Why Social Skills Are the Shortcut to Happiness

People today are putting more conscious effort into figuring out what makes them happy and pursing that happiness. And there are many ideas out there about happiness, coming from a variety of sources: parents, teachers, friends, books, articles, media and advertising.

But I think that a lot of these ideas miss the mark; which is why I’d like to share my own perspective on the importance of one key asset in achieving happiness: your social skills. I believe they matter and they can benefit you so much that I deem good social skills a veritable shortcut to happiness.

Relationships as the Main Pillar of Happiness

Over the past decades there has been a lot of research in the field of psychology about the factors that make us happy. And the one that constantly stands out is our relationships with others. Individuals with quality relationships, who feel loved and appreciated, and have an active social life, are typically the happiest out there.

This makes perfect sense considering that we are social animals, who’ve always lived in some sort of social milieu, either a band, or a tribe, or a social group within a bigger town or city. And social cooperation has been essential in our survival and progress as a species.

social skillsPsychologist and neuroscientist Matthew D. Lieberman really drives this point home in his book, Social: Why Our Brains Are Wired to Connect.

For instance, he argues that what our brains do by default when they don’t have any particular task is to contemplate social situations and examine the social world; which shows the central role that social relationships play in our lives. Truly, there is no denying their importance.

The Best Path to Good Relationships Is Not What Most People Think

However, most people are drawn into poor views about the ways to get respect, appreciation and good relationships.

Society in general has taught us that the best ways to get such things are by being wealthy, or having a respectable profession, or following the latest trends. And so, a plethora of people are chasing these things, hoping they will get them the kind of fulfilling human connections they yearn for.

I find it particularly interesting to discuss with folks who wanna make a lot of money. There are lots of reasons why many people wanna be rich. Through money they seek experiences, variety, freedom or security.

But digging deeper into their motivations, I find that, above all, most believe money is the top way to earn the appreciation of others, in order to feel good about themselves and be able to build fulfilling relationships.

It’s such an illusion! Both my coaching and social experiences have showed me over and over that: not only is money not a necessity to be appreciated, but chasing money is the long and inexact road to appreciation. The power of wealth to nurture good relationships has been vastly exaggerated by the rampant consumer culture we live in.

Really, the most popular ways to gain appreciation, considering the time and effort they require (a lot), the amount of respect they earn you (often not that much), and the type of respect they earn you (often superficial and fleeting), don’t amount to good investments.

Social Skills Are a Much Better Path

I believe the methods described above constitute the long, roundabout path to appreciation and good relationships. The straightest and shortest path is in building sharp social skills.

You see, when you have good social skills you are able:

  • To express yourself in an articulate, convincing and alluring way.
  • To talk with a wide range of people, on a wide range of topics.
  • To empathize well will people, to understand their motivations and views.
  • To know how to adapt to others while staying true to yourself at the same time.
  • To show social intelligence and navigate complex social dynamics.
  • To manage your emotions well in social situations.

This makes social skills the direct and the best tool to connect with people, make a positive impression and nurture good relationships. All else takes longer to acquire and works less effectively.

Put two people at, say, a party, one who is a successful lawyer with lots of money, wearing a trendy suit, but with average social skills, and another who is a person with an average job, average income and average clothes, but really good social skills, and I guarantee you this second person will blow the first one out of the water in terms of likability.

While having money, working in a respectable job and being fashionable all have their merits and benefits, my point is that if you want great relationships, you should focus on developing your social skills above all. They will help you much more than these things.

Social skills take some work to improve as well, but the return on investment is much better. And fortunately, there are lots of resources out there to help you, from books and articles to classes and coaching programs.

With this in mind, I recommend you get onboard my free social success newsletter, to receive regular practical advice from me on sharpening your social skills, directly into your Inbox.

When you join, you’ll also get instant, free access to an instructional presentation in which I’ll show you my proven formula for becoming socially confident.

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Life has a lot to offer. And social skills are a key tool to help you collect much of its fruits. Sharpen your social skills, get out there and use them, and I promise you that your happiness will soar.

How to Not Be Boring in 4 Simple Steps

As a confidence and communication coach, I work often with people who (accurately or not) believe they are boring when making conversation. This makes it hard for them to find the drive to be more outgoing, and difficult to build a gratifying social life.

If you are such a person and you wanna learn how to not be boring, I wanna share with you 4 tried and tested action steps you can take to accomplish this.

Each step addresses one key aspect of making interesting conversation: mindset, verbal communication, non-verbal communication, and lifestyle. So together they form a powerful solution to visibly improve your conversation style and boost your charisma.

1. Are You Really Boring, Or Is It Just in Your Head?

The first crucial step, which you absolutely mustn’t skip, is to question this idea that you are boring, scrutinize it rationally, and try to determine if indeed it’s true.

You see, of all the people I’ve coached over the last 7+ years who believed they’re boring, getting to know them and their conversation style, for well over half of them I’ve concluded that this belief was just in their head. It was a false, limiting belief; and they came to see that too.

So, statistically, there is at least a 50% chance that you’re not really boring. Think about this, very seriously.

If indeed you discover that the idea you’re boring is mostly a limiting belief, then it’s important to begin disregarding it and change your behavior accordingly. Try to open up, talk to people more and be more social, reminding yourself it’s okay to do so.

More important though is to understand that the limiting belief you’re boring reflects a lack of confidence, and work on fixing this deeper issue. Only by learning to believe in yourself and gaining self-confidence will you be able to fully and permanently eliminate the perception that you are boring.

