We’ve all seen those people that seem to have a special aura around them. As soon as they enter a room, everyone turns their heads. Since it is hard to see exactly how they get everyone’s immediate respect and attention, it seems like they’ve got a magical secret formula for their success.
Luckily, high-value people consciously or unconsciously follow a set of principles that anyone can learn. However, we need to have a deeper understanding of social value to be able to implement them as a permanent part of our personality. This article will key you in on the top 4 secrets of successful people. In addition, we will learn how to adopt them as our own!
Without further ado, here are the top 4 secrets of people with a high social value.
Being non-reactive means not reacting emotionally to how others interact with us. If someone yells or accuses us of something, we remain emotionally indifferent. Not only are we non-reactive to other people, but also to the situation. If we are in a stressful environment, we stay calm. If a problem occurs, we do not become bitter or angry.
An example would be if a co-worker accused us of spending too much time at work. A reactive person would grow angry or defensive. A non-reactive person would stay calm and take a minute to assess the situation. They may then say something very low-key, like a simple “okay.”
How can we learn non-reactivity?
You always have to react, but how you react is up to you. In 1999, psychologist Benjamin Libet asked the question of whether or not we have free will. As a part of his research, he found we actually have a very brief window to change our reactions. Here’s how it works. Keep in mind, this is all a subconscious process. We don’t actually realize any of this is happening.
First, we are presented with a trigger. This could be something as simple as, say, a text message. It could even be as small as the memory of a text message. At that moment, our brain begins to decide how to act. This is the moment you have to take control over your reactions. Using the STOP Method can help you do just that!
The Stop Method uses 4 steps:
- Stop right where you are.
- Take a few breaths. This will naturally calm you down, and clear your mind of clutter.
- Observe. This is the time for us to feel what we are feeling in the moment. We may feel angry or annoyed, hurt or afraid. No matter what you are experiencing, allow yourself to feel it. It is especially helpful to pay attention to not just your emotions, but also your thoughts and physical sensations. No matter what is happening inside of you, allow yourself to watch it with compassion. The less you judge yourself, the faster you will learn non-reactivity.
- Put things into Perspective. When we pause before you react, our brain has time to put things into perspective. Just these few extra seconds of awareness can change the way we feel about the whole situation. They can also save us from an awkward apology later on.
As an extra step, I recommend writing down any thoughts that drift through your mind while you are observing. Sometimes, our thoughts can give us valuable insight on why we are reactive in the first place. Regardless, becoming aware of what our mind is saying can help break our brain’s reactive patterns.
Many people trigger us without ill intent. However, there are people out there who just want to get a rise out of us. I go more in depth about how to have the upper hand if someone tries to dominate you here.
Between stimulus and response there is a space. In that space is our power to choose our response. In our response lies our growth and freedom. – Viktor Frankl
2. Solving problems instead of complaining about them
This is related to being non-reactive. Rather than merely complaining about problems that occur, we instead accept and solve them. For instance, let’s say we’re traveling and it turns out we just missed our flight home. A common reaction would be to become frustrated or sad, perhaps hoping some kind of miracle might take place so that everything turns out well.
A high-value person, on the other hand, shows no reaction to what has happened. He or she approaches the problem in a non-emotional way and proactively does whatever it takes to solve it. For example, instead of taking their anger out airline staff, they patiently wait their turn in line to remedy the situation. When they get to the front, they don’t “let loose” on the employee. Instead, they take responsibility for the situation and book another flight. Does this sound like you? Or would you be the one at the closest airport bar complaining about your rotten luck? If so, don’t worry. I’ve been there as well, and I know anyone can learn to accept their problems instead of complaining.
First, it’s important to get to the bottom of why we complain. Do we feel better after we complain? For most of us, the answer is yes. In fact, we wouldn’t continue with this activity if we weren’t being rewarded in some way. When we complain, we are usually trying to get another’s agreement and sympathy for our situation. We hope this will help us cope with how we are feeling or what we are experiencing. In the way a drug makes us feel better, so does complaining. However, our temporary high has a negative consequence. When we complain we lower our social value in the eyes of others.
Why does complaining lower your social value at work and in friendships?
At work, complaining can seem like a daily ritual, and if we aren’t careful it can become one. Sure, it can be fun to tell our work buddy about how big of a jerk the supervisor is. Sometimes the complaining almost makes the event that spawned it seem worth it. However, all of this negativity is bad for us and our complaining co-conspirators. In fact, it could be lowering our social value at work. One recent study sheds some light on why.
