How to Make Friends When Travelling Alone

As you may know, I’m a big fan of travelling and I tend to travel a lot. Over the last 6 months for instance I’ve been to Hungary, Spain, Italy, The UK, Thailand, Hong Kong, Singapore, Peru and Brazil. And my travel itinerary looks as busy for the next 6 months.

Sometimes I travel with friends, but many times I travel alone. However, I never feel alone when travelling, because I constantly meet new people, have social interactions and make friends during my trips.

If you can do this, you can travel as much as you want, whenever you want, without needing to worry about bringing along some sort of travelling companion so you won’t get lonely. You’ll find people to spend time with and have fun with while travelling. I’d like to show you 3 very effective strategies to do this, which I use personally.

1. Make Travel Plans That Facilitate Contact with New People

When setting up a trip, you’ll make plans regarding transport, accommodation and travelling style. Each of these areas offers opportunities to meet new people and socialize. So when you make your travelling arrangements, try to find and choose options that facilitate social interaction. For example:

  • Consider staying in a hostel rather than a hotel. It’s cheaper, and since you’ll share a room with 3, 4, 5 or more roommates (depending on the room size) you’re bound to have lots of social interactions. If you want more privacy, in many hostels you can rent a single room as well, and since the whole hostel atmosphere is still very social, you can still mingle a lot.
  • Another option to a hotel is finding and renting a room in somebody’s home, using websites such as AirBnb or Roomorama. It will give you the chance to meet a local, possibly their friends or family, spend time with them, and also get inside tips regarding the city you’re visiting. I use this accommodation option a lot, and I’ve stayed with some great hosts so far.
  • Take guided tours. Even if you leave on a trip by yourself, you can still do it with other people, by taking a guided tour instead of exploring on your own. Thus, you’ll be part of a group of tourists, and you’ll have a guide. So you’ll get competent info about the places you’re seeing, and you’ll get to socialize with the other people in your tour group. Two birds with one stone.
  • Take the train instead of renting a car. When moving around, like from one city to another, renting a car and driving alone offers zero social opportunities. From a social perspective, a much better choice is to use public transportation, which gives you opportunities to talk with new people and make friends. Trains are my personal favorite. I’ve met tons of people and had fascinating conversations while taking a train to somewhere.

 2. Use Social Hobbies for Social Interaction

One of my top pieces of advice when it comes to making friends is to have hobbies and activities that are social in nature and permit you to interact with new people. Such hobbies and activities will become particularly useful for making friends when travelling alone to new locations.

Friends travelling How to Make Friends When Travelling AloneFor example, one of my hobbies is salsa dancing. And I’ve met hundreds of people over the years by going to salsa classes, parties, and events, which are very social in nature. Whenever I go to a new city, I look on the Internet for salsa clubs and salsa parties in that city. In the type of big urban environments I like to travel to, there are almost always at least a couple of them.

Then when I’m in that city, I’ll go to some of these salsa parties. Where, you’ve guessed it, I’ll dance salsa, plus I’ll use this opportunity to meet new people and socialize (women in particular, since, you know, salsa is a male-female partner dance). I’ve made friends all over the world through dancing, and I’ve acquired many memorable experiences.

A friend of mine is a member of Toastmasters, which is an international public speaking association, with clubs all over the world. Whenever he goes to a new city, he finds one or more Toastmasters clubs there, and goes to their meetings. That’s how he meets like-minded people and makes travelling social.

Whether it’s dancing, or public speaking, or some other activity, the main thing is to have social hobbies. And when you travel, capitalize on these hobbies to meet new people and make friends. They will revolutionize your social life anywhere you are.

3. Get Social. I Mean Really Social

By making the right travelling arrangements and by using social hobbies, you can put yourself in environments that are conducive to social interactions. But that doesn’t mean social interactions will happen on their own. Not for the most part at least.

You can take a guided tour and not talk to anybody in your tour group. You can ride a train and not start any conversations. You can go to a meeting in a new place and just stand by yourself in a corner during the entire meeting. So being in social environments is not enough. You also have the task of being social.

By being social I understand having social initiative and doing a range of things that help you relate and connect with other people: starting conversations, asking questions, being chatty and opening up, keeping conversations going, having a positive vibe and being friendly.

When travelling alone, it’s even more important to do these things. I am generally pretty social, but I’m extra-social when travelling by myself to a place where I don’t know anybody. Because I don’t have any pre-built relationships. All I can rely on for social interaction is new relationships, and these develop by being outgoing.

Many of the persons I coach are somewhat timid about doing all of this stuff. It often seems intrusive, weird. And although I understand this perception well, I also know that realistically, there is no reason for them to be timid. People are generally eager to meet other people. Plus, if you’re new to a place and others know it, they tend to be even more open towards you.

Nevertheless, if you’re shy or socially anxious, you probably lack the well-internalized social mindset required for you to be outgoing with new people, without feeling nervous or inhibited. And your conversation skills may be lacking as well, mostly due to inexperience.