Now, confidence building is no trivial process. It involves certain steps and actions, which if done correctly, lead to visible progress at a rapid pace. I lack the space here to go deeper into this topic, but I have created a special presentation in which I discuss it in detail.

Go here to watch the presentation and learn my step-by-step process for improving your self-confidence and social confidence, which has been used successfully by hundreds of people before you. And make sure you watch it all the way.

2. Make Specific Statements More Than Generic Ones

BoringNext, let’s consider that you really are sort of boring. One of the top changes you can make to your conversation style in order to fix this is to make more statements that are specific and descriptive.

Boring people usually talk in short and generic statements. They’ll say stuff like: “I went to the beach yesterday. It was nice.” And they’ll stop there. The other person will reply: “Oh, cool!” And that conversation thread will end there.

I much better way to talk about that is to say it like: “I went to the beach yesterday. It was nice. The beach is very spacious, and the sand is so white and soft! I loved to just walk around barefoot and take in the view.”

That’s more specific and a lot more exciting. It’s certain to make the other person pay more attention and wanna chip in.

Specific statements add more details, they paint a vivid picture, and they stimulate the listener. Get used to using them, and your conversations will be a lot more interesting.

3. Add More Passion to Your Speaking Style

The non-verbal part also matters a lot. I frequently find that boring people speak in a low, monotonous voice. Many times they are slouched and they’re looking at their shoes instead of their audience. It ties in with the lack of confidence I mentioned earlier. Unsurprisingly, they frequently get ignored.

If you want people to care about what you say and find it interesting, you gotta seem passionate about it. If you are excited about what you say, others will get excited as well. So put more energy in your voice tone and body language: speak louder, have intonation, hold better eye contact, stand up straight and use gestures.

It may feel unnatural at first, but you’ll get used to it, especially as you’ll notice how others pay more attention to you. Plus, I’m not saying you should become a loud, over the top talker. Just a moderate dose of added energy and passion in your non-verbal communication will do the trick.

4. Make Your Lifestyle More Interesting

I often say that conversation is to a large degree a reflection of your life. The content you talk about pours in from your life. So the more interesting your lifestyle, the more interesting what you can talk about is.

If your life revolves around a dreary job, watching TV, sleeping, eating and daydreaming, it’s not that bad, but it’s clearly not an interesting lifestyle either. It could really use an upgrade.

It doesn’t mean that you need to wrestle alligators every day and attend royal balls every night to be interesting. Small changes and additions to your life can make a big difference in the things you can talk about and how appealing what you say is.

Try taking on new hobbies, reading books, trying new stuff, working on side-projects or getting involved in various communities. All of these are great ways to augment your lifestyle and your conversations.

Being boring is a fixable issue. It’s just a matter of understanding how to not be boring, and applying that know-how. In my coaching, I’ve seen many people make the leap from boring to fascinating. With proper guidance and the readiness to implement it, I’m sure you can as well.

I have more practical conversation and confidence advice for you in my free social success newsletter. I invite you to join it right now, and start receiving it on a regular basis.

How to Deal With Sensitive People

People who are highly sensitive emotionally can be hard to handle. You never know what seemingly innocent statement or action will hurt their feelings and shut them in or set them off, and when that happens, it’s usually tough to fix the situation.

I’ve dealt with my fair share of sensitive people in life. Also, in my communication coaching, I frequently work with people who are dealing with a highly sensitive person or more in their own lives, and they wanna do it better. Based on these experiences, I wanna provide you some practical advice on how to deal with sensitive people effectively.

Avoid These 4 Sensitive Kinds of Statements

I’ve found that there are 4 kinds of statements in particular that are likely to trigger a sensitive person:

  • Jokes about them. Because they don’t see them as friendly jokes, they seem them as you mocking them.
  • Criticism, even when it’s pointed at groups they identify with, not at them directly. Because they take it as a rejection of their own person.
  • Disagreeing with them. Again, because they perceive it as a personal rejection rather than a disagreement on a specific idea.
  • Firm commands or blunt orders. Because they commonly feel belittled when receiving such orders.

If you wanna have better relationships with sensitive people, bear in mind these 4 types of statements and cut down on them when dealing with sensitive people.

I do not encourage you to avoid them all the time, at any cost. They still have a role in communication. Sometimes a negative feedback or divergent opinion is important to be expressed, despite the fact it will upset the other person.

I do encourage you though to work on consciously recognizing when you’re about to make a type of statement that may trigger emotionally a sensitive person, and carefully weigh the cost vs. the benefit to see if it’s worth it. Sometimes it will; many times you’ll be much better off if you just shut up.

Learn Sensitive People’s Expectations

Beyond things that upset the majority of sensitive people, each sensitive person has their own little triggers. This is because each has their own map of reality, which includes their own views and expectations on how others should treat them. And you may not share the same views.

For example, you may go out to dinner with a person who expects you pick up the check, and even though you’re fine with doing that, you don’t even think about it, because in their place you would not have the same expectation. Such differences in perspectives create further complications.

SensitiveThe best way to deal with this thorny issue is to try to learn more about people’s expectations, especially the highly sensitive ones.

Ask them questions about the things they value and how they like to be treated. Listen attentively and try not to judge them, encourage them to communicate openly with you.

