The Lost Art of Receiving

Giving to others is a popular topic in the how-to literature. But receiving is not nearly as popular. To me, this doesn’t do justice. After all, every time a person gives (whether a compliment, a piece of advice, a present or a helping hand), another one receives. And receiving properly is, despite appearances, as important and intricate as giving.

Although how you respond to a ‘gift’ you get is party regulated by specific cultural norms, there are also principles that rise above one individual culture or another. There is a subtle, universal art to receiving, which derives from fundamental aspects of human nature.

In this article, I’m gonna talk about this lost art and give you some practical advice on how to receive properly.

Always Show Appreciation towards the Intent

I like to think of giving as having two core elements:

  1. The intent of giving;
  2. The actual act of giving.

When someone gives me something, I find it useful two consider these two elements separately, and respond to them separately.

In my view, the person’s intent is virtually always positive. So, first and foremost, you always wanna show appreciation for the intent. It’s therefore astute to first respond to any act of giving by thanking the other person for their positive intention, by expressing your gratitude. Thus, you always start on a constructive note.

But what about the actual act of giving? How do you respond to it? That’s what my next point concerns.

Respond Authentically To Being Given

People often engage in games when they receive something. For instance, many folks believe they should always reject a gift at first, as a sign of courtesy, even if they like it, or even need it badly. “Oh, no, I can’t take it”, they say, and the other person must then insist.

Although cute, I rarely find this approach beneficial, nor do the people I coach on the topic of receiving. It’s dated.

If a person gives you something, they most likely enjoy doing so and it does not inconvenience them. So, plain authenticity is a much more helpful response than playing games. Thus, my advice is to respond genuinely from the get go, and simply accept what you are given.

Also, in the odd case when someone gives you something that happens to actually be a bad gift for you (like a pet cat if you have a major cat allergy), it’s okay to politely explain yourself and refuse the gift. The prior step of showing appreciation for the intent will smooth out your response significantly.

Say Something Positive and Specific about the Gift

This simple trick can turn receiving from a trite, predictable act, to a unique and memorable experience for both parties: when you receive something, take a few seconds to notice it and see what you like about it, or how specifically you might use it. Then make a comment in which you express just that.

For example: “Wow, the colors on this shirt are awesome! I love wearing lively colors.” Or: “This cactus is gonna look great in my garden, next to the tulips.” Or: “You made good points in your feedback. I will definitely consider it.”

No need to try to make a particularly cool or witty comment. Any basic, positive and specific remark will do the job fine. It will show the other person that you genuinely value their gift and you wanna make the most of it. This goodwill will usually matter the most to them.

Don’t Feel Pressured To Give Back

People often hesitate to receive gifts because they feel that with them comes attached an obligation to respond in kind. To them, any accepted gift creates more owned debt.

While I can relate to this mindset, I do not find it too realistic or constructive. If a person gives you something, it’s usually because they want to, not because they expect something back in return. So there is no need to feel obliged to reciprocate. You may often wanna reciprocate because you authentically feel like it, but it doesn’t mean you have to.

There are some people though who give to receive, but pretend to give with no strings attached. Like buying you a nice gadget or piece of jewelry, expecting you to go out with them in return. But by rejecting their gift and then feeling bad or accepting it and then feeling in debt, you only encourage them to play this manipulative game.

I find the best approach to be to accept their gift and think of it as having no strings attached. If it did have strings attached, it’s really the other person’s problem. They need to learn to express their desires openly rather than trying to pressure people into giving them what they want. And this is one way you ‘educate’ them in this direction.

If you often struggle with receiving without feeling the pressure to respond in kind, you will benefit greatly from working on improving your social confidence, because it means you are lacking in this department. You wanna fix the problem from the root upwards.

Considering this, I recommend you check out this practical confidence presentation I created, in which I’ll show you my tried and tested method for gaining social confidence, as effectively as possible. There are priceless gems of advice for you in it.

Being a good receiver is something you learn with practice and a bit of guidance. Just as being a good giver is, and many other social skills. By being both a good giver and receiver, you can effectively nurture your relationships with other people, making them as enjoyable and rewarding as they can be.