So you will need to work on changing your mindset, as well as improving your conversation skills. This is, of course, easier said than done. It’s not my intention in this article to teach you how to perform these two fairly elaborate tasks. However, I recommend you to join my free social confidence newsletter, where I will teach you just that.

As soon as you join the newsletter you’ll receive from me a free instructional presentation in which I’ll show you my step-by-step process for developing a deep-rooted mindset that makes you socially confident, and then as a member of my newsletter you’ll receive weekly, tried and tested advice for improving your conversation style and making friends.

Go here to join the free newsletter right now, and I’ll talk to you some more there.

Photo taken in Rio de Janeiro during World Cup. 

How to Change the World

I find that almost every person I meet has this deep, strong drive to change the world. It’s in our nature to want to improve our surroundings and it’s in our nurture to want to leave our mark on things in a meaningful way.

This being said, changing the world is not easy. Many people find themselves spending their days in meaningless tasks which give them little opportunity to have a real impact on the world. This is one of the main reasons why they feel frustrated.

If you want to really change the world, you will need to leave aside the common wisdom most people follow and to go on a smarter, saner path. My work as a coach led me to believe there are four fundamental ingredients to change the world big time. In this article, I’m going to share them with you.

1. Lead by Example

One of my favorite quotes from Gandhi is this: “You must become the change you want to see in the world”. How true! It is essential to practice what you preach if you want to have a real impact. If you preach healthy living, then live healthy. If you preach being sociable and outgoing, then be sociable and outgoing.

Not practicing what you preach is the best way to lose credibility and to diminish the impact of your message. People tend to think that if you don’t follow your own advice, either it’s too hard to follow or you don’t really believe in it. So why should they?

If on the other hand, you practice what you preach, not only that you gain credibility, but you show people how to apply what you preach and what benefits it provides. This is crucial because there is nothing as persuasive as a real model of following a certain way and benefiting from it.

2. Have a Compelling Message

impact How to Change the WorldI think a lot of people don’t have an impact on things because they have nothing clear they stand for. They know they want to change things, but they don’t know why, how and most importantly, in what direction.

If you want to change the world, you need to get very clear on this: What do you stand for?

Of course, this is not a question you best answer just like that. Take some time to read, experience, experiment, reflect on different things and find that key thing you believe will make the world a better place.

When you have one thing you find meaningful and worth standing for, you can develop a powerful and compelling message around it. Then, focus on getting that message out there as much as possible, in the best ways possible. This leads me to my next point…

3. Make Yourself Visible

If you want to feel you impact things on a large scale, talking with your friends and convincing one of them to quit smoking or something like that won’t cut it. Large scale impact implies large scale communication and getting your message out there to thousands of people, sometimes even more.

In order to do this, it is required to make yourself and your message highly visible. You want to get out there, to get your message out there, to interact with many people and with the right people. There are many ways to do so, of which I often recommend four:

  1. Blogging and using social media sites;
  2. Publishing one or more books;
  3. Public speaking;
  4. Business networking;
  5. Appearing in the traditional media.

You will find that each one of these methods has its pros and cons. Depending on your specific goals and strengths, some of them will work better for you than others.

 4. Paint Suggestive Pictures

One question I’m fascinated about is this: How do you generate emotions using words? There are a lot of answers to this question, but there is one answer which, in my view, takes the cake: painting suggestive pictures.

Most people react emotionally with ease to something they can visualize. This is why whatever your message, you will have a powerful impact with it if you communicate it in a very visual way. Use lots of visual words, visual metaphors and analogies, which create a clear picture in people’s minds of what you’re talking about.

I often start sentences with: “Imagine that…” Then I’ll paint a specific picture that I know will get the response I’m looking for. It’s a great way to hook people and get them wanting to walk on the road you’re showing them.

Changing the world can be quite a challenge. For some reason, most people are resistant even to ideas and trends that will improve their lives. At the same time, in my experience, changing the world is a highly fulfilling endeavor and I think it’s definitely worth pursuing it.

Just keep in mind that changing yourself always comes before changing the world.

Image courtesy of MykReeve

Aim High In Your Career

It used to be that people saw their job strictly as a way to earn a living. If their work provided a good income, they would consider that it fulfilled its role entirely.

progress Aim High In Your CareerMany people still see their job that way today. However, I believe that it’s worth aiming higher. I believe that it’s good to ask for more from your work that to simply earn you a good paycheck. And by doing so, you’ll transform your career into something much greater than a steady income stream, and your whole life will be much more rewarding as a result.

I see career as one important piece in a much bigger puzzle. And that puzzle is what I typically refer to as lifestyle. These days, I always think of career development as part of lifestyle design. I try to look at the bigger picture. When you think about it that way, your perception shifts and aiming higher becomes natural.

Money, Passion and Time

From my perspective, aiming higher in your career means that you seek not one, but three things from it:

1. Money. Your job provides you with a decent income that ensures you a financially comfortable lifestyle. You don’t have to become filthy rich, but if you can struggle to make ends meet, you have a problem. Income does matter, even if it’s only up to a certain point.

