For me learning social skills and using them is a lot like learning how to drive and knowing the rules of the road. I mean, you can always walk or have somebody drive you. However, I found that I have more Independence and flexibility if I know how to drive myself. Plus it’s a lot faster and easier. Before I even stepped foot in the car to learn how to drive, I learned the rules of the road. Just like driving, there are certain signs and signals that people produce which is called body language.
When driving, there are different signs and signals that tell you what to do and when. There are lots of classes, books, and information on the internet on rules of the road for everyone, including pedestrians, bike riders, motorcyclists, and drivers. Studying this information is part of being a well-informed citizen in the United States and other countries. Another paramount skill is schooling yourself in nonverbal communication.
Learning human behavior, especially being able to read body language, is really important. I would recommend to everyone that they learn some basics of body language and what it means. You can learn about it in books, online, or you can watch videos of human behavior. After practicing and learning some of the basics, it’s time to put it into practice.
I’ve been incredibly lucky to have lots of experience with practicing both learning how to drive and how to get along with others. Practice can be boring, stressful, and time-consuming. I found that practice pays off and that putting the time in to master the skills means that I’m able to do what I want when I want to and not having to worry that I don’t know what I’m doing. When I was learning how to drive, we practiced in the rain, snow, early morning and late evening. We drove in the country, town, and city and everywhere in between. Just like learning how to drive, I also needed to practice my interactions with other people, for instance, what to expect in a situation. Having someone model beforehand typical interactions and then practicing myself with another person is vital. Reviewing after practice what I did right and what needs work is also important.
After all that work, I took my test for driving and passed with flying colors, or at least with a driving license! I was still unsure of some experiences but the only way to change that was to get in the car and drive. Similarly, having practice and learning about social behavior, I was willing and able to experience life a little more independently. Am I an expert? A lot of experiences have gone well and some not so well. Do I learn from my mistakes? Have I gotten better with more experiences? Yes, definitely. Learning is an ongoing process for me.
I just used the example of how to drive because it makes sense to me. If this example doesn’t make sense to you, you don’t have to use it but it may help you understand a bit better. However, I would still say that learning how to interact with other people is worth the effort and it allows you more freedom. It cuts down on the misunderstandings and frustrations that I have if I understand a little bit more about what’s going on. I don’t always get it right and it’s not always easy. I would never take back the time that I took to learn about people since they’re fascinating. Wherever you are on this journey, I wish you the best of luck.