Social learning theory, social skills, & supporting communication for collaboration, cooperation, & collaborative learning


Skills for collaborative adventures

Human babies don’t attain peak cuteness until they’re five or six months old. This is when infants begin to be more aware of other people and their relationship to them, and thus are able to respond to socialization. ...

I think that cuteness encourages us to help socialize children who are not our own, and that this was a revolutionary behavior that helped us develop the cooperative skills and collaborative abilities that make us human. Joshua Paul Dale


Humans are born with social tendencies and are capable of developing amazing social skills, which benefit us in learning and remembering important procedures (algorithms) for survival and achieving better lives. Techniques for tool making, hunting, fishing, gathering, cooking, farming, building, counting, reading, and so much more.

However, information packed into these algorithmic sequences can be difficult to discover, remember, improve, and pass on from generation to generation. So what kind of social interactions are more beneficial in the learning process?

For example: Pacific Island mariners, who learn to navigate by waves, weather, and position of the stars, select their teachers based on their prestige and success.

With this in mind, Thompson et al. studied how different social groupings affect learning a problem solving task and solving problems across time. They found:

  • Those who could demonstrate high performing algorithms were not high performing themselves.
  • Exceptional strategies are rarely discovered and difficult to pass on.
  • Selective social learning (SSL, those who could choose who to learn from, based on the their success with a heuristic) counteracts differences in algorithm transmission consistency.
  • Selective social learners chose higher performing demonstrators and therefore encountered higher performing algorithms.
  • A simple form of selective social learning can increase the learning of rare and innovative algorithms.
  • Selective social learners (those who could choose who to learn from, based on the their success with a heuristic) out performed those assigned to random groups and those within an asocial (individual) treatment.
  • Selective social learners used more efficient algorithms and were better at solving sorting problems across time.

Humans don’t have culture because we’re smart, we’re smart because we have culture.
B. Thompson, et al.


The selective processes of cultural evolution not only generates more sophisticated practices and technologies but also produces new cognitive tools (algorithms) that make humans better adapted to the ecological and institutional challenges that we confront.


Complex cognitive algorithms preserved by selective social learning in experimental populations. B. Thompson, B van Opheusden, T. Sumers, & T. L. Griffiths. Science. April 1, 2022.


To provide opportunities for selective social learning, it makes sense, learners will fair better if they have better social skills and abilities to collaborate. This article provides resources to facilitate that.


Education and school is a social process, however, the attention given to the social aspects in school are often not considered as much as they probably should be.

Socialization is what makes us human. It is what enables schooling where most learning is a social experience.

Therefore, reviewing social theory and research is critical for better achievement.

This document includes a discussion of social learning and collaboration It discusses collaboration and cooperation, benefits of positive social skills, social learning theory, and includes suggestions and procedures to use to teach individuals and groups social skills so they might collaborate and cooperate to be successful.

Supporting information for these big ideas include 50 pro social skills and related sub skills for people to work together in pairs and larger groups. Charts for what these skills looks, sounds, and feels like, and social skill instructional procedure or syntax. And research related to social learning.

Information that focuses on social learning, which can be taught in isolation of other subject knowledge. Or can be used with a cooperative learning instructional model, which integrates social emotional learning with academic knowledge.

Morer related resources:

Collaboration & cooperation

birds cooperating

People can work individually or collaborate & cooperative as illustrated in the cartoon.

Positive social skills benefit people in many ways. Examples include:

Benefits of Positive Social Skills

Social skills help people:

  1. Interact appropriately in a social setting
  2. Have better relationships with others
  3. Improve problem solving skills
  4. Improve communication
  5. Improve understanding of personal feelings and others' feelings
  6. Increase assertiveness
  7. Cause less aggressive behavior
  8. Increase ability to deal with stress
  9. Are better able to survive
  10. Increased self-esteem
  11. Improve learning and achievement

Social Learning Theory

Bandura and Vygotsky described human learning as a social event of observing, modeling and interacting with others. Later the discovery of mirror neurons helps explain how social emotional learning can be so strong among humans. Encouraging them to imitate and learn behaviors from others, even with out extrinsic reward or punishment.

If a baby dees another person stick out their tongue, the baby will stick out their tongue. Toddlers will retrive a toy for another person when they drop it. They will also anticipate and fetch tools or other objects before another person needs or wants one. Think of the amount of communication necessary to be able to do this. You need to follow another person's eyes, (dogs can do this too), and anticipate, two and 3 steps beyond the present situation.

Socialization helps evolve bigger brains.

Learning is affected by how a person relates to others. With greater learning resulting, when a learner relates to a teacher, who is often more similar to their personal view of them self. Depending on a person's cultural identity, racial identity, sexual identity, and the various roles each of us has.

We look to other people as models and the greater the similarity between us and the other person, and the more prestigious that person is, the greater the impact will be. This desire to be like another person correlates to how positive and useful (reinforcing), our mental model is of another person's actions.

However, these mental images are limited by how well a person can understand and apply the necessary behaviors successfully; along with sufficient motivation to attain mastery oriented behaviors.

Therefore, to better learn by watching others perform tasks (playing, creating, singing, dancing, helping others, talking, sports, dating,.. ), it helps to have a teacher (mentor, parent, friend) to communicate and interact with to facilitate the hows and whys of what a person does for better social skills, collaboration, and cooperation.