The better you understand a person’s expectations and perspectives, the better equipped you are to fulfill them. This doesn’t mean that you always have to cater to their expectations. Sometimes they will clash with your own needs, and your needs will come first. But it’s still good to know their expectations and be able to cater to them when you want to do so.

Fixing the Situation with Style

Unavoidably though, as effectively as you manage your words and actions around sensitive people, once in a while you will still do or say something that will upset them.

Most folks are bad at handling such situations. They will often try to apologize and fix things in a way that only makes things worse. I’ve heard many apologies like: “I’m sorry! But it was only a joke. What’s your problem, anyway?”

Such a comment will not work well with a sensitive person, because it further invalidates them, making them feel even worse.

When it comes to apologizing to a sensitive person, I have one golden rule: show them you are not rejecting them as a person. Because that’s really the big problem with sensitive people: they take jokes, criticism, divergent opinions and blunt orders as a personal rejection.

For example, after making a joke that got them offended, a good comment to fix the situations is something like: “I’m sorry, I was just joking. You know I think you’re a cool person and I like spending time with you.”

This comment reassures the person that the joke did not mean anything bad, and will likely make them feel much better. Get used to making such comments with sensitive people at least once in a while, if you wanna stay on their good side.

Sometimes, Dealing with Sensitive People Cautiously Is Not Worth It

The strategies above for improving your communication with sensitive people are based on the premise that it’s worth it. The sensitive person has some noteworthy redeemable qualities that make it worth trying to have a good relationship with them.

Sometimes though, this is not the case. All the effort to be on your toes constantly, adapt yourself and try to fix things in dealing with a sensitive person, is simply not worth it considering what you get in return. The benefits do not justify the cost.

In such cases, you’re better off not trying to cater to a sensitive person, and treating them as you would treat most people (which I imagine is a considerate, but not hyper-considerate way). If it upsets them or drives them away, so be it.

Some folks are not comfortable with hearing such advice. They don’t like the idea of letting people get upset at them, stay upset at them, and sometimes leave them. Usually I find this is because they care too much about having other people’s approval. They want everybody to like them and they wanna get along with everybody.

This is simply not a healthy attitude. You wanna learn to be okay with some people not liking you and not enjoying your company. You wanna learn to stop seeking everybody’s approval.

With this is mind, I recommend you check out this practical presentation, in which I’ll teach you my step-by-step, tried and tested method for gaining social confidence and stopping seeking people’s approval. If you struggle with breaking bad relationships or tolerating disapproval from others, this presentation will help you a lot.

Dealing with sensitive people is tricky. But with a good grasp of their psychology, strong communication strategies and the right attitude, it is something you can do effectively. Such tools are what I’ve offered you in this article.

For more communication and relationship advice from me, get right now onboard my free newsletter and I’ll talk to you some more there.

How to End a Conversation Like a Pro

There is a subtle art to ending a conversation smoothly, just as there is to starting it and keeping it going. Sometimes you instinctively know how to end a conversation and trust you will do it well. Other times though you may find yourself stuck in a discussion you wanna get out of, but you don’t know how to do it.

Drawing from my social experience and my communication coaching practice, I wanna cut to the core of this issue and give you some key ideas for ending conversations effortlessly in a variety of situations.

Realize That Most People Will Understand

When I talk with coaching clients about ending conversations, they often express serious concerns about what the other person will think if they end the conversation. They fear the other person will think they don’t enjoy talking to them, they will feel abandoned, or they will find their action rude.

I will tell you what I typically tell them as well: in my experience, most people are really very understanding when you end a conversation. They don’t take it personally, they don’t get offended. Even when you end a discussion because it’s utterly tedious, rarely will the other person think that is the reason (unless you actually say so, which, as we’ll see, is not advised).

Keep this in mind whenever you wanna finish a conversation. It will make it much easier to do it without second-guessing yourself.

Give a Real or a Relatable Motive

convoIt’s good to give a brief explanation when you end a conversation, as a polite way to excuse yourself out of it. Usually I recommend that you get clear on the true reason you wanna end the conversation, and you state that reason candidly. Honesty works wonders most of the time.

However, there are situations where the real reason is likely to offend the other person. In such situations, an exception applies. “Excuse me, this conversation is boring me to death” is rarely a smart way to exit a discussion, even if that is the true reason.

In such situations, I suggest that you close the conversation giving a motive the other person can relate to but has nothing to do with them. A reason they’ve likely had in the past as well, and they can understand. For example:

  • “Well, I have to go. I have a meeting to get too.” – works great when you run into somebody on the street.
  • “Excuse me, I wanna make sure I say hello to somebody.” – useful for most social events where you know at least one other person.
  • “Excuse me, I promised myself to mingle a bit at this party.” – who can’t relate to trying to be social, right?
  • “Excuse me; I wanna go grab another drink.” – and then you don’t have to return to the same person.
  • “I have to go to the restroom.” – a classic.

Use Conversation Pauses to Make Your Exit

Most conversations have moments when they run out of steam, and thus brief silences occur. If you wanna finish a conversation, such a moment is an excellent opportunity to do so.

A pause in a conversation is like the end of a book chapter. And just like if you’re gonna put a book down for a while it’s best to do it at the end of a chapter, it’s good to end a discussion when a break in it appears. You don’t even have to say much in such a scenario. I usually end it with something like: “Well, I’ll see you around”, and then walk away.

Of course, some people are so talkative you hardly get a good break in the conversation. In such cases you’ll have to be more sudden in ending it, when the smallest break occurs, and then you many wanna give a reason.

