This guy made a life-changing realization, right here:
“I spent years in therapy “because” I was too ugly to get a girlfriend. My therapist insisted I was using that as an excuse. I balked. Why would I make up a painful excuse? Did she think I enjoyed being ugly? But it was an excuse. My looks were relatively out of my control. I let myself off the hook by deciding the Universe dealt me shitty cards, which meant I was free to complain without doing any hard work.“
(From Quora, here’s the full post)
When we did the research for our program “Awkward to Awesome”, we sent out surveys to almost 20 000 Socialpro readers. We had deep email conversations. We even had hour long phone calls with many of you.
One reader intrigued me in particular. She wrote:
– “But how will a course help me, if people around me don’t take the course?”
Others said similar things.
-“People aren’t interested in hanging out nowadays, they sit home instead”
-“People in my country/city are like X.”
-“You need to be a faker to make friends nowadays”
10 years ago – I would have agreed:
- People seemed busy and didn’t have time
- They were shallow and uninteresting
- They were bad at keeping in touch
- They would rather sit at home doing nothing
- They lost interest in hanging out after a while
Looks like life dealt me shitty cards, right?
If one person’s off and doesn’t want to hang out, it’s reasonable to assume it has nothing to do with you.
If it feels like a pattern in your life, you are the only one who can do something about it.
Here’s what we see over and over: When our readers use the principles we’ve been talking about in previous emails, this problem of how “everyone is” eventually goes away.
- When they turn the conversation into personal mode, people open up and become less shallow and more personal.
- When they start looking for commonalities instead of talking about their accomplishments, people wants to hang out more
- When they use conversational threading, their conversations run smoother. People feel more at ease around them
And so on…
Your approach is what decides how people react to you
As an example, one of our readers had the belief that people are always busy nowadays and rather sit at home with their iPad. But when she thought about it, she knew several examples of people similar to her who had great social lives. People said they were busy as an excuse because she tended to be too self-focused in conversations.
It was one of the most painful realizations she’d ever made. But that realization was also the best thing that ever happened to her: She knew it was in her control to improve (And when she started focusing more on others, people had more time).
It’s fair to put our assumptions to the test before we let them form our opinion of how people are. A good way to do that is to look at people around us who shouldn’t succeed if our assumption was entirely true.
Luckily, it’s often subtle adjustments in how we approach people that make a huge change in our lives.
The biggest hurdle is to first realize that if we want something to change in our lives, we need to look at ourselves.
– “But I don’t want to play the shallow social game anyway”
– “I don’t want to make hours of small talk with people I don’t care about”
– “I don’t want to fake and compromise myself to get others approval”
– “I don’t want to be some kind of super extrovert and have people around me all the time”
Great! Neither do I.
To me, a good social life is having a small group of close friends who you actually WANT to hang out with. People, you’re comfortable around, who are there when you need them.
A good social life is a life on your own terms, without having to hunt for approval from others.
I found and made friends with thoughtful, smart, genuine people who were very much like me. All those ideas I had about “how people are”, were actually a way to let myself off the hook.
The solution was to make small adjustments in how I approached people.
“But David, people should see me for who I am, I shouldn’t have to learn this”
Everyone has to learn social skills. It’s just that some do it when they’re really young. For example, I was at home building pinball machines when others were at school discos improving their social skills.
Jokes aside, I would never want to change that period of my life.
While others were socializing, we, who spent a lot of time on our own, developed other skills and qualities.
You probably developed parts of your personality that you wouldn’t want to be without today.
Now that we’re older and more aware we can learn to become really socially skilled on top of all that.
“But what if I lack some kind of ability you have to be born with to be good socially?”
I felt the same way 10 years ago, and I’ve seen a lot of participants in my courses starting off with similar feelings.
Most people doubt themselves or assume there’s something wrong with them. That they were just born without that “inner charisma”. But I’ve seen time and time again how that’s just not true. Social skills are something you learn. Everyone can get better at it if they, with the right support, take the steps they need. You will probably be surprised at how quickly you’ll improve once you know what to do.
Don’t let yourself off the hook.
Have you had any thoughts that kept you from improving, and how did you deal with them? I can’t wait to hear from you. Share your thoughts in the comments right below!