“Social skills are skills like any other. Reading advice can give you an idea of what you need to work on and help the learning process go more smoothly, but in the end you have to practice to really get things down. You’ve probably socialized for fewer overall hours than many of your peers, and you have to put in the time to catch up.
That seems obvious, but when it comes to interpersonal skills, some people think they can be gained all at once through the right trick, insight, psychology “hack,” or confidence booster. They likely think that because social skills are non-physical and mundane. People instinctively understand it takes time to learn complex physical abilities like skiing or drawing. However, when it comes to socializing, their thought process is, “It’s just talking. I already know how to do that. So just give me some secret super-effective conversation formulas, and I’ll be off to the races.”
Additionally, most people have found that navigating a social situation was easier when they were temporarily more confident than usual. So they figure there must be a way to be extra-confident all the time. However, although you can fleetingly become unusually self-assured, there’s no way to call that feeling up on command or lock it in place for life. There really are no shortcuts. If there were, they’d be common knowledge, and this book wouldn’t be needed.
“Knowing what are you working on when you practice your social skills
As you practice socializing, you’ll develop the following overall abilities. In some interactions, you’ll draw on only a few of them, while other interactions will require you to juggle many at a time.
1) Your ability to think on your feet. When it’s your turn to say something, you can’t take forever to come up with your response. Also, aside from the relatively predictable first minute or two, interactions can quickly go in countless directions. It’s unfeasible to try to plan out everything you’re going to say ahead of time or map out how to handle every scenario in advance. The best you can do is learn some general guidelines and then sharpen your ability to improvise.
2) Your ability to multitask. When you’re interacting with someone, you have to continually attend to several things at once. The other person is constantly sending signals through their words, actions, and nonverbal communication; you have to take it in, evaluate it, and decide on the fly how to act on your conclusions (“They just said they’re not familiar with cycling. I’ll have to adjust how I tell my anecdote.
At the same time, you have to manage the signals you’re sending (“I’m curious about what time it is, but I won’t check my watch now because it may make me look like I’m not interested in their story.”). As you get better at socializing, taking in all of that information and deciding what to do with it starts to feel less ovevhwutmifp.
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