To better insure this happening, an instructional procedure may be used along with different strategies, such as thinking aloud to enhance self talk, can be used. Examples:

    • I can do this.
    • If I change this, then this will happen.
    • I can fix that if I do this.

This can increase the likelihood of success. Additionally, if several people listen and watch each other practice, analyze their performance, compare their ideas with those of an expert; success is more likely. Examples:

    • Discuss how different behaviors obtain similar or different results
    • Share what they see happening or not happening.
    • Suggest what they need to progress further.
    • Try to identify different ways of interpreting what they see.
    • Identify and associate different consequences and feelings for both successful and unsuccessful actions.

Motivation for doing and sustaining learning to achieve mastery depends on attributes, such as: how difficult or easy a task is, the likelihood of success and failure, and how others will respond and feel as a result.

It should also be noted that witnessing behaviors may also cause a person to NOT repeat it or NOT want to try the behavior in the first place.

It can also encourage a deviant behavior - dare, double dare...


It seems people learn four general things from watching other people:

  1. Behaviors (social skills among them)
  2. Consequences
  3. Expectations
  4. Self-talk or metacognition

It is also apparent some variables necessary to learn from social interactions include:

  1. Focus, or attention, on what is being learned
  2. Able to remember and apply what is learned when an appropriate situation arises
  3. Able to do what is learned
  4. Motivated to remember and apply it.

Collaboration and working together

Collaboration and cooperation is an umbrella or atmosphere, that includes pro social skills. However, it is collaboration and cooperation that unite people and allow them to achieve their individual and group goals. Below are some suggestions to review and facilitate the social skills needed to create an over arching collaborative environment.

Considerations for, collaboration or cooperative, procedure and code of conduct:

Group considerations:

Individual considerations:

  • Reflect on your response before responding
  • Ask questions
  • Introduce new ideas
  • Use data in discussions
  • Be conscious of others and yourself
  • Paraphrase to check your understanding
  • Consider everyones intentions are good

Working together needs social skills, which are developed over time by interacting with people. However, social skills can be improved by experiencing people who model good social skills, encourage their use, and teach them.

To achieve this, it is helpful to understand a social learning theory, have a syntax or instructional model or procedure to teach them, and to know what pro social skills and other social skills can be combined to collaborate and work together.

Using looks like, sounds like, and feels like charts are great tools to use with these ideas. Sample charts are included with the pro social skills, and one for collaboration & cooperation, and with some collaboration sub skills: getting back to work, manage or watch time, check for understanding, check for agreement, summarizing.

Pro Social skills for communication & discourse development

Pro social skills:
Goldstein, Spafkin, Gershaw & Klein 1983

Beginning - group 1

  1. Listening
  2. Starting a conversation
  3. Having a conversation
  4. Asking a question
  5. Saying thanks
  6. Introducing yourself
  7. Introducing other people
  8. Giving a compliment [Accepting a compliment]

Advanced - group 2

  1. Asking for help
  2. Joining in
  3. Giving instructions
  4. Following instruction
  5. Apologizing
  6. Convincing others

Managing feelings - group 3

  1. Knowing your feelings
  2. Expressing your feelings
  3. Understanding the feelings of others
  4. Dealing with someone else's anger
  5. Expressing affection
  6. Dealing with fear
  7. Rewarding yourself

Alternatives to aggression - group 4

  1. Asking permission
  2. Sharing something
  3. Helping others
  4. Negotiation: Conflict Resolution, problem solving, and mediation
  5. Using self-control
  6. Standing up for your rights
  7. Responding to teasing
  8. Avoiding trouble with others
  9. Keeping out of fights

Dealing with stress - group 5

  1. Making a complaint
  2. Answering a complaint
  3. Sportsmanship after a game
  4. Dealing with embarrassment
  5. Dealing with being left out
  6. Standing up for a friend
  7. Responding to persuasion
  8. Responding to failure
  9. Dealing with contradictory messages
  10. Dealing with an accusation
  11. Getting ready for a difficult conversation
  12. Dealing with group pressure

Planning - group 6

  1. Deciding on something to do
  2. Deciding what caused a problem
  3. Setting a goal
  4. Deciding on your abilities
  5. Gathering information
  6. Arranging problems by importance
  7. Making a decision
  8. Concentrating on a task

Teaching & learning social skills

Group cooperation is necessary anywhere people gather.

Outstanding leaders organize introductory activities to explain, review, or teach procedures that they expect everyone to use to cooperate and get along in a group or classroom environment. People who are able to work together and achieve everyone's expectations are able to use a variety of social and problem solving skills.

People refine or learn social skills when they are together with others and reflect on the kinds of interactions they and others have, and how those interactions affect the group and each participant.

Leaders and teachers can accelerate this learning by facilitating it with team building activities and processing social interactions before and after any activity and discussing what works and what doesn't work and how to improve the groups ability to achieve their goals.

As well as focused discussion to polish skills or focus on directly teaching a specific skill. Such instruction might follow an instructional procedure like the following:

    Social skill instructional procedure (syntax)

    1. Select a social skill
    2. Ask. What do you know about the skill?
    3. Write all suggested ideas.
    4. Ask, as necessary, questions to clarify suggestions. Be careful not to give too much too soon as some detail is best added after initial practice.
    5. Role play in small groups with an observer.
    6. For variety could role play the opposite of the social skill. This can show what is not appropriate and what to avoid. It can also create empathy for students to cooperate with others and care about how they act.
    7. After role play, have participants list what was good, what could be improved, and if they have any questions.
    8. Discuss and edit list to write a procedure for the skill. This is where detail can be added.
    9. Have participants use the skill during another role play or activity.
    10. Have the groups report their findings to the class and refine the procedure. Then make a chart with three sections: what it looks like, sounds like, and feels like.
    11. Continue to process the skill after group activities.
    12. Discuss periodically both in class use of skill and have students report any outside of class use of skill.

