Monthly Archives: September 2015

  • Social Skills for the Workplace

    Young Business WomanAs technology in the workplace advances, fears that computers will soon replace people in the workforce perpetuate. However, a recent article in the Harvard Business Review reassures us that jobs highly reliant on social skills are extremely secure. In the past thirty years, job growth has predominated in occupations that require finely tuned social skills. The ability to work with others seems irreplaceable, as computers simply cannot emulate human interaction. Not yet anyway.

    Effective communication ranks right up there as a top social skill essential to success in the workplace. The earlier children learn and master these skills, the better prepared they will be as they progress through school and into their careers.

    But what is a recipe for effective communication that we can teach children? We can begin by breaking down communication into two roles: the speaker and the listener. Of course, the speaker’s goal is to effectively share information, and the listener’s goal is to effectively receive information.

    What are some qualities of a good speaker?

    Be assertive. Good speakers have a confident tone of voice.

    Pay attention to body posture. Good speakers stand up tall and sit upright.

    Make eye contact. Speakers who make eye contact show they are serious about delivering their message.

    What are some qualities of a good listener?

    Pay attention to body language. Good listeners can read a speaker’s body language to pick up on any unspoken cues.

    Lean in. Good listeners pay careful attention to what the speaker is saying.

    Ask questions. Good listeners are not afraid to ask questions to clarify what the speaker says.

    Children develop their social skills by learning these best practices in effective communication. According to the Harvard Business Review, not only is there a demand for a high level of social skills in the workplace, but people who have good social skills earn more than those who lack them. Effective communication skills foster a thoughtful and assertive approach to navigating complex social environments. Children with this higher social intelligence can ask for what they need and advocate for their goals with a sensitivity to the needs of others. Preparing children with the tools they will need in the workplace sets them on a productive path to secure their prosperous future.

  • Mendez Appears in Summer Issue of SEEN Magazine

    Charles E. Mendez III appears in the Summer Issue of SEEN Magazine with his article "Addressing Youth Violence for Safer Schools." Mendez writes, "How do we address youth violence and create sanctuary within our schools? Character education and social emotional skill development are natural adjuncts in the establishment of safe and supportive learning environments."

  • The Impact of Media Violence on Youth

    portrait boyThe Emerging Trend in Youth Violence
    We need only look at recent school shootings and the increase of youth homicides to see the emerging trend of youth violence. These incidents raise the question as to how violence in the media plays a part in this trend. With advances in technology, youth today are exposed to ever increasing sources of media violence. According to the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry (AACAP), studies have shown that children spend more hours a week watching television than they spend in school. By the age of eighteen the average American child will see in excess of 200,000 acts of violence in the media (AACAP). And The New York Times reports a study in the Journal of Youth and Adolescence that shows youth who play violent video games and watch violent television shows are more likely to show signs of aggression and to argue with their peers and teachers.

    Media Violence and Youth
    There are a number of factors contributing to this correlation between violence in the media and youth violence. The AACAP points out young children especially may not be able to differentiate between fiction and reality, so they may view violence in the media as a norm. Television and movies may even depict heroes that employ violent techniques to conquer their enemies, perpetuating the idea that violence is an acceptable means to resolving conflict. Interactive media, such as the Internet and video games, further give youth the opportunity to engage in violent scenarios, albeit virtually. Youth who are exposed to negative norms, and who may not receive the positive guidance from their caregivers at home, would greatly benefit from exposure to positive role-modeling and instruction. Fortunately, school gives us the opportunity to offer such a solution. School is the ideal environment to implement an evidence-based program that will help youth learn and practice social emotional skills.

    How Can Social Emotional Skills Prevent Youth Violence?
    We must first aid children with the ability to differentiate between fiction and reality, so they can decide for themselves what truly represents a healthy norm. Furthermore, youth who develop self awareness and social awareness are more likely to take a responsible approach to resolving conflict. Effective communication skills allow youth to understand and to be understood by others, and emotion management skills help youth calm themselves down before they act on anger or sadness. Youth who practice empathy and a respect for self and others, as well as learn positive ways to bond with peers and adults, will resolve conflict peacefully. They will be equipped with the skills they need to successfully meet life’s challenges and model their own positive norms.