Introduce the Person to Someone Else

One common concern people have about ending conversations at social events has to do with leaving the other person hanging. You move to something or somebody else, while the other person just sits there, sucking on their finger or whatever.

That’s why a good way to get out of a conversation is to introduce the person you’re talking to, to somebody else in the room. Just say something like “Hey, let me introduce you to somebody you’ll really love to meet”. Then take them to the other person, make the introduction and try to get a conversation going between the two of them.

As that conversation picks up, you can gently extract yourself from it. Provided they really get into the conversation, often they won’t even notice your exit. Thus you connect two people, and you get out of a conversation without leaving anybody hanging.

But, Why Do You Wanna End a Conversation Anyway?

It’s worth addressing one more thorny issue, which involves the usual reason why you wanna end conversations in the first place.

Coaching others in improving their conversation style, I often find that they wanna learn how to end a conversation, not because they wanna be able to switch conversation partners, or exit a discussion when pressed for time, but rather because many conversations make them anxious, so ending them is their way of coping with that anxiety.

However, when a social interaction makes you anxious or self-conscious, it’s actually a very bad idea to end it. It may give you some momentary relief, but it also perpetuates and reinforces your social insecurities. So it keeps you struggling with having long, meaningful interactions with people, and it makes it very hard to build lasting relationships.

Instead of seeking to end conversations when they make you anxious, what you wanna do is learn how to soothe your anxiety, and how to keep conversations going. The best strategy is to remove your nervousness, not to remove yourself from conversations.

Of course, this is easier said than done. Anxiety in social situations is not something you can get rid of just like that. You need an effective strategy to soothe social anxiety. So going further, I wanna give you such a strategy, in the form of a free instructional video.

Go here and make sure you watch this video, where I will show you how to overcome your nervousness in social settings and make effortless conversation, using a proven formula that my coaching clients have been using successfully for years. You might wanna join my free social advice newsletter as well.

When you can be at ease conversing with anyone for as long as you want, and you can also excuse yourself elegantly from a conversation whenever you want, you are in the possession of two very important abilities.

With them you can navigate conversations effortlessly, be more social, meet new people and connect with them in a meaningful way.

How to Not Be Creepy

There are a lot of emails in my Inbox from people who want to improve their social interactions. Many times, they’ll talk about coming across as creepy, or weird, and wanting real bad to fix this.

Sometimes this creepiness is mostly imaginary, many times though there is reliable evidence to support it, and sometimes others have told them point blank: “You’re creepy!” So I thought I’d share some insights about what can make someone come across as creepy and how to avoid it, based on my experience as a communication coach.

What Does Being Creepy Mean Anyway?

First of all, let’s get clear on what being creepy means exactly.

If you go to a reputable dictionary such as Merriam-Webster, you’ll find the term “creepy” defined as: “strange or scary, causing people to feel nervous and afraid”.

Put another way, when others say you’re creepy, it means you make them feel uncomfortable. Creepiness has to do with a feeling of unease triggered in others.

This brings me to a major point I wanna emphasize, which I believe is crucial to grasp:

There Are Only Creepy Actions, Not Creepy People

There is no such thing as a creepy person. Because, considering what being creepy means, a creepy person would be someone who makes nearly all people feel uncomfortable, nearly all the time. And pretty much nobody does that. Not even the crazy homeless people you may run into on the streets sometimes.

What we’re really talking about is behavior that makes some people feel uncomfortable. Sometimes you may say something or do something in a social setting that’s perceived by some as inappropriate, and it triggers discomfort in them. But that’s just a creepy action; it doesn’t mean you’re a creepy person overall. And even actions that seem creepy to some will often seem perfectly normal to others. Preferences play a big role.

Of course, people may call you creepy, but it doesn’t mean you are creepy. It just means you did or said something that came across to them as weird. Most people are really bad at properly labeling behavior though, and so they label individuals as a whole. Thus, they call you creepy, instead of your particular behavior.

So even though others may label you as creepy, don’t ever think of yourself that way. It’s a toxic and unrealistic way to see yourself. There is no such thing as a creepy person; there are just behaviors that come across as creepy, to some.

Now, let’s look at how you can get rid of such behaviors.

Be Consistent In Your Behavior

Asian college studentsWhen I talk with clients in coaching sessions about social situations where something they said or done came across as creepy, I frequently discover that it was because their behavior was inconsistent.

They didn’t do something bad; they just shifted their conduct abruptly from one direction to another, which typically makes others uncomfortable.

For example, when a guy spends months interacting with a girl pretending to be just friends, and then one day suddenly comes out of the closet confessing he has a crush on her, that there is inconsistent behavior. He made a sudden shift from positioning himself as a friend to positioning himself as a lover. That will take most girls by surprise, they won’t know how to react, and thus it will make them feel uncomfortable. So it will seem creepy.

These kinds of situations arise because we act fake and hide our true intentions, and then at one point, voluntarily or not, we suddenly reveal our true intentions. That’s why I always encourage people to be genuine and not have hidden agendas. It will make their behavior unitary and reliable, and others will be able to trust them.

If you like someone, don’t hide it from them. Flirt with them; let them know how you feel. Hidden agendas create inconsistent behavior, and that will regularly be perceived as creepy.

Strip Yourself of Your Social Anxieties

One major reason why some people often come off as creepy is their social insecurities.

