Social Skills and Assertiveness Deficits
Social skills refer to any skill or ability to facilitate interactions, recognize and reciprocate emotional cues from others, and communicate with others in various social situations. They are more often times than not associated with Autism Spectrum Disorders due to the impaired development in social interaction and communication of these disorders. With one in every 2,000 people qualifying somewhere on the Autism Spectrum, teaching social skills has consistently been the focus of many child enrichment programs, both academic and non-academic. In addition, some individuals who may not qualify for a disorder that includes social skills deficits may still encounter challenges and benefit from training. Some of the skills that are focused on during social skills training include, but are not limited to, learning and rehearsing appropriate ways to begin, maintain and end conversations, give and receive complements, and engage in socially appropriate non-verbal behavior (e.g., eye contact, body posture, etc.).
Assertiveness training may be an effective intervention for individuals who need improvement with social skills. Many individuals have trouble asserting themselves effectively to others. They may rarely speak up to express their needs and viewpoints, or they may express themselves in ways that others perceive as overly confrontational or demanding. Some individuals have little practice stating their perspectives appropriately and may benefit from applying skills training to multiple settings. Others find it relatively easy to assert themselves in certain situations (e.g., with close friends), but have great difficulty in other situations (e.g., with employers). For these individuals, the lack of assertiveness is typically associated with heightened worry about the potential consequences of asserting themselves.
Career and lifestyle changes
Career and lifestyle changes are often some of the most stressful events of a person’s life, leading a person to be filled with the potential for irrational beliefs. Even before the event begins, there is often anxiety about making the decision to do so and what the consequences might be if the “wrong” decision is made. During the adjustment period, there may be anger toward things not going as planned or anxiety about how unfamiliar the situation is. Once the change has been made, feeling depressed, and/or guilty may occur when a person begins to think that the wrong choice was made. Understandably, this discomfort may last a while, and may be great in frequency, intensity, and duration. Relief may be established by eventually accepting that a person made the best decision they could, that the consequences of it are not unbearable or awful, and that they are not a failure or bad person for making a mistake.
Even the most successful and regimented of us have fallen to its seemingly inescapable force. Procrastination is quite common and can adversely affect one’s life in a plethora of dimensions. Unfortunately, there is no drug for procrastination nor is it recognized by any insurance company. Where then does procrastination come from and how do we combat such a powerful foe? Two of the world’s leading experts on procrastination, Joseph Ferrari, Ph.D. and Timothy Pychyl, Ph.D. estimate that 20% of people identify themselves as chronic procrastinators. According to them, procrastinators fall into three major categories:
1. Avoidant procrastinators - Those in this category usually harbor a fear of failure (and in some cases success) - These procrastinators would rather have people think they lack effort rather than ability
2. Thrill seeker procrastinators - Those in this category get a “rush” from waiting to the last moment in order to triumph over a very difficult predicament
3. Decisional procrastinators - Those in this group cannot make decisions and/or feel like not making a decision absolves them from responsibility
Whatever category of procrastination you fall in, there are ways to minimize your procrastination tendencies besides buying a planner. Buying a planner just makes a procrastinator more efficient at procrastinating. Taking steps to getting past procrastination involves restructuring how one typically views a task, setting a goal of taking the first step in a task as opposed to trying to take the perfect first step in a task, anticipating obstacles, and enduring the discomfort that usually prevents completion of a task as opposed to running away from it.
Many people experience relationship difficulties in a number of social arenas, including difficulties with significant others, colleagues, friends, and family members. Oftentimes, such difficulties are exacerbated by anxiety, poor social skills, anger problems, or lack of assertiveness. Individuals in romantic relationships often lack communication skills, empathy, and a general understanding of each other. Couples or marital therapy can often address these issues and assist couples in developing healthier and more satisfying relationships.