2. Passion. You enjoy your work. You feel passionate about the activities you do in your day to day job and about the impact you have through your work. You feel excited to go to work every day and see your job as a source of emotional satisfaction.

3. Time. I don’t mean that your job gives you time; I mean that your job doesn’t take too much of your time. You work a reasonable schedule, which leaves you with time and energy to do other things as well. This applies even if you enjoy your work. There are surely other things you enjoy as well and you want to do. These require time too.

Now think of how a job that fulfills all 3 of these conditions looks: you go to work and you enjoy what you do, but you don’t spend too much time with it, and you return home with a decent paycheck.

Then you use the remaining time and the available income to do other things that you’re passionate about, whether it’s travelling, reading, cooking, partying, going to the gym, spending time with your family, horseback riding, spelunking, or whatever.

Overall, it’s a lifestyle where you have all the important elements within reasonable dosages: fun, freedom and fulfillment. Now, is this too much to ask?

Some people will tell you that it is. That work is intrinsically hard and time consuming, and that’s just a cost you need to pay in order to make a living. I disagree. I think that’s a huge limiting belief to have and I deem it’s only reasonable to ask for a career that combines money, passion and time.

Why do I think it’s reasonable? Because I have such a career and most of the people I’ve surrounded myself with do as well. In fact over the years I’ve met and talked to literally hundreds of people with such career and the resulting lifestyles. And they’re just regular people, who achieved this on their own, under no special conditions.

Yes, within the general population, they are a minority. But they’re such a well represented minority that I believe it’s worth aiming to be part of it.

Maybe not everybody will do work they enjoy, provides them a good income and doesn’t demand too much time. But you’re not everybody. The possibility is there for you, waiting to be turned into reality. So believe in yourself and aim for this kind of a career and lifestyle.

What does it take to actually achieve it?

The Power of Persistence

Well, the trouble is that many people start off aiming high in their career, but their career goals and expectations quickly plummet in the face of failure. They seek to achieve an amazing career, but their initial attempts go wrong, so they quickly get discouraged and give up.

Initial failure though is actually to be expected. I often say that if having a great career would be easy, everybody would have one. But it’s not.

You need to try various paths and methods, to experiment, to learn from failure and to keep going. You need to find your own formula for career success and it is only with perseverance that you can do so. It takes time, it takes flexibility, and it takes some patience.

Unfortunately, most people have a low tolerance to frustration, which means they’re simply not able to handle emotionally a lengthy journey towards career success, paved with traps and perils. The first time they fall in a puddle on the road, they give up and go back.

The key differentiator that can make your story a success is persistence in the face of hardship. It’s essential for you to learn to stay confident in the face of failure and to keep pushing forward. These are rare, but nevertheless, learnable qualities. And it is these qualities that, in the end, will get you the amazing career and lifestyle you want.

PS: Check out my latest posts on DatingAdvice.com as well. One is about conversation topics for first dates, and the other is about 3 powerful mindsets for dating success.

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Have a Social Support System

Of all the things that can help you be happy and successful in life, very few are as important as having a social support system. By social support system (or 3S), I mean a network of people (friends, family, business partners, etc.) that you can rely on for various forms of assistance in overcoming hurdles and in achieving your goals.

The people in your social support system can help you in many ways:

  • They offer you feedback and advice to help you in your pursuits;
  • They provide emotional support when the going gets tough;
  • They offer a model through their own behavior and pursuits;
  • They may lend you resources or give you a helping hand when in necessity;
  • They are there for you and you know you can count on them.

All this readily available support proves itself to be enormously useful. The truth is that no matter how smart and ambitious you are, great things can only be achieved with the support of others. And the people who’ve achieved the greatest things have usually had a good social support system to rely on.

This being said, there are a few important ideas worth mentioning about social support systems.

A Single Person Is Not a System

A system entails a number of elements, not just one. Having one friend does not equal having a social system. Having a romantic partner or spouse that you always go to for help and no friends to speak of beyond them, also doesn’t count.

There are only so many ways a single person can help you and sometimes they simply won’t be able to do much for you. Plus, what happens if that friend moves to another country? Or if you break up with your partner? All your support has gone down the drain.

If you have social network of one, you need to expand it in order to develop an actual interpersonal system for support. Go out there, meet new people, make conversation and build friendships. Multiple of them.

Compatibility Does Matter a Lot

team 300x261 Have a Social Support SystemNot every person you’ll meet will be a good fit as a member of your 3S. They need to have similar goals, values and life principles to you in order to help you in a meaningful way. Otherwise they will often pull you down rather than push you up, even if they are very well intentioned.

Considering the diversity of goals, values and life principles among people, I dare say that from all the people you’ll meet, the ones who can make good members of your social support system will probably be a minority.