    Other teaching models

Depending on the background experience of participants any instructional procedure can be adjusted on the fly. If learner's initial suggestions, in step 2, are comprehensive enough to write a procedure or make a looks, sounds, feels like chart, then do it. Then, decide if practice with a role play would be beneficial. If not, then a role play can be skipped and everyone is ready to try the ideas in a regular activity.

When I assign groups and encourage everyone to work together, I tend to start with a big picture and focus top down. Start with a big idea such as collaboration or cooperation, define it, proceduralize it, and chart it. Then unpack sub skills identified in the process and begin to proceduralize and chart them. Record ideas, give them a try, see how it goes, adjust, and begin the process again. Over time this could result with a chart for collaboration and other charts for sub skills: getting back to work, watching the time, check for understanding, check for agreement, and summarize. Depending on the groups and the activities in which they are involved the sub skills for collaboration or cooperation will vary and other Pro social skills, sub skills, or other skills may be required.

As everyone cooperates to complete activities the use of social skills and sub skills can be recorded and refined as groups work. Group members can share their observations and discuss them along with observations made by you as the leader of the group.

For example: if group members got off task for a short period of time and then get back to work, in a timely manner, then you would process the incident after the activity when processing social skills. After learners discuss their ideas and suggestions, point out you noticed they got off track when ... and how ... and ... took the lead to steer them back on track? The discussion could lead to creating a chart for what it looks, sound, and feels like to get back to work.

As you become better at observing how group members use pro social skills, you will find many excellent opportunities to use those ideas to better define skills. This will not only help improve the group's abilities by being more skilled socially, but will encourage them and empower them to believe in their self-efficacy to be successful in group settings.

Pro Social Skills & their procedures

Group 1

Listening (1)

  1. Look at the person.
  2. Smile.
  3. Lean forward
  4. Do not interrupt
  5. Nod in agreement as appropriate
  6. Respond to their answers with a comment without changing the subject.
  7. Wait. If no response think about changing the subject.

Listening for longer periods of time

  • Sit when possible. Ask the person to sit and chat or talk.
  • Look at the person, lean forward, make eye contact, bob and nod, don't interrupt, wait for appropriate time to respond or ask questions.
  • Take notes or jot down ideas to remember later.
  • Communicate interest. Say go on, I understand, I see ...
  • Restate or repeat what you are hearing by rephrasing when possible to summarize.
  • Check for understanding by summarizing...
  • Ask questions. Ask for examples or say, the way I understand what you are saying is ...
  • Communicate empathy.
  • Communicate positive body language. Gestures like bobbing and nodding, hand on chin; open body language like hands open, arms not folded; facial expressions like smiling, eyes wide; posture that is erect, leaning forward; tone of voice like respectful, lower, slower, even pitch, matter of fact, slow deliberate rate.
  • Provide feedback and feedforward. Explain how the communication is going and how it might be better.

Start a conversation (2)

  1. Think of something to start out the conversation (weather, sports, hobby, …).
  2. Look at the person.
  3. Smile.
  4. Use a pleasant tone.
  5. Ask a question. (Enjoying the weather? How about those …?)
  6. Listen. (See listening.) Do not interrupt.
  7. Respond to their answers with a comment, or follow up question, without changing the subject.
  8. Wait. If no response think about changing the subject.

Having a conversation (3)

Invite Others to Talk
Looks Like Sounds Like Feels like
Lean toward the person. What do you think? Nervous that others may disagree.
Sitting Close together. How do you feel about this? Glad to be asked for your ideas.
Encouraging hand movements. Do you want to share? Relieved someone spoke up.
Smile Your turn. Encouraged
Eyes on person. Tell us about it. Irritated
  How would you do it?  
  What do you feel?  
  Please give us your ideas.  
  Let's each tell what we think.  
  Anyone want to add to that?  
  You haven't said anything yet.  


Respond to Ideas
Looks Like Sounds Like Feels like
Sit up Good idea. Disappointed that an idea won't work or others have different ideas.
Learn forward Good point. Feels good when everyone agrees.
Make eye contact I like that idea. Thanks. Feels good to have your suggestions considered.
Thumbs up I disagree. Feels better when your ideas are used.
OK sign I don't understand. Feels good to see ideas are successful.
Smile or frown Explain that to me.  
Puzzled look What about...  
Fist bump That part we can use.  
Clapping That sounds great, but I don't think we have the time or resources to be able to do it.  
  What do we all think about that?  
  Way to think.  

Asking a question (4)

Ask for Information and Opinions
Looks Like Sounds Like Feels like
Outstretched hand What do you think? Wonder if others are understanding. in agreement.
Leaning in How do you feel about ... Nervous that others may disagree.
Eye contact Is there something more? Wonder if others are in agreement.
Squinting Explain what you mean. Relieved
  Tell me more. Encouraged
  I'm curious about... Irritated
  What about...  
  Does anyone else have an opinion?  
  What else applies?  