If you’re in a social situation and you feel anxious, it will affect your entire behavior and vibe. Anxious people often talk incoherently, there are awkward silences in their conversations, their gestures tend to be jerky, and their conduct clumsy. That will make others feel discomfort, and therefore they will seem creepy.

If you often feel anxious in social situations, I can promise that overcoming your social anxieties will be the single most important change you can make to not be perceived as creepy.

Over the past 6+ years, coaching shy and socially insecure individuals, I’ve found that social anxiety can be eliminated, by making some strategic changes in your thinking patterns, your self-image and your beliefs system.

This is a broad topic though, so I’m not gonna go into details here. However, I’ve created a special instructional presentation, in which I explain step-by-step how you can overcome your insecurities and gain rock-solid social confidence. Go here to access it and make sure you watch it.

Improve Your Social Awareness

Social awareness is the ability to understand how social situations work and what outcome what behavior will likely generate in such a situation. It’s what allows you to properly adjust your social behavior and create the impression you want.

In general, people who are often labeled as creepy lack social awareness. They are sort of clueless about what to do when they interact with others, which is why they behave awkwardly.

The good news is that social awareness can be developed. I’ve actually seen people with very low social awareness become highly socially savvy.

Primarily, it’s a matter of practice. You need to get out there and interact with people. You’ll make your fair share of mistakes at first, but if you reflect on them a bit and you learn from them, you’ll gain social awareness and you’ll become smooth with people.

Improving your social awareness is also a matter of learning about social dynamics from books, courses, and other people. This is the kind of stuff you rarely learn is school, but there are a lot of other quality sources of information out there.

With this in mind, I recommend you to join my free social success newsletter, which is where I share most of my advice for developing social skills and social confidence. I’m sure you’ll benefit a lot from it. Go to this page and enter your email to get onboard.

With more consistent behavior, less insecurities and more social awareness, you’ll get radically better reactions from other people. They’ll be more interested in talking to you, you’ll be invited to more social events, and you’ll appear charismatic instead of creepy.

Bear in mind though that it’s impossible to never do or say anything that comes off as creepy. Even the most socially skilled individuals seem creepy to some people, sometimes. It’s unavoidable. And it’s not a problem anyway.

As long as coming off creepy doesn’t happen a lot and it doesn’t prevent you from having a great social life, you’re fine. Go out there and be social.

4 Advanced Conversation Skills and How to Cultivate Them

In my view, you have intermediate conversation skills when you are able to start a conversation with a wide range of people, keep it going, talk about various topics and build some sort of connection with a portion of the people you talk with.

A lot of folks don’t have this level of conversation skills, and they generally struggle with making conversation. Then again, a lot of folks do have this level of conversation skills. And when you’re an intermediate-level conversationalist or close to it, it’s worth considering attaining an advanced level of conversation skills.

Advanced conversation skills will influence the way you come across, the impact you have on others and the quality of your relationships so much that you won’t believe. Few experiences compare to going to a party, meeting or social event, engaging with people and being one of the best, smoothest conversationalists in the room (if not the best).

So I firmly believe that gaining advanced conversation skills is a worthy pursuit, no matter who you are. But what does it mean to have advanced conversation skills anyway?

Well, I’d like to talk to you about 4 conversation skills that I consider will practically turn you into an advanced conversationalist. They’re not the only advanced conversation skills, but they are some of the most important ones. And I’m gonna show you how to cultivate them to boot.

1. Reframing

In conversation, reframing is the ability to look at the topic being discussed and the ideas being expressed from a new, original perspective, and talking from that perspective. It’s, in a way, switching the angle of the conversation. And it’s a great method to spice up the conversation.

Warm smiles on a wintery dayHere’s an example of reframing during a discussion with a girl.

Her: “Boy! My purse is really heavy. I don’t know why I’ve put so much stuff in it.”

You: “Yeah, well at least if someone harasses you on the street, you can easily use it as a clobbering device. They’ll be sorry they ever messed with you!”

That’s a reframe. And by doing this reframe with your remark, you’ve achieved two things. You’ve turned a negative (the purse being heavy) into a positive, and you’ve also given the purse an unconventional, creative utility (as a clobbering device). So your comment is interesting and funny, and it helps you make an impression. Not bad for one comment!

How to develop your ability to reframe: by deliberately trying to look at topics and statements made in conversation from new, different angles. Move away from conventional thinking and seek to think out of the box. With practice, you’ll get better at it.

2. Empathizing

Empathizing is the ability to put yourself in the shoes of the other person, understand their thoughts and feelings, and make statements from this perspective. The more empathy you have, the easier it is to empathize with someone in a conversation.

Here’s what empathizing look like.

Her: “My boss criticized me for 20 minutes for being 5 minutes late! I couldn’t believe it!”

You: ”Wow, I imagine you felt really frustrated and shocked. I mean, how big of a deal is it to be 5 minute late anyway?”

Her: “Yes, exactly! You get me so well!”

See what you’re doing? You’re putting yourself in the other person’s situation and you’re talking about how you imagine she felt and how she saw the situation. That’s empathizing. And when you empathize with someone effectively, it shows that you’re really listening and that you understand them. Which is very rare and it’s bound to earn you a lot of points.

How to develop your ability to empathize: by deliberately putting yourself in the other person’s shoes. The more you practice, the more your empathy improves, and understanding the other person gets easier, so making empathic statements gets easier.