Nevertheless, you will find plenty of them if you maintain an active social life, you meet lots of people and you explore the possibilities. But you have to do these things. It does take some work to meet good people for you.

Support Implies Reciprocity

A good social support system involves reciprocity: you receive help from members of the system in various forms, and you provide help to them in return. If you only take and you do not give, after a while the people you rely on will stop being there for you.

A social support system functions much more on self-interest than on altruism. It’s the idea that by helping each other, a bunch of people can get much further than they could on their own, that keeps it functioning well. This is what has been keeping society working for thousands of years, and this is what keeps a 3S working.

It’s Time to Let Go of Your Social Insecurities

The biggest obstacle for most people in building a good social support system for themselves is shyness and lack of confidence. This prevents them from attending social events, starting conversations with others, being social and building strong relationships.

If this is your case, it’s time you learn how to stop being shy and gain the social confidence you want. Get this area of your life handled, and everything else will fall into place.

I recommend you join my free social confidence newsletter, when I will share with you a couple of times per week proven advice and techniques to gain social confidence, develop your social skills, and build the social life of your dreams.

When you join you’ll also get immediate access to a special presentation where I reveal some of my top know-how on gaining conversation confidence, based on my 5+ years of experience as a social confidence coach.

So, join the newsletter here, and I’ll talk to you some more on the other side.

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When People Tell You That You Don’t Talk Much

When I was shy, I didn’t talk very much in conversations, especially with people I didn’t know well. So I often received comments and questions like: “You don’t talk much” or “Why don’t you participate in the conversation?”

I remember that these kinds of remarks and questions made feel very uncomfortable and I didn’t know how to react to them. I didn’t like being shy, and I liked it even less when people realized that I was shy.

Then, coaching shy people for a living, I discovered that almost every shy person deals with such situations and they don’t know how to handle them effectively. So I’d like to share some practical idea with you and clarify what you can do when people say you don’t talk very much.

Do Not Get Defensive or Try To Be Witty

Usually, when a person gets told they don’t talk very much, their first impulse is to justify themselves. They will go into this elaborate and often phony explanation designed to prevent them from appearing shy because they don’t talk much.

Unfortunately, others typically see right through such explanations. And the very fact that you’re trying to defend yourself so hard is the first indication that the comment bothered you, which is a sign of insecurity in itself.

Other times they will try to be witty and deliver some sort of clever comeback. This is typically doomed to fail as well. As you may have experienced yourself, it is seldom that you manage to be witty when you’re put on the spot by somebody and you feel emotional pressure.

Defending yourself and trying to be witty are both anxiety-generated, approval-seeking reactions, and believe me, they do very little for you. Here is a much better alternative.

Just Provide a Basic Answer

critic 300x209 When People Tell You That You Dont Talk MuchI found that when someone tells you that you don’t talk much, the best answer is a short, simple one. Something like “Yeah, sometimes I’m not in the mood to talk” or “I just don’t have anything to say right now” is enough.

You’re still explaining yourself, but you’re not over-explaining yourself so it doesn’t come off as needy or defensive. Most importantly, by giving just a basic answer, you’re not making a big deal out of this whole thing. You give a basic reply to a basic question, and you move on.

In my experience, this is by far the best approach. The other person will take the answer you provided, be satisfied with it, and continue participating in the social interaction.

It’s even okay to admit that you’re a bit shy. Other people actually have a lot of understanding towards shy people. Not pity, as many shy persons assume; understanding.

And even if they may not seem like it, they are shy to some extend as well. Or they may have been in the past. Understanding that you’re shy typically encourages them to be supportive towards you, which is the best response to help you get out of your shell in social situations.

Focus On Overcoming Your Shyness Not On Hiding It

Overall, I feel that focusing on making others think you are social when you really aren’t is counterproductive. Your priority should be to learn to be more outgoing socially (which you can do), rather than managing how others see you.

Interestingly enough, the moment when you stop caring too much about comments like “you don’t talk much” is when you start to be more talkative and so you get less of these comments. It means you’ve begun to not fear disapproval, a fear that’s at the root of shyness and social anxiety.

So, focus on learning to see yourself in a better light, on overcoming your limiting beliefs and on building social skills. This is what will make you more confident socially and more talkative.

This approach helps you deal with the primary issue, which is the fact you’re shy, not the secondary one, which is the fact people see you as shy.

Shyness is not a disease; it’s not even a defect necessarily. But it is a thorny behavioral and emotional habit that can make it very hard to relate to others and make you miss out on a lot in life. And thus it’s the core issue to deal with.

To learn how to eliminate your limiting beliefs and overcome shyness, I suggest that you watch this instructional presentation, where I discuss this topic in more detail. Access it right now.

Work on dealing with your shyness, using proven psychological tools, and the multiple problems derived from shyness (such as pesky remarks from other people) will naturally disappear.

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Are You Wasting Precious Time?

I often say that the most valuable resource we have in life is time. Time is the only resource that cannot get replenished. You can perhaps extend it a bit by living healthy, but beyond that what you get is what you get, and your responsibility is to use it wisely.

