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.

Go here to join the newsletter right now.

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.

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 Deal with Social Pressure and Follow Your Own Path

Sometimes your goals and behaviors, even though they make rational sense, will come into conflict with the way others would like you to act and live. When this happens, such people may try to make you conform using emotional tools such as sarcasm, criticism, withdrawal of approval, threats or rejection.

The use of such tools by a number of people to exert influence over you is what’s known as social pressure. It’s a force meant to make you conform to the will of others around you and, more broadly, to the standards of society.

I’ve had many conversations with people who’ve made numerous sacrifices in life due to social pressure. Almost without exception, when they look back, they regret having given in to the desires of others instead of doing what they truly wanted to do.

This is why it’s key to know how to deal with social pressure. It frees you to follow your own path in life and do so without any shame. With this in mind, I’d like to give you a few practical ideas:

1. Remember That the Majority Is Often Wrong

Social pressure is often a powerful force because when several people show disapproval towards something we do, we automatically assume they are right and we are wrong, since we are alone and they are many. Our minds tend to operate on the principle that the majority is always correct.

However, in practice, that is frequently not true. In fact, let’s face it: most people don’t really know what they’re talking about most of the time. They believe various ideas simply because they’ve been exposed to them thousands of times from a young age (which is basic indoctrination) and they never bothered to question them; then they go through life following those ideas, living unimpressive lives, and expecting others to do the same.

So when you consider this, it makes no sense to give authority to an idea just because a lot of people believe it. If anything, it’s probably a sign it’s a flawed idea. This is something to always bear in mind when confronted with social pressure.

2. Don’t Blow Things Out Of Proportion

Sometimes social pressure can take pretty rough forms. Like if your whole family threatens to kick you out of the house and disown you unless you get married. It’s not a tragedy, but it’s not a pleasant situation either.

social pressureHowever, the vast majority of times, social pressure takes light and brief forms. Like if your friends tease you a couple of times when going out for not drinking alcohol, or a few people give you weird looks on the street because you’re dressed in an unusual way.

It’s common though for individuals dealing with such minor events to mentally make a really big deal out of them. They start thinking that everybody hates them, and that they are complete screw-ups. Their minds dramatize and exaggerate.

When dealing with social pressure, it’s important to notice how you think about it, and keep your thinking in check (here is more detailed advice on how to do this). Acknowledge what’s happening, but don’t blow it out of proportions. It will save you a lot of stress.

3. Develop a Strong Sense of Self

In my experience as a confidence and communication coach, there is strong correlation between how sensitive a person is to social pressure and how weak their sense of self is.

People with a weak sense of self let how others see them define them, and abundant approval from others is the one crucial factor that makes them feel good about themselves. Conversely, if others disagree with them or disapprove their conduct, they instantly feel invalidated and worthless.

Cultivating a strong sense of self implies getting to know yourself and your strengths, developing a positive self-image, and improving your social confidence.

This is a big and crucial topic, so I’m not gonna address it in this brief article. Instead, I’ve created a free instructional video where I share my tried and tested advice for improving your confidence and developing a strong sense of self. I suggest you go here and watch it right now. You won’t be disappointed.

4. Find People Who Accept You as You Are

The fact many people don’t approve of what you do or how you do it doesn’t mean that all of humanity is rejecting you. But it can often feel that way; unless there are also people in your life who accept you the way you are.

These people can be either A) like-minded people, who are similar to you in goals and behavior, or B) open-minded people, who have a lot of tolerance towards diversity.

Such people are great because they confirm that being true to yourself is not a death sentence for your social life. It’s reassuring to know that you can follow your path, and even though many will object, some people are fine with it and will keep being your friends.

If you lack such people in your social circle, I encourage you wholeheartedly to find them and keep them close. Get involved in social events, meet new people, get to know them better and spot the ones who accept you as you are. Make friends with such people and foster those friendships. For an unconventional person in particular, they are priceless.

Once you’ve learned to deal with it, social pressure is really no big deal. All that will truly matter to you is that you understand why you wanna do what you wanna do, and it feels right to you.

You’ll feel motivated to follow your own path and you won’t be distracted by herd-like opposition. You’ll live true to yourself and you’ll be proud of yourself for it.

Taking Action and Taking Risks That Lead To Social Success

I frequently say that social success builds up on a foundation of social confidence and good social skills.

