Social skills are essential for making friends and building relationships. We use them at work, in school, and in everyday life to learn new things, get work done, and participate in our communities. But while socialising is a part of everyday life, that doesn’t mean that everyone finds it easy! Lots of people struggle with social skills, including people with disability and without.
If you aren’t confident in your social skills and want to improve them, don’t worry – you’re not alone! And more importantly, we’re here to help you do it. In this article, we’re sharing some of our top tips for developing your social skills.
Basic social skills for everyday life
Socialising doesn’t have to be complicated. There are plenty of small, simple things you can do to build on your social skills, make new friends, and maintain strong friendships. Here are some of them.
- Make some kind of connection when you first meet someone. This could look like shaking hands, saying hello, introducing yourself, or something else simple and personal. This is a great, friendly starting point for any relationship!
- Keep ‘taking turns’ in mind when talking to other people. Having a conversation can be like playing a game of tennis: when the other person is talking, you are listening and receiving information. Then, it’s your turn to speak, and the other person’s turn to listen and receive what you’re saying. Taking turns like this helps to keep conversations going and make both people feel comfortable and included.
- Remember the importance of giving everyone their personal space when interacting. Discuss personal space with a family member or friend and what’s appropriate in a social situation to help you understand.
- Think about what ‘friend’ means to you, and how you can be a good friend. Understanding what a good friend is will help you not only find them – but also be one yourself.
- Develop daily habits for managing your social life. For example, you could set a time to call your friend every week on Sundays at 5pm. This can help you keep in touch with friends without any extra planning stress, and makes your social life easier to manage in the long run.
Remember to be patient with yourself – developing social skills can be a lifetime journey for anyone, so it’s important to celebrate your small wins and acknowledge your progress. Keep challenging yourself to get out there and meet people, and over time, you’ll get more confident with socialising.
NDIS Supports you can use
Your NDIS plan and goals should be based around what is important to you. If building social skills is important to you, then make it one of your goals!
There are a range of different ways you can use your NDIS plan to help you build your social skills.
- Support Coordination. Your Support Coordinator can help you set goals for building social skills then access the supports you’ll need to achieve those goals. Those supports might include some of the other things in this list.
- Occupational Therapist (Individual Assessment, Therapy and/or Training). This item covers the cost of help from an Occupational Therapist (OT). An OT can help you make adjustments to your daily habits to better suit your needs and goals, including for managing your social life. That might include things like putting aside time on Sundays for a phone call with a friend, or putting up a calendar in your kitchen so you can see your appointments.
- Individual Counselling. You can use this item to see a mental health care professional like a psychologist. If anxiety, depression or other mental health barriers are making socialising harder for you, seeing a psychologist or counsellor can help you learn coping skills to make things easier and less stressful.
- Individual social skills development. This funding item covers the cost of a support worker coming with you to your social engagement to help you manage difficult behaviours. If you need help managing anger or frustration from time to time, having someone you trust come along can help you improve your friendship skills.
You can look at different types of funded supports and how to use them in more detail in this article we wrote earlier: How the NDIS can help you make and keep friends
Endeavour Foundation services you can use
Our main goal at Endeavour Foundation is to make things happen for you – so we are here to help you achieve your goals. That includes helping you build social skills!
Our services can support you in whatever type of social and community participation you’re interested in, whether it’s playing team sport, joining a social group or something else.
Here are some of the ways we can help you develop your social skills.
Learning and Lifestyle hubs
As a trusted NDIS provider, we offer Learning and Lifestyle programs designed to help you identify and achieve your goals for daily living, community participation, learning and building relationships.
Here are some of our activities which can help you build social skills, maintain friendships, and connect with other people in your community.
Leisure, Adventure & Recreation activities
Our Leisure, Adventure and Recreation activities are designed to help you meet people, experience new things, and have fun while doing it. Some of the sessions you’ll find at our Learning and Lifestyle hubs include:
- Healthy Relationships. This session is all about making and keeping meaningful relationships with friends, family, coworkers and anyone else you socialise with. You’ll also learn about keeping yourself safe when meeting new people.
- Social Meetups. Meet up with a group of people to do a fun or interesting activity or talk with others about something you mutually enjoy in this session. Different Lifestyle and Learning hubs have different Social Meetups to join, so find one you like at your hub!
Hobbies & Sport activities
Our Learning and Lifestyle hubs offer Hobbies and Sport activities designed to help you get active, socialise with other people, and build social and teamwork skills. Some examples of hobby and sport activities you might find at your local hub:
- Ten Pin Bowling. Join a bowling team and ‘strike’ up some new friendships!
- Active in the Park. Visit a local park to get some exercise while doing a variety of fun activities with a group. These might include things like hula hooping, activity courses, walking and ball games.
Working – whether to learn, to make money, or to volunteer your time – can give you the opportunity to develop improved self-confidence and interpersonal skills. The feeling of being part of a team with a shared responsibility to get work done can help you form friendships with colleagues and learn new ways of communicating.
It’s also a great way to build ‘social skills practice’ time into your life while also getting the many other benefits of working, including earning an income and gaining skills and experience.
Ready to build your social skills?
When socialising can be that fun, why wait to get started? Improve your social skills through our services. Find out more about Supported Employment here, and browse Learning and Lifestyle hubs for activities you’re interested in.