3. Relating

Relating is the ability to connect to what the other person says, with something from your own life or knowledge. A master conversationalist is able to relate to a very wide range of statements, on a very wide range of topics. It goes something like this:

Him: “I went water surfing this weekend. Lots of fun!”

You: “So you do water surfing ha? I tried water skiing once. My back hurt for two days after that, but it was an amazing experience. Have to try it again sometimes.”

By making such a comment you enter in the other person’s world and you show them you can connect with it to some extent. You emphasize commonalities between the two of you, which encourages the other person to open up more, and makes them like you more. That’s the power of relating.

How to develop your ability to relate: first of all by developing a rich lifestyle, where you try a lot of things and have a large array of experiences. That way just about anything the other person talks about, you have some related experience to share. And second of all, again, by practicing sharing related experiences from your own life during conversation.

4. Storytelling

Advanced conversationalists tend to tell a lot of stories when chatting. And they know how to tell them well, so even a banal event seems like a crazy adventure when they narrate it. Rookies tend to only make short, generic statements in conversation, which does little to convey their personality and make it hard to keep the conversation going.

So captivating storytelling is definitely an advanced conversation skill worth cultivating. There is nothing more captivating than a good storyteller, grabbing and holding the attention of an entire group of people with their story about that time when they accidentally ate dish soap.

How to develop your storytelling skills: for one, by telling more stories. Start with short, simple stories if you’re not used to telling stories, and advance to longer, more intricate ones. And also by learning about the rules and principles of good storytelling and practicing them when you share stories.

If you wanna learn more about these rules and principles of good storytelling, as well as reframing, empathizing, relating and other advanced conversation skills, I recommend that you get onboard my free social confidence newsletter, which is where I share most of my advanced conversation advice these days.

Once or twice a week, you’ll receive practical information from me for improving your social skills, social confidence and social life, directly in your Inbox. So go here right now and enter your email to join the newsletter.

Advanced conversation skills do take some practice to develop. But with the right guidance, it can be a surprisingly fast and rewarding experience. Through this article I’ve helped you set a solid foundation for developing advanced conversation skills. The rest is up to you.

Go get them!

How to Be More Likeable

We all want to be liked by others, but few of us actually know how to be more likeable. Making yourself more appealing to others is a subtle social skill and it requires a good understanding of some key principles of human psychology to master.

If you’re interested in how to be more likeable as a person, either to benefit your social life, your dating life or your career, I’d like to give you my perspective, based on my experience as a communication and confidence coach.

Before anything else, there is one crucial aspect to grasp.

You Can’t Get Everybody to Like You

No matter how you are and what you do, not everybody is going to like you. Human tastes and preferences are very diverse, and very often the very behavior that will get some people to like you, will make others dislike you. And you just can’t switch between behaviors as you want, all around.

I’ve met some very likeable people over time. But none of them were liked by all. Even persons who were very upbeat and friendly with others, some found to be annoying because of this trait.

So if you’re goal in learning how to be more likeable is to get everyone to like you, forget it. It’s not gonna happen. However, you can make more people like you, you can increase your likeability factor, and this can be a goal worth pursuing.

Since I touched on this idea, it’s worth adding another thing.

Wanting to Be More Likeable May Be a Form of Approval Seeking

LikeableI regularly coach men and women who want to be more appealing to others. One thing I noticed about them is that, frequently, they already are very likeable and many people do like them. But they aren’t happy with this. They feel they need to get everybody to like them, and this is their motivation.

This is what I refer to as an approval seeking attitude, and it’s not only unproductive, but also psychologically unhealthy. It’s often rooted in shyness, low self-esteem, perfectionism or a deep feeling of inferiority to others. This is what makes them want to be adored by all and never be rejected.

But this is a very unrealistic and disturbing expectation to have, which does more harm than good in one’s life.

If you feel that such a motivation is a big component of what is driving you right now to want to learn how to be more likeable, then I encourage you to shift your priorities and instead of trying to learn this, seek to learn how to stop approval seeking and be socially confident.

And I can definitely provide the solution. Check out this instructional presentation I created, where I will show you how to overcome an approval seeking attitude, and give you a clear-cut process for building rock-solid social confidence. Make sure you watch it, please.

This being said, if you still want to become more likeable, here are my 5 key ideas on how to do so.

1. Be Positive

People who are happy and positive tend to be by far the most likeable people. These are the people who talk about positive stuff rather than negative stuff, show optimism, radiate feelings of joy through their body language, joke around and focus on having fun.

This feel-good, have-fun attitude is extremely contagious, and it makes others around them feel good and enjoy themselves as well. And then they end up liking such a person for helping them feel this way.

2. Be Confident

Confidence is also a very likeable trait. Sure, some people find it intimidating, but most are very drawn to it; and as I said, you can’t please everybody. There is something very alluring about a person who is centered, self-assured and at ease with themselves.

If you lack confidence, fortunately, you can develop this trait. Confidence is nothing more than the result of a certain habitual way of thinking about yourself and others. And there are now a few very effective tools for developing it. Again, I suggest you watch this video to learn more about these tools.

3. Have Empathy

Empathy is essentially the ability to understand another person’s feelings and point of view. This is a very important social skill because all people have a strong desire to be understood by others. And empathy permits you to genuinely understand them, as well as to convey this.

Empathy is something you can develop mostly by interacting with others, going beyond superficial conversations and actively seeking to understand them. This is the best way I know to gain empathy: real contact with real people and their inner and outer worlds.

In addition, reading books with complex characters, learning psychology and observing people and their behavior can also help significantly.