Employed volunteers kept a diary of their work day, including negative events and sportsmanship. Sportsmanship was defined as not complaining, not escalating minor issues, and not ruminating over issues. When the researchers crunched the data, they found those with low sportsmanship had overall lower job satisfaction, lower mood, and less pride in their work the day of a negative event. The surprise was that low sportsmanship participants reported feeling bad even the next morning. It’s like a vicious cycle: if you complain about your job, you will like it worse. If you like it worse, you will complain more. Since people of high social value do not want to feel bad about themselves and their jobs, they tend to avoid complainers.
The same principle applies to friendships. If we become known as a complainer, people with high social value may begin avoiding us. Being around people who complain is draining, and it is not good for our mental health. A 2007 study published in Developmental Psychology looked at the effect of co-rumination on teenagers. They found the teens that complained to their peers above average were more likely to develop depression and anxiety.
The good news is, we can learn to accept our problems and raise our social value.
How to learn to accept your problems
Change your mindset: The first step is to accept our reality for what it is. People that don’t complain know the difference between things they can and cannot control. They accept the parts of their lives over which they have no control. Then, they take action to change the parts they can control. Therefore, they realize there is no benefit to complaining because it won’t change their circumstances. In fact, they know it will just make them feel worse, both physically and mentally.
Studies show complaining causes us to release the stress hormone cortisol. Cortisol is responsible for a number of negative consequences such as obesity, decreased immunity, and a greater chance of heart attack and stroke.
Mentally, we are digging ourselves into a deeper hole everytime we complain. Here’s how it works. Every time we have a thought, positive or negative, our brain finds it easier to have that thought again. That means persistent complaining will make us more likely to complain. Luckily, this phenomenon is a double-edged sword. One study revealed practicing gratitude can build the muscles in our brain responsible for seeing the good in our life. In fact, the more we allow ourselves to be grateful, the easier the feeling will come to us.
Identify your triggers: In order to identify what generates your complaints, ask yourself two questions. First, what kinds of situations make me most likely to complain? Second, what do I specifically complain about? Once you understand what sets you off and why, you can make a plan.
Expose yourself to the situation: Now that you know the situations that lead you to complain, you can begin exposing yourself to those situations. Once you feel the urge to complain, you can practice holding back. The more you practice not complaining, the better at it you will become! Now the question becomes how to hold your negative opinions back.
Associate complaining with pain: One way to stop your complaint in the moment is to associate your complaining with pain. Some people like to wear a rubber band around their wrists and snap it when they feel tempted. Others pinch themselves. After a while of feeling pain when you think about complaining, you will associate the two. Then, anytime your brain thinks of a complaint it will feel bad instead of rewarding!
3. Be a leader
High social value people are the leaders of their group. They obtain this position naturally and easily. This means you can’t and shouldn’t try to force yourself into having a certain position in the group. Becoming a leader is a process that should take place naturally – If you act in the right way, people will want you to lead them.
How to act like a leader in 7 steps
- Leaders stay non-reactive. Everyone is looking to them for guidance, so they must remain calm and rational. Have you ever known a good leader that lets their emotions get the best of them? Following evolutionary examples, a non-reactive person is perceived as a safe choice as a leader, because their behavior won’t be unpredictable. In fact, we can observe the same phenomenon in other pack animals such as wolves, monkeys, and even dogs. How often do you see calm dogs follow the nervous, yappy pooch?
- Practice what you preach. When we tell others we believe in something, we must follow through. Leaders and people with a high social value do not feel the need to mislead people about who they are. When we don’t practice what we preach we look like liars, and good leaders do not lie.
- Be empathetic. Leaders do not judge other people or their circumstances. Instead, they put themselves in the other’s shoes. Trying to understand where someone is coming from can be the key to effective leadership of that person. In addition, it can lead to a beautiful friendship!
- Listen more, speak less. One key trait of a leader is that they listen more than they talk. Ask Dale Carnegie. In his bestselling book, How to Win Friends and Influence People, this very influential historical character gives his top tips. One piece of advice he offers is, “be a good listener and encourage others to talk about themselves”. Have you noticed good leaders, and people with high social value, are rarely talking about themselves? Usually, they are actively listening to the concerns of others.
- Take responsibility for your shortcomings. A part of taking responsibility means not complaining. Another part means finding solutions. If you are someone that brings answers instead of problems to the table, people will take notice.
