|07-13-2008, 06:43 PM||#1 (permalink)|
Join Date: Jul 2007
Location: In a green and bountiful land
How to build social skills?
I've always been a fairly withdrawn person. I do make friends, but I tend to make a few deep connections and ignore everyone else. This isn't deliberate, I just find small talk really hard, and I'm quite wary about letting people into my emotional space.
This was never a problem - I was the academic type, and achieved success via independent work. However, I am now setting up a web design business, and I believe one of the crucial keys to my success is going to be the ability to communicate with clients, as well as network amongst people to 'spread the word'.
In addition, I have recently come into contact with two people who are very very good at being sociable and friendly, and their are definitely a lot of positive benefits - you get more information, quicker, you usually find it easy to get help with something, and you are always being offered opportunities.
I am not painfully awkward around strangers - I can smile, make eye-contact and ask questions - but I always find the conversation fizzles after the first round, and we are left in silence.
Part of my problem is that I am a little hard of hearing, and find it difficult to understand people if there is a lot of background noise or if I'm looking at something else. Pubs, clubs etc are hopeless places for me, as I can never hear anyone. Equally, when I am at work (bakery) and focusing, and someone says something, it takes me five minutes for my brain to catch up to my ears!
So my question falls into two areas really:
1. How can I become more approachable, more friendly and more conversational with relative strangers?
2. How can I improve my hearing and my ability to focus on more than one thing at once when in a social situation?
Thanks in advance
|07-14-2008, 02:25 AM||#2 (permalink)|
Join Date: May 2008
Make friends with the social people that you met and ask them how they do it. That and talk to everyone you see no matter what age, sex, race whatever just talk to them. You will begin to pick up on the social cues and get over your social anxiety.
As well, learn to get over judging yourself for not such good hearing. The best way that I found to get over something "off" about myself is to exaggerate it and make it really obvious to other people and learn to laugh at myself. So ask someone a question and then when they respond really obnoxiously and loud say you can't hear them because you have bad hearing.
People who are good socially ask a couple of questions but only if they feel like it. Most of the time they just talk to strangers like they would an old buddy who they are comfortable with. Next time go out and make statements instead of making the interaction an interview.
|07-15-2008, 02:28 PM||#4 (permalink)|
Join Date: Jun 2008
As far as #1 goes you need to talk to other people. Feel free to goof up and make mistakes. I have spent the last 6-9 months working on my social skills and I do it by interacting. I will even talk to total strangers to build up my confidence. One thing I find particularly useful is bringing in world topics, weather or something else of local interest to get the conversation going. You'll find that alot of people have alot of opinions on all sorts of things. Another way to go about this is share yourself with them. For myself as the conversation progresses I start sharing bits and peices of who I are with them.
For #2... I don't know that I can focus on more than one thing in a conversation. I don't know that I ever will be able to. I do know that if it is possible the way to do it is to practice. Also for me it took me learning how to listen 100% to people. To care about their opinion and to not judge it. To freely accept all people.
To be honest though the biggest and best breakthrough I had with social skills had to do with how I saw myself. As I said I have aspergers and for a long long while I did not like myself. I put up masks to hide my true self from others. And the entire time I did so I was oh so afraid that someone might know the truth. I had a few close friends that knew but these were people who had known me for 4+ years. Once I realized that I had a mask on I took it off. Then I had to look at myself and find what it was that I didn't like. I realized that I didn't like being abnormal. I had character flaws, discipline flaws, and a glaring lack of common sense. Then I realized what it was that I was afraid of. I was afraid of being rejected. That if people knew me they would reject me. Once I came to terms with that I realized how silly that was. I am me. I'm not anyone else. I am simply me and I am made the way I am for a reason. After this I put my self-worth in the hands of God. After all if there is anything who is powerful enough to fill my self-worth completely it would definately be God right? Regardless though I took my self-worth out of the hands of others and placed it back in my own control. Once I did that I realized that I have wonderful gifts and abilities that make me unique. If someone is going to reject me that is their choice. And I probably don't want to be friends with someone that judgemental anyways .
I find the best tool for making friends and being social is being 100% real. Here's a story that to me shows what the difference is. I was in the elevator going up to the 10th floor to work. I decided to practice my social skills so I struck up a conversation with the mexican construction worker in the elevator with me. I said "Hey, how's it going?" but when I said it I actually cared about the answer. I was looking at the guy in his eyes and had my full attention on him and his answer. The guy started to give a typical, precanned response and I think he got out "Its go..." and he paused. He just stopped talking for a second. He then said "Its going really well,... Thanks". It was in that moment that I realized he recognized that I wasn't asking as a means of idle communication like commenting on the weather but I actually cared about the response. Since that day we've had numerous conversations and its the type of conversations that friends have.
