How to participate in group conversations when you dislike attention

This is the third part of my email series on group conversations.

Here are the previous parts:

Part 1: How to be part of the group without saying anything smart or funny
Part 2: How to be part of a conversation when you just don’t feel like it

Yesterday I had an eye-opening coaching session with a client.

He told me how he zoned out in conversations. I’ve met with him before, and nothing had given him great results.

Finally, after an hour of coaching, we finally arrived at the core of the problem: read more

Why self-improvement is painful and what to do about it

A while back I met an amazing girl that I soon fell in love with. I knew that she liked me back. But while I felt more and more for her over time, she felt less and less.

When someone I speak with for five minutes walks off, I’m unaffected, because I know that they don’t know me.

But being rejected by this girl took a hit at my self- esteem.

I’m privileged to have extremely conscious, smart people around me who could give me input.

I felt like I was back in school – seeking advice instead of being the one giving it out. read more

What to do when friends only talk about themselves and aren’t interested in you

We just got an email about getting stuck in the “listener trap”:

“[…] After about 6 months of “friendship”, these people turn to me as someone to talk to, as I always seem interested in their daily affairs.

The difficulty is that they just want to talk about themselves. I am afraid that if I start talking about myself, these friends would find me whiny and stop being friends with me!

I personally think that I may be not interesting enough to people, and thus people don’t seem to take interest in what I say or do – they just like me for being someone they can vent to or talk to or seek advice from. read more

How to deal with setbacks in personal development

I just came back from a fun and interesting dinner with a course participant.

I coach him, and in return, he gives me feedback on our material.

We talked about group conversations. He told me about how he’d made great progress at first but then felt like he was back to square one. He asked for advice on what to do next.

It’s a great question. It’s something I’ve struggled with, too.

Luckily, by knowing what the curve of self-improvement looks like, we learn that those setbacks we experience are a natural part of what it takes to improve. read more

Can you have too little social anxiety?

Hi, what’s up?

I know a guy with ZERO social anxiety.

I think it’s because he lives a yogi lifestyle where he meditates several hours per day. (Meditation lowers anxiety.)

Without anxiety, he must have an amazing social life, right?

Wrong. He’s a living proof that social anxiety has a purpose.

The purpose of social anxiety is this, according to science:

The function of social anxiety is to increase arousal and attention to social interactions, inhibit unwanted social behavior, and motivate preparation for future social situations. (ref.) read more

How I deal with social fear

Back in the day, there was a huge festival in the Netherlands I always wanted to go to.

So one year, my friends decided to go and I had my chance to join. But I didn’t.

I said it was because I couldn’t afford it. But the real reason was fear.

I was too afraid to go there and meet a bunch of strangers in a place I’ve never been to. I told myself “I’ll go another year instead”.

But later, the festival closed down. My chance was gone for good.

I’m thankful that I’ve now learned a new way to think about fear. read more

When it feels like others judge you, do this.

Ever felt like when you’re about to say something, people will judge you?

Or, that people judge you already when you walk into the room?

Here’s what one of our readers wrote to me:

“I find it difficult to start and continue conversations, and worry that everything I’m doing is being judged by others.”

My strongest memory of this was at a dinner with other startup owners. I hadn’t achieved as much as they had, and I felt like a fraud.

The way they looked at me confirmed that they were on to me. (At least, that’s what it felt like.) read more

Why you find your best friends at the nerdiest places

A friend and I took a walk in Manhattan the other night.

We came across this guy who had brought his huge telescope to the street.

He had it pointed at the Moon. He let us watch, and the detail was AMAZING!

He had a phone mount on his telescopes, which meant that I could actually film the moon with my own phone!

Here’s the clip I filmed:…

Isn’t it mind-boggling that you can hear us talking on a street corner in NYC, but feel like you’re next to the moon? read more

Is it bad to spend too much time with a friend?

I had a friend who I used to hang out with almost every day. Problem was, as the time passed by, I started to get more and more annoyed with him.


Well, he tended to talk a lot and wasn’t a very good listener. Over time, I started prioritizing other friends. Finally, it came to the point where I stopped returning his calls. (I still feel bad because of that, and I know that I should have tried to bring the issue up with him first.)

In either case, this must mean that hanging out with a friend every day is bad for the friendship, right? read more

The 11 Secrets of Highly Popular People

What are the hidden principles behind why some people are so popular?

Luckily, there’s an entire industry built around popularity: The movie industry. Movie creators know exactly how to make a character popular (or unpopular).

By studying Hollywood creations like superheroes, we can unveil the secrets of highly popular people and learn how to adapt these principles to ourselves. read more