For more advice on improving your communication skills, social confidence, relationships and social success, I invite you to join my free newsletter and continue this journey of discovery with me.

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.

3 Simple Rules for Better Friendships

I believe that quality friendships are a very important factor for our life satisfaction. People with good, reliable friends are consistently happier and healthier than those without.

Unfortunately, the topic of friendship is often disregarded in the personal development literature, although many people struggle with making friends and having fulfilling friendships. There is a lot of advice out there on dating and romantic relationships, on networking and business relationships, but not nearly as much on building and maintaining fulfilling friendships.

Well, I wanna do something about that. Today, drawing from my personal experience creating and nurturing a social circle, as well as my years of coaching experience helping others to enrich their social life, I’d like to share with you 3 simple rules for better friendships.

1. Choose Friends Based On Shared Values, Not Just Shared Context

We are very inclined to turn into friends the people we happen to be around a lot of the time. For example: coworkers, or school colleagues, or neighbors we pass by daily. The context brings us physically close to them regularly, and so we try to turn that physical closeness into emotional closeness.

friendshipThe problem is that just because you happen to be colleagues with someone or live next to them, it doesn’t mean you have that much in common in terms of values. And shared values are the one truly major factor that makes friendships deep, lasting and rewarding.

Sure, going to the same class with another person probably reflects a common interest in a certain discipline. But that’s only one, somewhat trivial commonality, so it’s insufficient to make a solid foundation for a highly-rewarding friendship.

This is why one of the best things you can do is to have a rich social life, to actively seek to meet lots of people (besides those that context naturally brings near you) and to pursue friendships above all with people who share similar values with you. It takes more work than just picking what’s around by virtue of context, but it leads to much more rewarding friendships.

2. Don’t Ditch Your Friends When You Find Romance

I see this happen all the time: somebody has a group of good friends they hang out with regularly and have fun, then one day they find themselves a girlfriend/boyfriend, and soon enough they end up completely ignoring their friends and losing touch with them.

Many claim this happens because they don’t have time for their friends anymore. But one can always make time for relationships that matter. The real issue is actually two-folded.

Firstly, folks often believe their romantic partner can take on the role of their friends as well. Usually though, they couldn’t be more wrong. There is a certain type of connection between friends (especially same-gender friends) that you can never replicate in the relationship with your girlfriend or boyfriend. Something vital gets lost in the translation. The truth is that both friendships and romantic relationships have something irreplaceable, so it’s a bad idea to try and absorb one type of relationship into the other.

Secondly, people often assume that the emotional high they get initially from a romantic relationship is gonna last forever. And their friends don’t seem that important when romance makes them feel so good. Again, they are mistaken. That initial high will wear off soon enough, and then they will find a big void in their life. But by then their old friends may no longer be there to fill it.

3. Turn Friendships into Mastermind Groups

Traditionally, friends are seen as people you hang out with, chit-chat with, and have some laughs with. But there is so much more potential to friendships, especially those based on shared values.

People with values similar to you understand you, they likely have know-how or experiences relevant to you, and they wanna see you succeed. So it’s a good idea to leverage your relations with them for growth and achievement. And they can do the same, of course. It’s reciprocal.

You can use your time together not just for light fun and conversation, but also as a way to share your goals and struggles, discuss them, give each other feedback and guidance, encourage and motivate each other, and try to help each other reach your goals. You’ll all benefit a lot from this.

In this form, a friendship has been augmented with the role of a mastermind group. A group of people focused on helping each other be all they can be in life. Thus, the friendship becomes more valuable and, over time, much stronger as well.

If you struggle with making or keeping friends, especially because of a lack of social confidence or social skills, make sure you check out this instructional video where I present my step-by-step formula for building social confidence. Also, join my free social success newsletter, where I’ll share regular and practical social advice with you.

There is a subtle art and science to having quality friendships. Once you’ve mastered it, you’ll very likely see the people you call your friends and the time you spend together as some of the most precious pieces of your life. Good friends and good relationships matter that much.

