After years working in urban schools , the notion of “appropriate social skills” has emerged as one of the most important aspects of academic success. Group work, joint projects, and competitive sport’s teams require skills to get along in Education.

Birds of a Feather – social skills 101

The view that we all hold a certain level of expectation around how colleagues, associates, friends, students, and families behave is shared.

Social communication is based on a number of skills that we may or may not take for granted. We certainly suffer when we find ourselves forced to work with people who do not hold similar values or manners of relating to one another.

Simple, yet potentially irritating and annoying factors that can either make or break your experience within a group include:

1). Knocking on your door and seeking permission before entering a workspace. This assumed entry is especially annoying when the space is windowed and it is obvious you are already working there.

2). Greeting a person or group when needing to interrupt your meeting, committee, or project. Starting with a simple, “Hi, sorry for this interruption but…” helps to explain the intrusion. Best practice is to wait until after the meeting is completed, and to only interrupt when there is an emergency.

3). Ensuring that everyone is introduced to one another before or during the meeting. It is very uncomfortable to work with people without knowing their name or role in the group.

4). Planning for your meeting or group with an agenda, name tags, and treats where feasible is respectful and demonstrates your belief that everyone’s time is precious. Creating a last minute agenda under the guise of consensus is likely to communicate disorganization, ill preparedness, and lack of commitment to the project and possibly to you.

5). Practising social decorum in small and large group meetings such as raising your hand before asking your question; waiting for your turn to contribute, talk, or to show your example; using please and thank-you; and finally, being respectful about seating arrangements and personal belongings. Always ask someone before touching or moving their personal belongings and be wary of poking or grabbing at peoples arms, shoulders, or hair to get their attention.

Rude behaviour is a certain way to create a negative impression on your boss and colleagues. It is a delicate dilemma when your supervisors have poor social communication habits that rub you the wrong way. It may set the tone for the entire organization and runs the risk of staining your hard earned professional reputation.

You may decide to step down from a role or position when in your view the level of dishonourable conduct is consistently offensive to you, your colleagues or your friends.

In unionized environments, there are usually protections for people to safeguard themselves from colleagues reputed to emotionally bully, harass, or harm others. Reputations are earned over time, and organizations are fairly clear about individuals who are difficult to manage, defiant about rules in place for everyone, or derelict in their duties.

It is truly very difficult to work in environments with individuals who make it difficult for everyone else to move forward. It is also the role of the organization to deal with these problems and often disappointing when they appear impotent.

There is a common list circulated in Education on “lessons” of social graces that people learn in kindergarten. Healthy “hellos and good-byes”, “please’s”, “thank-you’s”, learning to share, never to steal, respecting personal physical boundaries, and understanding to whom one must listen. These are critical building blocks that last a lifetime.

We do not get to choose the people with whom we work. Yet, we have the ability to contribute with positivity, joy, gratitude and wellness. If your group is overly invested in the negative aspects of your workplace, then it’s time for you to move on!

#wellness #mentalhealth #workplacebullying #empathy #kindness

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