Being Social Is A Skill
Every person is good at something, like some people have a knack for cooking. Others are just really good at math. Not me. I’m not really good at math, but some people are.
There are others who are quite skilled at socializing. You know those people when you meet them too. They are super easy to talk to. They know just the right things to say. They are good at being in a group setting, good at existing in society, it seems.
My husband and I have a friend from university who makes a living at being a “people” person. For many years now, he’s earned big bucks functioning as what we so lovingly call a “schmoozer”. He makes deals over dinner and drinks, and convinces clients to spend money over a game of golf. It sounds tough I know, but I’m sure it has its down side. Maybe a sore hand from driving the golf cart around too much? Actually, I don’t think most people could do what he does.
Many years ago, my father – a very forward thinking educator/teacher – introduced me to a book by Daniel Goleman called Emotional Intelligence. Basically, it’s about how being socially adept is just as important – if not more so – than having a high IQ.
Goleman explains that emotional intelligence includes…
The ability to cultivate meaningful and lasting relationships.
The ability to tune in to, and show empathy toward, others.
The ability to use your feelings as a guide.
The ability to manage your emotions.
The ability to stay motivated, and to work toward a goal.
The ability to know how someone is feeling without them telling you.
Question is, can a person increase their “emotional intelligence”? Is that even possible? Or is it “once a social misfit, always a social misfit”?
I don’t think so. According to Dale Carnegie, in his classic book How to Win Friends And Influence People, being social is definitely something to be honed and improved upon. It’s a great book, BTW. Currently, my oldest son is reading it. I am re-reading it, so we’ve been talking about the principles a lot.
Here is a short list of tips that I’ve learned from going through a number of different sources, Carnegie’s book probably being the best one. As usual, I’ve added my own twist to the comments. Carnegie doesn’t mention anything in his book about doggy-style LOL.
Project a happy outward appearance. Smile, say hello, and be happy to see people even if you’re not. Eventually, this “love of all individuals” air will become your reality. This is definitely something I have to work on. I am not good at hiding my “I think you are a total douchebag” feelings. I pretty much just say, “I think you are a total douchebag.” Maybe I need some duct tape.
Leave your woes a home. Nobody cares about your crap except for maybe your mother, and she’d probably rather go to the spa. Just kidding. She cares – a little – but if you keep putting yourself in unfavourable positions, at some point, she’s going to tell you that you are on your own.
Which leads me to my next point – listen more, talk less. Take in what others have to say for a change. The world is not all about you. You might even hear an interesting “and then he bent me over the bed frame” kind of story. You can always ask them to tell you more about their pet rattlesnake instead. There is also skill in knowing how to redirect conversation.
Try to see the best in people, no matter what. Sometimes, it’s hard – REALLY hard. Even douchebags have redeeming qualities hidden somewhere though…deep down underneath their low slung jeans and gold chains. Find that shining property, and focus on it.
Be polite and clean and not too weird. Seriously, nobody likes public flatulence, and I’d probably draw the line at having your tongue forked, or getting devil-horns implanted in your scalp. There’s “cool” different, and then just plain freaky.
Get educated. Learn about stuff – important stuff. It’s easier to talk about things when you have actual information floating around in your brain. How fast Kim Kardashian lost her baby weight DOES count as knowing something, but a person could probably do better.
Talk to people. Go where people are. Just BE with people. The more you practice, the better you will get. Hiding in your room watching The Howling 2: Your Sister Is A Werewolf on Netflix is not likely to help.
I think being social is like anything else. If you put in the time and effort, and pay attention to what works and what doesn’t, you’ll get better at it.
All that to say that my twenty-year-old son is very skilled in this area. He likes partying not studying, talking not reading, mingling not sitting alone. He travels with an entourage at all times. It’s hard on our grocery bill.
Currently, he works as a bartender. It’s the perfect job for him at this point in his life. He meets lots of people, and gets to juggle expensive bottles of liquor. Think Tom Cruise in Cocktail – yeah, before he lost his damn mind. A while ago, my son even told me that he was thinking of becoming the real-life version of Magic Mike. Awesome.
And then my husband said, “Let the boy do what he wants. He could make some pretty big tips, which means that he could probably move out sooner.” Now that IS true. I’m dying to turn his bedroom into an extra large shoe closet.
As for what all this “emotional intelligence” stuff means for my blog – I guess I’d better stop complaining, and just generally shut-the-hell-up. I will…for now.
Maybe you’ll be here tomorrow, or maybe I’ll be typing into a void just to hear myself think. Either way, John Mayer might be a skilled musician, but he’s a fucking idiot. See, what did I tell you? Duct tape.