If you want to improve your social skills, but don’t know where to start, here is a principle that will improve your social skills massively with very little effort. Just this one tweak alone will make your social skills improve exponentially.
Do you sometimes feel that you don’t get why social interactions go wrong for you?
Do you find yourself repeatedly getting people annoyed at you or frustrated with you?
Well, that is because you may not be aware of what, in my opinion, is THE most important principle of having excellent social skills.
In order to illustrate to you this one important principle, imagine this:
You are helping your girlfriend/boyfriend (or husband/wife) throw a big dinner party at your house.
There are a lot of things to do and he/she asks you to run and get a few things at the store. Here’s the shopping list:
You get to the store and you realize you are suddenly overwhelmed by the following questions as start going down the aisles with your shopping cart:
And, you didn’t even know which store to go to, but you just ended up going to the nearest one.
So, after you realized you don’t know the answers to these questions, you get him/her on your mobile and start pounding him/her with these very specific questions.
After just a few questions, he/she cuts you off in a fit of anger saying:
“I’m seriously busy at the moment preparing the food. Can’t you just figure it out yourself?”
Then, you hear a “click” on the other end.
Now, you’re really dumbfounded.
How come you pissed him/her off so much? You were just trying to help, right?!
Is it because he/she is just uniquely temperamental? Maybe so, but then why are you with him/her?
But, I doubt that’s the reason.
Let’s talk about why your partner got so frustrated.
Well, you pissed him/her off because you ended up burdening him/her by not taking initiative.
Taking initiative in this situation, at a minimum, means asking the right questions and taking a load off of him/her.
But what do you mean?!
Didn’t you ask a bunch of questions? Why aren’t they the right ones?
Yes, they are technically-speaking, the right questions.
But, they are socially-speaking, the wrong ones.
Why do you think I said that?
In case you think this is a completely fictional scenario that would never happen, I have personally witnessed various flavors of this scenario take place many times in my life between many couples and people.
And I’ve seen many relationships breakdown because of this problem.
The thing about social skills, and the difficultly in improving them, is that it is impossible to anticipate and account for every type of situation that can play out:
People are all different.
The dynamics between people are all different.
The situations you may find yourself in are all different (and very numerous, too many to even count).
Therefore, there is no “one size fits all” answer to handling any and all social situations properly and well.
This means we need first principles that we can apply to social situations to help us act appropriately in all situations.
So, let’s get back to the scenario I just mentioned:
The reason why you aggravated your partner in this scenario (and the reason why many social situations go very wrong for people) is because you failed to consider the CONTEXT of the situation:
So, what one question could you have asked instead of the hundreds of questions you asked him/her?
What kind of party is it going to be?
If you could have just asked this one question, you could have avoided all the other ones.
And by limiting yourself to just this one crucial question, you would not have pissed him/her off.
Once you know the answer to this one crucial question, you could have INFERRED the answer to all the other ones.
For example, if you knew it was a formal gathering to celebrate someone’s graduation, you would get champagne.
And, you might buy some nicer napkins and plates, perhaps ones that read “Congratulations!”
From now on, I just want you to remember and be aware of this:
Having good social skills is largely about being aware of and becoming aware of and understanding CONTEXT and then acting in accordance with it.
For any given social situation you may encounter, as long as you make yourself aware of the context, then you can infer how you should or should not act.
If you fail to understand the context, then you will always fail in social situations because you will not know how to behave or what appropriate behavior is.
The first (and most important step) to improving social skills is to be AWARE OF CONTEXT.
Always make sure you assess the context before you act (and then act accordingly to that context).
If you do this, I guarantee your social skills will improve tremendously!
So, let’s see if this all sunk in and do an exercise.
You are out and about at the shopping mall.
As you are about to enter a store, you see Joe Rogan, the comedian, podcaster, and MMA commentator sitting there on a bench holding and feeding his young, crying daughter.
You decide you want to take a picture of him for your Instagram profile.
You start salivating at the though of the many many likes can you get for posting that picture.
What do you do?
You go up to him and get that picture for that social proof/social status, right?
Before you answer this, check out this video clip. This is not a made up story!
The right answer is:
You consider the context!
If he’s still feeding his child, you don’t go and bother him for a photo. That would be socially unacceptable.
If he’s stopped and looks free, then it might be a good opportunity to ask him politely.
But only after he doesn’t look busy.
I hope you understand this, always assess the context before you ask!