Another example: I was at mcdonalds with my little sister. We ordered food, sat down and I struck up a conversation with one of the workers there. We chatted for a couple of minutes and shared a few laughs. After that she went back to do some other stuff and my younger sister asked me if I knew her. I said no, this is the first time I had even seen her before. I asked her why she thought I knew her. My sister then said "well because you sounded like you were best friends with her." Interesting isn't it? To me the conversation was a perfectly normal conversation. But to my sister I was going to a depth that is usually reserved for friends maybe even good friends.
One final thing that I can think of that I do that helps me. I hold all opinions as more or less equally valid. There are plenty of things that have a right or wrong answer. 2+2=4 being an example. When it comes to opinions though I find that most of the time that people are like 3 blind men and an elephant. Each describing their part of the elephant and insisting that THEY are the one who is right. So instead of viewing my opinion as right I simply view it as the way I see the world through my own perceptions. Your opinions are the way you see the world. We can both be right because we both have different viewpoints. I'd rather find the truth in your viewpoint and find ways to tie it into my own since my own experiences are limited in nature. So I hold most viewpoints as having some validity. There are areas where right and wrong are clearly defined to me and I'm not willing to compromise (such as abortion, homosexuality) yet I can understand your viewpoint and acknowledge it as such. Even if I don't find any truth in what you say about those topics (random example here mind you). Yet the key is I listen to you and work to understand you and your viewpoint.
Well I have just written a nice wall of text . I hope this helps. Good luck with your journey.
|07-16-2008, 10:43 PM||#5 (permalink)|
Join Date: Jul 2007
Location: In a green and bountiful land
Thanks so much for that incredibly in-depth reply
I know a large part of it is just 'doing it'. But it is difficult to overcome that embarrassment, and to come to terms with something so isolating as being hard to hear -- you do unintentionally blank people out, and it's a difficult thing to get past.
However, it's also not something that's going to get easier the more I ignore it. However, since my best friends tend to be people I can be comfortably silent with, I don't know if that's the best route either?
Weather and politics, the two mainstays of conversation?
|09-23-2011, 01:49 PM||#6 (permalink)|
Join Date: Sep 2011
Location: St. Louis
As for the hearing issue, I wonder if it could be auditory processing disorder? Auditory processing disorder - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
I seem to have a problem understanding what people are saying sometimes too, though I don't actually think my ability to hear sound is the problem (it's in my head). It seems related to ADD, which I also have.
|09-23-2011, 02:28 PM||#7 (permalink)|
Join Date: Jun 2011
Location: Mississauga, On Canada
Well, you are very smart in recognizing the importance of developing social skills, especially if you want to be in business. So congrats on this since it's a major first step.
As for how to develop yourself better socially, I would latch onto those two individuals you mentioned who you thought were really good in this area. The best way to learn new skills is to observe what the masters are doing and then try to emulate them. If you can, try to associate yourself with even more people like that. The more you expose yourself to those type of people, the more things will start to filter through to you.
As for the hearing, just to be safe, maybe get it checked on a medical level. Then if you know that you are not efficient in a certain venue, like a pub, that avoid those venues when you need to do more serious conversation. Or sit in places of a pub where it's a bit quieter if you can find one.
|09-23-2011, 02:51 PM||#8 (permalink)|
Join Date: Sep 2011
First off you can go get a hearing exam to see what may be the problem. Next being social is not easy as most people make it seem but it is not that hard either. The first part is really the nerves aspect. Being able to hold a conversation down especially small talk is not that easy. When you are not fully engaged and you are a genuine person it's hard to pretend like you care what the other person is saying not out of disrespect but because you have a million of your thoughts going on as well and if you are distracted it is hard to follow their lead. I'm with you on the brain catching up. I was just working in this warehouse where everybody had deep southern venacular and they were saying things to me that I had to keep asking what they said. It got to a point where I felt like they thought I was just not getting it but really I couldn't understand anything they were saying.
I know this one place where you will be able to buy hearing aides. Select Health & Personal Care in the drop down box and type in hearing aides in the search bar something of interest should come up. You can find it here... Everything For You - Home
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