Attracting the Wrong Kind of People? Here’s Why

Often in coaching sessions, and even in casual social conversations, I hear folks state with some exasperation that they have a knack for attracting the wrong kind of people.

By ‘wrong kind of people’ they mean the types that make their life worse, often much worse, instead of better: manipulators, codependent people, severe substance addicts, violent persons, total narcissists, perpetual complainers, constant criticizers, and so on. I usually refer to the whole bunch as toxic people.

It’s important to liberate yourself from toxic relationships with such types of people, but it’s equally important to be able to avoid getting into such relationships in the first place. And for this, you need to understand why you attract the wrong kind of people.

So, based on my confidence and communication coaching experience, as well as my personal experience dealing with toxic people, I’d like to offer what I deem as the two chief causes for this phenomenon, plus some advice for dealing with them.

You Have Strong Emotional Vulnerabilities They Can Detect  

A lot of individuals will stay away or break away from toxic people as soon as they realize how troublesome they are.

So to have relationships, toxic people must target individuals who are visibly emotionally vulnerable. These are individuals who care too much about pleasing others, or they can’t say no, or they have a savior complex, or they have low self-esteem, or some other deep-seated insecurity.

Such persons have a hard time staying away or breaking away from the wrong kind of people, because they’re very afraid of their disapproval, or they would feel very guilty afterwards. And toxic people are implicitly or explicitly aware of that. They sense they can have their way with such a person, so they jump on them like a lion on a gazelle.

Now, you can try to hide your emotional vulnerabilities, but sooner or later, toxic people tend to spot them. They have an acute mental radar for them.

So ultimately, your only real option is to identify your biggest emotional insecurities and work on overcoming them. You wanna close the chinks in your armor. Not only that it will keep away most toxic people, but it will also enhance your life in many other ways.

You may require some help. Emotional insecurities are not easy to overcome. If you can find and work with a good therapist or coach, I definitely recommend you do it. At a bare minimum, educate yourself about the psychology of emotions and the effective techniques to fortify yourself emotionally; then apply that knowledge on your own.

In particular, I suggest you check out this video presentation I created especially to teach others an effective method to overcome any emotional vulnerability and boost their social confidence, based on my years of confidence coaching experience. I’m positive that it will help you a lot.

And also, make sure you join my free social confidence newsletter to get more practical advice from me.

You Let Yourself Get Absorbed By Their Superficial Qualities

Toxic people are not all bad, especially when you first meet them. Lots of them have quite a few superficial qualities, which come out much sooner than their more profound flaws.

Some come off as very interesting and charismatic initially. Some always know what to say to make you feel good (as well as make you feel bad, as you may eventually find out). Some seem very nice and kind at first. And some appear highly confident and exciting.

The problem is that you may be engrossed and reeled in by these qualities, only to discover a boatload of flaws lurking out of sight as you get to know the person better. Only by then, they’re already your boyfriend or girlfriend, spouse, house mate or good friend.

This usually happens when you let somebody’s superficial qualities trick you into thinking that’s all there is to them. You only see them through the lens of those strengths, failing to consider there are parts of them you have not yet discovered, which may not be as virtuous.

Thus, in or order to avoid attracting the wrong kind of people, you wanna adopt the mindset that people are often not what they seem at first. And you must always bear in mind that toxic people in particular often come off as very appealing initially.

Coming from this mindset, have patience when meeting new people and do not rush into any kind of serious relationship until you get to know them better. Take your time, observe people’s communication model, and don’t let the initial exhilaration dictate your actions.

These are the two causes. One pulls the wrong kind of people towards you, and one pulls you towards the wrong kind of people, which in turn pulls them even closer. I think you can see how this dynamic can create a lot of complications for you.

So it’s important to apply the above advice and work on overcoming these two factors. It will completely change the quality of your relationships. When you posses the self-confidence to evade toxic people and you don’t let eagerness lead you to misjudge people, you create the possibility of amazing relationships in your life.

