Social skills are crucial for all human interactions. Whether you are a scientist trying to raise money for your research or just a regular guy who wants to meet interesting women, social skills are the key to getting what you want.
What do I mean by social skills?
This is my personal definition:
“Great social skills are the ability to make people feel good in your presence.”
So how do you do that? Here are my 12 best tips.
If someone is fishing for compliments – take the bait.
When someone is fishing for compliments they don’t want to hear the truth. They just want validation. It’s not about the words. It’s about making a friend feel good.
This is how you do it:
Friend: “I got 400 Likes on my new profile picture.”
You: “That’s sick! I’ve seen it, you look amazing in it.”
Friend: “I am so tired from all that working out.”
You: “But it pays off. I wish I had abs like you have.”
I know, you feel the urge to respond “I am sick and tired of you talking about your damn workout. Now shut the f*ck up!” But remember, it’s not about being right. It is only about lifting a friend up. The favor will surely be returned one day. It’s a virtuous circle.
You are late to a dinner with an old friend. “I am so sorry! It’s so rare that we meet and I waste our precious time by letting you wait for me.”
Can you see how this technique works? By apologizing more than is usually necessary, you instantly take away any hard feelings the other person might have. It’s not easy to do if you have a big ego however.
I am sure you have people in your life that you are grateful for. Like close friends, family or coworkers. Tell these people from time to time how much you appreciate them. It’s such a little thing but makes the biggest impact imaginable!
You can’t imagine how good it feels to hear “Hey Julian, you are an amazing person” from a valued friend.
Some people can only say it when they are drunk. I think that’s fine as well, as long as you say it.
Everyone thinks they know how to listen. Unfortunately, every day I meet people who seem to think about singing birds during a conversation. I am not saying you belong to them, but I’ll give you a little update nonetheless – just in case.
This is how you become a person people refer to as “a great listener”:
- Stop thinking about what to say next while someone is talking to you.
- Look at the person talking to you.
You wouldn’t believe how many people sit there and look around or do something on their smartphones during a conversation.
- Stop making these little annoying sounds many people make to show they listen. “mhm” “aha” “ok”, even “yes”.
It feels like you are faking interest.
- If you didn’t get something, interrupt politely, repeat what you heard, and ask if you understood correctly.
“Did I understand you correctly when you said…?”
- Ask questions that relate to what is being said.
This truly shows interest and makes the conversation much more interesting for everyone involved. The talker is stoked because you just showed them you are interested and you also profit because now the conversation goes into a direction that you find interesting. After all you wanted to know more about it.
Talking about the other person
What is your favorite conversational topic? I bet it’s yourself.
For some reason humans just love talking about themselves. Therefore, reserve some time to talk about the other person in each conversation you have.
After a while many people will start feeling guilty because they are only talking about themselves. This is when you should give them permission to continue.
E.g: “This is fascinating. Please tell me more about it.”
Why is talking about the other person so important?
- It builds intimacy.
- It helps you get to know each other better.
- It makes you more likeable.
- In return, the other person will be much nicer and cooperative towards you.
Tip: When you are starting to talk about the other person, avoid questions that are hard to answer like “What’s going on in your life?” or “How are you doing?”. It feels much more effortless to the other person if you ask about specific things.
E.g: “I am curious. What happened with this girl you met on Sunday?”
Looking at everyone while talking
Situation: You are talking to a group of people. If you don’t want to alienate anyone from that group make sure you distribute your eye contact evenly. When someone seems to lose interest focus on that person or even ask them a question. It will bring the attention back instantly.
Make everyone feel like they are a part of the conversation and their attention will be yours.
Being open about your feelings
Acquaintance: “How are you?”
You: “To be honest, I feel like shit.”…
Being straightforward is rare and therefore interesting. Too many people hide their feelings behind routine sentences like “I’m fine, thanks. How are you?”
People who say what they feel are refreshingly different. So surmount yourself to saying what you feel and experience an instant boost in interest from others.
Make the other person an expert
This grabs people directly by their ego and is therefore extremely effective.
“Do you know why I always get this error message?”
“You know a lot about social marketing do you?”
“How can I shoot more accurately?”
“Is it true that mercury evaporates at room temperature?”
“Could you explain to me how layers work in Photoshop?”
These questions are not only positioning the other person as an expert, they are stroking the other person’s ego so much that you can learn a lot of stuff from them.
The other day a friend of mine started a conversation like this:
He: “Julian you are quite a Photoshop expert, aren’t you?”
I (happy on the inside): “Well, I know a thing or two.”
He: “I want to create this course map for a disc golf tournament. May I call you this week if I have a question?”
I: “Sure! I could also come over if you want and show you everything.”
It’s as easy as that, it’s a win-win, and it works 100% of the time.
Noticing something positive about the other person
Paying attention to little things is extremely important – especially with women. If you notice a positive change point it out. Don’t remain silent!
“Have you dyed your hair? The new color suits you really well.”
“Do you work out? You look really strong.”
“Wow, you are glowing with joy.” – after a positive event like a wedding or graduation.
Word of caution: Stay away from lines like “Oh my god you have lost so much weight!” Yes, you had good intentions but you can’t win that battle. Just stay away from everything that involves weight, and the loss thereof.
It sounds stupid, but accepting compliments is challenging for many people. Especially for people with low self esteem. I know the feeling well, it was also hard for me for most of my life.
This is how people who can’t accept compliments react:
“Nah, you are just bullshitting with me.”
“Look at you, you look ten times better than me.”
“Are you kidding? I think that’s the worst thing about me.”
“It wasn’t me. It was all thanks to you.”
A better way to react:
“Thanks! Hearing that feels really good.”
“Thank you so much! So few people notice.”
“Thanks, I worked so hard for it and finally someone notices.”
“Thank you! What an amazing experience.”
Notice the signals others give you
Believe it or not, people give you cues while you are talking. I’ll translate some for you:
- “Mh”, “aha”, “ok” + seeming absent minded = You are boring as fuck.
- Not asking any questions = Next topic please!
- Looking at the clock several times = Please Scotty beam me out of here!
- Looking around the room = All of the above.
- Staring into your eyes and listening closely = You are fascinating! Tell me more!
- Looking at your lips and not listening to your words (at a date) = Please undress me!
There are countless signals. The list above covers just a few. The point I am trying to make is; Pay attention to the signals people give you!
Behavior you should avoid if you want to have good social skills
We have talked a lot about what you should do. But equally or maybe even more important is what you should not do.
Here is a quick list:
Chitchatting, gossiping, badmouthing
Those are bad habits which are hard to unlearn. So don’t start them in the first place.
Richard Branson’s mother had him stand in front of the mirror every time he talked negatively about someone.
No one likes to hang out with someone who drags them down.
Talking endlessly about yourself
While being able to talk about yourself is important, it’s equally important not to overdo it.
My rule of thumb: If you think you might be talking about yourself for too long, you almost definitely do.
Twisting everything in a way so you can talk about something that’s only interesting to you.
E.g: “The same thing happened to my cousin last year. He had this huge…”
It’s fine if you do it because you didn’t get something. Otherwise it’s rude.
Talking about people others don’t know
Everyone knows someone who always seems to talk about their uncle Tony who has trouble with his third teeth. The only problem is, no one but your family knows Tony! Please do everyone a favor and discuss matters that are only interesting to you in the comfort of your home.
Talking about topics that alienate others
E.g: When in a mixed group the guys are only talking about sports.
Using others as your emotional garbage bag
It’s perfectly fine to share your problems with a trusted friend. However, when your friend expects the same of you, you should be ready to listen as patiently as he or she did. Otherwise you are using your friend. Not cool!