Say thanks (5)

  1. Look at the person
  2. Smile.
  3. Use a pleasant voice tone.
  4. Say. Thanks.
  5. Follow it with a statement of what you are thankful for and if appropriate why.
  6. I appreciate the ride home it is a lot better than walking in the rain.
  7. Repeat. Thanks again.
- Greet a person
  1. Look at the person
  2. Smile.
  3. Use a pleasant voice tone.
  4. Give a verbal greeting. (Hello, nice day. Wasuup!)

Introduce yourself (6)

  1. Look at the person.
  2. Smile.
  3. Walk to the person
  4. Use a pleasant tone.
  5. Say something like, "Good morning I am (your name)."
  6. Extend your hand.
  7. Shake their hand and smile.
  8. Decide if you want to start a conversation. (see having a conversation)
  9. Say, "It was nice to meet you," when you leave.

Introduce other people (7)

  1. Look at the person you are going to introduce the person to.
  2. Smile.
  3. Use a pleasant tone.
  4. Say, their name .... "Chris this is Kris." Can use an open hand motion with a slow motion from one person to the other as you say their name.
  5. Add an explanation of how you know the person. She is ...
  6. Pause to let them say. Hi, ... and make a comment.
  7. Be ready to transition to a conversation or other activity.

Give and Accept a compliment (8)

  1. Look at the person
  2. Smile.
  3. Use a pleasant tone
  4. Say "Thank you."
  5. Do not disagree with the compliment.

Group 2

Asking for help (9)

  1. Decide who might be the best person available in a timely manner to ask for help.
  2. Decide an appropriate way to approach the person to ask for help. Raise hand in class, walk up to the person, go to their office, ...
  3. Rehearse what you will say.
  4. Approach the person or get their attention. Raise hand.
  5. Look at the person.
  6. Ask the person if he or she has time to help you.
  7. Clearly explain what you need help with.
  8. Thank the person for helping.
  9. Decide if the information was helpful and to use the help or not.

Suggestions to consider when assisting people who are resistant to accepting help.

  • Some equate asking for help with admitting weakness and inviting disapproval.
  • When learners push you away, they need warmth and positive regards to build enough trust to accept help.
  • Create a risk-free caring, helping, environment.

Possible statements to make:

  • I imagine it is hard for you to talk about this because you don’t want anyone to think less of you.
  • I imagine it is hard to tell the truth when you’re afraid you’ll get into trouble. I can understand, but I can only help if you’re honest about what you’re struggling with.
  • Ask. What would you consider a successful day?
  • I wouldn’t be upset if you get an answer wrong, because that gives information on how we can move to a better answer.
  • I would be disappointed if you were dishonest or broke any school policies (code of conduct).
  • It’s not worth being serious about pointless assignments that sacrifice your creativity and development just to regurgitate formulas and dates from a textbook.

See also Help others - volunteering help (24)

Joining in (10)

Following instructions - What to do when given directions (12)

  1. Try to understand what the directions are.
  2. If you do not understand what you are asked to do ask questions.
  3. Think about what the consequences are for following or not following the directions.
  4. If you do not think you should follow the directions ask to speak to the person privately and calmly ask for a reason to follow the directions.
  5. If you still disagree you can decide to follow directions or not to follow directions. If you decide not to tell the person you can not follow the directions and give a reason. Be ready to standby your convictions.
  6. If you decide to follow directions, then no arguing, whining, or pouting.
  7. Say "OK." and follow the directions.

Joining in (11)


Giving instructions (12)


Apologize (13)

  1. Look at the person
  2. Use a pleasant tone.
  3. Say "I am sorry …
  4. State specifically what you feel was wrong.
  5. State a plan for not letting it happen again.
  6. Ask the person to accept the apology.

Convincing others (14)

See a process of change in Decision Making Process

Criticize the Idea Not the Person
Looks Like Sounds Like Feels like
Body moving forward I'm unsure about what you said. Nervous someone might be upset.
Smiles Could we add more to that idea? Relieved someone spoke up.
Non-angry expression. I disagree with the part about... Disappointed an idea was rejected and needs to be replaced or modified.
Touch on shoulder. Maybe if we changed this... Glad to find an idea that might insure success.
  I like this part. If we would change this...  
  I think the ideas needs a little work.  
  Let's look at that a little closer.  


Manage feelings - group 3

Know and Recognize your feelings as emotionally related (15)

  • Ask why might I feel this way?
  • Is this really important for my well being or future?
  • Should I wait before responding?
  • What could I do to feel better?
  • Who might I talk to to feel better or get help?
  • Is my reaction a defense mechanism?

    Defense mechanisms

    • Compensation, make up for mistake or weakness by hard work, giving a gift, or other measures. Over compensation is taking compensation to extremes. Paying double or triple the price.
    • Denial, don't recognize something that is obvious to others.
    • Projection, attribute or blame your feelings, faults, or mistakes to others.
    • Rationalization, create excuses to explain a behavior or situation rather than take responsibility.
    • Regression, use a behavior that is recognized as immature rather than dealing with a situation in a more appropriate manner.
    • Repression, deny the existence of unpleasant feelings or situation by ignoring it and putting it out of mind.

