Social skill is any skill facilitating interaction and communication with others. Social rules and relations are created, communicated, and changed in verbal and nonverbal ways. The process of learning these skills is called socialization.

Interpersonal skills are how people relate to one another. Interpersonal skills are the skills a person uses to communicate and interact with others. They include persuasion, active listening, delegation, and leadership. The term "interpersonal skills" is used often in business contexts to refer to the measure of a person's ability to operate within business organizations through social communication and interactions.[2]

Social psychology is an academic discipline that does research related to social skills or interpersonal skills. The discipline studies how skills are learned by an individual through changes in attitude, thinking, and behavior.

Enumeration and categorization

Social skills are the tools that enable people to communicate, learn, ask for help, get their needs met in appropriate ways, get along with others, make friends and develop healthy relationships, protect themselves, and generally be able to interact with the society harmoniously.[3] Social skills builds essential character traits like trustworthiness, respectful, responsibility, fairness, caring, citizenship which helps to build an internal moral compass in making good choices in an individuals thinking and behavior and thus social competence.

The important social skills identified by Employment and Training Administration are:

  • Coordination – Adjusting actions in relation to others' actions.
  • Mentoring – Teaching and helping others how to do something. E.g. Study Partner.
  • Negotiation – Bringing others together and trying to reconcile differences.
  • Persuasion – Motivating others to change their minds or behavior.
  • Service Orientation – Actively looking for ways to involve compassionately and grow psycho-socially with people.
  • Social Perceptiveness – Being aware of others' reactions and able to understandingly respond to responses.

Causes of deficits

Deficits in social skills where categorized by Gresham in 1998 as failure to recognize and reflect social skills, failure to model appropriate models, failure to perform acceptable behavior in particular situations in relation to developmental and transitional stages.


Social skills are significantly impaired in people suffering from alcoholism due to the neurotoxic effects of alcohol on the brain, especially the prefrontal cortex area of the brain. The social skills that are impaired by alcohol abuse include impairments in perceiving facial emotions, prosody perception problems, and theory of mind deficits; the ability to understand humor is also impaired in alcohol abusers.[5] Impairments in social skills also occur in individuals who suffer from fetal alcohol spectrum disorders; these deficits persist throughout affected people's lives and may worsen over time due to the effects of aging on the brain.[7]

ADHD and hyperkinetic disorder

People with ADHD and hyperkinetic disorder[8] (a more severe form of ADHD) more often have difficulties with social skills, such as social interaction and forming and maintaining friendships. Approximately half of ADHD children and adolescents will experience peer rejection compared to 10-15 percent of non-ADHD youth. Adolescents with ADHD are less likely to develop close friendships, although it might be easier by the time adolescents age into adulthood and enter the workplace. Difficulties in sustaining romantic relationships may also occur in high school and college aged individuals with ADHD. Training in social skills, behavioural modification and medication may have some limited beneficial effects; the most important factor in reducing emergence of later psychopathology is the ADHD individual forming friendships with people who are not involved in deviant/delinquent activities. Poor peer relationships can contribute to major depression, criminality, school failure, and substance use disorders.[10] Adolescents with ADHD are more likely to find it difficult in making and keeping friends due to their attention deficits causing impairments in processing verbal and nonverbal language which is important for social skills and adolescent interaction; this may result in such adolescents being regarded by their peers as immature or as social outcasts.[12] Romantic relationships are usually difficult in the adolescent and college age because of the lack of attention of non verbal cues such as flirting gestures, tone of voice, which may include misinterpretation if whether the person is romantically attracted to that person, along with the impulsiveness of "jumping into" relationships.


As a rule, people with autistic spectrum disorders such as Asperger's syndrome have a deficit within social skills. This is most likely the result of the lack of theory of mind, which enables the person to understand other people's emotions. Many people in the spectrum have many social idiosyncrasies such as obsessive interests and routines, lack of eye contact, one sided conversations, abnormal body language and non-verbal communication.


