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Creating and Fostering a Healthy Socio-Emotional Environment
by Dr. Dale V. Atkins, May 2007

We all need to care about other people and feel as if we are cared about. It is part of what makes us human. We need to understand and respect everyone's personal boundaries and when we are socially competent, we pick up on the cues that let us know what and where those boundaries are. Social competency is about recognizing someone else's need as well as asserting your own need. It is also about accepting that when you are engaged with another person you accept responsibility for your actions.

So, how do you ensure social competency? It helps when we feel confident in social interactions with other people so that we will take risks and stretch to meet and engage with people who are different from us. In this way we will likely expand our personal horizons and have compassion for others as well as for ourselves. When you are socially competent you have a healthy sense of self and you choose appropriate social, communication and problem solving skills. You avoid making another person feel diminished in any way.

1. Learn, Master, Succeed - Learning something, mastering something and succeeding contribute to helping you feel socially competent. Not every interaction will be positive but the more successful interactions you have the more you can have them.

2. Seek Role Models - Look to excellent role models to see how they react and interact in situations that you find particularly stressful or challenging.

3. Be Patient - Understand that practicing patience may be at the root of a successful experience. Socially competent people accept what they cannot change and adapt accordingly, usually without malice.

Anyone who wants to become more socially competent needs to maximize opportunities to teach, practice, enhance, model, and learn the very skills they hope to develop.

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