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9 Techniques To Master Your Social Skills

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9 Techniques To Master Your Social Skills

Let’s face it, not all of us score an “A” when it comes to sociability and likability. Indeed many people cringe at the thought of attending a social gathering or a networking event.

Unfortunately, at times they’re unavoidable.

Whether you’re the introvert that’s quickly drained with obligatory conversations, or would never call yourself a “people-person,” there are behavioral hacks that will trigger rapport and positive responses from others.

Here are nine social techniques, some backed by studies, that will ensure you ace your next social interaction.

 

1. Show your palms

You’d assume the eyes are the first place you look when meeting someone, but it’s the hands. It’s an evolutionary behavior that still persists; a survival mechanism to make sure the other person is not carrying weapons.

So when you meet someone for the first time, keeping your hands visible, and showing your palms will make them comfortable.

 

2. Use their name

It’s the sweetest sound to everyone’s ears. Hearing your own name sparks up portions of your brain. Using the person’s name in a conversation will perk their interest and put a smile on their face. We shouldn’t have to make a note that using it in every sentence is too much.

“You can make more friends in two months by becoming interested in other people than you can in two years by trying to get other people interested in you.” – Dale Carnegie

3. Novel questions

If you want to guarantee a boring conversation, ask “So, what do you do for a living?” It’s so worn out, yet still so commonly the textbook approach to every conversation. Charisma coach JT Tran suggests asking “If you were a pizza topping, what would you be?”

Novel questions will always evoke a smile and interesting conversations.

 

4. Vary your tone

Charismatic speakers are always adjusting their vocal tone. Think back to that painfully boring lecture, the professor was monotone right? Varying your tone during a conversation will keep the other person engaged and interested in you.

 

5. Hand gestures

A survey of 760 people who rated and watched hundreds of hours of Ted Talks revealed a direct correlation between the number of views and number of hand gestures.

The top Ted Talks that averaged over 7 million views used double the amount of hand gestures as the talks that averaged over 100K views.

Why are people drawn to hand gestures? Because you’re talking to them on two levels: the verbal and nonverbal.

Social Techniques

6. The slight touch

The line between creepy and effective is very thin on this one. The highly charismatic Bill Clinton is a master of strategic social touching. Whether it’s a pat on the back or a touch of the elbow, when done at the right moments can really increase your rapport with a person.

 

7. Stand side-on

Standing directly in front of a person can be perceived as confrontational. You can adjust your positioning as the conversation continues, but initially standing slightly side-on will ensure an interaction starts on the best foot.

“Talk to someone about themselves and they’ll listen for hours.” – Dale Carnegie

8. Eye contact

Psychologists at Aberdeen University found that people were more attracted to faces that maintained eye contact rather than those who averted their eyes.

Of course, intense eye contact would cause anyone uncomfort. Maintaining a consistent amount however will increase likability and attractiveness.

 

9. Smile

Last but definitely not least. There’s a social obligation that comes with a smile, and rarely will it be unreciprocated. With a smile comes the release of happy chemicals. Those happy chemicals will make it difficult for someone not to like you.

 

I hope these techniques are useful. Are there any techniques you would add to this list? Please comment below!

A refugee from Vietnam, raised in Australia, with a BA from Texas, Thai writes for many publications including The Huffington Post, Entrepreneur.com, and Addicted2Success. A professional chef, international kickboxer, and spiritual teacher, Thai is passionate about helping people become the best version of themselves. Signup for his free weekly Infographics at TheUtopianLife.com | Connect @ThaiWins | On Facebook 

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2 Comments

2 Comments

  1. Tim Denning

    Aug 7, 2015 at 10:05 am

    If I was to add a number ten tip, I would say just be you, and don;t talk about yourself all the time.

    Thanks Thai for sharing your thoughts.

  2. Naya

    May 27, 2015 at 2:33 pm

    Standing straight would be a great addition as well, cuz you will seem more interested and also sound and look more comfortable for the other person. 🙂

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Life

5 Simple Hacks to Help You Develop the Habit That Will Transform Your Life

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It’s excruciating when we know what’s killing us but we can’t do anything about it because as you know, it is not easy to pull the brake on a high way. According to Napoleon Hill, “remember this always – the best (and one might say the only) way in which old habits may be removed is to form new habits to counteract and replace the undesirable ones”. (more…)

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Why Do We Have An Unconscious Bias and How Can We Manage It?

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When I hear someone using my name once in a while throughout the conversation we are having, I cannot stop myself thinking “this person must have read Dale Carnegie’s books or must have been influenced by someone who read them…” Have you just recalled a similar moment and it felt nice?

As Dale Carnegie famously said, “Remember that a person’s name is, to that person, the sweetest and the most important sound in any language”. Why did Dale Carnegie highlight the importance of an individual’s name to that person in his “How to Win Friends and Influence People” book published in 1936?

Each and every one of us wants to feel special and unique. I guess he recommends using the person’s name in the conversation because that is one of the easiest ways to grab that person’s attention so that we can enhance the chances of getting our point across. However, I am more interested in this from the other side; hearing our names directly addresses our individuality, our need or desire to feel special and unique.  