Express feelings - Share Feelings (16)

Looks Like Sounds Like Feels like
Smiles or frowns I feel because Wonder if others are in agreement.
Arms folded I wish... Nervous that others may disagree.
Excited face Let me tell you how I feel about this. Glad
Tears How do you feel about .... Relieved
High fives Do we all feel that way? Encouraged


Show Appreciation
Looks Like Sounds Like Feels like
Smile Thank you. Good to be acknowledged.
Wink That was nice. Good to appreciate another person.
Pat You helped when... Good to be recognized as a contributing member of the group.
Touch I appreciated it when... Feel accomplished.
Nod I couldn't have done it without you.  
Thumbs up I liked the way you...  
High five It really helped when...  
  Way to think.  
  You are making me feel accomplished.  

Understanding the feelings of others (17)


Dealing with someone else's anger (18)


Expressing affection (19)

Dealing with Fear - Manage Fear (20)

  1. Recognize the emotion as fear.
  2. Figure out what is causing the fear.
  3. Decide if the situation is legitimate and what if any cautions need to be taken.
  4. Remember fear can be healthy... Fear causes us to run out of a burning building.
  5. Identify what might be done to deal with situations that cause the fear. Most often more familiarity with the situation is helpful, but this requires having to face the fear by studying its attributes or stepping into situations, simulating them and practicing how to deal with them. For example fear of tests can be overcome by working on practice tests to gain skill and confidence. Fear of animals can be overcome by working with someone that is skilled with animals and having them introduce people to a particular animal in a safe and nonthreatening way.
  6. Create a plan to face and over come your fear.
  7. Share it with someone you trust.
  8. Implement the plan
  9. Evaluate


Alternatives to aggression - group 4

Ask permission or asking for something (22)

  1. Look at the person
  2. Use a pleasant voice tone.
  3. Specifically say what you want.
  4. Might want to use please.
  5. Say thank you if the request is granted.
  6. If the request is not granted keep cool and thank the person for their time.

Sharing something - Contributing Ideas (23)

Looks Like Sounds Like Feels like
Taking turns I have an idea. Feels good to have your suggestions considered.
Raising hands. What about... Feels good when everyone shares their ideas.
Showing materials. try this... Feels better when your ideas are used.
  I think we should... Feels good to see ideas are successful.
  How about this?  
  What if we...  
  We could...  
  My idea is...  
  Good thinking.  

Help others - volunteering help (24)

  1. Look at the person
  2. Use a pleasant tone.
  3. Ask if you could help the person.
  4. State what you would like to do to help or ask if there is something they would like you to help with.
  5. Might want to give a rationale or benefit.
Help (Without Giving the Answer or doing the work)
Looks Like Sounds Like Feels like
Leaning together. Where did you start to have trouble? Solving a problem.
Pointing to problems. What do you think comes next? Frustrating when not know how to help without telling.
Handing materials. What do you understand? Good when the other person gets it.
Pointing to materials. Explain it to me.  
Writing How did you do that?  
Drawing Remember when...  
Manipulating objects. What if you did this...  
  Do you want a hint?  
  Asking questions.  
  Where are you?  

See also asking for help (9)

Give negative feedback or constructive criticism

Constructive criticism is non-hostile comments that suggest a problem, assist in resolving it, and encourage positive change.

  1. Look at the person
  2. Use a calm voice tone.
  3. You might want to give a positive statement or praise.
  4. Specifically describe the problem.
  5. Tell a rationale or reason why it's a problem.
  6. Offer a solution. If you don't have a solution offer a plan on how to find one.
  7. Thank the person for listening.

Using self control (26)

Accept criticism
  1. Look at the person
  2. Say "OK.".
  3. No arguing.
  4. Do not verbally disagree with the person at this time.
  5. If you do not understand ask for clarification in a calm voice.
  6. Consider waiting until later to decide to disagree.
  7. If you decide to disagree see How to disagree.
  8. If you agree with the criticism thank the person for being honest.
Accept "No" for an answer
  1. If you do not understand why, take a deep breath and let it out slowly.
  2. Use a low, soft, pleasant voice and ask calmly for a reason.
  3. Decide that you do not want to confront the person.
  4. Look at the person.
  5. Without arguing, whining, or pouting.
  6. Say "OK."
  7. If you disagree or have a complaint, bring it up later.

Standing up for your rights (27)

Everyone has a right to communicate: to express their thoughts, feelings, and values openly and directly with consideration of the rights of others to do the same.

This relates historically to our:

  • Declaration of Independence (1776) claim of a right to: life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.
  • The First Amendment in the Bill of Rights (1791) right of: free exercise of religion, freedom of speech, freedom of the press, right to peaceably assemble, and petition government to redress grievances.

For a person to claim these rights, it sometimes requires them to be assertive, sometimes in a conflict situation. Remember there are four ways to handle a conflict situation: smoothing, win-lose, compromise, or withdraw. All may require an assertive response.

Situations when assertive responses can be appropriate:

Source: page 38.

  • To make decisions
  • To be treated with respect
  • To refuse a request
  • To make a mistake
  • To change your mind
  • To take time to consider requests
  • To make reasonable requests
  • To hold personal opinions
  • To control your own destiny
  • To express your feelings
Situation in which you should yield to an assertive response:
  • To allow others to make their decisions
  • To treat others with respect
  • To consider the feelings of others
  • To allow others to control their destiny
  • To respect the opinions of others
  • To not impose upon others
  • To allow others the courtesy to consider requests.
  • To act reasonably
  • To ensure mistakes do not harm others
  • To refuse courteously and assertively

Source: page 38.

