As an SLP who works with children with social pragmatic language disorders, I can’t but think of what happens after these clients leave school? How will they continue to improve their social cognitive abilities in order to effectively meet social challenges in their workplace? Michelle Garcia Winner and Pamela Crooke effectively address this issue in their recent book “Social Thinking® At Work: Why Should I Care”. In it, they offer practical advice to adults with social thinking® challenges regarding how to navigate the intricacies of social interaction in the workplace.
So why should we care, some bright and hardworking yet slightly socially challenged people might ask? Isn’t it enough that I do my job really well? Unfortunately, things are not that simple! According to recent research “students with better social skills, work habits, and who participated in extracurricular activities in high school had higher educational attainment and earnings, even after controlling for cognitive skills” (Lleras, 2008. p. 888). So it would make sense that students with good social skills transition to be adults with good social skills. Having good social skills in the workplace helps to have good relationships with coworkers, be in good graces with your boss, as well as continue to be promoted (vs. fired)) So even brilliant individual who excel at their job still need to have appropriate social interactions at their job.
So let’s take a look at the book contents, which tackle the following concepts:
Introduction: The Social Mind: It’s Always on the Job, Even When You’re Off the Job
Chapter 1: Social Thinking: What Is It, and How Is It Different From Social Skills?
Chapter 2: What Plays Into Good Communication Skills?
Chapter 3: Emotions: The Uninvited Guest That Keeps Showing Up
Chapter 4: Perspective Taking: Are You Thinking What I’m Thinking?
Chapter 5: The Four Steps of Communication
Chapter 6: The Core of Communication
Chapter 7: Fitting In
Chapter 8: Relating at Work
Chapter 9: Social Technology: How It’s Changeing the Way We Communicate
Chapter 10: Social Behavior Maps: Navigating the Social-Emotional World
Chapter 11: Strategies: Tips and Pointers
All in all the book provides a multitude of practical strategies regarding how to navigate social challenges in the workplace including making small talk, being aware of and appropriately controlling own emotions, how to network with others, adapting our verbal and nonverbal behaviors based on our conversational partners and much, much more. The authors of the book, “make information explicit by breaking down and defining how the social mind works, and how it’s linked to social-emotional and behavioral expectations.”
My favorite quote from the book is probably this one “Our strongest memories of people come from how they tipped our emotional scale, whether positively or negatively”. (p. 4) It’s so true! We retain our memories of first encounters with people for years to come. We may not remember the dialogue or the proceedings but what we DO remember is how that person made us feel. And that is the memory which will keep ‘creeping up’ in all of our subsequent meetings with that person.
I really like that fact that the book uses concrete language to describe abstract ideas. The book also utilizes lists, graphs and scales to assist learners with improving their Theory of Mind (ToM) as well as perspective taking abilities:
- An Emotional Scale (pg. 35)
- Problem Solving Thermometer (pg. 41)
- 7 Core Tenets of Perspective taking (pp 60-66)
- The Four Steps of Communication (pg. 71)
- Strategies for Connecting with your Eyes (pg. 90)
- Social-Emotional Behavioral Path Options (pg. 120)
- Social Behavior Maps for Adults (pp. 162-167)
The book is very easy to read and it uses many real life examples of individuals who have experienced social challenges and describes how they were able to solve them given some assistance. I recommend this book to anyone that has ever experienced social challenges at work or in the community such as:
- Difficulty recognizing nonverbal body language
- Difficulty recognizing people’s moods, feelings and facial expressions
- Difficulty recognizing people’s tone of voice to convey meaning
- Difficulty taking turns in dyads or group conversations
- Difficulty talking in meetings and pitching proposals
- Difficulty handling constructive criticism and feedback
- Difficulty making small-talk with colleagues
- Difficulty interpreting sarcasm, irony, figurative and abstract language and reading between the lines
The book allows its readers to come up with strategies how to better express themselves as well as acquire an understanding of how to adjust their social behaviors to engage in successful social interactions with others.
However, this book is not simply useful for adults with social challenges. It can be also used by various services providers (e.g., SLPs, psychologists, social workers, etc) to teach social thinking® concepts to adult clients they are working with. Furthermore, I believe that reading this book will also be beneficial to many employers as it may help them better understand and be more understanding of employees with social thinking® challenges.
You can find this book on the Social Thinking® website for $22HERE or and this is the BEST Part, thanks to the generosity of the folks over at Social Thinking® you can enter my Rafflecopter giveaway below for a chance to win 1 of 2 copies of this book. So what are you waiting for?
Disclaimer: Please note that after the contest’s completion the winners will be announced on the Smart Speech Therapy LLC Facebook Page as well as named by the Rafflecopter app embedded in the blog post. Due to the amount of giveaways and contests run by Smart Speech Therapy LLC, winners will NOT be individually notified by email. Failure to claim your prize within a 3 day period following the contest’s completion will result in the forfeit of your prize.