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lightningandsnow Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Jan-24-09 04:48 PM
Original message
How does one go about improving their social skills?
I know I'm a genuinely nice person. But, it seems like social interaction is like a foreign language for me. None of what's expected seems to really come naturally - I had to teach myself, or be taught, almost all of it. I still stumble over what I'm supposed to do in many situations.

I sometimes also really wish I was a more naturally likable person.

Thoughts?
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Darth_Kitten Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Jan-24-09 04:50 PM
Response to Original message
1. Don't be self-conscious..........
lots of people can be nervous in social situations.

Have you ever tried an acting class?
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lightningandsnow Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Jan-24-09 04:53 PM
Response to Reply #1
2. Haha, actually I'm a massive theatre nerd.
I go to an arts camp every summer, and I haven't done any pure theatre programs there, but I've done improv and musical theatre (among other things). I almost took drama at my school but I only had one elective in grade 9, and took vocal music instead.
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Redstone Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Jan-24-09 04:54 PM
Response to Original message
3. One goes about doing that by relaxing. Really.
I can't explain it any other way.

Redstone
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GCP Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Jan-24-09 05:10 PM
Response to Original message
4. Ask people about themselves
Everybody likes to talk about their own background and history. That breaks the ice, then (staying away from politics or religion!), ask about what they like to do in their spare time, musical tastes etc.
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rug Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Jan-24-09 05:14 PM
Response to Original message
5. As long as you go out with all zippers zipped the rest is gravy.
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asdjrocky Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Jan-24-09 05:15 PM
Response to Original message
6. Funny, I read your post,
and I was all ready to tell you to volenteer at a community theatre in your area, but I see you too are a theatre nerd.

That's what worked for me. I learned to act, and now I just act normal.
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ThomCat Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Jan-24-09 05:23 PM
Response to Original message
7. The more time you spend around people
the better you get at it. If you tend to talk a lot, remind yourself to shut up and listen. If you tend to be quiet, remind yourself to speak up and talk. If you tend to stay to the side, include yourself.

Just make a point of moderating whatever your main social weakness is, and over time you'll get pretty good at socializing with people. :)

:hug:
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Mike 03 Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Jan-25-09 04:36 PM
Response to Reply #7
31. Your point is so true. Once I moved away from a big city where I actually was interacting with
human beings to a small mountain town in the middle of nowhere, my skills evanesced before my eyes.

Even if you have those skills, you can lose them. That's the scary part.
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Amerigo Vespucci Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Jan-24-09 05:33 PM
Response to Original message
8. The single most critical step:
"Fail toward success."

We become so self-conscious that, as human beings, we want to withdraw and beat ourselves up if we make one little "mistake." Walk up to someone you think you might like, who may not like you.

I have a friend who runs marathon races for the sheer joy of it. a friend asked him how he felt about running races that he seldom, if ever, wins.

He replied "I beat all of the people who stay home."

That little anecdote changed my life. My friend is really sick of my tossing it back at him but he was profound and wise and I can handle it.

:-)

I don't know you, lightningandsnow, but let me share a few things with you that I learned "the hard way."

I have a few people on DU that are hard core members of my "posse"...as I am of theirs...and others who have come after a piece of my ass in my threads.

I'm like a magnet. I always drift back to my posse.

We need to be ourselves, without apology.

James Taylor: "Shower the people you love with love, show them the way that you feel...things are gonna turn out fine if you only will."

You said "I sometimes also really wish I was a more naturally likable person."

But do you realize that the mere fact that you expressed this desire makes you more naturally likable than 95% of the people walking around outside of your house?

If you like and accept yourself, others will like you. For those who don't, wish them a nice day and head back to your posse.

I also highly recommend that you watch the movie "I'm Gonna Git You Sucka," starring Keenen Ivory Wayans, Bernie Casey, Antonio Fargas ("Huggy Bear" from "Starsky & Hutch"), the late, great Isaac Hayes, and Jim Brown.



There's a scene in the movie in which Wayans shows up for battle, followed by a guy carrying a boom box that is blasting Isaac's "Theme From Shaft." He's asked "What's with that?" He responds "That's my THEME MUSIC. Every action hero needs his THEME MUSIC."

So what's your theme music? The people in my DU posse know mine. How consistently and aggressively and JOYOUSLY do you walk this world with your theme music blasting?

It will shine when it shines. You're a good person. Life will fill in the blanks.

:grouphug:
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lightningandsnow Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Jan-24-09 06:26 PM
Response to Reply #8
10. And you quoted James Taylor!
What an awesome post.