3 Love Myths That Really Harm Your Romantic Life

Romantic relationships fascinate me. Most people deem their romantic life as very important to them. At the same time tough, it’s an area that even generally smart and educated people often navigate using irrational, impractical and simplistic ideas. And when that happens, a lot of frustration and disappointment ensue.

I’ve certainly made my fair share of relationship mistakes, and I like to think I’ve learned from them. I also like to think that, in time, I developed a much more realistic, scientific and healthy view of love and relationships.

Looking out how many folks think about romantic relationships (from friends to acquaintances to relatives to coaching clients), I’ve identified 4 major love myths that loads of people operate on. These myths cause them a lot of pain and struggle, and they really got to die. So this is my attempt to debunk them and hopefully send them to their grave.

Myth #1: You Have a Soulmate

This idea states that there is one person in this world (no more, no less) who is a perfect match for you. And when you find each other, you’ll fall madly in love with each other and have the perfect, everlasting relationship.

Sounds like a fairytale when you read the whole proposition? It is. Psychologists, sociologists and biologists have been studying the underpinnings of love for decades, and there is nothing in their discoveries to support the concept of a soulmate.

The truth is to be found in basic statistics: you live in a world with millions of other potential mates. Given the complexity of human beings, some of them will likely be highly incompatible with you, many of them will be somewhat compatible, and several of them will likely be highly compatible with you. It’s a stretch to call these later people soulmates, but they are people you would have an amazing romantic relationship with. And there’s more than one of them.

These are the odds you’ve been dealt in the real world. And these are the odds you wanna consider when you think about finding love.

Believing they have a soulmate just makes people abandon great relationship because they don’t feel “perfect”, as well as become emotionally dependent on their current partner if they think he/she is their soulmate. And if for some reason their “soulmate” breaks up with them, a whole Greek tragedy follows. Having a soulmate is a crude, outdated concept, and it’s high time we drop it.

Myth #2: True Love Lasts Forever

Whenever I hear this statement from somebody, I ask them what they mean by “true love”. The most common answer is that true love means “love that lasts forever”. So they’re essentially saying that “love that lasts forever lasts forever”. Which is saying nothing; it’s a circular statement.

LoveI take a deep breath and I keep going. Eventually I discover that what the other person is trying to convey is the idea that if a love is strong (which is what they call “true love”), than it will never end. They’re basically asserting that the longevity of love can be predicted by its intensity.

Okay, now I understand. But their assertion is not true. In fact one of the key aspects of the psychology of emotions is that the duration of an emotion frequently doesn’t correlate with its strength. A person can get very angry, and 5 minutes later be completely calm. Similarly, someone can fall in love head over heels, and in a few months that love is gone.

I find it interesting that, nowadays, people marry out of love more than ever, yet the divorce rate is higher than ever as well. I’m sure there are many explanations, but one of them is probably the fact that love can be a very volatile feeling. To assume that it will last forever because it’s strong, or even because it’s been strong for a few years, is farfetched.

Believing this myth is bad because it makes people commit to lifetime relationships purely based on love. And that’s a mistake. Because later, if much of that love dissipates, they may find out they have nothing else in common: no commons goals, values, passions or beliefs. There is nothing left to hold them together. That’s how messy breakups or really stale relationships come to be.

Myth #3: Love Will Just Find You One Day

We see this myth exemplified in movies all the time. She walks into a coffee shop, just looking to get her morning coffee, when him, tall, dark and handsome, accidentally bumps into her and spills his vanilla latte all over her.

He starts desperately apologizing and hopelessly trying to clean the latte off her dress, while casually noticing she has really nice eyes. Next thing you know all this has transitioned into in a fun, flirtatious conversation, which then turns into a date, which turns into an epic loving relationship.

It’s a great movie plot. But it rarely happens in real life. They’re just too many unlikely factors that have to come together at the same time for such a situation to actually occur. Honestly, you’re probably more likely to win the lottery than to find love like that.

I know why people believe this myth though: because it’s convenient. It’s much easier to believe that love will just find you one day because you really want it, than to believe that if you want love in your life, you have to be proactive and go find it.