Being assertive
  1. Review your decision and plan how to state your position clearly and respectfully.
  2. Provide an honest powerful reason to support it. Support includes:
    • How your needs will be met by your decision
    • How a different response will not meet your needs or goes against your values or breaks a promise to yourself or others.
    • Could use an I statements and avoid you statements, you are ... you always ...
    • Don't exaggerate or use emotional words like always, never, craziest, dumbest, ...
  3. Say no or state your intended response in a normal conversational tone. Support your statements with appropriate body language. Stand tall, relax and look the person in the eye or forehead. Don't look down. Shake your head no. Hold up hands with palms out and fingers up making the universal sign for stop. Or you may begin to turn away or execute your intended response.
  4. May want to suggest alternatives.
  5. Stand your ground. Can repeat your stand or decision again with strong body language and determination. Maintain eye contact, but do not make physical contact.
  6. If necessary, repeat again to show your resolve. May repeatedly shake head to signal no and begin to initiate your leave response.
  7. If it is necessary to leave, state you are going, if it is appropriate: home, school, and what you will do. If appropriate invite the person to go with you.

Note -while being aggressive and using a loud boisterous verbal tone or physical contact of pushing or shoving can sometimes be used to get your way, it can cause the other person to react negatively. They can become physical or aggressive or react passively doing nothing or initiate revenge later.

Procedure for saying no:
  1. Look at the person
  2. Use a calm tone.
  3. Thank them for wanting to include you.
  4. Say:
    • No, I’d rather not.
    • No, thanks.
    • Thanks, but no thanks.
    • Not me.
    • No way.
    • Not now (today, tonight).
    • Nah.
    • Forget it.
  5. May want to offer an explanation why you do not want to participate. (Drug related examples:
    • I don't do drugs.
    • I don't take chances.
    • It's illegal.
    • I don't want to feel like crap tomorrow.
    • Don't like the taste.
    • Don't want to hurt my lungs.
    • Don't want to disappoint my parents.
    • I want to be in control.
  6. Offer an alternative activity if you desire.
    • Food, appropriate drink.
    • Go for a walk or another public place: gym, bowling, dance, music, ...)
  7. If necessary continue to refuse to participate.
    • I said, no.
    • I don’t feel like it.
    • I really mean no. or
  8. Leave ... Walk away (I’ve got to go now. My friends are expecting me in ten minutes). Resistance can make you empowered and feel good. People who do not honor other's right to make an assertive response are not friends, they want to control others.
Disagree appropriately (politely)
  1. Take a deep breath, let it out and relax.
  2. Look at the person.
  3. Use a low soft pleasant voice tone.
  4. Use an empathy or a concern statement.
  5. Say specifically what you disagree with.
  6. Give a rationale or reason why you disagree.
  7. Thank the person for listening.
Looks Like Sounds Like Feels like
Lean toward the person Let me suggest another idea. Tense
Eye contact I see what you're saying. Want to avoid the situation.
Wrinkle nose Consider this. Want to ask for help.
Open body language That's one way to look at this... We worked it out before, we can again.
  Ask for clarification.  
  I don't agree.  
  I have a different idea.  
  I would agree with that if...  
  I can not go along with that.  


Report peer behavior
  1. Look at the person
  2. Use a calm tone.
  3. Ask to speak to the person privately.
  4. Describe specifically what the person has done.
  5. Give a rationale, benefit, or reason for reporting.
  6. Suggest how the person might be helped if you have an idea.
  7. Thank the adult for listening.
Resist peer pressure
  1. Look at the person
  2. Use a calm tone.
  3. Thank them for wanting to include you.
  4. Explain that you do not want to participate.
  5. Offer an alternative activity if you desire.
  6. If necessary continue to refuse to participate.
Get a teacher's attention
  1. Look at the person
  2. Raise a hand.
  3. Wait for the teacher to call on you.
  4. Use a calm voice.
  5. Ask your question or say what you want to say.

Respnding to teasing (28)

Avoiding trouble with others (29)

Reduce Tension
Looks Like Sounds Like Feels like
Make the "time-out" signal. Can we start from where we agreed? Tense
Smile Can we compromise on this? Want to avoid the situation.
Sitting down, relaxing ... Maybe we all need to take a deep breath. Want to ask for help.
Shaking head Time out! We worked it out before, we can again.
Calm down gesture Let's not get carried away.  
Wink Can we work together to resolve this?  
  It's OK to disagree. Can we move on?  
  Let's keep calm.  
  What are you upset about? Can I help?  
  Is it possible to do both?  
  Remember what we do when we have a conflict.  
  How can we make this a win-win?  


