Strong social skills can help young people better navigate life

This is the fifth in a series of posts that take a closer look at the developmental assets that are at the foundation of the AstraZeneca Young Health Program: IM40.  Previous posts may be found here, here, here and here.

Today’s post explores “social competencies” as a category of internal assets or those personal values, competencies and experiences that come from within.

What are social competencies?

According to Minneapolis-based Search Institute, social competencies are the skills all people need to navigate successfully through life. Young people especially need adults and peers who demonstrate, teach, and practice skills with them and give them feedback along the way.

The five social competencies assets

The developmental assets framework includes five social competencies assets:

  1. Planning and decision making – young person knows how to plan ahead and make choices
  2. Interpersonal competence – young person has empathy, sensitivity, and friendship skills
  3. Cultural competence – young person has knowledge of and comfort with people of different cultural/racial/ethnic backgrounds
  4. Resistance skills – young person can resist negative peer pressure and dangerous situations
  5. Peaceful conflict resolution – young person seeks to resolve conflict nonviolently

Assets in action: Margie’s story

Margie Rivera is a senior manager of compliance and diversity at AstraZeneca who has been volunteering in her community since she was a young person herself. In sharing her story, Margie says giving even as little as one hour per week volunteering can make a big difference to someone in need.

Ideas for building social competencies

The following tips are courtesy of Search Institute:

  • Encourage youth to share stories about cultural customs and rituals from their heritage with you.
  • Model good manners and expect good manners from young people.
  • Ask a young person about their dreams for their future, and help them plan how to achieve their dream. Check back in on this conversation periodically.
  • Encourage a young person to practice healthy responses to situations where they might feel pressured or uncomfortable, such as being offered drugs by a friend, or being challenged to fight.
  • Think about how well you already do with these five assets. Rate your own social competencies on a scale of 1 (not well at all) to 5 (very well.) Underneath each asset, jot down one or two things you’ll start doing to nurture it.

For more information about the Young Health Program: IM40, visit To connect with other asset builders on Twitter, use #YHP40 or visit us on Facebook.