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Building Relationship Skills
Improving Interpersonal Skills with Social Skills Training for Teens
Strong relational skills are a mark of growth and maturity in young adults. Helping teens and students alike understand how to empathize and sympathize with the feelings of those around them strengthens their character and prepares them to lead their peers. Games and activities for improving relational skills can help young adults better understand how to interact and coexist with their peers. The activities found in our relational skills training resources will help you child or student in building relationship skills that are vital to their future success.
Each of these activities for relationship skills are part of our collection of 52 Leadership Ideas. Visit our online store today to download the complete PDF
Be a Host
Visit the home of someone this week. Take your young person with you, and warn them to watch how well the person you visit hosts you, as guests. (You could also have them watch you, as you host guests in your own home.)
Afterward, talk about what it means to host others. A host is someone who takes initiative with others and makes them feel comfortable. They often guide the conversation, and do a lot of listening in the process. Then, explain that relational leaders are “hosts” in the relationships and conversations of their life. They are not guests, waiting for someone to tend to them.
Finally, have your young person practice hosting others this week. Have them focus on the needs and interests of others in conversations, not their own. Have them find one good quality about each person they meet and compliment them about it. Talk about how they are doing each night as you close out the day.
Love the One You Don’t Like
Sit down together and talk about people who are difficult to be around—people who you don’t connect with easily. (You might even be so bold as to say you just don’t like them). Then, each of you choose one of these people to focus on this week.
Each day, direct your attention to them, but don’t announce what you’re doing to anyone. You may want to begin with conversation, giving them your undivided attention. Later, you may write them a note, affirming any good qualities you see in them. Perhaps you can do something to serve them and meet a need in their life. Maybe in give them a gift. The key is to do something that demonstrates love each day. At the end of the week, talk about how you did. Was it hard? What made it difficult? How did the experience stretch you in your relational skills?
How’s Your Bedside Manner
Pick a holiday coming up this month to celebrate. It doesn’t have to be a big one. It could even be something like Ground Hog Day or St. Patrick’s Day. Use it as an excuse to visit a hospital (or a children’s hospital if you like), and celebrate the day with patients.
Gain permission from the hospital staff to walk through a floor on the hospital and visit each of the patients there. (Children’s hospitals are great!) Take a small gift to them and get acquainted with each of them. Encourage them, as you discover their need for listening and laughing. Use this opportunity to build your people skills with those you don’t even know. Work at focusing on them, rather than yourself and your discomfort at being in a building full of sick people. Look for ways to serve them.
Afterward, discuss what you learned about people and people skills. What were some common discoveries you made about human nature? (i.e. we all like to be encouraged). What did you discover about yourself and your relational skills?
People Skills Test
This idea can be done in a variety of ways. On a vacation or outing with your young person, tell them you are going to give them a “test” on their people skills afterward. Prepare them to interact with others while on the trip—even a simple trip to a restaurant where you talk with a waitress. Don’t tell them what the quiz questions will be, but just prepare them to be ready to evaluate their experience when it’s over.
When you are finished, sit down and give them the quiz. For example, after a meal at a restaurant, you may want to ask them: Did you remember the waitress’ name? What was it? Did you show interest in her personal life? Did you ask about her family? Did you leave her with a word of encouragement? Were you able to give any words of wise counsel? Talk over questions like this. Being aware of these issues will eventually build good habits in relationships.
This one is fun, if you take it seriously. Determine that you and your student (s) will not talk about yourselves for an entire day. You will only listen to others, and if you talk at all, it will be about the other person with whom you are conversing. This exercise will force you to become completely “others-minded.”
By not talking for a day, you will notice your listening skills will emerge. You will also find you don’t have to say many of the things you typically say on any given day. Finally, you will learn the power of focusing on others instead of yourself. This is the foundation of relational leadership.
At the end of the day, discuss what you learned about yourself and about others. Can you continue a similar practice indefinitely?