So if there is one thing that bothers me, it’s the reckless wasting time. Which seems to be the main hobby of many of us. Until one day we realize that we’ve let most of our life fly by and we’ve done so little with it when we could have done so much.

Considering this, I’d like to give you a simple roadmap to help you avoid wasting precious time and make the most out of your own life.

It’s All About Your Values

What does it mean to use your time well? I believe it means to use it doing things that are aligned with your values, with the things that are most important to you. Now the trick is that each person has their own unique set of values. Examples of such values include:

  • Having fun;
  • Helping others;
  • Interacting with others;
  • Creating;
  • Learning, etc.

Depending on your own values, using your time well will have a unique significance for you. Your first task regarding this is to ask yourself: “what is most important to me in life?” and seek to identify your dominant values with as much precision as possible.

Aligning Your Life with Your Values

Once you have a good understanding of your own values, it’s time to get as many activities as possible in your program that are well aligned with them and cut out the ones that are not.

time 300x300 Are You Wasting Precious Time?

You’ll have to do a realistic assessment of how you use your time each day and start making steady changes until your use of your time is well aligned with your values. In general, there are three types of errors you can spot in the way you use your time right now:

1) Living by other people’s values. This is when you invest your time doing something that others or society in general tell you that you should do, but they don’t truly match your values.

For example, seeking to build a family because that’s what most people do, although personally you don’t actually want a family and you don’t feel it would make you happier. This is why it’s important to get clear on what matters to you, and assess the actions you take based on your own values.

2) Seeking instant gratification. This is when you do something that quickly satisfies one of your values, although there are alternatives that require more time and effort but in terms of quality are radically better.

For instance, chatting with a friend on Facebook when you could go out with them and chat face to face. Although the second option will prove much more gratifying if connection is an important value for you, you have to invite them out, get out of the house, go somewhere and meet them. Which delays the gratification, but it’s worth it.

3) Not leaving your comfort zone. This means doing things that are trouble-free, instead of challenging yourself, even if the pleasure they give you is feeble and it fades quickly.

For example, maybe you value freedom a lot and you could achieve a lot more freedom by starting your own business and turning it into a success. But this implies risks and uncertainty and you don’t want that, so you choose to stay in your regular 9 to 5 job, which is comfy but not at all fulfilling in terms of freedom.

Fortunately, by clarifying your top values and assessing how you use your time based on them, you can realize when you’re letting one or more of these 3 errors take hold of your time and squander it.

Then all you need is the fortitude and determination to correct these errors and make the best use of your valuable time and your irreplaceable existence. And these are traits that you can develop with practice, plus a bit of patience. Remember: all you have is one life. Live it wisely.

PS: Two of my articles have been recently published on DatingAdvice.com. One is on approaching women, the other is about long-term relationships. Check them out; I think you’ll like what you’ll learn.

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“Why Do People Stare At Me?” A Qualified Answer

I got an interesting question a few days ago from a reader of the social confidence newsletter. He noticed that very frequently, in buses, on the street, in the supermarket, while waiting in line, people look intently at him. So he asked me: “Why do people stare at me?”

It’s not that “Dang! You’re hot!” kind of stare that a very attractive woman may get, it’s more like that “Wow! You’re weird!” kind of stare.

This isn’t by any means the first time someone asks me: “Why do people stare at me?” As a social confidence coach, I get this question a lot. In this article, I’d like to provide a thorough, qualified answer to it, and show you how to amend this situation to boot.

In my experience, there are 3 major reasons why people may gape at you. In more than 95% of cases, one or more of these reasons offer the complete explanation.

1. There Is Something Quite Odd about Your Appearance

First and foremost, your appearance may be markedly bizarre, and this is what gets people’s attention and makes them gawk.

I’m not talking about the way you look physically per se. Being fat, skinny, short, bold, Asian, Indian or whatever rarely gets stares in this multifaceted society. I’m talking about the way you dress and take care of yourself.

It’s common for people who get lots of stares to be utterly careless or clueless regarding clothing, grooming and personal style.

It’s like they never look in the mirror. They go out with unkempt hair and baggy clothes, they choose horrible clothing combinations, and their overall appearance is extremely sloppy. This is what gets noticed and it often makes others gawk.

staring 300x200 “Why Do People Stare At Me?” A Qualified AnswerNext time before you go out, take a good look at yourself in the mirror. Note your clothes, their fit, your hair, your posture and your overall look. Try to observe yourself as if you’re observing another person that you’re seeing for the first time.

And notice: is something off about your appearance? Do you look eerie or unappealing in some way? If so, it’s time to start taking better care of the way you dress and present yourself visually.

You may be a very cool person on the inside, but if you dress sloppy, the first impression you create will be the very opposite of that.

2. Anxiety Is Messing Up the Message Your Project

It’s no coincidence that almost every person who perceives that others often stare at them feels nervous in social settings. Some of them have actually being diagnosed with social phobia or even AvPD.

