From the work of Michelle Garcia Winner, SLP
For more information about Social Thinking, go to www.socialthinking.com.
Thinking....it is the most important part of being socially successful. Any time we are around others, we have thoughts about them and they have thoughts about us. People who are socially successful think of how their behavior affects others around them.
When we do things that are expected, others around us feel comfortable. For example, when we are eating a meal with others, it is expected we use common table manners. It makes the meal pleasant and helps those at the table feel relaxed. On the other hand, if someone talks with their mouth full, takes enormous bites, reaches across the table, or forgets to use their napkin, others at the table feel uncomfortable or even disgusted. If these unexpected behaviors continue, others may even avoid eating with that person again!
At school, students learn to think about their behaviors and the impact their behaviors have on others. We often use a "social behavior map" to help students make decisions, to know which behavior "road" to take to keep others around them feeling good. The roads or paths on the map show the end result of expected and unexpected behaviors. Here's how the map works:
Expected → Postive thoughts → Others like to → I feel good
Behavior & feelings in others be around me about myself!
Unexpected → Negative thoughts → Others avoid → I feel bad Behavior & feelings in others being around me about myself!
We learn what is expected and unexpected in different situations by being Social DetectivesTM. We get clues by observing situations, remembering rules, using whole-body listening, and thinking about others. All of these skill help us use our people-smarts and be good social thinkers!