Social skills development for adults

How do you politely give adults the opportunity to develop their social and diplomacy skills? As self-determining humans, how do you even tell someone they need to improve in these skills? And why would they want to? What is the incentive?

Conversations around generational characteristics and their social skills has actually been around forever- just have a read of any of the Jane Austen novels where the characters bemoan the loss of good manners! And yet the concept of manners and being able to communicate and converse in such a way as to be engaging, interesting, intelligent, thoughtful and considerate remains something we consider important. Diplomacy and manner are the oil that smooths the waters of society.

So what do you do with co-workers and students who aren’t so great with these skills?

I am a great believer in getting maximum value from learning opportunities.

In running classes in literacy and numeracy for vocational areas, I enjoyed teaching students by stealth, about the industry they were involved in and the expressions of industry culture, manners, expectations and ‘how to speak your mind and not insult the boss, and still keep your job’.  

Using serious games is another way to achieve this. Learn and assess the content of the unit you are teaching in such a way that the students need to engage with each other to negotiate answers and point scoring, work as a team to provide a team answer to questions, find the meanings of words and discuss the subtleties of meaning and other words they could use in specific circumstances…

I provide old-style board games similar to Monopoly to achieve this - customised to the unit being taught. In order for the game to play, students need to negotiate, listen, speak and advocate for their opinion, and listen in a considered and thoughtful way in order to play their roles within the game (as player and also arbiter of answers and their correctness).

Serious games have the potential to politely support adult-student learning of vitally important skills without delaying the content learning they have enrolled in and provide them with a reason to want to learn to be more socially skilled.

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