Each social skills group that we run has its own unique energy and vibe. The feel environment is driven by the people in the room. Too quiet an environment can feel too stifling or leave you feeling like a spotlight is on you should you choose to talk. Groups with nothing but high energy can feel too chaotic for too long. The ideal balance is a healthy level of energy and noise without being overwhelming. It’s where you don’t have to shout to be heard but that sharing doesn’t feel like an echo chamber.
When in a group of people, regardless of your natural energy level, most people read the room and adjust. The more quiet people will feel comfortable enough to contribute while the high energy types keep their volume and body movements toned down as to not overwhelm.
When this balance is out of whack, the group as a whole might feel uncomfortable. Noticing the vibe and then reacting to it is an important social skill. As coaches, we will try to bring the energy up by introducing a hot conversation topic or an active game. If energy is feeling chaotic, we’ll calm it down with a board game or mindfulness exercise.
Practice reading the energy level with your child or teen. Create a rating system that makes sense for you. Number scales or colors make great rating tools. For example, if at a restaurant, the energy feels quiet, it might be a 3 on a 1-10 scale or maybe it feels “blue”. Discuss ways to adjust energy to blend with the room.
Reading it accurately takes practice and adjusting to it likely even more practice but learning to jive with the vibe will help everyone feel comfortable with being together as a group.