Individuals with few opportunities to socialize with others often struggle with social skills. This can often create a downward spiral for people with conditions like depression. Due to their depression, they avoid opportunities to socialize, which impairs their social skills, which makes socialization even more unattractive.[13]

Anti-social behaviours

The authors of the book Snakes in Suits: When Psychopaths Go to Work explore psychopathy in workplace. The FBI consultants describe a five phase model of how a typical workplace psychopath climbs to and maintains power. They conclude many traits exhibited by these individuals were consistent with psychopathy: superficial charm, insincerity, egocentricity, manipulativeness, grandiosity, lack of empathy, low on agreeableness, exploitativeness, independence, rigidity, stubbornness and dictatorial tendencies. Babiak and Hare say for corporate psychopaths, success is defined as the best revenge and their problem behaviors are repeated "ad infinitum" due to little insight and their proto-emotions such as "anger, frustration, and rage" is refracted as irresistible charm. The authors note that such emotional poverty and lack of conscience is often confused with toughness, the ability to make hard decisions, and effective crisis management. Babiak and Hare also emphasizes a reality they identified with psychopaths from studies that "there is no evidence that psychopaths can benefit from treatment or management programs positively".[2]

Emily Grijalva at the University at Buffalo, part of the State University of NewYork, investigating narcissism in business found there are two forms of narcissism: "vulnerable" and "grandiose". It is her finding that "moderate" level of grandiose narcissism is linked to becoming an effective manager. Grandiose narcissists are characterized as confident; They possess unshakable belief that they are superior, even when it's unwarranted. They can be charming, pompous show-offs, and can also be selfish, exploitative and entitled. Jens Lange and Jan Crusius at the University of Cologne, Germany associates "malicious-benign" envy within narcissistic social climbers in workplace. It is there finding that grandiose narcissists are less prone to low self-esteem and neuroticism and are less susceptible to the anxiety and depression that can affect vulnerable narcissists when coupled with envy. They characterize vulnerable narcissists as those who "believe they are special, and want to be seen that way–but are just not that competent, or charming. As a result, their self-esteem fluctuates a lot. They tend to be self-conscious and passive, but also prone to outbursts of potentially violent aggression if their inflated self-image is threatened." Eddie Brummelman, a social and behavioral scientist at the University of Amsterdam in the Netherlands and Brad Bushman at Ohio State University in Columbus says studies show that in western culture narcissism is on the rise from shifting focus on the self rather than on relationships and concludes that all narcissism to be socially undesirable ("unhealthy feelings of superiority"). David Kealy at the University of British Columbia in Canada states that narcissism might aid temporarily but in the long run it is better to be true to oneself, having personal integrity and being kind to others.[2]


Behavior therapy

To behaviorists, social skills are learned behavior that allow people to achieve social reinforcement. According to Schneider & Byrne (1985), who conducted a meta-analysis of social skills training procedures (51 studies), operant conditioning procedures for training social skills had the largest effect size, followed by modeling, coaching, and social cognitive techniques.[2] Behavior analysts prefer to use the term behavioral skills to social skills. Behavioral skills training to build social and other skills is used with a variety of populations including in packages to treat addictions as in the community reinforcement approach and family training (CRAFT).[2]

Training of behavioral skills is also used for people who suffer from borderline personality disorder,[2] depression,[2] and developmental disabilities.[2] Typically behaviorists try to develop what are considered cusp skills,[2] which are critical skills to open access to a variety of environments. The rationale for this type of an approach to treatment is that people meet a variety of social problems and can reduce the stress and punishment from the encounter in a safe environment as well as increase their reinforcement by having the correct skills.[3]

"Social skills can be measured on about how you treat other people and how you react to them. It's a matter of dealing with the people around you." Different tests will help you to provide and tell what kind of personality you have towards others. These tests helps the persons with inefficient social skills to function as a guide in handling their personality towards the people.(Ledesma, 2009)


The concept of social skills has been questioned.[3] The question is whether a set response is needed or response's tailored for the context will meet the requirements. Romanczyk laid out a model of social acquisition for children with autism.