However, that is the truth. If you wanna have love, it’s not enough to just get out of the house. You need to actively expand your social circle and meet new people, deliberately initiate social interactions, and make quality conversation with others. You need to talk with a range of people, go on series of dates, test and explore, until you find someone you connect really well with.

That takes time and work. That requires good social skills and social confidence. And a lot of people find it hard to accept that; especially those who are shy and somewhat unskilled socially. So they prefer to believe a myth.

Nevertheless, believing a myth won’t get you far. You need to look reality in the eye, accept it and choose your action course based on it. It’s the only way to find real love.

If you’re shy, socially anxious or you lack social skills, seek help and work to fix this. Check out my instructional presentation about improving social confidence and join my free social confidence newsletter for more help from me in this area. Address the issue. Don’t delude yourself that love will just find you one day out of the blue.

Romantic relationships can be a very fulfilling part of your life. But you need to look for them, go into them and decide which way to take them based on rational beliefs and mindsets, not on unrealistic assumptions. So let’s put the love myths to rest.

4 Rules for a Fulfilling Social Life in the Modern World

The world has sure changed a lot.

Just a couple of centuries ago, most people lived in small towns and villages, where they had a basic social life and well-defined social roles. In time, human settlements grew, and a large percentage of the population migrated to the city.

Then came newspapers, radio and TV, as well as enhanced transportation, which enabled news, goods and people to travel faster and further than ever before. And more recently, we saw the rise of the internet, mobile communication and social media, which created a whole new level of possibilities for social interaction.

I find that many people are very confused by today’s social structures and social tools. They find it difficult to build meaningful relationships in the intricate modern world. I’ve been coaching such people since 2008. Based on my experience, I’d like give you what I deem as 4 essential rules for a fulfilling social life in today’s world.

1. Don’t Stay Too Informed About Others

With social media websites like Facebook, Instagram and Twitter being so popular today, it’s very easy to connect online with others and stay informed about their lives. The problem is that staying too informed about other people’s lives, particularly those you hardly ever see in real life, can be a major source of frustration.

You see, we are all inclined to compare ourselves to others. And when we receive constant updates about a large number of people and compare ourselves to them, they’re always bound to be at least a few who seem to be doing much better than us in some way: they travel more than us, they go to cooler parties, they have better relationships, they have more expensive cars, etc.

Our minds really don’t know how to properly handle all this personal information. They’re wired for living in small bands and tribes (which is what we did for most of our existence as a species) where there weren’t that many people to compare ourselves to in the first place.

If each day we go online and we notice there are all these people who are doing better than us in some area, it’s gonna create the false sense that we’re losers. We’re not, of course; we’re just comparing ourselves with a really big sample, and looking mostly at the positives in their lives. This is prone to create a sense of defeat and disturbance.

So often when you cut down on the amount of info you get about others via social media, it will feel like a huge relief. You’ll be happier with yourself, have a better mood, be more productive and focus more on your own life.

I’ve experienced this every time I’ve cut down on my social media usage. Nowadays, I only use it scarcely to keep up to date with the lives of others. I much prefer face to face conversations, which limits the information I receive to what truly matters to me.

2. Keep Your Social Expectations in Check

Not only that we stay connected with lots of people today, but we also get constantly exposed to the highest examples of social success in the world.

Turn on the TV and you’ll quickly stumble across news about some movie star going to exclusive clubs, spending $10k on champagne, and dating a supermodel. Moreover, we’re subtly suggested that we all can and should get the same type of lifestyle.

social lifeUnsurprisingly, many people’s social expectations are off the charts. Men wanna date models, women wanna date VIPs, many folks seem to be going around meeting others with a 50-qualities-you-must-have-to-roll-with-me checklist in their pocket. Then they complain that they’re single and they don’t have any friends.

Now, I’m all for having standards regarding who you date or befriend. And it is true that many persons have the opposite problem of lacking any standards whatsoever. Nonetheless, many people have social expectations that are way too high. It’s not necessarily that they can’t achieve them, it’s just that it’s gonna take tremendous effort and sacrifices, while settling for something less will prove very fulfilling as well.

