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Social Communication

What is Social Communication?

Social communication involves more than just making friends.

Every time we work on a group project, ask a teacher for help, introduce ourselves to an adult, or go to a job or college interview – it’s all social communication.

We love helping kids with social communication because it impacts so many ways that we navigate life! Social media, smart phones and the pandemic, have all changed and limited our experiences with face-to-face interaction.

In recent years, we've found that it's not just kids with learning differences who struggle with social communication.

It’s just plain hard.

Let’s break it down a bit and look at what social communication actually means:

What to Say

Vocabulary is the very foundation of social communication. You must have the words to express what you mean, whether you are talking to a friend or interviewing for your first job. Knowing what to say also means that you:

  • Can use age appropriate vocabulary;
  • Recognize when your listener needs background information, and can fill in the details they need;
  • Can stay on topic in a conversation, or naturally shift it;
  • Can start and end a conversation gracefully;
  • Take into mind the interests of the listener in conversation.

When & Where to Say It

This is what we mean when we say “read the room.” There’s more that goes into this than you think. First, you have to pick up on nonverbal signals to understand the situation. And then you have to make decisions about how to interact.

Knowing when and where to say it also means that you:

  • Understand that there are places where it may not be appropriate to deliver your message;
  • Understand that there are times when it may not be appropriate to deliver your message;
  • Know the difference between what’s okay to say in public versus in private;
  • Can ask for clarification when you don’t understand;
  • Can change your language depending on your audience, like from talking to a baby versus talking to an adult;
  • Know when and where to introduce yourself, or to apologize.

How & Why To Say It

Ever said to someone, “It’s not what you said, it’s how you said it?” Yep, us too! This part of social communication is all about the nonverbal way we relate to one another, and the way we organize our thoughts. It’s how we relate the story of our day, how we alter our language to sound more polite than demanding, how we position our bodies when we feel vulnerable, and how we phrase language to request rather than demand.

Knowing how and why to say it also means that you:

  • Use and understand tones of voice;
  • Use and understand body language;
  • Use and understand facial expressions;
  • Can take turns being a talker and a listener;
  • Can organize your thoughts for telling a story;
  • Know how to request rather than demand;
  • Know how to use indirect language to sound more polite;
  • Know how to ask for help;
  • Know how to compromise;
  • Know how to give and receive a compliment.