Social communication is how and why we use language to interact with other people. We all decide how to communicate based on the place we are in, the people around us, and the reason behind communicating. We learn how to make these decisions by being taught directly (like being told to say “please” when asking for something). The ability to make communication decisions like these is called social communication. Social communication is the unwritten rules we learn from our families, friends, and community. There isn’t a right or a wrong way to communicate, but over time, we learn how to adjust what or how we say something. There are three major skills involved in social communication:

1.    Using language such as, greeting (saying “Hello” or “Good-bye”), informing (saying “I’m going to get the ball”), demanding (saying “Give me the ball now!”), promising (saying “I’m going to get you the ball.”), requesting (saying “I want the ball, please.”).

2.    Changing language based on the listener or situation, such as, communicating differently to a baby than to an adult, giving more information to someone who does not know the topic, knowing to skip some details when someone already knows the topic or communicating differently in school than at home.

3.    Following rules for conversations and storytelling, such as, taking turns being a talker and being a listener, letting others know the topic when you start talking, staying on the same topic, trying another way of saying what you mean when someone doesn’t understand what you were trying to say, using body language, like pointing, knowing how close to stand to someone when talking, or using facial expressions and eye contact.

Every culture—and even every family—can have its own set of rules. Even different groups of friends might have their own set of rules. These rules are usually not written down, so it can be difficult to know how to act in different situations.