Last Updated on March, 2023 by Edison
This is a no B.S. guide to improving your social skills FAST.
You will learn simple yet powerful ways to
- Master your fears
- Handle discomfort
- Become very persuasive
- Deal with difficult people
And much more…
Let’s dive in.
Shyness vs Social Anxiety
For most people, the biggest challenge they face regarding social situations is feelings of shyness or social anxiety.
Shyness is the feeling of discomfort when you are around other people.
Social anxiety is when you think other people see the worst in you and reject you for it. And this leads to feeling fearful, agitated, and constantly on edge.
They also tend to avoid situations that make them uncomfortable. Consequently, they’ll find themselves in a vicious cycle.
Social anxiety holds us back in our work, keeps love and friendship from deepening and leaves us miserable and lonely.
Eventually, we might withdraw from the world and become chronically isolated. That’s a big problem because chronic loneliness is linked to an increased risk for heart disease and Alzheimer’s.
You can overcome shyness on your own. But social anxiety is a complex problem, and you need to seek help from a trained psychologist.
Confidence and Resilience
I’ll show you a five-step process to help you become more comfortable in social situations.
1. Decide to meet the fear and take action.
The details are not important right now. You are in the realm of pure decision. I will do this thing.
2. Rehearsal phase.
Now it’s time to prepare you. Read articles or books that will help you improve. Practice what you have learned with people you already feel comfortable with.
Let’s say that you have a tough job interview coming ahead.
Search for the toughest questions they might be asking.
Set a make-believe interview with your friend or family member.
They will keep a closed body language and ask you tough questions. You will answer them again and again until you feel confident and a little charming.
3. Letting go
After you have gone through the learning phase, it’s time to get out there. It’s time to take action.
Don’t wait for the perfect time when you feel confident enough to act. You’ll never develop full confidence unless you face challenges.
4. Why are you doing this?
It is difficult to commit ourselves 100% if we don’t have a good reason.
Maybe you want to:
- Climb the career ladder
- Meet new people and experience new things
- Make more friends
- Find a partner
People wait till they feel good and motivated to face their fears. That approach does not work.
You need to act DESPITE fear or discomfort.
And maintaining the focus on your goal will help you overcome difficult moments when you might be tempted to give up and go back.
In addition, you need to remind ourselves that everything has a price.
If you don’t become socially confident, what will you lose? Think about your situation in the future of how bad things will be if you don’t take action.
Now, when you go out of your comfort zone, negative thoughts and beliefs will kick in.
So, you need to learn how to deal with them.
No matter who you are…
No matter where you live…
Even if you are a Walt Disney level optimist, you’ll still have negative thoughts.
The human brain evolved to think negatively.
Thousands of years ago, humans had 4 basic needs: water, food, shelter, and sex.
But none of that would matter if you were dead.
If someone would only think positively, he/she wouldn’t survive and leave descendants.
We come from cavemen and cavewomen who were always alert for danger, always predicting the worst.
So, the brain generating negative thoughts is normal.
But they only become problematic when we give them all our attention, allow them to control us, or fight with them.
Here are some ways to deal with negative thoughts:
Label the thought – Instead of saying, “I will blow this test,” say, “I notice I’m having the thought that I will blow this test.”
Instead of saying, “I’m a loser,” say, “I notice I’m having the thought I’m a loser.”
You are separating yourself from the thought.
Thank your mind – When having an anxious thought, thank your mind for doing its job.
I hope the car doesn’t crash –> Thank you mind for trying to keep me safe. But there’s nothing you can do right now. I’ve got it covered.
Dramatic stories – Sometimes, we tell the same dramatic stories to ourselves.
So, the best way is to recognize the story.
They think I’m a loser —> Ah, yes, the inferiority story.
The boss will realize I don’t deserve this job —> Here’s the ‘I’m incompetent’ story.
Give logical arguments – Use logic to offer strong arguments against your inner critic.
People think I’m boring —> How can you know for sure what everyone thinks? Even if the interaction didn’t go as planned, people have a lot on their minds and won’t bother thinking about it.
I’ve been miserable my entire life. Why would anything change? —> If other people can change, so can I. And it’s never late to improve my life.
Avoid Generalizations – Look for words like all, every, none, never, and always.
What we say and think is important because they get recorded in the subconscious.
If you constantly generalize common setbacks, the subconscious will pick them up and respond incorrectly.
For example, when you say, “I always screw up”, each time you make a mistake, the subconscious will record it and affect your performance the next time you face a similar challenge.
That’s why we need to balance the scales:
“Sometimes things don’t go as planned. Sometimes it goes better than I thought. Sometimes it goes worse than I thought.”
It means paying attention to what is happening in the present moment without judging whether it is right or wrong.
There are many other advantages to mindfulness. It’s easier to pay attention. You like people better, and people like you better because you’re less evaluative.
And it can change your brain.
Research in 2011 conducted by neuroscientists at Harvard Medical School documented how mindfulness meditation can increase the density of grey matter.
Other studies have shown that it affects regions linked with memory, the sense of self, and the regulations of memories.
