Socializing is tough, and many of us struggle to make friends, start conversations, or find the right words to say to someone.
But there are some simple ways to have better interactions and deeper conversations.
Nature vs. Nurture
There are a lot of assumptions and stigmas attached to people who are socially successful and those who are not. Charismatic people are assumed to be born that way, while social outcasts are assumed to just have something missing.
Let’s get to the truth of these assumptions.
First of all, everybody, regardless of their life history or genetics, can improve their social skills and social interactions. That said, some people will exhibit greater talents in certain areas than others.
One way to think of it is that some people can exercise every week for years on end, but they will never end up with the physique of a fitness model. But even if you never look like a cover model, you can always look better.
And that’s what you should focus on here, improvement, not perfection.
You’re never going to be accepted or loved by everyone you meet. You’re never going to be funny and charming all the time. You’re going to say bonehead things and feel like an idiot sometimes, and the sooner you come to terms with that fact, the sooner you’ll be able to improve the social skills that matter.
Questions VS Statements
Dale Carnegie famously said that everybody’s favorite conversational topic is themselves. This is true. But this doesn’t mean you should constantly pepper them with questions.
Bombarding people with questions can quickly make them feel like they’re being interviewed or like they’re being judged or mined for information.
It quickly makes the interaction one-sided and uneven.
You can still be engaging without asking a ton of questions. Mix statements into the conversation that reflect questions you would typically ask.
“So did you like the restaurant?”
“You never have liked seafood much.”
“Yeah, what did you get for dessert?”
“Oh, I love it when restaurants do that.”
“Did you guys have a good time”
“I can see you really getting a kick out of that, it fits your personality.”
“I assume you went home afterward. Was it a good night?”
Facts VS Emotions
A lot of people (particularly men) speak in terms of facts rather than emotions. They talk about sports scores or car parts or traffic jams or whatever.
This is boring. People sometimes find facts interesting, but they don’t relate to facts. They don’t emotionally invest in facts. What people invest in and care about are emotions.
Now this doesn’t mean you get all emotional and declare your love and hate about everything, that’s annoying. But it means being forthcoming with your opinions and actually giving a shit about them.
Another way to look at it is focusing on the Why? of the conversation rather than the What?
It’s more interesting to talk about why you didn’t like Paris rather than about what happened. It’s more interesting to talk about why you love basketball than what you do when you attend games. It is more interesting to talk about why your new job excites you rather than just the what.
Most people don’t know that stories – even boring, everyday stories – have a definitive structure.
And people who are poor storytellers or poor at conveying their experience to others usually fail to follow this structure well.
- The Setup
- The Conflict
- The Resolution
The setup sets the stage for whatever actions occur during the story – “It was a dark and stormy night.”
The conflict demonstrates uncertainty or unpredictability – “My sister was desperately ill and had stopped breathing.”
The resolution resolves the uncertainty and unleashes the tension caused by the story’s first two parts: “It turned out she was faking, so I hit her with a pillow for scaring me so much.”
Each part of the story can be long or short, but generally, the following are true:
The longer the setup, the more likely people’s attention will wander because they don’t know why they’re listening to you.
So if you start every story by explaining the exact details of everything – your clothes, the time of the day, the color of a person’s hair… people will start to wonder what the point is.
Generally, limit the setup to the minimum amount of necessary information.
The conflict can be as long or as short as necessary. What’s important is that it generates uncertainty or some dilemma.
The resolution should be as short and to the point as possible. People who cannot resolve the uncertainty of their stories effectively generate a rambly, “wait, so why are you telling me this?” reaction in their listeners.
Dealing with Loneliness
Loneliness makes you trust too quickly. You want to open up & talk to someone. But this can have you saying too much to the wrong people. Quiet. Let the trust build at its nature pace—no need to rush.
‘Is being alone & lonely the same thing?’
- Alone is a physical state.
- Lonely is a mental state.
There are a lot of people who are alone but do not feel lonely. And there are a lot of people who are surrounded by people but feel lonely.
People feel lonely for two main reasons:
They think no one cares about them.
This group tends to chill by themselves a lot. They create mental scenes about why more people don’t hit them up during their time alone. They crave more social interactions.
They have the wrong friends.
This group is rarely found by themselves. Being by themselves scares them. So, what do they do? They constantly surround themselves with people to avoid their inner voices.
Whichever category you fall in, understand one thing. Your bond with your internal world is weak.
And when that happens, you look to the external world for answers. Instead of fixing the relationship with yourself, you think other people will solve it, which is why you trust so quickly. You rush things hoping that the magical person will come by & make your loneliness melt.
I’m here to tell you that won’t work. If you aren’t happy alone, you will never be happy around others. So what can you do?
You recondition your perception towards loneliness. Understand that everyone felt lonely at one stage or another. It is a rite of passage towards confidence.
Use your time to get to know yourself on a deeper level: -journal -follow your curiosities -pick up a skill, Whatever. The main goal is to be comfortable by yourself.
Spreading Good Vibes
Most people are not listening to the words that you are saying. They are sensing how you are making them feel. The average concentration level is shit nowadays. With the rise of technology & social media, we live in a very noisy world.
Think about it. Can you even keep track of your own thoughts?
‘Nah, not all the time.’
Then how can someone else keep track of your thoughts?
To increase concentration, you need to meditate or be mindful. However, a minority of the population does this. A minority of the people are actually listening to your words.
And this is a good thing for many people because a lot of social anxiety is stemmed from which words to use in a conversation.
So focus more on the energy. It will make or break you in the social world.
If you are good with words but monotone, no one will give a fuck about you like that. Because monotone is low energy. And energy is contagious. NO ONE wants to feel low energy willingly.
If you are a mopey bum, you will have other people feeling that way. But if you are energetic and fun, you will have other people feeling that way. Get it?
Energy > Words
This isn’t to say that you should speak gibberish. Obviously speak intelligently. But no need to overthink every last word. If you understand this concept, a lot of your social anxiety will melt.
It is easier to give off good energy vs. always picking the perfect words.
So from here on out, focus on the vibrations you are sending to your peers. Your vibes are what will help you accelerate in the social world. People genuinely are drawn to the magnetic personality who radiates positivity, charm & energy.
You will feel better in the process.