You see, when you’re in a social setting and you feel anxiety, this will screw up your non-verbals, especially your facial expression. You’ll have this frozen, terrified look on your face, your eyes will be very wide open and your face color will likely be very pale.

This gets people’s attention and shocks them. So they’ll have the tendency to stare at you, perhaps even say to others: “Look at this guy/girl! He/she looks like they saw a ghost or something!”

Then you’ll realize others are gawking at you, which will make you self-conscious, which generates even more anxiety, so you look even more terrified, and the whole thing spirals.

In my experience, this is the most common reason why people stare at you. It is fundamentally an anxiety-related issue. And the only real solution is to deal with this root cause: to overcome your anxiety related to social settings.

Fortunately, effective, well-researched methods for overcoming anxiety exist today. Your job is to learn them and apply them.

I don’t want to go into this extensive topic here, but I do encourage you to check out this free presentation I designed, in which I cover this exact topic and I’ll show you the steps to take in order to build rock-solid social confidence. Please make sure you watch it.

3. It’s Largely Just In Your Head

It is also very possible that people in general don’t stare at you that much. No more than they stare at anybody else (yes everybody gets occasional stares), or at least not much more

However, your mind makes it seem that people stare at you all the time, when this actually occurs infrequently. What happens is that, since staring makes you feel uncomfortable, you notice it a lot and you remember it vividly.

You’re very aware of the situations when others gape at you, but completely unaware of the many situations when they don’t. This makes your mind overgeneralize and create the erroneous impression that people stare at you all the time.

Nevertheless, the reality is far from that.

This is something you can overcome by paying more attention to the situations where others do not gawk at you or they don’t even notice you, bearing them in mind, and then trying to objectively asses how frequently do others truly gawk at you.

You’ll likely find out it’s only in a small number of cases.

That’s it: my answer to the puzzling question: “why do people stare at me?” Take this info, put it into practice and see what happens. I think you’re gonna love the results you’ll achieve. And above all, work on building your social confidence. I will make the biggest difference.

Image courtesy of Chibcha

How to Talk to People

Make no mistake about it: in today’s world, knowing how to talk to people is one of the most important virtues you can possess.

If you don’t know how to talk to people it’s hard to make friends, build a social life, grab the interest of the opposite sex or get ahead in your career. But if you do, a whole lot of prospects open up in your life.

The best news I can offer you, based on 5+ years of experience as a social confidence coach, is that you can learn how to talk to people. Good conversation has principles. Know them, apply them repeatedly in social situations, and you’ll drastically boost your conversation skills.

In this article I’d like to share with you these principles and reveal the workings of good conversation. The rest is up to you.

The Conversation Formula

Basically, there are 3 major components of conversation: 1) asking questions, 2) disclosing information, and 3) changing topics. Do these 3 things right, and you’ll be able to talk to people in all sorts of social settings.

Let’s take a better look at each one of these 3 components and see how you can apply them effectively in conversation.

1. Asking Questions

Questions are the best conversational tool you have to get the other person to share information and engage in the conversation. Thus, you get to know them and their subjective world.

Many books and articles on making small talk will give you lists of questions to use in conversation and encourage you to memorize them. I disagree with this approach entirely.

How to talk to people 300x208 How to Talk to PeopleI believe questions work best when they are genuine, when they reflect an authentic curiosity you have. If you just ask about something because you think you should, but you don’t really care about it, that will usually show.

When you’re having a chat with someone, my advice is to always think about what you honestly want to know about the other person. Then ask questions based on this.

I, for instance, am very interested in people’s careers. So I often ask people I just met “What do you do?” But if you don’t really care about this stuff, by all means, don’t ask about it. Employ your own questions.

2. Sharing Information

A common mistake  that individuals who don’t comprehend how to talk to people make is they ask lots of questions to get the other person to share information, but they don’t share information themselves.

Thus, they end up bombarding their conversation partner with question after question, and the entire discussion feels more like an interrogatory.

A quality conversation combines receiving information with giving information. Even if the other person doesn’t ask you a lot of questions, don’t be afraid to disclose yourself and to share information.

For instance, if I’m on a train and the person next to me is reading a book, and I want to start a conversation with them, I might ask them “What are you reading?” After they tell me the name of the book, I might ask them “What’s it about?”

But after they answer, I usually won’t ask yet another question. Instead, I’ll make a comment apropos what they said about the book, something simple and genuine, and then I’ll tell them a bit about a book I’ve read recently and I enjoyed.

So I’ll combine asking questions with sharing information. This is what makes a conversation work.

3. Changing Topics

A 5-minute conversation can be on a single topic. But long conversations typically need to go through several topics. If you want to have long conversations, which tend to build the deepest connections with people, it’s important to move it from one topic to another.

When you feel the topic you’re discussing is drying out, don’t let the conversation die. Move it to another topic.