Most people who lack the social life they want are in this position because they are lacking in these two departments. Social situations commonly make them feel nervous, and they are somewhat socially clumsy.

Fortunately, there are steps they can take in order to utterly change this. Social confidence and skills can be learned. It’s mostly a matter of training one’s mind to think in a new way, and building positive social habits. I describe this process in more detail in this special presentation.

This process does take some work though, as learning anything meaningful does. For shy and socially anxious people, this is where a lot of procrastination often comes in.

Although they feel lonely, although they crave a better social life, it’s common for them to postpone working on their social confidence and skills over and over again, and just try to distract themselves from their problems with TV, computer games, food, alcohol or daydreaming.

I understand this phenomenon. Years ago, when I realized I was socially insecure, I didn’t immediately start looking for a solution. At first I just waited, hoping this problem will go away on its own. It didn’t. Then when I eventually picked up a book on overcoming shyness, it took me months before I seriously started practicing what I had read in it.

I procrastinated a lot. But eventually I took the necessary steps to find a reliable solution for my social insecurities and I applied it consistently until I became the socially confident and capable person I wanted to be.

When I look at the shy and socially anxious people I talk to today as a social confidence coach, I see a similar issue of procrastinating and not taking action. Only sometimes it’s so acute it’s shocking even to me.

smileSometimes I’ll have an email exchange with someone who’s been socially anxious for over a decade, and although they’ve read a bunch of advice over the years about overcoming this, they’ve yet to take even the first practical step for improving their confidence.

Considering how precious and short our time on this planet is, wasting so much of it is mind-boggling to me. Nevertheless, many people procrastinate for years before truly doing something to improve their social confidence. So I’m writing to hopefully help change that.

There are a few major reasons why we procrastinate in overcoming our social insecurities, which I’m gonna address one by one, and I’m gonna show you how to deal with them:

1. Delusional Hope

This is when a person thinks their shyness or social anxiety will just go away on its own, if they just wait. Kind of like a bruise on your arm that heals itself. Unfortunately, that rarely happens.

You see, the mind doesn’t work the same way the body works. Your body repairs itself. Your mind on the other hand reinforces the thinking, feeling and behavioral patterns you already have. So if your thinking is negative, you feel nervous in social settings, and you avoid social interaction, as time goes by this will only stay the same.

In order to change, you need to take conscious action and effectively re-condition yourself to think, behave and react emotionally in a different way. Here is my blueprint for doing this.

2. Lack of Hope

There are also many individuals who lack hope in the exact area where it’s important for them to have hope. I’m talking about the people who simply don’t believe they can overcome their social insecurities, so they choose to do nothing.

When a person tells me “I just don’t think I can overcome my shyness”, I will typically ask them “What makes you think that? Have you tried it multiple times and failed? Have you seen lots of people around you trying it and fail?” They’ll usually reply: “No, it’s just something that I think”.

That’s the kind of thinking that’s not rooted in concrete experience and has little to do with reality. The person thinks they can’t overcome their shyness just because their thinking is generally pessimistic, without solid proof to support it.

And this is the type of thinking that’s most toxic. It’s the kind of thinking that keeps folks stuck in jobs they hate, in mediocre relationships, in circumstances way below their potential, all while reality permits so many things to be achieved. It’s the kind of thinking not to be trusted.

I’m not saying that you should believe with certainty that you can overcome your social insecurities without proof (I believe it, but I have lots of proof). I’m just saying to have some hope that this is something that may possibly be done. And that possibility is what makes it worth trying. If other people have succeeded, why can’t you?

This leads me to my next point.

3. Not Wanting To Take Risks

For some, even when they think it might be possible for them to gain social confidence, it’s not enough to take action. Because the possibility of failure is also there, and they don’t wanna assume that risk. They aren’t willing to try something until they’re sure it’s gonna work. They want guarantees of success.

Interestingly enough, this is the precise kind of mindset that’s at the root of shyness and social anxiety.

You could say that shy and socially anxious people feel nervous in social situations and they don’t talk much because they’re afraid they’ll say something stupid or weird or boring, and they’re not willing to take that risk. So they end up watching from the sidelines as others talk, bond and have fun.

The fact of the matter is that in life, there are no guarantees. If you wanna achieve anything, you gotta be willing to take some risks.

