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Updated: Nov 11, 2021

This blog will examine the next steps in building social intelligence. We will address ways to build on students’ awareness of others’ feelings, helping them to take concrete actions in support of those feelings. This will fulfill the third and the first objectives in the relationship skills competency. These objectives are to “demonstrate the ability to prevent, manage and resolve interpersonal conflicts in constructive ways” and to “apply positive verbal and non-verbal communication and social skills to interact effectively with others and in groups.”

It is helpful to first remind students about the effects of their choices on others, and the responsibility the students bear for these effects. It is helpful for them to remember and feel empowered by knowing that they can make choices that have the best possible results for them as well as those around them.

In order to determine the nature of these choices, it is helpful for students to look at the golden rule as a guide. They can be helped to understand that if a choice would feel good to them, it is more likely to feel good to others. The opposite is also true. If a choice would feel bad to them, it is likely to feel the same to others. You could have the students write post-it notes or draw pictures, reflecting both kinds of choices, which you could then affix to a poster board, divided in two.

Students can be helped to remember to refrain from choices that are not helpful, and lead to conflicts, such as pressuring or bullying others. They can further understand that this can happen in subtle ways, such as facial expressions, lack of eye contact, sighs, gossiping, and excluding.

You can have students role-play these choices and draw or write about how it feels to be on the receiving end. You can also read stories or discuss moments in history that reflect these kinds of choices. Additionally, you could have students role-play the kind of body language that reflect support, understanding and active listening, such as leaning in, giving eye-contact, nodding, and smiling.

Students can be helped to go beyond listening at a surface level. They can apply their understanding of the assumptions and perceptions that lead to our choices, to others’ perspectives. This can help them think about where others may be “coming from”, offering insight into their choices and their needs.

In order to reinforce this, you could show pictures of youngsters reflecting a variety of emotions. You could ask students to identify what the youngsters are feeling, what assumptions may have led to these feelings, and how the youngsters may be helped to handle their feelings.

Students can be helped to understand that there are words that hurt and words that heal, and that they can determine which to use. You could brainstorm with the students to build a list of words that convey understanding and support, and have them create cartoons reflecting these. Students can be helped to understand that careful choices about how we use our bodies and words with others can prevent conflicts and lead to positive relationships.

When inevitable conflicts do arise, students can be helped to practice using their I messages to express their needs and concerns. They can also role-play developing and sticking with compromises to arrive at win-win solutions. It is helpful for students to rehearse and read about these tools regularly, so that they are prepared to apply them when conflicts arise.

As students build social awareness and skills, they can build increasingly healthy relationships and empathy, and positively effect those around them. The next blog will continue to help students become positive contributors to their class, school and community.

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