This is part 2 of a long article that I wanted to share with you. If you haven’t read part 1, you can do so here.
I wanted to share with you a series of sub-skills that make up that larger skill of knowing how to socialize effectively. Let’s remember, the purpose of socializing is mainly about meeting people who are the type you want in your life. Think of it as a necessary step to meeting the friends you want in your life.
As any other skill, socializing can be learned, with the help of good advice and some practice. Let’s learn the remaining 6 sub-skills to help you get started.
Think Quickly So You Can Socialize With Grace
What you want to do here is to be very quick with understanding what’s going around you, socially. Social signals are mostly nonverbal, there is a lot of indirect communication, and that requires some social acuteness.
The better, and faster, you understand social signals, the more in-sync and effective your actions and reactions will be. In other words, you would never be out of step or out of sync with your social environment.
. Sometimes, you may feel stuck trying to make sense of it (trying to understand why the people around you are laughing at one thing in particular; why they’re talking about a seemingly trivial detail of a story, or why they seem excited to talk to one person in particular.)
When that happens, and if you feel stuck, I recommend you just “shake it off;” do not worry about it. you don’t have to get everything, just keep smiling and don’t show a confused face. I’m saying this because, if you keep thinking about it, while you’re there with people, you’re going to feel more and more anxious and maybe upset. If you get in that state, it’s almost guaranteed that you’ll be paying even less attention to the social interaction, and miss out on even more social signals.
Later on, your mind will pick up the pieces of those social interactions and it’ll start to make sense.
Be Easy To Read
This is another skill that helps greatly when you’re interacting with new people. Part of what makes someone want to meet you again is that they’ve felt comfortable with you, when you first met. What makes them comfortable has to do with how much clarity they have on who you are, what you’re about, and how your personality is.
The paradox here is that there is a good chance that one interaction is not enough, and you can’t express “what you’re about” that quickly, and in simplistic terms.
. The first thing to do is to get ready to introduce yourself and talk about what you do in brief, clear, and simple down-to-earth terms that anyone can understand. When meeting someone new, don’t drown them in details on how you got where you are, or on your life story, at least not right away.
Instead, share simple things at the start so you can go into details, later. Often, it’s better to give just some snippets about yourself, and see what interests them most.
. The second principle is to generalize to simplify. When talking to someone new, it’s better to generalize and give broad statements than to go into all the nuances of what you think of the subject at hand. Again, you’re not sure if it’s required; you’re not sure they’re interested in that level of detail.
You can use statements like “yeah, pretty much,” “yeah, that’s generally the case,” “I mostly do X, Y, Z,” and “I tend to agree with that most of the time.” Using language like that, as you’re getting to know someone new, you’re efficient and don’t take too much time making your point. That means you’ll get to touch on many more subjects, and get to know each other faster.
Detect The Best Possible Friends
Please understand that there is no code that says you need to talk to everyone when you go out to meet new people. No one is going to keep tabs on you and what you’re doing. If you want to bond with only a handful of great potential friends, then do just that.
Many people focus too much on avoiding embarrassments, trying to be accepted, or even just surviving the night. There is nothing wrong with those concerns, but they distract you from your ultimate goal, which is to find great potential friends.
. One way to sharpen your focus when you go out to meet new people is to pre-determine which kinds of friends you want. Do it once in a while to re-orient your effort on the direction that serves your social life best.
. Many people get disappointed because others seem to be very different from themselves. If this happened to you, you know how frustrating and lonely It can make you feel. This happens often when you expect to have friends with qualities or habits that are too rare, or too perfect.
Another reason you might have this challenge is if you live in a small town, where there isn’t enough variety of people.
In either case, I recommend that you open yourself up to some difference. Be open to the idea of having friends that are different than you are. I recommend you keep finding great people to befriend; people that would help you grow, be more successful, and happy.
Keep Conversations Going
Being able to keep conversations going with people you meet for the first time is a key skill. It allows you to get to know them and find out if you have things in common.
.One obstacle to making good small talk is getting distracted from the conversation by other thoughts or by the environment. If you can just be present with the other person or group, you go a long way in keeping up with the conversation.
If you find yourself in an environment that is too distracting, it’s better to avoid looking around, while you talk. I suggest that you keep your attention on the other person as long as you’re having that conversation.
. Another obstacle to small talk is feeling like you’re not in your normal state. You don’t feel comfortable enough to just speak your mind. So you might have awkward silences, or don’t feel like you can contribute to conversations, but when you go home, you realize that you actually have things to say about those subjects, you just didn’t feel “in your normal state” to be able to share what you think.
This is why making small talk needs to feel within your comfort zone. It needs to feel comfortable for you to for in any situation. This is why I recommend that you practice it in various places, until it becomes second nature. Wherever you go, whomever you talk to, it doesn’t have to be a social event or anything, try to talk 5% more than usual. Put in one or two more statements than what you’re used to.
Find Hook Points
We’ve talked about how to detect great potential friends and keep conversations going; the next step is finding what I call “hook points.” This is like finding things in common, but so much so that it creates a natural reason for a future meeting with the other person or group.
Hook points are beyond just commonalities; they’re like motives to meet again or at least stay in touch. They can be on many levels. Here are some main examples:
- Person A does activity X; person B is interested in doing X in the future. (for example, Person A mentions that he or she likes going to the farmers’ market every Sunday, Person B might say that he or she have been meaning to go there as well,… that “hook point” is an opportunity to meet again to go together for example)
- Another example: Both person A and B do activity X but at different times or at different frequencies. (For example, maybe they both like to run at the park, but not at the same times; that can be an opportunity to meet and do it together.)
- Example 3: Person A does activity X and person B does activity Y; and those activities complement each other. (for example, a web designer and a web programmer may want to stay in touch; maybe they could work together or help each other in the future.)
- Example 4: Person A and B do different activities that serve the same function, and both are open to trying different things (for example, both have different workout routines and would be interested in trying new stuff; that’s a motive to meet again. Another example: they do different things for fun and would be interested in trying what the other person does.)
Have People Ask To See You Again
Now, once you’ve found things in common and hook points with people you want to meet again, it’s time to exchange contact information and maybe even commit to a future meeting.
I call this super social power “have them ask to see you again,” but that name just refers to the ideal scenario, where you’ve highlighted the hook points so well that you have the other person suggest a future meeting. But I also encourage that you stay pro-active, and dare suggest it yourself whenever you want to and feel that it’s appropriate.
You eventually have to show some interest and enthusiasm, to signal that you’re glad that you’ve met them and that you’re open to meeting them again. There is a balance between seeming too interested, and seeming too aloof; if you want to know how much interest and enthusiasm you need to show, then just remember that it depends on how the interaction went:
- How much you bonded
- How many commonalities and/or hook points you’ve found
- How much you enjoyed talking to each other
- How much time you spent talking
- How many laughs you shared
- And how much personal information you’ve shared (especially if you’ve shared some silly secrets that brought you closer)
Congratulations! You have finished reading this long article. If you want to learn more about how to socialize and make friends, I recommend you check out my eBook, Get The Friends You Want, and my Advanced Social Skills Training.
– Paul Sanders
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