Social relationships are tough – or at least for me they’ve always been that way. I consider myself to be a quite reserved, logical person and have had a lot of trouble “connecting” with others.
Ugh – emotions.
However, social skills can be practiced like any other skill and therefore I’ve made for myself a checklist I keep in my mind when dealing with people. I consider these essentials rules that govern all human interactions.
Although I don’t always apply them as well as I should – it has definitely made me more aware of how I treat others.
Here’s 10 basic laws that’ll transform you from a social retard into a… lesser social retard
1) Empathic Listening
Listen first before responding
The first step in not being a judgmental asshole is to listen to others. Mostly we subscribe other people with our own autobiography without even trying to see through their eyes. We’re so quick to judge and react to others without taking into account their views.
The second step is understanding others by reflecting what they’re saying and how they’re feeling about that. Literally try to see the world through their eyes;
See the difference?
Most people do not listen with the intent to understand; they listen with the intent to reply. They’re either speaking or preparing to speak. They’re filtering everything through their own paradigms, reading their autobiography into other people’s lives. – Stephen R. Covey
Different lives create different beliefs. Yet we use our own paradigms as the measuring stick for others. If there’s only one thing you should take away for social skills it’s simply shutting up & listening attentively to others.
Have an alignment in your words, thoughts & actions.
This might be the single most important factor.
I think integrity contains two things;
- The words you speak are the truth (honesty & openness)
- You make the truth align with your words (making & keeping commitments)
I’ll go deeper into both of them;
Honesty & Openness
Having duplicitous interests, hidden agenda’s & power games – skip on that stuff. (know how to recognize that behavior in others – but don’t deal in it yourself). Honesty & openness is simply the best long-term strategy for building up trust.
How to be honest?
The only thing that comes out of your mouth is the truth – Simple
How to be open?
Put your thoughts “out there”. “Open up” & talk about how you feel, what you really think, what you find important and how you look at life.
This is difficult and you’ll need a strong sense of self-esteem to pull it off. It’s much easier to just go with the flow and stay quiet instead of standing for things you believe in.
Openness is the most important building block for trust.
(Additionally: I also have an active hatred for small-talk.)
Why talk about the latest game of thrones episode? What new item you bought or what Susy was wearing at a party?
Who the fuck cares.
- Express yourself and talk about stuff that actually matters. Talk about your/their passions, emotions, goals, health, problems, relationships, progress and whatnot. Skip on the superficial bullcrap that isn’t serving anyone. Actually get to know people
- Question other peoples’ behavior, never judge it. Ask why they behave the way they do and maybe you’ll learn something from it too.Also: If someone’s opinion clashes with your view – simply question them about it. Dig deep. Don’t tear it down – but inquire why they think that way.
- Don’t sugar-coat reality to spare feelings. It’s best practice to be straight-forward and honest even though this is more difficult. I believe being honest is more important than being kind.
>”Does my ass look fat in this pants?”
– Yes, yes it does.
(Probably why I’m single)
Making & Keeping commitments
Simply keeping and respecting promises to yourself and others is one the best ways to build up trust. It’s what makes us feel in control of our life.
Here are the steps required;
- When you make a promise; stick to it.
I don’t care what other “priorities” come up.
There are no valuable excuses – unless it’s really really really important (and then still should you be apologizing sincerely.)
When you say something – you’re responsible for the consequences. Your word is your honor. Your word is a mark of credibility, reliability as a man.
It should mean something to you.
Even if you don’t really care about the person, do it anyway for the sake of consistency.
Unless there’s a really good reason you can’t keep your word you simply do what you say you’re going to do. If you don’t live up to those promises you set – you should feel bad about yourself and not delegate the responsibility to others.
Make an effort to stay in touch
When we’re getting older most friendships from high-school/college slowly start to dissolve. Not because we’ve gotten into a fight or because we started to dislike that person but because we didn’t put in an active effort to preserve the bond.
The relationship slowly dies out.
Relationships are though and your ways are probably going to split up in your mid/late twenties. Take some time to select what traits you’re looking for in your closest friends and go the extra mile for them.
Send them an extra text, schedule/plan a cool activity, leave a comment on their facebook update.
Make it a priority to stay in touch weekly and meet up at least once each other week with people you genuinely care about. If you don’t prioritize your social life when you’re younger you’ll have a MUCH harder time meeting people as you get older.
4) Apologize Sincerely
When you’ve done something to harm a relationship – be the first one to make it up.
Simple as that.
I know it’s difficult to stay objective during emotional times but always be the one to take the first step to apologize for the conflict. Even if you believe it wasn’t your fault.