Dealing with stress - group 5

Sub skills include

  • Making a complaint
  • Answering a complaint 
  • Sportsmanship after a game 
  • Dealing with embarrassment 
  • Dealing with being left out 
  • Standing up for a friend 
  • Responding to persuasion 
  • Responding to failure 
  • Dealing with contradictory messages 
  • Dealing with an accusation 
  • Getting ready for a difficult conversation 
  • Dealing with group pressure


Procedure to Manage and Deal with Stressful Situations

  1. Recognize feelings and emotions which are stress related. See below: Bodily responses to alarm, stress, and chronic stress
  2. Figure out what is causing the stress.
  3. Remember stress can have both positive and negative results and can be reduced by taking charge, changing or accept perceptions, communication, laughter, exercise is also important to reduce the harmful effects of stress and blow off steam, relaxation techniques .... For more information see Ways to Manage and Reduce stress
  4. Devise a plan to deal with stress. See ideas below on Ways to Manage and Reduce stress for ideas.
  5. Share it with someone you trust.
  6. Implement the plan
  7. Evaluate


Planning - group 6

Setting and achieving goals (45)

Four Step process
  1. Focus on getting started
  2. Select a goal
  3. Select a plan or process to achieve it and implement it.
  4. Monitor and adjust
Explanation and suggestions for setting and achieving goals
  1. Focus on the situation and recognize a need for change. Think of how it will help you, how it may help others, how you will feel after you accomplish it, and then the hardest part is just getting started. So go...
  2. Select a goal
    • State the goal clearly. What will be done when it is achieved.
      • I walk / jog 20 laps or twenty minutes each day.
      • I will read a book of my choice at least 30 minutes each day.
      • I will do 15 push-ups after each TV program I watch.
    • Check to see if the goal is realistic and attainable.
      • Have I done this before?
      • Are you trying to do too much for two weeks. For example: If you can only do 15 push-ups now, then start with 16, instead of 30. Then increase by 1 each day so you can do 3o at the end.
  3. Select effective strategies. Write a procedure for your plan to implement and achieve your goal.
    • Write your procedure for achieving the goal. Include suggested time to start and how to record your progress.
      • I will go to the rec center at __:___and walk and jog on the track 20 laps or for twenty minutes each day after school and on week ends in the early afternoon.
      • I will choose a book and read for at least 30 minutes each evening. I will sit on a chair in a quiet place (living room, den, kitchen ...) from 8:00 - 8:30 each night.
  4. Monitor, evaluate, and reflect how to monitor the progress of the procedure to achieve the goal and how to adjust if necessary.
    • I will record what I do each day, think about my achievement, and get psyched for tomorrow.

Related implementation skills

  • Relationships with peers, and supportive adults.
  • Connect emotionally and socially
  • Conflict resolution skills to navigate disagreements and conflicts
  • Empathy and perspective taking.
  • Recognize and respond to other’s feelings, needs, wants, perspectives, and ideas.
  • Memory power to recall and take action as planned.
  • Focus power attention skills concentrate, listen as time requires.
  • Stop and think inhibit wait, share take turns, self-control, practice routines.

Making a decision (49)

See Decision making process

Concentrating on a task (50)

See skills in group working together below.

Collaboration & cooperation - Working together - Looks, sounds, & feels like charts

Looks, sounds, & feels like charts:

Collaboration & cooperation chart with multiple skills

Looks Like Sounds Like Feels Like
Heads together Let's get started.
We can do this.
Wow! we are accomplishing something.
Sitting Close together with everyone able to make eye contact by only moving their heads. Could you help us with this? Other students are listening to my suggestions.
Eyes on activity We need to... I can really learn when I listen.
Pointing to material Look at this. Do we all agree on that? It's good to learn from other students.
Looks at clock Can we talk about that later? I understand better when I talk about my ideas.
Passing materials to someone else. How much time is left? I feel more confident when we agree to an idea.
On edge of chair Does that make sense to everyone? When we work together we accomplish more.
A lot of leaning forward Let's move on.
Next, lets...
When we share our different ways of understanding it helps us all to understand more.
Eye contact Any other suggestions.  
Smiles You do that and I'll do this.  
Open body language We're halfway there.  
Goal setting We're almost done.  
Staying on task Thank you  
Getting back on task when necessary What if ...  
  So really we could ...  
  Clapping, high fives, good idea, good job, good question, good thinking, way to think,  
  Does that make sense?  
  What do you have?
What do you think?
What are we going to report?


Subskill examples in collaboration

Getting Back to Work

Looks Like Sounds Like Feels Like
Point to materials We need to get back to work. Oh. Yes. Thanks for the reminder.
Tap on desk What can we do next? Dang. We have a lot to do and not much time.
Look the people in the eye Let's go on. Pressure...
Point to the directions Let's skip this and go on for now. Relief there is ____ time left.
Hand motions Where are we now?  
Pass materials Let's keep going.  
Pointing to the clock I think we are off track.  
  We should talk about that later.  
  We only have ____ minutes left.  
  We need to all concentrate.  
  Do wee need to start over?  
  Lets' do that later.  


Manage, Watch, Time

Looks Like Sounds Like Feels like
Looking at the clock We have five minutes Being pressured to get done.
Point to watch How much more time? Feeling relieved that we seem to be on schedule or ahead of schedule.
Motion to hurry We're running out of time.  
Looking at directions We're wasting time.  
  Let's move on and come back to that later.  
  We're ahead of schedule.  
  We need to move along.  
  Look at the clock.  
  Let's make a plan.  
  Hurry up.  
  Go on.  
  How much time can we spend on each part?  


Check for Understanding

Looks Like Sounds Like Feels like
Eye contact Explain that. Wondering if everyone has the same understanding.
lean forward How did you get that? Wondering if I understand what the others understand.
Group involvement Can you show me? Wonder if others in the group are thinking the same as me.
  Give me an example.  
  Tell us how to do it?  
  How would you explain it?  
  What do you have?  
  What do you think?  
  Does that make sense?  