Let’s park this one for now and we will come back. 

Categorization is essential to our survival

There is countless scientific research telling us about how our brains recognize similarities and put things into categories, which has been crucial to our survival in evolution and still helps us with a lot of things from learning new things to coping with the continuous influx of massive amounts of information through our senses. 

The continuous influx of information is mostly handled by our subconscious mind rather than conscious. It is estimated that our brains receive about 11 million bits of information every second through our senses, of which only 40-50 bits can be processed by our conscious mind. We process more information than we are aware of. The magic here is the subconscious mind.

An example is when you are at a very loud party where you hear a lot of words flying around without you recognizing each one of them, then suddenly, you immediately catch it when you hear your name. Your subconscious had been processing all of those words, without your awareness, but informed your conscious mind when your name was out there because it was relevant to you.

In order to most effectively process this much information and inform the conscious mind with only the relevant ones, our subconscious employs categorization as one of its strategies.

When our ancestors encountered some deadly predators in the African savanna, their subconscious prompted their conscious mind to immediately fight or flight by categorizing the information gathered through their senses into “predator / life threat / take action”. Most probably we are not descendants of the ones that were frozen rather than fighting or flighting! 

Although it is a completely different situation, the same strategy applied in remembering lists. Let’s look at the below two lists.

  1. lion, eagle, shark, leopard, hawk, whale, panther, falcon and dolphin 
  2. lion, leopard, panther, eagle, hawk, falcon, shark, whale and dolphin

The second list is easy to remember because it is reordered into relevant groups even though the content of the both lists are identical.

Subconsciousness is the magic and categorization is one of its key strategies. It is essential to our survival, learning new skills and processing information as well as bringing back the information we had processed and stored. 

This amazing skill has its drawbacks

As a result of our brains’ categorization strategy, we also categorize people, especially if we don’t know them as well as our closest ones.

Imagine I am sitting at the table next to yours while you are having your favorite coffee and working on your computer or reading your novel at your neighborhood coffee shop. I stand up, very calmly grab your bag, and start walking away. Your reaction might be quite different depending on my outfit. It could be much more vocal and harsh if I have a dirty T-Shirt and a pair of torn jeans on. However, if I have some navy colored, 3-piece suit and well-pressed white button up shirt on, you might even say something like “Excuse me, you might have picked up my bag by mistake”. (There is an experiment done by social psychologists which reported similar results)

Similarly, I would not be surprised to hear that my co-worker’s spouse is very skilled and knowledgeable in English grammar and literature because he is an English teacher. However, I would not expect it from my co-worker herself because she is an outstanding chemical engineer.  

This is defined as unconscious bias or stereotyping, as a result of our subconscious brain’s categorization strategy. The outfit I have at the coffee shop impacts your response to my action, because it puts me into a different category in your mind depending on my outfit. My co-worker’s and her spouse’s backgrounds make me put them into different categories, which might mislead me sometimes.

Just like we categorize things, it is very natural that we categorize people.  

The key question here for me is; how do we truly treat people as individuals so that they feel unique, just like as they would want, while we know that our brains categorize people

We can overcome unconscious bias 

Leonard Mlodinow, in his enlightening book “Subliminal”, suggests that “if we are aware of our bias and motivated to overcome it, we can.” That doesn’t mean that we need to fight our brain’s categorization strategy. We just need to employ our conscious mind more when we are working or dealing with individuals. 

Our unconscious bias might tell us scientists are bunch of technical nerds who cannot understand abstract concepts that marketers are talking about or it might say that marketers are some daydreamers who need to be grounded by scientists to the real world all the time. I am an engineer and I love thinking in abstract terms and I worked with quite a lot of marketers who thought primarily in factual and concrete terms. 

Spending some effort to learn more about individuals will help overcome unconscious bias. Gathering more information and qualities about them will make it easier for us to treat them as individuals rather than a member of the category we put them in our minds. 

The moral of the story here is to recognize the fact that our brains do categorize, and it is essential; but also, to recognize that every individual wants to feel unique. When we appreciate these two and keep reminding them to ourselves, we are one step closer to figuring out our own way to overcome unconscious bias and treat people more like individuals. 

What was the most interesting part of this article for you? Share your thoughts below!

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The Problem Is Not Actually the Problem: Here’s Why

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With my understanding of the Three Principles, which is deepening month-by-month, I’m becoming more curious about whether the ‘problem’ that we think we have, is really a problem. Not for one second am I dismissing a persons’ experience; I’m human after all and I encounter challenges and what I think are ‘problems’ just like the next person. (more…)

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5 Things You Can Do to Fend off Boredom and Stay Focused

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Curiosity is human nature and it’s only natural that humans will lose interest in a topic after a while. This has been a topic that has been extensively explored among children, teenagers and adults by a psychologist with similar results being reported from each of the categories. Human’s minds are therefore prone to boredom, making it important for each professional to spend some time to understand the factors that drive boredom and strategies the individuals needs to use to overcome boredom and focus on their profession and development. (more…)

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