4. Have Integrity

Integrity is a very likeable attribute, and one you won’t hear much about. When you have integrity, it means that you say what you think and you do what you say. Your thoughts, words and actions are aligned.

Why is this important? Because it makes other people trust you. And there is a big overlap between trusting someone and being fond of them. Cultivate your integrity and you’ll notice others will be more open with you; they will appreciate you more and like you more.

5. Have Something Interesting To Say

Last but not least, as a rule, the more interesting what you have to say is the more interesting and likeable you tend to be as a person. So no discussion on how to be more likeable could skip this concept.

How do you have interesting things to say? There is no shortcut. The bottom line is that you need to a have a rich life, with diverse activities, challenges and learning experiences. Then you’ll naturally be able to converse on a wide range of topics and have intriguing things to share. You become an interesting person by developing an interesting lifestyle.

As you can see, becoming more likeable is not really something you achieve through a bunch of quick tricks you can use in social interactions. Sure, tricks may help a bit, but they are not a solution to create a visible and lasting enhancement of your likeability.

If you want to be more likeable, it’s important to develop the traits and attitudes of highly likeable people. Which is something you can absolutely do. I’ve seen many folks achieve this over the years, and it’s an amazing process that will yield benefits you can’t even imagine until you experience them yourself.

Image courtesy of Zitona

How to Build Social Skills

I believe that if you’re lacking in the social skills department, then knowing how to build social skills is crucial. It’s crucial because your social skills play the key role in building a social life, and your social life plays the key role in being happy.

Over the years I’ve met people who did some amazing things in their life: they climbed the career ladder to the top, they made millions, they travelled the entire world, etc. And yet if they didn’t have a circle of people they enjoyed quality relationships with, they weren’t truly happy.

Your social life is a huge component of your overall life. And when you understand how to build social skills and you’re able to develop them to any level you want, you effectively take control of your social life.

Over the last 6+ years, my main focus as a coach has been on helping others with building social skills and confidence. I’ve discovered that there are 4 very effective strategies you can employ to develop your interpersonal skills.

Some of them might be things you’re already aware of to some degree but you may not have given them the attention they deserve, some of them may be completely new to you. Either way, I’d like to share them with you one by one.

1. Hang Around With and Study Socially Successful People

One of the best ways to learn effective social behavior is by modeling people who are already very good at it.

This modeling process is part subconscious and part conscious. Just by hanging around people with good social skills and witnessing the way they interact with others, your mind will involuntarily absorb data and tweak your own social behavior in order to improve it.

To this, it’s ideal to also add mindfully analyzing the social behavior of such people, seeing the patterns, and then deliberately incorporating some of their mannerisms in your own conduct. But the trick is to never simply imitate them: seek to understand their actions and adapt them to fit your own personality, as well as the social situations you run into.

If you lack social skills, you may be tempted to hang around people with a similar level of social skills, because you don’t feel inferior around them. But as the logic above concerning how to build social skills demonstrates, this is a huge mistake.

Try to befriend and hang around people with sharp social skills. Talk to these people, joke around, be a positive presence and you’ll notice that most of them are very open to making new friends. After all, that’s part of what makes them successful socially.

2. Build Your Social Confidence

SocialSocial skills and social confidence go hand in hand. In fact, what often seems like a lack of social skills is only a lack of social confidence. You just feel nervous around others and this makes you act rather awkwardly.

But if you would feel confident and relaxed, you’d be amazed how easy it would be to know the right things to say, be witty, keep a conversation going and be a very likable person. I talk more about this in this video, which you should really watch.

Do you often feel anxious in social settings or during conversation? Then I encourage you to focus on gaining social confidence even more than concerning yourself with how to build social skills. Abilities take a backseat to attitude here.

Gaining social confidence is a matter of rewiring some of your automatic thinking patterns, using both cognitive and behavioral tools.

This is a serious but relatively simple psychological process. I discuss it separately in this special presentation. Make sure you watch it as you’ll get in it solutions for building social confidence that you don’t wanna miss out on.

3. Get Specific Feedback and Use It

A challenge you may encounter as you seek to improve your conversation skills is that you won’t be able to see certain things about your behavior, because you need an external perspective to see them.

We all have blind spots when it comes to our own behavior. And the best way to correct them is to obtain some form of an outsider perspective, which you add to your own insider perspective.

There are multiple ways to do this. You can, for instance, ask some of your friends to give you feedback about your communication style, what they like about it and what they think it’s a good idea to change about it. Do try to get feedback from several friends though, because a single feedback can be biased.

You can also work with a professional coach who can observe your social behavior, either in real social situations or by using role-plays during coaching sessions, and give you the most pertinent feedback.

And you can also find creative ways to record some of your social interactions and review them yourself. For example, record a few of your phone conversations and play them back to you. Your perspective when you replay them will be quite similar to an external perspective.

4. Practice Does Make Perfect

Ultimately, all these ways to build social skills mean nothing if you don’t practice. Above all, you develop your interpersonal skills by going out there and having lots of social interactions with others.

Your mind wants you to improve. It will do all it can to make you better at interacting with others. But it needs you to have real social experiences. It is from these experiences that it will learn the most and it is within these experiences that it will correct your behavior and construct better social habits for you.

What folks with much better social skills than you truly have on you is more social experience. Because they go out, meet people and talk to them while you stay home and watch TV or something.