Check for Agreement

Looks Like Sounds Like Feels like
Thumbs up. Do you agree? Nervous everyone might not agree.
OK signs. Did you get that? Happy! When everyone is in agreement.
Head nods. Is that OK with you?  
  Did we all get the same answer?  
  How many agree?  
  Shall I write it now?  



Looks Like Sounds Like Feels like
One person will be talking at a time. Short conclusions. We are almost done.
Writing thoughts. Let's review what we have. We are getting done.
Listening The main purpose is... Needing to make sure one last time.
  So what we've said so far is... Confident everyone is on the same page.
  At this point we are...  
  Would you all agree on this conclusion...  
  Our key idea seems to be...  
  This is what we agree to so far.  


Various research studies related to socialization

  • Google (2016) found, as a result of a massive investigation to find out how to build the perfect team, that psychological safety is the most important element for team work, increased productivity, creativity, and cooperation.
  • Joshua Green in Moral Tribes notes that research has found that when people are asked to make decisions, that the decisions they make are more cooperative in nature when the decisions they make are made faster. Suggesting that faster decisions are a result of people's intuitive thinking and therefore a product of our moral inheritance being primarily cooperative.
  • Albert Bandura (1965) had five year olds watch videos of a child hitting an adult sized "Bobo doll" toy with three different endings: 1. rewarded with candy, 2. spanked and criticized, and 3. no response. Following th viewing the child was left in a room with Bobo. The children who watched an ending with no punishment were more likely to imitate the aggression. Boys were also more likely to imitate the aggressive act than girls.
  • Researchers found a positive correlation between children's time spent playing violent video games and them favoring aggression for solving problems.
  • Researchers also found a positive correlation between the amount of time spent watching violent television programs and their performance of aggressive and violent acts.
  • Stephanie Sloane, Renée Baillargeon and David Premack conducted an experiment where babies watched two giraffe puppets dance. After which toys were presented in different ways: one toy to each giraffe or both to one of them. Three-quarters of the babies gazed longer when one giraffe got both toys. The longer gaze being interpreted as the babies thinking something was wrong.
  • In a second Sloane, et. al. 21 month old children saw two women play with toys and then asked to clean up. They then saw either: one women put the toys away, while the other kept playing, but both got a reward. Or Both put the toys away and both got a reward. Similarly infants gazed longer when the worker and the slacker were rewarded equally.
  • Sloane claims: we seem to be born with a general expectation of what is fair and it gets shaped differently depending on our culture and environment.
  • Paul Bloom, Karen Wynn and Kiley Hamlin conducted an experiment where a yellow square would help a circle up a hill and a red triangle would push it down. Later the children were offered to play with the helper or hinderer on a tray, they overwhelmingly preferred the helper puppet to the hindering one.
  • Tajfel's experiments showed how subconscious mental processes usually cause people to assume all the members of a category, say Americans, as being more similar to each other than they in fact are. This assumption has consequences when compared to different groups. The consequences being the belief that members of different groups, say Iranians, were more different from Americans than Americans were from each other. This kind or reasoning sets up stereotyping and In group and Out group conflict.
  • When people are presented with additional information the believe it makes a situation more likely when in most cases it decreases the likelihood. Are there more tall athletes than tall men. Are there more nerdy librarians than nerds.
  • Pygmalion effect, also Robert Rosenthal effect - reality can be influenced by a person's expectations. Studies have been conducted where teachers have been told that their students were gifted or other times not and in both cases created self-fulfilling prophecies. It has been demonstrated that unconscious behaviors can be interpreted by others without either person being aware of the communication. There has even been a recorded case where a horse, Clever Hans, was able to interpret solutions of math problems by interpreting the unconscious behaviors of the trainer and audience as the correct answer was approached and reached.
  • Even in labs where lab technicians were told that the rats and mice they were training were either enhanced or retarded in solving problems or mazes influenced the technicians so the outcomes became reality. Even in when the animals were worms trained to locate a target.
  • There have also been studies that showed a statistical difference between students that were asked to check or not check their ethnicity. Or in other cases students were reminded that a certain group of students did well on tests or not. These studies reported a significant difference in directions that fit typical stereotypes for testing. Differences were even recorded for students that were told to mistakenly select a specific ethnicity.


How well do you know your social skill?

What social skills would be helpful to know in the following situations? 

  1. A student knows some students have cheat sheets and are going to use them on the test. 
  2. A student sees the teacher doing a task and wants to get involved. 
  3. A student accidentally bumps into another student. 
  4. A student is told to take another student's comb and play keep away. 
  5. A student looks at a female high school student helper and says, "You look sexy in those clothes." 
  6. The teacher remarks that he likes a student’s new hair cut and the student mumbles, "Yeah? Well I hate it! 
  7. Student argues, "I didn’t do it; you didn’t see me," when another student accuses the student of doing something. 
  8. A student remains standing after being told to sit down. 
  9. A student looks down after another student says, "Hi!" 
  10. A student calls out the answer as he raises his hand. 
  11. A student flops down into a chair after being told they can not do what they asked. 
  12. Student approaches the teacher and says, "give me a pencil mine broke." 
  13. A student argues and complains after being told recess is indoors. 
  14. The teacher asks questions about the student’s vacation and the student mumbles "Yes," and "All right," after each questions. 
  15. A student hits another student for butting in front of her in the line.


Pedagogy - theory, curriculum, learning, human development, & teaching

Management - Self development & individual, group, & classrooom