What are social skills and assertiveness?

Basil Manning
What are social skills and assertiveness?

Social skills refer to the way we behave and what we say when we are with others. We all know that there are "good ways" and "bad ways" of speaking to people. By learning social skills we learn good or appropriate ways to do it. If we have good social skills, we will probably get along better with other people, such as co-workers, classmates and family members. It is important to know and practice these skills because they make us happier and result in fewer problems with others..

There are many different types of social skills, because there are many different situations in which it is important to behave and speak appropriately. For example, the way we talk to a friend at a party is different from the way we talk to our parents..

The way we talk to someone who is sad is different from the way we talk to someone who is happy. Even when we are angry, we have to pay attention to what we say, taking into account who our interlocutor is. Therefore, it is important to know how to speak and behave in different situations, with different people..


  • Why the name of social skills
  • Neither mice nor monsters
  • What is assertiveness
  • Examples of the three types of behavior
    • Situation 1
      • Assertive communication
      • Passive communication
      • Aggressive communication
    • Situation 2
      • Assertive communication
      • Aggressive communication

Why the name of social skills

The word social means how we get along with others, including friends, co-workers, siblings, parents, or teachers. The word skills means the ability or talent that we have learned and developed by practicing to do something better and better..

Thus, social skills refer to our ability to get along with others. As we have said, there are many different types of social skills. For example, there are very simple skills, such as praising someone when you like something about that person; But there are also more difficult skills, such as having to say no to a friend when he asks us for a favor, so that he does not get angry. Sometimes we want to solve a problem with someone, but we don't know what to do; this is also a social skill.

Neither mice nor monsters

One of the basic ideas of social skills is that with them we can learn to differentiate between passive, aggressive and assertive social behavior.

When someone acts passively, they do not express themselves, they let others command them, tell them what to do and, generally, they do not defend their own rights. As a rule, his needs, opinions or feelings are ignored, and other children may take advantage of him.

At the other extreme are people who are aggressive. They are bossy, intimidate others, criticize and humiliate them. They only care about getting what they want and when they want. They rarely care about the feelings of others and often get into trouble or fights. They tend to take unfair advantage of others and generally have very few real friends.

Therefore, it is clear that both passive and aggressive social behavior are not the best way to relate to others. These two behaviors lead either to being hurt (passive) or to hurting others (aggressive). Surely we all know someone who behaves in one way or another, and it seems obvious to say that they are not happy people. The aggressive ones have to be too tough, while the passive ones tend to hide continuously to avoid any confrontation..

What is assertiveness

Assertiveness refers to behaving as you are, being assertive means letting others know what you feel and think in a way that does not offend them, but at the same time allows you to express yourself..

We can recognize and respect the feelings, opinions and wishes of others, so that we do not allow ourselves to be taken advantage of. It also means standing up for our own rights and always trying to be honest, fair and sincere. Being assertive is not just a matter of "good manners", it is a way of behaving in front of others in a way that allows them to know our feelings and ideas without running over or ignoring theirs. Ideally, all of us would act assertively, rather than passively or aggressively, since then we would seldom fight, lose friends, or fear being with someone.

Every time we talk to another person or group of people it is important to remember that what we say and how we do it can influence their reactions and what they will think of us. For example, if a friend of ours' dog ran away and was sad, it probably wouldn't be a good idea to say, "Come on, cheer up! He was a dirty, ugly dog! He did you a favor by running away." Most likely, after saying this, we will have one less friend. Similarly, if a partner has won an award in a sports competition or literary competition, we should not say, “You don't deserve to win that. Surely you have cheated or the others would be very bad ”. As we can see from the two examples, someone has said something inappropriate. Knowing how to react and say the appropriate things in these situations is what is considered to be socially adept..

Examples of the three types of behavior

Let's look at a few examples of good and not so good social skills.

Situation 1

You suspect that a friend has borrowed one of your books without asking you first. You can say:

Assertive communication

TU: Excuse me, Silvia, did you take my math book? I can't find it anywhere.
FRIEND: Oh yeah! Hope you don't mind, I needed it to make a problem.
TU: Okay, it's okay to borrow it, but please ask me first. So I won't believe that I've lost it.
FRIEND: Okay, I was in a hurry.

This is a good assertive answer because:

  1. you prevent your friend from getting angry;
  2. he will probably return the book to you;
  3. This will prevent the same type of problem from happening again because now your friend knows that you want her to ask for the book before picking it up.

Passive communication

YOU: Wow! I would like to find my math book. I hope nobody caught it.
FRIEND: Oh! I took it. I thought it wouldn't bother you.
YOU: Wow! I thought that I had lost it.
FRIEND: Don't worry, I have it.

This is a passive and less desirable response because:

  1. you have not said what you really wanted to say;
  2. Maybe, in the future, your friend will take advantage of you again because he did not understand that this behavior bothers you;
  3. I may not return the book to you.

Aggressive communication

You very well! I've caught you stealing the math book!
FRIEND: Are you serious? I just borrowed it.
YOU: Sure you do (sarcastically) Thank you for asking me!
FRIEND: Here! Keep your old book.

This answer is aggressive because:

  1. you have not said what you really wanted to say;
  2. In the end, your friend may be angry with you and act the same way.
  3. you can lose a friend because you have verbally attacked and embarrassed them.

Situation 2

Your parents ask you to wash the dishes tonight.

Assertive communication

YOU: I've done it the last two nights. Is it up to (brother / sister)?
FATHER: I think you're right. I thought she / he had washed them last night.
YOU: No, I did. Can i leave now?
FATHER: Very good. go away.

This answer is conveniently assertive because:

  1. you have explained your situation without arguing, whining or being passive;
  2. you have not been disrespectful.

Aggressive communication

You do not! I'm not going to wash them! Now you can find someone else to do it!
FATHER: Don't talk to me like that!
YOU: Alright now! That's not fair! You always make me wash the dishes.
FATHER: Stop exaggerating and wash them!

This is an aggressive response because:

  1. you fail to express your reasons for not doing the dishes.
  2. you don't let your parents have a chance to explain their point of view and you are disrespectful;
  3. the answer is not very effective because in the end, you have to wash the dishes anyway.

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