Social skills are a complex thing, and the psychologists who study them don’t always agree about what’s going on. We can suddenly develop better skills with people who share a common interest, or find ourselves gravitating towards people similar to ourselves when in a foreign situation. Social skills require little effort under some circumstances, a lot of effort under other circumstances. The situations that work well seem to require the least effort, but it would be too easy to get the cause and effect mixed up here. We only start putting in effort because the situation requires it, and we tend not to enjoy this situation as much.
We tend not to have the same social issues as a child. In kindergarten everybody’s interest was in similar toys and novelties. On some occasions everything was unfamiliar and confusing, so we withdrew; on other occasions everybody was part of the same group. There was no ‘us and them’ at that point in our lives; there were other people who were simultaneously different but not part of a different group. Undoubtedly we learned some of our first social abilities here, though we might have lost some things too; later divisions into ‘us and them’ cost us some common connection with all others. Really balanced, spiritual people tend to more apt at getting on with far more people, not just their own crowd. Perhaps they retained something we lost back them.
Common training can have a positive social influence on participating individuals. We hear about people bonding in the military when they would have had rather little in common under other circumstances. But this ignores the fact that being in the same circumstance is giving them something in common. If people are in a circumstance voluntarily that may well have some common goal or interest beforehand. And it it’s involuntary they may well find they identify with other stuck with the same fate. It still keeps coming back to the idea they have something in common.
Perhaps it’s the rediscovery of our common human situation here. Great literature, great human insights and great proverbs all cross cultural barriers and social classes. If we feel human like everybody else is human then we have a universal common thread that runs through all people, and we are no longer separated because of superficial differences. Barriers to social interactions are inadvertently acquired over time. At least part of improving social skills is the unlearning of misconceptions. We unlearn artificial differences and see the real common ground.
Watching people improve in anything, especially something we are involved with ourselves, gives us some insights into both them and ourselves. It’s a little like seeing yourself in the third person. And if we avoid the trap of dividing the world into ‘our’ exclusive group and others we can form a bond with people in general. This type of training (and the insights we acquire through it) can apply it to every aspect of our life. I tend to think good training strips us back to the fundamentals and rebuilds us the way we would have liked to have been the first time around.
I said earlier that the better social situation requires less effort from us, and I believe we enjoy it more when getting on with others comes easily. But there was some effort; we but the effort in earlier to either learn skills or avoid misconceptions. We learn in advance so things come naturally when the situation requires it. More than one martial artist has supported this type or view. We train now so that latter on we can do more with less effort.
Our first blog post is supplied by Taekwondo World. TKD world provides Martial Arts, TKD (TaeKweonDo) courses in Sydney. For more information, feel free to visit their website.