Shit happens; you sometimes say things you didn’t want to say, you forgot something that meant the world to somebody else or maybe you just don’t understand what that other person is getting all emotional about.
People are incredibly emotional at times and irrational – I know.
Hey, we’re all flawed – who cares about the cause?
If you care about the bond you had, don’t let it drag on and infect you relationship even further. Nothing hurts like open wounds.
You be the one to initiate and keep your ego out of it.
5) Remember & Use Names
Peoples’ name are their identity. If you remember their names they’ll realize they’re valuable to you. Imagine a person you haven’t seen for over a year who addresses you by your first name and is able to pick up on recent activities in your life. How cool would that be?
I (used to) keep a log of some of the people I meet in my cell-phone and whom I might run into later. I put their names in different categories based on the place I’ve met them (I might also add some extra traits that make them stand out).
When I’m waiting in line, long toilet breaks (veggies have lots of fiber) or am otherwise occupied in a menial task I check the lists and visualize the face that belongs to the name.
6) Focus On Them
Talk about things that interests others
What’s peoples’ favorite subject?
Talk about their interests and their life most of the time.
Heck, you don’t even have to talk – I rarely do. I mostly just listen and ask questions.
If you’re looking for important subjects in other peoples life, try FORM
- Occupation (work, passion, hobbies, … )
7) Watch The Little Things
Think about the little acts of kindness in someone’s life.
- Specific thanking for a task they’ve done for you.
- Appreciate people who thank you for a task you’ve done for them
It was nothing
- I’m glad I was able to help you with that
- Little gifts
- Leave notes
- Remember special occasions (birthdays, marriages, …)
It’s mostly the small things we remember the most as they are so exceptional.
I’ve recently slept on a dorm room of a friend and upon leaving I left a little note with a beer on his desk. Now, two months later he slept on my dorm room and left a humongous amount of tea on my counter-top.
It’s not an accident – he remembered.
Help them out
People want to advance in their life. They want more money, better relationships, better health or any other thing that might improve their life quality. Try to find an area you can help the person you’re talking to with.
An area you’re an expert in perhaps?
This doesn’t have to be a major time-consumption. Again, don’t make promises you can’t keep (step 2).
You don’t have to make huge efforts to help people out who are struggling with something. Try to help them with minimal effort from your part but with something that could mean the world to someone else.
Low investment – high perceived value.
Here’s some good examples;
- Introduce two connections
- Recommend a good habit
- Give them good advice or send them a helpful article
- Recommendations for products that might help them
- Constructive feedback & encouragement
- Ask a question about their life (show interest)
- Gifts (physical/digital products/newsletters/checklists)
9) Be Interesting
Intelligence is a very desirable trait in our information-society.
If you can give people an aha-moment/idea in whatever field you’re more likely to be ascribed higher in their book and be remembered.
Acquire new perspectives and experiences by;
- Reading a lot of books
- Doing a lot of new things
Don’t waste your time watching tv, playing video games, watching porn and so-on, that’s just another average person wasting his life away.
(Seriously: If you still watch tv, play video games, watch porn, eat fast food & too much sugar, don’t work out and don’t read you’re clearly not picking up anything from my blog)
Don’t be average.
Either write something worth reading or do something worth writing. – Benjamin Franklin
10) Be Positive
Control your emotions
Try to smile at people – Even a cheap grin is better than a sour face.
People love to be around optimistic people who improve their life quality. We gravitate towards positivity in difficult times.
Depressed or neurotic people act like a natural repellent.
Our emotions are controlled largely by the things we choose to focus on, which spreads out into our behavior, body language and our words.
Try to control your emotional state at all costs by choosing what to focus on. Even if you don’t feel like it. Demand of yourself to be happy, maybe not because circumstances allow you to but because you deserve to be happy.
Don’t ask yourself questions that will bring down your state but ask questions that will lift you up;
Why do I suck this much at x?
- What’s going great about x?
Your brain will come up with a valid answer to whatever question you ask it.
If you don’t want stupid answers, stop asking stupid questions.
When your phonograph is playing music you don’t like, you do not try to force it to do better. You do not use effort or will power. You do not bang the phonograph around. You do not try to change the music itself. You merely change the record being played and the music takes care of itself.
Use the same technique on the “music” that comes out of your own internal machine. Don’t pit your will directly against the “music.” As long as the same mental imagery (the cause) occupies your attention, no amount of effort will change the music (the result). Instead, try putting a new record on. Change your mental imagery, and the feelings will take care of themselves. – Maxwell Maltz (Psycho-Cybernetics)
Don’t fake it either – if it doesn’t feel natural just give them a friendly nod.
