Social skills, and more importantly, getting people to like you, is important to many aspects of life:
- making friends
- getting professors to like you
- inspiring coworkers and employees
- getting people to believe in your ideas
That’s part of the reason why I invested in hiring a communications coach. And I learned a tactic that I noticed can be used occasionally in real life, and I’ve seen the results of it.
So, you may be skeptical about whether this trick works or not, but hear me out.
It’s not some flash bang trick. It’s human nature, maybe common sense. But common sense is not so common, and even I was unaware of it until my coach pointed it out.
Self-Awareness Is Actually Rare. Let Me Explain…
So, I went to a hip hop dance class, and afterwards, there was a table of cupcakes since it was the instructors birthday. I partook in a mini red velvet cupcake, and shortly afterwards, realized no one else took a cup cake. Was I being greedy? Were they being too polite? Were they trying to lose weight? I felt guilty because many other classmates walked right past the cupcakes.
I was also nervous because I was hoping to talk to someone after class and socialize. And I was scared and shy since no one was coming up to me.
One finally went up to me and asked, “Which cupcake did you take?”
Out of guilt and without thinking, I said, “The only one that was taken. That empty slot there.”
She seemed to react a bit negatively to that by responding that she didn’t notice that slot was empty and then walking away. I followed it up quickly with something positive.
“The red velvet is actual red velvet! It was tasty.”
But perhaps, the damage was already done. I may have made her feel dumb. I may have come off condescending without trying to. She had left!
Now, how does this relate to anything I’ve said earlier? Well, my coach told me that people often fail by punishing others who respond in the way they want instead of rewarding them. It sounds obvious, but I realized that in real life, people often say what they think without thinking if it’s the right thing to say. I’m surprised how many people lack the self-awareness to respond thoughtfully since I see people say things they shouldn’t so often. I bump into plenty of people who rub people the wrong way without realizing it.
And although I filter and overthink before I speak often, I found I did the same!
I blurted out how I felt, but instead, I should’ve responded more positively to reward her for engaging in me. That would’ve continued the conversation! And I should’ve tried to continue the conversation a bit more while she was walking away. But you live and learn!
I’ve also noticed some more grating examples of how other people fail to understand this methodology. Every so often, I run into a person who is usually kind of nerdy, outspoken, and somewhat antisocial. And they love to say what’s on their mind, which is often stuff that turns people off or rubs people the wrong way. They’re often unaware of how they come across.
Recently, I was at a beach volleyball event, and there was one of these types there. He mentioned he grew up in an area near me, which is rare, and so, I chimed in saying I’m from the same area. Probably out of shyness or his personality, his reaction wasn’t very warm. I can’t remember exactly what he said, but it was kind of indifferent, shy, and a little stand-offish. I could sense he wasn’t fully trying to push me away; it was just how he comes across. It took some time, but I got him to warm up to me more as we continued the conversation for a bit. But sometimes, it’s a chore to push through when they’re being unintentionally grating. And I think that lack of awareness can cost you in social situations.
I want to leave you with one bonus tip, from one of the most skilled social skills gurus in history, such as Dale Carnegie, and his best-selling book, How To Win Friends And Influence People, with over 15,000,000+ copies sold.
Genuinely Be Interested In People
Dale asserts that you can spend the two years trying to get people interested in you. But you can get greater results in just two months by being genuinely interested in other people and their hobbies.
Open up your mind to take interest in other people’s activities.
I used to be fairly close-minded and bored easily when someone talks about a hobby I have no interest in, such as ski-ing.
You can make more friends and business connections by just having an open mind to learn more. It turns out if I tried, I discovered that I can find interest in skills by just giving them a chance.
I now respect the intricacies of salsa dancing, physics, galactic exploration, and many other pursuits.
But you may be skeptical. What if you really are bored or hate a topic? Then move onto another topic! Dale’s flaw is never addressing this point. And I think forcing interest can only go so far.
When you become a Yes-Man and it’s clear you’re just pretending to be interested, it falls apart. Dale says it has to be genuine. And even then, you don’t go out expecting some type of result from it. People can sense ulterior motives. So, I’ve found that being more open-minded has opened me up to expressing genuine interest for a lot more things that I would have. That helps me build rapport with more people than the past. But it only goes so far.
People are most interested in themselves. That is their primary concern. Not you.
If you really are bored about their topic. Don’t just keep trying to force interest. Switch topics. Keep looking until you find something they care about that you can really get behind. Find what interests you AND interests them.
At least, that’s how I see it. That’s the one thing I’d add on to Dale’s advice.
In the book Secret Life Of Pronouns, they did a study that found that the only common thing among successful people with big titles in their writing was that they used more pronouns associated with other people, like “he” or “she” or “they”, while average employee used “I.”
The person who is not interested in others has a greater amount of difficulty in life. If you can help others get what they want, you will get what you want.