You take risks by opening up and participating in social situations, and the reward is that you get to have a fun social life. You take risks by trying a solution for your insecurities that seems good after an external evaluation, and the reward is that you get to overcome your social insecurities. Even if that solution may not be ideal for you, because eventually you’ll get to the right one.

Somehow, this discussion all goes back to time. Time is the only finite resource you have. You don’t want to waste away years and years of it by waiting and delaying and avoiding risk, instead of working on overcoming your social insecurities and trying the solutions that exist. 

Trust me: years from now, when you’ll be looking back at your life, the biggest regret you’ll have is having procrastinated, not having taken more action and not having taken more risks. And the biggest satisfaction you’ll have is that of having put everything into it and tried all that you could to be the best person possible, and have the best life possible.

If you’re ready to take action for ending your shyness or social anxiety, get onboard my free social confidence newsletter, where I’ll share with you my top social advice, based on my experience as a former shy guy and my 6+ years as a social confidence coach. Click here to join it today.

And above all, end the procrastinating! Take action! The time is now. 

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

Does Social Confidence Improve By Itself Over Time?

Our typical emotional reactions to certain types of situations often change over time, without us deliberately trying to change them. This applies for social confidence as well, which is a motive that gets many people who are shy or socially anxious asking themselves: will my social confidence improve over time, if I just wait?

Of course, it’s comforting to think that it does. All you have to do is wait, do nothing, and eventually you’ll stop being shy and be more confident. But could this be true? Here is my answer, based on my 5+ years of experience as a confidence coach.

First of all, in my experience, there is no universal rule. When people who lack social confidence do not attempt to change this, there are several directions their social confidence can take on its own: sometimes it does indeed improve on its own, other times it gets worse, and other times it stays about the same.

The General Rule

Nevertheless, there is a general rule. There is a trend that you’ll see happening in about 80% or more of the cases. And this trend is that, unfortunately, unless you do something to improve your social confidence, it will gradually get worse over time, not better.

It’s not only my experience. Other coaches or psychologists who work with people with shyness or social anxiety have noticed this phenomenon; and various longitudinal studies of people with shyness or social anxiety point to the same conclusion.

up-downWhy is this? Here’s the explanation.

Over time, individuals who are at least moderately socially confident go out, meet people, have social interactions, and maintain an active social life.

Slowly but slowly, these experiences build their social skills and social intelligence. They get even better at understanding other people and relating to them, as well as understanding social dynamics and navigating them. This in time makes them even more confident.

Meanwhile, individuals who perceptibly lack social confidence avoid social events and they stay at home to play computer games or surf the net instead. Thus they get little social experience, so their social skills and social intelligence barely improve.

This widens the gap between their social competence and that of others around them. While others become more smooth and charismatic socially, learn how to be witty and read subtle social cues, they still don’t even know how to talk to people and hold a normal conversation.

And being aware of this widening gap, they feel even more nervous in social situations. The more they are left behind socially, the less socially confident they are. And that’s the sad truth.

The Biggest Exception

Out of all the exceptions, there is one big one though, which I would like to point out.

As I said, for some people, their social confidence does improve by itself over time. Most often, this is because they achieve success in some other area of their life and this improves their self-image.

For instance, maybe they achieve success in their professional life by constantly honing their job-related skills. They climb the career ladder, they get professional recognition or they make a lot of money.

This makes them feel better about themselves, and see themselves as more entitled to be liked by others. So they go into social settings with a newly discovered confidence, which makes it easier for them to have social interactions, which gets them more social experience, which gets them more social skills, which makes them even more confident, and a positive cycle ensues.

However, even this exception has its own big exception. Many times, even if a person does achieve great success in some other area of their life, it will not make them more socially confident at all.

Because as you already know if you’ve watched this instructional video I created, the correlation between your achievements in life and your social confidence is frequently very small. You can be the smartest, wealthiest and most capable person in the room, but your mind can still mess with you and make you feel like a loser.

This, along with the fact that the general rule is for social confidence to decrease over time if it’s already not very good, means that there is only one sensible thing to do if you lack social confidence: seek to do something about it.

The Really Good News

The best news is that you can take charge. Your confidence will likely go down over time if you do nothing. Maybe you’ve already experienced this. However, fortunately, you can do something to make your confidence go up like a rocket instead.

