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Social Skills 101

Elky Pascal

She’s nice, she’s sweet, and she’s friendly… but she’s also socially off. How can I relate to her and what can I do to help her? (And what if “she” is me?!)

Wednesday, August 31, 2016

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hani* is a teen who has everything going for her. She comes from a great family. She’s also smart, talented, and kind. Yet her social skills are lacking — and unfortunately so are her friendships.

Likewise, a successful employment advisor recently told me about a talented and capable job seeker who was having a very difficult time finding a job. Despite her greatest efforts, this job seeker’s poor social skills were hindering her chance at employment. 

What are social skills? And just why are they so important?

“Social skills are the positive tools we have, to interact with the people around us,” explains Rifka Schonfeld, an acclaimed educator and social skills specialist. “They’re so important because they help us navigate the world and create positive relationships.

“Some kids do pick up on them naturally, but not everyone does,” continues Mrs. Schonfeld. Unfortunately, the elementary school years can pass and a teen can suddenly find herself floundering to fit in, as she lacks the social nuances and skills to properly interact and blend in with her peers.

One should never lose hope — it’s never too late to acquire social skills. As Mrs. Schonfeld states, “Social skills can be learned! There are social skills groups and books available. Direct instruction is often the best way to learn social skills. I see it in my office all the time. For people who don’t pick up on social skills intuitively, we can explicitly teach them through social skills training. It’s also possible to do shidduch coaching as teens get older and closer to dating. The sooner you work on your social skills, though, the more ingrained and natural they become. That’s the same for any intervention — the earlier the better!”


Mrs. Schonfeld shares the example of Malki,* a young lady entering shidduchim. “Malki had severe social anxiety and struggled on first dates, but was extremely personable once she felt comfortable. Through shidduch coaching and social skills training, I was zocheh to attend her wedding.”

A teen having a difficult time acclimating to her classmates should never be ashamed to take action. Reaching out for help is half the battle!

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