I found this book to be comforting. He believes that the reader deserves a place to belong and wants everyone to feel loved and accepted (Wendler, 1). He describes the reader’s life as a gift to those who love them and those who will love them in the future (Wendler, 1). The book makes me more hopeful that I’m worth connections and will be able to find them. I feel calmer. I’ll return to these sentences again and again. I admire Wendler’s gentle compassion and am inspired to be gentler and more compassionate, myself.
Wendler has studied social skills in his free time and gone to school for clinical psychology. At the time that the book was written, he had given hundreds of hours of social skills coaching (Wendler, 4). As a child, he was diagnosed with autism, and it was difficult for him to understand socializing (Wendler, 4). When he was in high school, he realized that his problems weren’t due to a character flaw, but due to the fact that he needed to work on his social skills (Wendler, 4). People have criticized my character and personality before, so it’s a relief to hear that I can learn how to improve at socializing.
Wendler reassures the reader that if they experience a social failure, worst case scenario, they can always try again with someone else (Wendler, 14). He explains how to look for signs of comfort and discomfort in someone’s body language. There’s a chapter with tips for making conversation, such as that asking questions shows interest. The chapter after that covers group conversations.
He writes about empathy, starting with understanding your own emotions. He says, “Your problems matter, because you matter,” and I appreciate his caring (Wendler, 71). He encourages the reader to act on their empathy (Wendler, 78).
The chapter about meeting people is built upon the idea of participating in groups that are related to your interests. I’m uneasy about his suggestion to make conversation with customer service workers, since they may be too busy to talk, but the chapter is otherwise good (Wendler, 90).
Wendler explains what makes someone a good friend, which is helpful both for figuring out who to be friends with, and for being a friend. He says that a good friend likes the person, cares about them, accepts them, and treats them respectfully (Wendler, 97). I love that he devotes an entire chapter to explaining how to support your friends. One of his suggestions is to ask someone if they want advice before offering it (Wendler ,113).
There’s a chapter about dating. His outlook about relationships is very healthy. He says that both partners need to have other relationships, hobbies, and goals outside of the relationship and support each others’ interests in these things (Wendler, 137).
I recommend this book to anyone who wants suggestions about improving their social skills.
Wendler, Daniel. Improve Your Social Skills.