My rule of thumb is to try and keep the topics related. For example, after I talked with a person about books for a few minutes, it makes sense to move the conversation to movies, because it’s a related topic. And from one connect topic to another, I can take the conversation anywhere.

However, it is absolutely fine if you sometimes make big shifts in the conversation subject. For example, you move from books to “So, what do you do for a living?” That’s also a normal part of conversation. Just don’t do it every 30 seconds.

By asking questions, sharing information and changing topics, you effectively make a conversation happen. You get to know the other person, they get to know you, you cover a range of topics, and you connect with each other.

The truth is basic conversation isn’t exactly rocket science.

However, I can tell you there are plenty of people who, even after they understand these principles thoroughly, still have a hard time talking to others. Add it’s not a problem related to lack of knowledge, it’s a problem related to conversation confidence.

Building Conversation Confidence

You can have questions to ask, yet not ask them because you fret you’ll come across as rude or impertinent. You can have things to say but not say them because you fear they’re not interesting. And you can have topics you want to talk about but not do so because you worry you’ll make a fool of yourself somehow.

You see, knowing how to talk to people and being able to talk to people are two very different things.

You can understand the rules and principles, but if you have fears like the ones I mentioned (which are usually unfounded), you’ll hesitate, you won’t say very much, you’ll stumble over your words when you do, and your conversations will still be sloppy.

The only solution to this problem is to overcome your limiting beliefs and build conversation confidence. This transformation is what you should focus on above all.

Since this is a huge subject, I have created a special presentation in which I’m gonna teach you how to do this. Check it out here and learn the secrets of conversation confidence.

Then take the know-how gained from it and make use of it in your own life.

When you have positive beliefs about yourself and you’re confident, you don’t second-guess yourself, you instinctively know what to say, you are natural and you are willing to take risks in social interactions.

At the end of the day, this is what gives you the ability to talk to people effortlessly and build the relationships you want with others.

Image courtesy of Brandon Christopher Warren

How to Be a Good Friend

How to be a good friend 300x190 How to Be a Good FriendThey say friendship is a lost art. I don’t know if that’s an overstatement, but as a social confidence coach, I do know that many people don’t truly grasp how to be a good friend.

Their friendships are frail and superficial. They don’t last and they don’t provide the positive experiences they could. I think it’s important for most of us to learn on our own how to be a good friend.

It’s not something we learn in school, it’s not something our parents teach us past a certain short point. Considering this, I want to share with you 7 key principles I believe it’s crucial to follow in order to be a good friend.

1. Make an Effort to Meet

Many of us are so busy and far from each other today that it’s hard to keep in touch. Nevertheless, a good friend will always make an effort to meet with their friends; simply because they are important enough.

Don’t just wait for your friends to give you a call and invite you to hang out. Take the initiative yourself.

Don’t look at the fact you don’t have a lot of time or they live 500 miles away as an insurmountable obstacle. Look at it as a mere logistical setback that you’ll have to work around. And try to find ways to overcome them.

2. Be Honest

From my perspective, honesty is one of the central pillars of friendship. The fact you’re honest with a person is what makes them trust you.

They know they can rely on you to give them an honest opinion and to be genuine with them. This kind of reliance is what makes people bond and develop strong friendships.

I know sometimes it can be hard to be honest, because you may hurt a person’s feelings or make them feel bad. Nevertheless, even in these situations, honesty is the way to go if you want to be a good friend.  Don’t make compromises in this area.

If you lack the confidence to be open and honest with others, check out this presentation I created. It will show you exactly how to deal with this problem.

3. Be Constructive

There’s almost nothing worse than chatting with a friend and listening to them complaining non-stop, or putting down any positive idea you have. This kind of an attitude can completely take the fun out of an interaction.

A big part of learning how to be a good friend is developing a constructive conversation style.

It doesn’t mean that you never say anything negative. It means that overall, you focus on the positive rather than the negative during a conversation, and you keep it fun and upbeat. When this is your default attitude, you’re the kind of person others always look forward to meeting again.

4. Treat Your Friends as Your Equals

Nobody likes people with a condescending attitude, who constantly tell you you’re wrong and “this is the right way to do it”.

Treat your friends as your equals. Keep in mind that you have your flaws and your strengths, just as they have theirs. You are not superior to them, and they are not superior to you either. Come from this place when interacting with them, and they’ll adore your demeanor.

And if sometimes you absolutely believe that you are superior to somebody, then perhaps they’re not the kind of person you want to build a solid friendship with in the first place.

5. Keep Your Promises

Keeping your promises is the other essential component for building trust besides honesty.

The trick is whenever you have the impulse to make a promise, to first ask yourself: “How hard will it realistically be for me to keep this promise?” so you become fully aware of the realism of the promise.

If it’s very hard or unlikely that you’ll keep your promise, then don’t make that promise to begin with. And if you do make it, then do everything in your power to keep it. Once you go on the path of breaking promises, it’s hard to regain that trust you will have lost.