- Be trustworthy. Similar to practicing what you preach, except being trustworthy requires more than honesty about who we are. Trustworthiness is about showing who we are through our actions. It is about keeping our word, being tactfully honest with other people, and keeping secrets. Untrustworthy people usually find their lifestyle unravels over time. We can only fool some of the people some of the time, but not all of the people all of the time.
- Be vulnerable. Leaders have the courage to open up to others. They realize they cannot do it alone. They also realize no person is an island. When we let others see our imperfections, it allows for a deeper connection. Try complimenting people you admire or expressing real gratitude in your thanks. These behaviors help others trust us and allow for a real bond.
4. Acting Self-Confident
High-value people don’t appear nervous, but instead, have a high level of self-confidence. This can be accomplished in different ways. One method is to build up confidence over years of life experience. Another way is to act in a way that appears relaxed and calm. Again, we have a lot to learn from movie stars. One primary reason actors and actresses become so attractive and famous is that they often portray characters with high social value in their films. Screenwriters, directors, and producers know that we are hardwired to like high social value people, and movies with these types of characters become more popular and sell more tickets at the box office.
How to come across as self-confident
Luckily, there’s a shortcut to self-confidence for the average person. Research has shown that we actually become more self-confident if we first appear that way through our actions.
1. Maintain good posture
Psychologist Amy Cuddy at Harvard Business School found that our posture affects self-confidence. If we improve our posture, we will actually feel more self-confident almost immediately. When we pull our shoulders slightly backward, lift our chin a bit and stretch so our spinal cord straightens, testosterone levels are increased and cortisol levels are decreased – and that makes you feel more confident in just a few minutes! If there’s one step you should remember from this guide, remember to implement and maintain good posture.
2. Become an actor
Most often, it’s movie stars and sports superstars who have a very high social value. A short-cut to assuming the persona of someone with a high social value is to simply pretend that you’re James Bond, Angelina Jolie or the hottest football, baseball or basketball star at the moment. Silly as it may sound, doing this gets your brain into the right mode to make you aware of how you behave differently than normal. It can be useful for being more conscious of your behavior, as well as coming across as more confident.
3. Avoid gossiping
Gossip is a bad habit many people get into for good reasons. Most likely they simply
want to belong. The need to feel like a part of a group is human, but gossiping is not a healthy way to bond. In fact, if someone is gossipping to you chances are they will also gossip about you. People who are confident in who they are don’t feel the need to bring others down by spreading drama. Self-confident people know most gossip comes from a place of jealousy, anger, or fear.
4. Focus on confident body language
There are some tell-tell differences in body language between people that are confident and those that aren’t there yet. Self-confident people make eye contact, don’t fidget, and relax any stress in their muscles. These behaviors signal to the other people you are calm, cool, and collected.
Another important part of body language is having a firm handshake. A study published in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology found handshakes influence others impressions of us. Interestingly enough, they also found the way we shake hands actually correlates to our personality. They trained research assistants for a month on the 8 indicators of a firm handshake. Those factors are the completeness of grip, temperatures, dryness, strength-duration, vigor, texture, and eye contact. Then, the assistants judged participants on their handshakes and gave them personality tests. At the end, researchers found participants with weak handshakes described themselves as more closed off, introverted, negative, shy, and neurotic. On the flipside, those that had firm handshakes self-described as glass half full, extroverted, less anxious, less shy, and more open to new experiences. Another study found job interviewees with firmer handshakes were more strongly recommended for hire.
The last aspect of body language is the infamous power pose. Research has discovered this pose can raise testosterone levels and lower stress hormones. These hormone levels are the most effective at allowing us to act confident. You can strike your very own power pose by tilting your head back with your arms high above your head, mouth open, and chest puffed.
The most common mistake people make when increasing their social value
High social value is most often attractive, but not always. In this text, I will explain why there is a danger involved with trying to increase social value. Instead of being attractive, some may perceive us as arrogant or obnoxious. Therefore, the more high value we become, the more kind towards others we must become as well. A kind, high-value person easily becomes popular, such as George Clooney or Paul Newman. A less kind and considerate high-value person can instead become disliked by many because they’re perceived as selfish. Your social value amplifies your behavior. Read more about this in our post about becoming more popular.
Practicing high value and high kindness is a win/win. You will enjoy becoming more popular, and others will enjoy being around you as well!
By learning the 4 secrets of people with a high social value, we can increase our popularity. Even though it may seem unnatural at first, the more we practice these principles the more natural they will become.
When we add kindness to the confidence brought about by acting like someone with a high social value, we can become a necessary part of any group. Before we know it, we will take on the part we are acting.