You don’t need to have an elite social life to be happy. Connecting with like-minded people is what truly matters. If you have several upbeat, easygoing people to hang out with regularly, plus they have similar values with you, your social life will be much more fulfilling then if you reject social opportunities constantly, waiting to meet the perfect people.

 3. Concentrate on Substance over Appearances

I think people today focus on how they come across to others more than ever. They concern themselves with their image fanatically, often to the point of caring about it much more than about the way they truly are, and thus ending up manufacturing false appearances about themselves.

Every time I see I guy I know is still living with his parents going out dressed in an expensive suit on which I knew he blew all his money, it makes me laugh. And I see this kind of stuff often. Maybe it’s not a suit, it’s a car or a watch, but it’s the same pattern.

Creating an embellished image of yourself can get you some attention and validation from people who just met you. But once they get to know you better, all that validation will go away because you’ve cheated their expectations.

Since you can only keep up appearances for so long, creating false appearances is a very ineffective strategy to build deep, long-term relationships with people. And ultimately, these relationships are the most important ones, because they are the most rewarding.

This isn’t to say that appearances don’t matter and you should ignore them. That’s a mistake too. However, in my view it’s wise to make sure you never put appearances over substance. Consider how you come across, work on putting your best foot forward when you interact with others, but don’t try to seem someone you’re not. It won’t get you far.

4. Don’t Try to Please Everyone

In today’s world, we interact with more people than ever before in the history of humankind. Some of our interactions develop into deep relationships, many more remain transitory.

In such a context, one of the worst mistakes you can make is to approach social interactions from a mindset of trying to please everyone. This, unfortunately, is something a lot of people do.

Trying to please everyone is simply not a realistic or helpful attitude. It gets you constantly stressing about what others think of you, acting inauthentic, sacrificing your needs to please others, only to end up being the generic person that nobody remembers.

I believe the best mindset to have is the mindset that, while you do want to be liked by at least some people, you can’t please everyone and you don’t have to either. It’s a mindset that will permit you to be authentic, confident and relaxed in social situations, while also being sociable and bonding with lots of people. And it will do wonders for your social life.

The tricky part is internalizing this mindset if you currently don’t have it. You need to immerse it into your subconscious beliefs system and make it a part of who you are. Then you’ll naturally operate on it in social situations and rip the benefits.

This is an issue that I often work on with my coaching clients, and there is a lot I have to say about it. So I created a special presentation in which I discuss step-by-step how to stop trying to please everybody and become authentic and confident in social settings. Go here to watch it right now. I guarantee you’ll learn a lot from it.

The best part of living in today’s world is that there are more social opportunities and social tools than ever. But it’s important to know how to navigate the opportunities and use the tools effectively. With the right know-how, you can build a truly rewarding social life, and that will make your whole existence feel more meaningful.

For more social advice from me, I invite you to join my free social success newsletter, and I’ll talk to you some more there.

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 travellingFor 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 Stop Being Envious

Envy can be a real pain in the ass.

I’ve heard some people say that envy is good, because it gets you motivated to do great things in life, in order to be better than others. But I don’t really know about that. I find that envy does much more harm than good, and overall it’s something to overcome.

The Perils of Being Envious

First of all, I find this assumption that envy creates motivation to enhance your life to be severely flawed. In my coaching I often interact with people who are very envious, or people who themselves deal with other people who are very envious.

And more often than not, what envy actually creates is a strong tendency to backstab others, try and sabotage them, spread rumors about them or be passive-aggressive towards them. I guess it’s more convenient to try to pull somebody down than to lift yourself above them.

Second of all, even if envy motivates you to achieve something in life, it might be something you don’t really want. You just go for it because others have it. But it doesn’t make you intrinsically happier.

Think of all the people who work 80 hours a week, in a crappy job, so they can make more money than other people around them. And they eventually end up making more money, but then they find out that, besides the fleeting pride, more money doesn’t make them that much happier, and having more time for themselves would have been a much better path. It’s a very common situation.

envy

Plus, even if you surpass a person in one aspect of life, soon enough you’ll find another aspect where they’ve surpassed you. You’re making more money than they are, but they have a happier marriage than you. Bummer! Later you’ll find individuals who are making more money than you, so more envy gets triggered.