How to Practice Mindfulness
- Find a quiet place where you won’t be disturbed for a few minutes.
- Sit with your back straight but relaxed.
- Focus your awareness on your breath. Notice the inhalation and exhalation.
- Don’t try to change breathing in any way.
- If anything comes to mind as a distraction, let them go and return your attention to your breathing.
To get the full benefits, you must do this daily exercise for 20-30 minutes for eight weeks.
I was watching Chris Voss’s Masterclass, and I also read his book on negotiation.
And I got some valuable lessons about the psychology of influence.
Chris Voss worked at the FBI as the lead international kidnapping negotiator and developed a collaborative and empathic approach to negotiating.
Tactical empathy is understanding what someone is feeling and hearing what is behind those feelings so you can increase your influence in the following moments.
You don’t have to agree with their values or beliefs.
We use tactical empathy to learn their position, why their actions make sense (to them), and what might move them.
Now, your brain has three layers that have evolved over thousands of years… The primitive reptile brain, a more evolved mammal layer, and a final primate layer.
– The lower reptilian brain it’s been there forever. It is the “fight-flight-freeze” region of the brain. It’s all about acting and reacting.
– The middle mammal brain is the seat of your emotions. Call it your inner drama queen. It’s where powerful feelings arise. (Love, joy, anger, grief, jealousy, pleasure)
– The upper or primate brain is the logical part that generates a conscious plan of action.
This region collects data from other brains, analyzes it, and makes practical and intelligent decisions.
All three influence how you think and act every day.
These brains work together, but sometimes they pull apart and function independently, especially when we are under stress.
When you reach someone, you want to talk to the primate brain.
You’re in trouble if you try to reason with people feeling angry, upset, or threatened because the logical brain isn’t calling the shots.
Understanding this process will also help you become more aware of what’s happening, deal with the emotional brain, and prevent yourself from saying things you will regret. That’s why I recommend doing the mindfulness exercise.
We constantly mirror the world and try to win its approval.
Many people feel they give their best, only to be met with apathy, hostility, or no response.
This explains why we feel overwhelmed when someone acknowledges our pain or triumphs.
You can make someone feel heard or make them talk more simply by repeating the last one or three words.
You can use an upward inflection of your voice (The last three words?) or a downward inflection (The last three words.)
Our tone of voice replaces phrases such as, “What do you mean by that?” or “Please go on.”
As we said, rational thinking goes out of the window when people get upset.
So, instead of denying or ignoring their emotions, we identify and influence them.
A good way to do that is by labeling their emotions.
It’s like psychiatrists work with their patients. They will encourage the patient to talk more about his problems and then turns the responses back onto the patient to get him to go deeper and change his behavior.
Labelling an emotion will shift the activity from the reptilian and mammalian to the primate brain.
You should begin with, “It sounds/seems/looks/feels like….” or “I hear you…” “I understand you…”
Don’t start with “I” because it conveys that you’re more interested in yourself than him.
Be prepared for an emotional storm. Let that person vent.
Then say, “What needs to be done for you to feel better?”
Getting to this level of emotional intelligence will require listening, making direct eye contact, and using a calm voice.
Let me give you a simple example.
An angry person was offending Donald Trump; here is how he responded.
Now, here’s the correct way to deal with people who are angry or in distress.
It is a similar situation when some individuals start screaming at Obama.
He seems calm; he doesn’t offend them, and in many cases, he tries to calm down his supporters.
You probably know that if you try too hard to impress people, it won’t help to make a strong first impression.
We want to create feelings of positivity, trust, and respect.
How can we do that?
Be enthusiastic about meeting new people. They might become your friends, partner, or clients, so it’s worth feeling enthusiastic.
When you’re enthusiastic, it will convey that it’s worth hanging out with you.
We all love to hang out with positive people, right?
Then we create trust and respect by maintaining open body language, giving genuine smiles, talking about what we do, asking open-ended questions, and being honest.
With honesty, I don’t mean telling your deepest secrets, but be honest about small, unimportant things even if you feel a little embarrassed.
No matter how good you are at conversing with people, you might face awkward silence.
You might believe this somehow “proves” you’re incompetent in social situations. But nothing could be farther from the truth.
Awkward silence occurs:
• When you and your friend reach the end of the subject, you need to figure out what to say next.
• If someone makes a thought-provoking point, everyone might pause and reflect momentarily.
• Everyone might be too tired or in a laid-back mood and decide they want to relax for a bit.
Handling silence with ease
Silence happens. It’s all about how you react to them. If you stay comfortable, you send a message to everyone that what’s happening is normal and not awkward at all.
Don’t worry about bringing up a new subject – Give yourself a few seconds to think of something that will continue the conversation.
If not, go back to something they said – “So, you’re saying before that you were thinking of learning how to paint?”
Be open when you have nothing to contribute – When someone brings up a topic about something you know little about, it’s better to admit it.
For example, a friend is giving technical facts about the new Mercedes. Instead of trying to look smart, say, “Actually, I don’t much about this stuff but I would like to learn more…”