Those habits are simple indeed. However, they elevated my social skills from the level below zero to a point where people who meet me for the first time think I’m a social butterfly.
I consider their biggest benefit that for half of them you actually don’t need cooperation from others at all. You can practice those habits in the security of your own mind.
1. Notice Other People
Start recognizing the people around you. Look at them and think about them.
What things do you have in common? What things in them spark your interest?
2. Observe Other People
Stop digging lonely in your own mind. Look at the people around and think about them.
How do they behave? How they are behaving toward you? If you had to praise a specific man or woman, what would you say?
3. Mind Games
Once you notice people around you and think about them in the positive light, imagine striking conversations with them.
Visualize how you approach them, say “Hi”, start a conversation and tell them about that nice good thing about them you’ve noticed.
4. Eye Contact
The first step of the conversation is to make eye contact. Stop avoiding other person’s eyesight. If you don’t notice them you won’t talk to them. After breaking eye contact give this person a minute of reflection.
What things do you have in common? What things in them spark your interest? If you had to praise him/her, what would you say?
The next important factor in your becoming sociable is using your smile. Often we are so locked in our fears and insecurities regarding other people that we don’t notice they have their own difficulties. We all are so isolated in our fast-paced society and the simple act of smiling can knock down the barriers between us.
So, make eye contact and smile. You will be surprised by the mix of responses you will get. Some people will flinch, wince or recoil: “A stranger smiling at me? This is so unexpected!”
Many people will look away to break the eye contact, plainly feeling uncomfortable. Many will look at you incredulously: “Is it real? Is this person smiling at me?” They will take a quick peep around looking for the person who you are really smiling at, then get back to you, realizing that they are the receivers of your smile.
And I love best those handful that smile back at me. There will be such people in your case too.
6. Say “Hi”
Or “How do you do” or whatever people in your culture say to each other when they start a conversation.
If you made eye contact and smiled at them and they smiled back at you, it’s a no-brainer.
That’s it. You don’t need to do anything else. No obligation to discuss life and death matters. A simple “Hi” is enough.
Everybody likes to be praised. I’ve never met with the reaction of rejection when I praised a stranger. No one has ever told me “Get lost!” when I praised him.
The range of reactions is wide and mixed, but it always stays in the positive spectrum.
So praise. Look at the stranger and think what you could praise — an image; their clothes; a cool tattoo; maybe certain behavior?
Starting a conversation with praise is rarely as rewarding as talking about the purpose of life, but it’s an order of magnitude easier.
8. Ask about Them.
This is powerful. Everybody loves to talk about themselves. And people think you are so smart and likable when you make it all about them!
I have some contacts with really high-profile people, millionaires and the like. Those folks have a truly magical ability to make me talk.
A hack to make it work: be really curious about them. Reflect that in your language: “That’s fascinating! Can you tell me more?”
Listen with Your Body.
Master a few simple habits which signalize you are listening to the other person. Lean into them. Look at them, preferably right at their face. Make small head movements indicating that you are trying to listen to them with all your might.
This is huge. You may have a habit of asking deep insightful questions, but if you don’t listen to the responses of others, you could’ve as well ask no questions.
It’s a common struggle. We all love to talk, especially about ourselves. Especially when you ask a question, shut up and listen carefully to what they say. You may add another habit on top of that – ask another question at the end of their utterance:
Is that all?
What do you mean by that?
or simply repeat their last words with a questioning tone encouraging them to continue.
Some helpful tips to cultivate this habit:
-make sure you always speak less than the other person,
-say fewer words than the other person,
-shut up; use grunts and gestures to communicate;
-use twice as many questions in your conversations than you use declarative statements
-never give your opinion in a conversation unless you were specifically asked for it
There are more social habits, but the above ones cover the basics. Master the basics and other skills will be easier to practice.
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