First of all, you can take action instead of waiting and just reading stuff. You need to start working deliberately at changing the way you see yourself, others and social situations, as well as the way you relate to others in social situations, in order to build your confidence.

Secondly, the technology you apply for building social confidence has to be effective. There is a lot of generic, repetitive and simplistic advice out there for overcoming social insecurities, and it just doesn’t work.

This is why I encourage you to get yourself a copy of my Conversation Confidence guide.

It’s a practical, proven transformational program, and it will teach you a highly effective, step-by-step formula for turning shyness and social anxiety into social confidence. Check it out here, and have a look at the testimonials here.

As you gain some social confidence and your social life begins to improve, it’s even easier to get additional social confidence and enhance your social life even more. Conversely, the more you wait and do nothing, the worse your social confidence gets and the harder it is to pull yourself out of the whole you’re in.

So, no matter how low your confidence level is right now, know you can completely upgrade it, and wait no more. It’s time to take action!

Image courtesy of jenny downing

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 traveled 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 Be Friendly

If you study the people who bond the easiest with others and have the richest social lives, it doesn’t take long to realize that much of their social success resides in the fact they are very friendly and gregarious, with both girls and guys. Luckily, you can learn how to be friendly as well, and join their ranks.

As a communication and confidence coach, one of my core activities is teaching others how to be friendly and confident socially, and helping them create the fulfilling interpersonal relationships they yearn for.

The thing is, friendliness is just a set of behaviors and a certain frame of mind. If you understand them, you know how to be friendly. And if you employ them effectively, you become more friendly and social.

With this in mind, here are the 4 essential behavioral and mental changes to make in order to be more friendly.

1. Use Social Initiative Exercises

The biggest component of friendliness is social initiative. Having social initiative means that you proactively generate social interactions or certain phases of social interactions. You don’t wait for others to be social with you before you’re social with them.

There are very specific actions that compose social initiative. You can take these actions, one or more at a time, and practice them deliberately, sort of like exercises. I’m talking about actions like:

  • Attending events that are social in nature: parties, classes, networking events, etc.
  • Walking up to new people or people you know and starting conversations.
  • Introducing yourself to people you don’t know when they join your conversation.
  • Asking the other person questions about themselves during a chat.
  • Talking about yourself and sharing your own ideas and experiences.
  • Asking another person for their contact details.
  • Calling or emailing another person and inviting them to go out with you.

And the list could go on. Pick a couple of these activities today and start doing them more. There is no point in waiting.

2. Develop a Mindset of Likability

Something I’ve noticed early on at individuals that want to learn how to be friendly because they struggle with this is that, at some level, they see themselves as unlikeable.

They don’t think they’re good enough or interesting enough for others to want to interact with them or be friends with them. Thus, they are act cold and unfriendly with others. But this is just a facade, to protect themselves from the rejection they expect to happen.

If this is true for you too (and in almost surely is), then implement the 1st change I mentioned may prove to be quite challenging. You may have trouble even asking a few questions or making a bit of small talk with others, because you keep second-guessing yourself.

This is why it’s crucial to work on your mentality as well and develop a mindset according to which you are a likeable person; you are good enough. Which, trust me, you are. You just don’t fully realize it yet.

Since this is an extensive topic, I discuss it separately in this cutting-edge presentation. Make sure to watch it and you’ll learn the exact steps you have to take to change your mindset and become at ease in social interactions.

3. Choose the Right People for You

A genuinely friendly person can make conversation with just about anybody and enjoy the experience. Nevertheless, there will always be people they find it much easier to chat with, for longer periods of time, they’ll take more pleasure in it and they’ll be much more outspoken.

These are the people they are very compatible with: the people they have a lot in common with in terms of ideas, values, lifestyle, interests and so on.

It’s much easier to be friendly if you’re interacting with a person you match well with. If you usually hang out with people who only talk about marriage, kids and TV shows while you care about personal development, entrepreneurship and travelling, there is a definite mismatch there.

Think about the kinds of people you connect with the best, and then seek the types of activities, places and events where these kinds of people spend their time. Meet the right people for you and you’ll naturally find yourself being friendlier.

4. Socialize On a Regular Basis

It’s hard to become friendly and social if you only go out once every two weeks and you spend the rest of your time at home by yourself.