But if you amplify your social life and you interact more with others, you’ll be amazed how much better your people skills will get in just a few months.

Ever since I started teaching the ropes of how to build social skills, I’ve seen this phenomenon happen over and over again. With consistent practice, good models, specific feedback and work on your confidence as well, you’ll see your social life and skills take off in no time.

Image courtesy of Vicente Alfonso 

How to Play Hard To Get

In the realm of courtship, knowing how to play hard to get matters. A lot. I’ve heard many people tell me that when they have to work in order to get the attention or sexual availability of a member of the opposite sex, they enjoy it considerably more when they get it.

Like or not, we tend to subjectively perceive something more valuable if it was challenging to acquire than if it was just handed to us on a silver platter. And this pertains to male-female interactions as well.

Finding the Middle Ground

The problem concerning how to play hard to get is that many men and women go to an extreme and they do one of two things.

A) They do not play hard to get at all and they make themselves very easily available.

Now, to be clear, this doesn’t mean that members of the opposite sex still won’t like them. There are many traits beyond being a challenge that can make you attractive. However, learning how to play hard to get and doing this would really make them visibly more exciting.

B) They play hard to get too much, up to the point where they seem completely uninterested in the other person or totally inaccessible to them.

Thus, the other person will simply give up and stop pursuing them. Keep in mind that after all, this is called playing hard to get, not being hard to get. It’s all a fun little courtship game.

So, the trick is to find that middle ground. To behave in a way that makes you a challenge, but a surmountable one. That’s when you’re playing hard to get effectively.

It Starts With Your Attitude

The most important determinant by far of how well you can play hard to get is your attitude.

Guy and girlAs a confidence and communication coach, I’ve noticed that people who are very good at playing hard to get all have something in common regarding their attitude: they have a solid dose of social confidence.

This social confidence consists of several elements. First of all, they have a good self-image. They see themselves as likeable, attractive and worthy of the attention of men/women.

Second of all, they are willing to accept rejection and to risk the possibility that a person might sometimes be discouraged by the fact they pose a challenge. And last but not least, they’re not afraid to show their interest in somebody and they can also stop playing games when it’s fitting.

These forms of social confidence lead them to naturally behave in a way that makes getting them a fun challenge. They do it brilliantly well and they don’t even think about it.

Of course, you can try to just copy their behavior, and you will succeed to some extent, but it doesn’t work that well if you lack the inner social confidence.

Many times, you’ll miscalibrate those behaviors, or you’ll miss the subtleties in them and they’ll come off wrong when you use them. Plus, without the inner confidence, you’ll never internalize them and they won’t ever feel natural to you.

This is why I often say that the best way to learn how to play hard to get is to build your social confidence. Develop the attitude of people who are good at playing hard to get, and you’ll naturally become good as well.

With this in mind, I invite you to check out my special presentation on building social confidence. In it I will show you exactly where social confidence comes from, and what are the two simple, scientifically supported steps for improving it. Go here and watch it.

5 Ways to Play Hard To Get

Beyond working on the attitude part, there are some specific behaviors you can practice when dealing with persons of the opposite sex in order to successfully play hard to get. Here are the top 5 such behaviors that I’ve indentified as creating the very best results.

1) Giving double-sided compliments. A double-sided compliment is a positive remark about the other person, but which also contains an implicit joke or negative remark about them. For example: “You’re pretty cute for a short girl”.

In this case, calling the girl cute is a compliment, but the overall remark also implies that in general you don’t find short girls (which she is) cute. Double-sided compliments are a great way to convey interest, but in a cocky, non-needy way.

2) Taking rain checks. When somebody you like asks you out or to do something with them at a certain date and time, politely say to them that you can’t at that suggested moment because you have others plans, but that you’ll gladly do it some other time.

The key is to decline the invitation, but only for the proposed date and time. If you just decline it, they might think you’re simply not interested in them. You want to show availably and lack of availability at the same time.

3) Dividing your attention. When you’re in a group setting and there is a person you like in that group, pay attention to them, talk to them, but pay attention to the other members of the group as well, especially the ones of the opposite gender.

Do give this person attention but don’t give them your whole attention. Give them some attention, then take it away and refocus it, then give them some more, then take it away again.

4) Not showing too much interest too early. It’s rarely a good idea to convey to a member of the opposite sex, verbally or non-verbally, that you’re totally enthralled with them the very first moment you lay eyes on them.

A person with a good self-image and a lot of options in their life is not impressed that easily. Don’t try to hide that they caught your eye and you want to get to know them better. But don’t convey a ton of interest right off the bat either.

5) Not being in a hurry to get into a relationship. For a person who is confident and independent, there is nothing more off putting then to simply make out with some girl/guy at a party and have them immediately start treating you as if you’re their boyfriend/girlfriend: calling you non-stop, wanting to hang out all the time, visiting you and not leaving anymore, etc.

Take your time. Don’t be in a rush to make somebody your significant other and don’t suffocate them with your attention. Get to know them better, experiment, have fun, and let the relationship build up gradually.

As you employ these behaviors, bear in mind that in learning how to play hard to get, you’ll make much more progress from changing your attitude along with your behavior than by changing your behavior alone.

Again, I encourage you to watch this presentation on becoming socially confident.

Your behavior will always be inclined to reflect your inner attitude. And there is only so much that you can play hard to get if it doesn’t come from within. But if it does come from within (and you can make it so), it will change the way others react to you entirely.

Image courtesy of jonaldinger