Because you’ll always find people who are better off than you in at least one area, you’ll always feel envious. You’ll be spending lots of time feeling angry and bitter towards others because they have something you don’t. Not a good way to live your life.

4 Ways to Get Over Your Envy

This being said, let’s look at how to stop being envious. Envy can be a deeply ingrained emotion, and overcoming it does require some smart strategies. You may wanna stop being envious just like that, but it’s not that simple.

In time, I’ve discovered that 4 strategies in particular work very well in overcoming envy. Here they are, one by one:

1. Stay Less Informed About Others

In today’s world we are encouraged to constantly keep in touch with every person we’ve ever met and know every detail of their life. We connect with others on Facebook and Twitter and other social media outlets, and we find out what they’re wearing, what they’re eating, what parties they’re going to every day.

However, when we learn something about another person, it’s common to automatically compare ourselves to them. It’s pretty much human nature. And when we do, we are likely to find reasons to feel envious. So having too much info about other people’s lives stimulates envy.

There are actually studies that show, for instance, that spending a lot of time on Facebook leads to a decrease in overall life satisfaction, because of this very dynamic.

This is why it’s a good idea to avoid being too connected to the lives of a large number of people. Of course, keep in touch with friends and people you care about, learn about their lives, but don’t stay too informed about too many people. It’s bad for you.

2. Embrace Abundance

One reason why some of us feel envy very easily is because we are in a mindset of insufficiency. Consciously or not, we deem that there are very few resources in this world, and if others get a lot of them, there won’t be enough left for us.

If others make a lot of money, there won’t be enough left for us. If others date attractive women/men, we won’t have anyone attractive to date. Or so the logic goes.

But it’s a flawed logic. The truth is that while many resources are limited, the limits are placed somewhere very high. We do live in a world of abundance and frequently there is plenty to go around.

It’s an excellent idea to practice this way of thinking. Embrace the idea of abundance and don’t let your mind trick you into seeing false shortages. It will make you much more relaxed.

3. Learn to Like Yourself

Another typical reason why we are envious of others is because we don’t have a good opinion of ourselves. So when we find out something positive about another person, it acts as a reminder of our own shortcomings. And when you have a poor self-image, any such reminder hurts like hell.

Considering this, a big part of learning how to stop being envious is to improve your self-image and learn to like yourself. Not only that it will make you less envious, but it will transform your whole life for the better.

Improving your self-image is an entire psychological process, which entails dealing with several limiting belies. I don’t plan to discuss this process in detail here, but if you wanna learn more about how it works, I suggest you watch this instructional presentation, where I share my formula for improving your self-image and social confidence.

4. Build Stronger Relationships

You may have noticed that we don’t feel that envious when a close friend or a dear relative achieves something awesome. That’s because we are strongly emotionally connected to them and their success sort of feels like our success. So we are happy for them rather than envious o them.

This is why a great but often overlooked way to overcome envy is to build better, deeper relationships with people. Having lots of acquaintances and no real friends doesn’t make a fulfilling social life, and it predisposes you to feeling a lot of envy. Having good friends and acquaintances is the way to go.

Deepening your relationships with others does depend on having good social skills and a dose of social confidence. And lacking them is what prevents many folks from developing fulfilling relationships.

So if you wanna improve your social skills and confidence, I recommend that you join my free social confidence newsletter, where I share most of my advice on these key topics. I’m sure you’ll find the content you’ll be receiving from me very relevant for you.

Feeling envious rarely leads to good outcomes. If you often feel envious of others, my advice is to make overcoming this issue a priority. And if you know other people who easily get envious, try to help them work on overcoming this as well.

The resources to work effectively on overcoming envy do exist. I trust this article is one such resource. Start putting the ideas laid here into practice, and I’m certain you’ll like the results you’ll see.

Image courtesy of Romancement

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

teamNot 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.

Image courtesy of thetaxhaven