:hug:
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Amerigo Vespucci Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Jan-24-09 06:33 PM
Response to Reply #10
12. Thank you...that song changed my perspective, and my life.
Edited on Sat Jan-24-09 06:34 PM by Amerigo Vespucci
How many people who have been there for me, in good times and bad, do not know that I love and honor them?

Answer: none. I LOVE them all, and I have THANKED every one of them.

I am nothing without my friends.

That's the single greatest piece of advice I can give, through J.T....

"Shower the people you love with love, show them the way that you feel."

:toast:
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Chan790 Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Jan-24-09 05:39 PM
Response to Original message
9. Shear force of will worked for me.
Watch how people you think of as being socially-adept interact with people. Also, I find that little games work...*Today I'm going to say "hello" to 25 strangers.* or *I'm going to start a conversation with the next person who walks into this waiting room.* or *I'm going to complement 6 people on their ties today.* etc. I knew I had to become more social so I forced myself to do it, feeling awkward the entire time. It doesn't come naturally to everyone. It's a skill that can be learned though, just like driving or literacy.

Basically, it just takes a bit of effort and practice combined with overcoming the initial dread that a lot of non-social people have of being rejected, ostracized or mocked. I mean, it happens (more at your age than mine) and you move on. You don't want to be social with those jerks anyways. There is no wrong way to be social for the most part so whatever comes naturally to you is how you're social. Say what you think and other people will agree or disagree or comment or respond. The exception to the There is no wrong way to be social thing is if you're the sort of person who says wildly-inappropriate things to strangers. You're far too socially-conscious of other people's feelings and differences to be that person.

I was in the same place as you, but I ended up working in a position where being social was a job requirement. Ironically, I entered that field initially (food-prep) because it's overwhelmingly a field of introverts. A good field for someone who thought they sound like an idiot and became very self-conscious every-time they spoke...until I became the public-facing representative of my employer. At the end of that position, I was better at the social aspect (mostly sales and customer-service) of my job than the technical aspect. Now I work in sales and P/T as a fund-raising coordinator for an indie film company. I'm never going to be an extrovert though and I've accepted that. I prefer to read alone in my free-time rather than hang out at loud parties.
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lightningandsnow Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Jan-24-09 06:27 PM
Response to Reply #9
11. Good advice.
Thank you!

:hug:
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MajorChode Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Jan-24-09 06:37 PM
Response to Original message
13. If you lived in California, I would suggest implants
Since you're not, I would say you might look into volunteer activities or some type of club where you would be put into situations where you will interact with people more. The more you interact with people and develop dialog with them, the more your social skills will improve. It's hard to really improve those things online.
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blondeatlast Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Jan-24-09 06:39 PM
Response to Original message
14. Fake it--and yes, I'm serious. I'm entering the dating world (YIKES) after
15 years in a committed relationship and that's how I did it back in the day and how I'm doing it now.

It actually works, as hard as it may be to believe. You are so busy with the act that you have no time to be self-conscious.
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DarkTirade Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Jan-24-09 09:31 PM
Response to Original message
15. The trick with that is actually to be around people who you don't have a whole lot in common with.
Edited on Sat Jan-24-09 09:36 PM by DarkTirade
Since you don't already have the things that drew you towards the people you'd normally hang out with, you gotta actually work at it. And like anything, working at it will get you better at it. :)

That, and if you vary back and forth between people you already have things in common with and people you don't, you get some variety. You get to work on both sides of socializing. And you get to meet interesting new people, and keep hanging out with the people you already know and like.
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Haole Girl Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Jan-24-09 09:34 PM
Response to Original message
16. Ask Writer
:P
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Writer Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Jan-24-09 09:39 PM
Response to Reply #16
17. Nope, no... not a good idea.
Not a good idea at all.

Actually, in all seriousness, I DO have some advice...

You can improve your confidence in front of others (which is part and parcel of social skills) by putting yourself in uncomfortable situations as often as you can. Speak in front of groups... take leadership roles. Anything that you can do to push your comfort zone. Most importantly - let yourself mess up. I've certainly had my humiliating moments. Everyone does. But the next time was twice as good.

:hug:

~Writer~

PS: I still think social interaction sucks, though.
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Haole Girl Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Jan-24-09 09:56 PM
Response to Reply #17
20. I couldn't resist, Writer
Sorry. Notice how I didn't offer any advice? :hug:
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Writer Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Jan-24-09 09:39 PM
Response to Reply #16
18. Nope, no... not a good idea.
Not a good idea at all.

Actually, in all seriousness, I DO have some advice...