In order to eventually be friendly without effort, you mind needs to become acclimatized with social interactions. It needs to recognize them as a standard component of your life, which you go through regularly. And this requires regularity in your social interactions.

So, go out more, meet new people and interact with them periodically. Make going out the rule, not the exception. This is how to be friendly on a constant basis: by acclimatization with social contact.

Again, this presentation will provide you practical advice for achieving this and making the process of becoming more friendly as smooth as possible.

Your social life is under your control. Make the right adjustments in your behavior as well as your mindset, and you’ll surprisingly find yourself opening up more with all kinds of people and having lots of fun interacting with others.

That’s when you know that your life can be all that you want it to be.

Image courtesy of NicoleAbalde

How to Be More Talkative

Many shy and socially anxious people are interested in learning how to be more talkative. Some people seem to naturally be talkative and connect easy with others. They on the other hand struggle with this.

The good news is that you don’t have to struggle. Equipped with some savvy advice on how to be more talkative, you can get out of your shell and participate more in conversations with other people.

As a social confidence coach, one of my biggest delights is to see my clients speedily become more talkative under my guidance. I want to reveal to you the top four pieces of advice regarding how to be more talkative that they apply to achieve this.

Step 1: Manage Your Expectations

People who are quiet go into social settings with flawed expectations that make it almost impossible for them to be social and talkative.

For example, the may expect that everybody should like them, or they should never say something off beam, or they should never upset others.

With these kinds of expectations, you’re bound to be shy in social situations. Because almost anything you could say risks not meeting one or more of them. This is why an important step in learning how to be more talkative is to manage your expectations.

Managing your expectations means to identify what you, consciously or subconsciously, demand of yourself and others in social interactions. And then, to correct these demands: to make them less perfectionist and more down to earth.

This will allow you to feel more at ease in social settings, open up more and enjoy conversation more.

For a step by step explanation of how to manage your expectations and take the pressure off yourself, watch this exclusive presentation I created.

Step 2: Practice Being More Spontaneous

Another pattern in the behavior of quiet people is that they think too much before they say something.

They wanna be sure they always say the smart, funny or right thing and they never say the silly, weird or wrong thing, which is also related to the unreasonable expectations they have.

Consequently, they tend to over-think every sentence they could utter. And when you think too much about something, you always find fault in it and you often end up not saying it.

An excellent exercise for overcoming this is to practice being more impulsive during conversations. What you do is you say what pops into your head before getting a change to evaluate it thoroughly. You think less and you talk more.

As a result, not only that you’re more involved in conversations, but in the long run, you also build confidence in yourself and become comfortable with being more talkative. This is what makes the exercise cool.

Step 3: Remove Your Limiting Beliefs

Having unreasonable expectations, thinking too much and being quiet in social settings are ultimately mere symptoms of certain beliefs you posses.

Most shy or socially anxious people I’ve met or coached don’t hold themselves in high regard, they think they must be perfect or they think others are better than they are. This is the root of their problem.

If you want to permanently eliminate your nervousness in social settings and become more talkative, you need to get to the root of the problem and fix it from there. You need to change a precise cluster of beliefs you hold.

This is not only a helpful insight regarding how to become more talkative, but also a helpful insight to transform your relationships with others completely. And from there, your whole life.

I have a special free guide for you in which I’ll show you how to remove your limiting beliefs and blast away your anxiety in social settings. Go here to check it out.

Step 4: Treat This as a Process

Today you can become a bit more talkative than yesterday. And tomorrow you can become a bit more talkative than today. And in a few weeks, you’ll have accomplished one mind-blowing transformation.

However, you won’t turn from shy to talkative overnight. Don’t expect this, because you’re just adding to those unrealistic expectations that work against you.

The truth is that human psychology doesn’t work that way. It takes some time and practice to change. Not a lot if you do it the right way, but it does take some.

Treat this as a process, not as a quick fix. Work on becoming more talkative day by day, optimize the process, persist, and focus on making steady progress. This is the attitude that individuals who win at this game have.

I can vouch from experience that learning how to be more talkative and effectively applying this knowledge will open a lot of doors for you. You’ll be able to meet more people, make more friends, get more dates and get ahead in your career.

When you’re comfortable with expressing yourself and letting the world know you as you are, you can do great things with your life.

Image courtesy of bicycleimages