Social Living Skills Copy

Social Living Skills

Social living skills are the capacities that help people to form and maintain relationships with others in a variety of settings and to resolve problems in social contexts as they arise. The ability to create and sustain relationships is dependent upon having good communication skills. In Module 3, we covered the process of communication and basic communication skills. Communication is the function of creating meaning from the messages we send and receive. Communication can be direct interaction between individuals or indirect messaging through media, either print, electronic or audio. From the first cry we make as infants to the last words or gestures we make just prior to death, we are always communicating. Even though communication is such a common activity, not everyone does it equally well. Effective communication is vital to establishing the social relationships required to live a successful life.

Social living skills are sometimes referred to as emotional intelligence.[i] Having good social skills is essential for people in recovery so that they can create and maintain connections that support their recovery. Emotional intelligence (EQ or EI) is the ability to identify, use, understand, and manage emotions in positive ways to relieve stress, communicate effectively, empathize with others, overcome challenges, and defuse conflict. The attributes and skills of emotional intelligence may frequently be a focus of the mentoring relationship between a peer support specialist and a client. The four attributes of emotional intelligence are:

  1. Self-awareness – You recognize your own emotions and how they affect your thoughts and behavior, know your strengths and weaknesses, and have self-confidence.
  2. Self-management – You’re able to control impulsive feelings and behaviors, manage your emotions in healthy ways, take initiative, follow through on commitments, and adapt to changing circumstances.
  3. Social awareness – You can understand the emotions, needs, and concerns of other people, pick up on emotional cues, feel comfortable socially, and recognize the power dynamics in a group or organization.
  4. Relationship management – You know how to develop and maintain good relationships, communicate clearly, inspire and influence others, work well in a team, and manage conflict.

Emotional intelligence is about understanding and managing feelings. This graphic provides an illustration of questions to help understand these attributes.

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Video: “Daniel Goleman Introduces Emotional Intelligence” (5:32 minutes)

In this video, Daniel Goleman, who created the term “emotional intelligence,” describes the concept.


Peer support specialists can mentor their clients as they build emotional intelligence by mastering five key skills. The first two skills are essential for controlling and managing stress and the last three skills greatly improve communication. The key skills are the ability to:

  1. Quickly reduce stress in the moment in a variety of settings
    • realize when you’re stressed
    • your stress response
    • discover the stress-busting techniques that work for you
  1. Recognize emotions and keep them from becoming overwhelming
    • determine if your emotions match your external situation
    • identify physical sensations that may accompany specific emotions
    • understand how you demonstrate your emotions to others
    • assess the intensity of your emotions and learn to self-calm
    • know how your emotions affect your decision-making
  1. Connect emotionally with others by using nonverbal communication
    • focus on the other person
    • make eye contact
    • pay attention to nonverbal cues you’re sending and receiving
  2. Use humor and play to stay connected in challenging situations
    • set aside regular, quality playtime – the more you play, the easier it becomes
    • find enjoyable activities that help you embrace your playful nature.
    • practice by playing with animals, babies, young children, and outgoing people
  3. Resolve conflicts positively and with confidence
    • stay focused in the present
    • choose your arguments
    • forgive other people’s hurtful behavior in the past
    • give up the urge to punish or seek revenge
    • end conflicts that can’t be resolved

Module 5 Activity: Recognizing Emotional Intelligence

Instructions: Click the box below to complete the Module 5 Activity: Recognizing Emotional Intelligence.