6. Remember and Take Into Account Your Friends’ Preferences

It’s always nice when a friend invites me to a party with a lot of Latin music, since I like that kind of music, and not to one with a lot of rock music, since I don’t like it.

Besides the fact it creates a better experience for me, it shows that my friend knows my preferences and takes them into consideration. I know my needs and wants matter for them, and this makes them a good friend.

You shouldn’t constantly sacrifice your needs for those of your friends, but you should seek to make an experience positive for them as well as you.

7. Help Them

Last but not least, discovering how to be a good friend means willing to provide help for your friends when they need it.

This help can range from something small but meaningful such as a few words of encouragement, to something that requires more of an investment, such as lending them your car for a day.

These kinds of gestures ultimately prove how strong a friendship is. If two people frequently help each other and they are willing to go to some length to do so, they are not just friends, they are good friends.

Now that you know how to be a good friend, I invite you to take one step further and put this know-how into practice. Actually be a good friend to the persons you want to be to.  It will be worth it.

As a final thought, bear in mind that a friendships goes both ways. So, everything you do for a person to be a good friend to them, it’s only natural to expect in return. If they do not reciprocate, you may want to reevaluate your relationship.

In my experience, it’s those win-win friendships where both parties show a lot of respect, positivity and appreciation for each other that are the most fulfilling. These are the friendships that you’ll always think of fondly and you’ll treasure forever.

Image courtesy of jonandesign

The Importance of Friendship

The importance of friendship 300x199 The Importance of FriendshipI believe the importance of friendship is something that simply cannot be overstated. Nevertheless, friendship is something that we as a society pay little attention to.

We seek to make money, achieve success, find love and have a family, but we often mislay making friends somewhere in the category “and others”, which we’ll eventually focus on if we have the time.

As a social confidence coach, I’ve witnessed firsthand the importance of friendship. And I think it’s time to give friendship the right of way it deserves. Here’s why.

We Are Social Creatures

There is an overwhelming amount of evidence in fields like anthropology and evolutionary psychology that we humans are an extremely gregarious species.

For most of our history we lived in bands, tribes and communities where we knew many people and we interacted with them on a regular basis. Being social was the norm.

This until recently, when we started isolating ourselves from others in our spacious houses and apartments, perhaps living with one or two other people that we expect to fulfill all the crucial roles we require in our lives.

Not only that we humans like to socialize with others, but we need it. People who don’t socialize for prolonged periods of time begin feeling lonely, depressed, physically ill and even suicidal. Not having a social life is no joking matter.

This makes a solid case not only for the importance of friendship, but for the importance of a rich social life overall, which includes friends, colleagues, acquaintances and so on. Now let’s take a look at some of the particular benefits that friends bring into one’s existence.

1. Friendship Equals Deep Connection

A good friend is someone you have meaningful commonalities with. Maybe you believe in the same cause, you have similar core values, or you are passionate about the same things.

These meaningful commonalities create a deep connection. There is a strong bond between you and your friends. And this bond with other people gives life a lot more purpose.

2. Your Friends Accept You As You Are

The way I understand friends, they are individuals who know you as you are, with your strengths and flaws, and they accept you and respect you as you are.

Thus, they make you feel appreciated and more importantly, they make you feel worthy of appreciation. You don’t feel the need to impress them and you can always be yourself around them.

3. Interacting With Friends Is Extremely Fun

Since your friends are people you connect with at a deep level and people who accept you as you are, hanging out with them couldn’t be anything other than fun.

When me and my friends go out, we can talk about something as trivial as chinaware, and we’ll still have a blast. Because when it comes to chatting with friends, the people make the experience a lot more than the things you talk about.

4. Friends Are There For You

True friends help each other out. Even more significant, they know that they can count on each other for support, whether it’s a piece of advice, a few words of encouragement, a small loan or a hand to move the furniture.

Being able to rely on a bunch of people like that makes your life better and it also gives you more confidence to go for what you want in life. That’s one of the main reasons why the importance of friendship is stupendous.

So, What’s Next?

Now that you understand the importance of friendship, it’s time to capitalize on this know-how.

The first thing I encourage you to do is to take a good look at your friendships. Based on the ideas I’ve underlines here, would you say you have true friends? How many of them?

If the answer to these questions is “No” or “Yeah, about 0.75 friends”, this is an excellent moment to consider revamping your social life.

I can tell you from experience that no matter who you are, you can have many true friends and enjoy a rich social life. They key is to meet lots of people, interact with them, be open and cultivate the relationships with those people you resonate with the most.

And the key to all of this is to have social confidence. If you lack social confidence right now, this is the crucial trait that you’ll want to develop.

By the way: check out this presentation I created to learn how to gain social confidence and feel at ease socializing with anybody. I think you’ll find it very useful.

Grasping the importance of friendship is the first essential step not only towards making friends, but also towards building an overall better life, in which you are happier, more driven and more successful as an individual.

Will you take the other steps as well?

Image courtesy of jillis