resources to develop assertiveness:

  • Look for deals: it is a skill that is related to negotiation. It is about reaching win-win agreements, avoiding the extreme positions in which only win or lose someone.
  • Opposing assertively: If someone is insisting that you do something you do not want (which is often the case, for example with salespeople), you can give a “no” directly without feeling guilty, giving excuses or explanations.
  • Striped disc: this is to repeat a “no” or a no + phrase repeatedly after a request from the other person or when they try to manipulate you. Try to do it serenely and avoid using the same words. For example:

Seller: Are you interested in the product?

Client: No, I have one.

Seller: Yes, but this is better because it has X built in.

Customer: No, I already bought one.

Seller: yes but has X incorporated and will last longer.

Client: No, the one that works for me is going well.

Seller: Okay thank you very much.

  • Addressing criticism: it is based on confronting criticism in a constructive way. You can do it by asking for details about the criticism (how, what, who) and information. In this way, you can know well what the other person wants to transmit. It is convenient that you show yourself in part according to the criticism in case it is true or it can be true, respect the other person, and give thanks. On the other hand, it is not the same criticism launched by one person with criteria as another of someone without sufficient information.
  • Request behavioral changes to another person: in this case can arise a series of problems as; A) accuse the other of having problems, which will worsen the conflict, b) accuse the other of always showing the behavior you want to change, c) believe that it behaves this way maliciously and d) express only negative consequences.

To do it correctly you must: assume the problem, describe the behavior you want to change, state the consequences of behavior change, express how you feel about the problem and finish requesting behavior change in a concise and clear way.

For example:

“Ana, I would like you not to smoke in the house, it makes me feel bad, I would be more comfortable if you can smoke outside please.”

  • Self-disclosure: Seek that others feel open to you and begin to have confidence. It is based on telling the other person what you like about her: “I like the way you dress”, “Congratulations on the approved test”. Keep a nice facial and affirm something that is consistent and real.
  • Fog Bank: used to avoid direct conflict when a person speaks aggressively to you or releases an attacking comment. It is based on saying unexpected responses to curb aggressive behavior.


Juan: The clothes you wear are very ugly

You: it’s ugly but I love it (smiling)

The motor and cognitive components of sociability

Because social skills are behaviors that people display in situations of social interaction, they are about specific responses to such situations and therefore, you will have to learn flexible behaviors in each situation.

In social behavior highlights the motor component (movements and verbalizations) and cognitive (thoughts).

Motor component

As for the motor component, it matters what is said (verbal) and how it is said (paralinguistica and nonverbal language ).

Some aspects of effective non-verbal and paralinguistic communication are:

  • Look: direct, horizontal and relaxed. With it you can indicate that you care for the other person and you are interested. Do not keep it too fixed because it can be interpreted as intimidating.
  • Facial expression: expresses the emotional state and indicates attitudes toward what is said or heard and toward the other person. You should show a facial expression consistent with what you say.
  • Smile: be honest and consistent with the situation. It indicates a close and friendly attitude. Incoherent or unnatural smiles have the opposite effect.
  • Posture: straight and relaxed. Neither too firm, nor too relaxed. Communicate attitudes and emotions.
  • Gestures and facial movements: clarify or support what is said, indicating attitudes and moods. Avoid repetitive gestures and show gestures consistent with your mood.
  • Distance: the closer the relationship is, the less personal distance there will be.
  • Personal appearance: convey a physical appearance and psychologically.
  • Language: speak clearly and fluently. The tone of the voice shows attitudes and moods. Avoid monotony and think about what you are going to say to avoid misunderstandings.

Cognitive or thinking component

These are the most frequent negative thoughts in social situations and that you must correct:

  • Hyperresponsibility: “I have to take care of the other person” or “I have to be there so that everything goes well”. You can change that thinking by “I can take care of it because I like it, although not always since I have other things to do” or “I can help even though it is not necessary that I always be there”.
  • Personalization: You think others talk or refer to you. You can change that thinking to “they are not looking at me, there are other things that they can be doing”.
  • Negativism: always seeing things in a negative way. “He does not like anyone” you can change it to “he likes some and others do not”.
  • Guilt : for example “it’s my fault what happened” you can change it for “part is my fault although I’ve learned from it”.
  • Emotional Reasoning: Believing that your emotions depend on others. “I feel sad because these people do not love me” you can change it to “I feel sad because I tell myself negative things”.
  • Generalize: for example “I always speak badly in public” you can change it by “on that occasion I could do better”.

Why do some people have social skills and others do not?

There are several explanations:

  • The person has not had an adequate process of socialization or has no experience, therefore does not have appropriate behaviors
  • The person does not feel the need to change because he does not analyze or interpret situations well
  • Because the person has lived some previous negative experience that has generated anxiety and from this stops socializing to avoid it
  • Negative self-evaluation
  • Not being aware of rights as a person: right to give personal opinion, to say no, not to do something
  • Lack of social contacts
  • Non-skillful social behaviors also have rewards. For example, a violent person can remove things from others or get rid of other people’s pressure.

Can social skills be improved?

Of course, they can be improved, specifically through learning and experiences:

  1. Observe someone who performs social behavior correctly.
  2. To practice.
  3. To correct.
  4. To perfect.


  1. The application of social skills serves to improve personal relationships, depression, anxiety, stress, alcoholism, improve the quality of life …
  2. You can train them and the more you practice the more you will develop them.
  3. The most important are: listening, asking, speaking and assertiveness.
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