If you can’t be nice – just make sure you’re not a total asshole
(You can also just clear your mind – that solves a lot of problems too)
That’s all – You’ve officially become less socially retarded!
I recommend everyone to prioritize a great social life.
There will always be more work to do – however – friends & family will not stick around forever. If you don’t build up these skills/close circle of friends when you’re young you’ll have a lot more difficulty meeting new people as you grow older and eventually there won’t be many people left when you need emotional support.
Try to combine this into a social hobby you can do regularly. Something you do just for the sake of meeting new people. I don’t care what you do; dancing, cooking, erotic writing or extreme ironing,
It doesn’t matter as long as you do it – heck, you don’t even have to like it.
Simply know this; If you don’t want to be a social retard for the rest of your life, you’ll have to regularly practice them social skills.
This post will get you there.
Thanks for reading this article – If you’re having anymore thoughts or suggestions on this topic, feel free to leave a comment in the section below and I’ll respond asap.
Share if you like – it’s appreciated.
Take care & stay strong,
Your blog has inspired me!! Thank you! Please write more often!
I have been sharing your articles to everyone I know
I used to teach English for Berlitz. One of the main caveats was that information repeated 3 times is most likely to be remembered.
I use this technique for learning people’s names. E.g.:
“Nice to meet you, Bill.” (silently, Bill, Bill, Bill. Look him over while repeating this.). Use his name while talking with – or better yet LISTENING to him and affirming what he seems to be telling you.
I try to allow about 10 minutes after a meeting to make short notes about it and the people who were engage in or discussed in it.
Good results which encourage me to keep at it.
Thanks for the helpful and interesting information on your site.
Glad you liked it + great tip! :)
Hey simon really like this post Finishing a really cool book I think you might like it’s called “Compelling People” by John Neffinger + Mathew Kohut
Thanks for the recommendation!
I’m glad you’re enjoying the stuff I’m writing :) .
That’s a really broad question and I believe I’ve got most of the things covered in my “life guide”. Here’s some keys though;
> Build your career around strength and learn a skill that’ll make you indespensible. Especially in our hypercompetitive world. Read my book The passion myth
> Routinize essential actions (training, reading, networking, seeing friends, cooking, meditating, journaling, …).
> Avoid escaping-type acitivities; drugs, sugar, alcohol, tv, videogames, too much sex/fapping, … .
> Do some things you fear/excite you regularly (lie on the ground on a public space, yell in public, approach a hot girl/guy, sing karaoké, ..
> Prioritize your social life & stay away from people who don’t improve your life qualiy ( a social hobby won’t hurt)
That’s basically the jist of it that should keep you occupied for at least a good year or two/three.
Thank you brother !
I was wondering what you meant by “Extreme Ironing” i opened the link and… HAHAHAhahaha
anyway, i love your blog, your articles have taught me so much in a short amount of time.
I had one really question, you’re what? 20 years old or something.
I am 16, are there any major tips you could give me that i should know before i hit my twenties?
I love the humor more in this post, but I still think it has taught me a lot about being a better person socially. Thanks Simon.
I’m glad you liked the article man! :)
Great post Simon. And a fun to read, you’ve nailed the reason you are single :D
When it comes to family I recommend #11: Hugging.
Glad you liked it Michal
Yeah, women and their emotions… tss haha ;)
Great post as always Simon. Full of useful information which can be put in practice immediately.
However I think number 3 is not that important. In my opinion, if you are someone who continuously strives to evolve and grow one´s priorities and interest may change with time and you might end up finding your closest friends don´t share those interests or priorities.
Time is our most valuable resource and even with friendships we must use it wisely.
I think (as sad as it may sound) that it´s normal for relationships to die that’s why one must play an active role in order to have a great social life, and continuously meet interesting people. People with whom one can end up being good friends.
Glad you liked it mate,
That’s a good point you make. Sometimes when we grow, we grow apart and then we should – indeed – decide whether the bond you had is worth keeping.
I select my friends mostly on these traits; self-directed, humor, morality (their character), insights. If you find someone that meets your though – you shouldn’t “allow” to let that bond die.
Remove the bad ones, engage with the great ones.
“Continuously meet interesting people” – I’m immensely biased (which is bad) about the amount of interesting people in the world. Therefore I don’t really go looking for them.
I still have a lot of prejudices on that area and as long as I “got what I want” in the social area I’m not considering expanding.
Might need more references of intersting people in my life héhé :)