You can improve your confidence in front of others (which is part and parcel of social skills) by putting yourself in uncomfortable situations as often as you can. Speak in front of groups... take leadership roles. Anything that you can do to push your comfort zone. Most importantly - let yourself mess up. I've certainly had my humiliating moments. Everyone does. But the next time was twice as good.

:hug:

~Writer~

PS: I still think social interaction sucks, though.
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harmonicon Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Jan-24-09 09:46 PM
Response to Original message
19. I feel exactly the same way
that's my thought

Any thoughts on why I haven't the faintest idea about how to approach women, especially that one in the floral print dress at the bar tonight? I'm wise enough to know that making eye contact - purposefully - multiple times is not a bad thing, but going beyond that, I'm useless.
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rrneck Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Jan-25-09 12:18 AM
Response to Original message
21. Listen more than you talk.
People like to talk about themselves and it puts them (and by extension you) more at ease. It sounds sort of unfair to say it, but it helps to let them do the work.

Help whenever you can. Sharing a task of any sort facilitates social interaction and creates common ground.

Say yes more than no. If you give encouragement, you usually get it back.

It seems to me that social interaction involves a lot of social generosity.
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Nikia Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Jan-25-09 12:26 PM
Response to Original message
22. You have to believe
That you aren't socially inferior (or superior) to the people who you are around/talking to. When you believe that you are as likeable as anyone else, amazing things will happen. Also relize that not everyone likes everyone.
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Ivan Sputnik Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Jan-25-09 01:25 PM
Response to Original message
23. When interacting
show interest in the other person (even if you have to pretend interest). Keep telling yourself that it's all about them. Ask them questions (without being obnoxious about it or delving into sensitive areas) and comment on what they say. With practice, this becomes like second nature.
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Midlodemocrat Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Jan-25-09 02:52 PM
Response to Original message
24. Well, for starters. I think you are pretty likable.
You don't have an overblown sense of prominence and you've exhibited a very compassionate side here in the lounge when someone is suffering. Kind of unusual for a teenager, frankly.

As far as social interaction goes, I used to tell my Aspie patients to try to listen more, talk less. People LOVE to talk about themselves and if you concentrate on what someone is saying versus how you will respond, you can pick up some very subtle body language movements that will help you in the next social situation.

If you actually have trouble with body language reading, a tremendous help is, believe it or not, watching soap operas. The body language in soap operas is so over the top that it can help folks with asperger's learn to recognize subtle social signals.

Other than that, don't sweat it. You're a teenager and most, if not all of us as teens felt socially awkward at some point or another.

By the time you're my age, you'll be all about the 'Well, fuck you, I've earned the right to be an ass'.

:hug:
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Lil Missy Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Jan-25-09 04:54 PM
Response to Reply #24
33. Well now, that seems like pretty good advice! And I say this as a person
who used to work with disabled children and teens. And mostly boys who had hormones flying all over the place, and a crush on me. Oh dear, was THAT sometimes delicate to navigate!

My question? Well, I'm already old enough and an insufferable ass. Is it possible to learn backwards now? LOL!

Not a serious question. I have no intention of giving up my assholishness. I've earned it.

I just made this all up to call you a freeper douchebag.

:)
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lightningandsnow Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Jan-26-09 01:27 PM
Response to Reply #24
34. Aww, thank you my dear.
:hug:

I don't actually have asperger's (I thought I did, though), I have NLD. It's definitely similar in the "not being able to read social cues" department, though.

Perhaps I shall start watching soap operas. I can actually read people's emotions if they're obvious, it's just the subtleties I have issues with.
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crimsonblue Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Jan-26-09 04:22 PM
Response to Reply #24
36. I think I have that last stage down pat...
:P
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Zavulon Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Jan-25-09 03:30 PM
Response to Original message
25. Just act as if everyone around you likes you.
Easier said than done, but flawless nonetheless. Exude confidence in yourself and everything else falls into place.
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Dyedinthewoolliberal Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Jan-25-09 04:19 PM
Response to Original message
26. What helped me is to realize
most people ARE content with small talk and chit-chat. Ask people about themselves, then you don't have to talk! :)
Ask them why they do the woprk they do, go to the school they go to etc. Most people would rather talk than listen anyhow........
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Taverner Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Jan-25-09 04:28 PM
Response to Original message
27. Talk to at least 5 people a day
Talk about nothing - just talk

I used to be very awkward - until I did this

I have ADHD and this was recommended by my Therapist

And it works!
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SarahB Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Jan-25-09 04:30 PM
Response to Original message
28. Only socialize with cool people.
Nothing worse than smalltalk with jackasses.
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Fire Walk With Me Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Jan-25-09 04:31 PM
Response to Original message
29. Become an expert at Robert's Rules of Order and insist upon initiating them at every instance.
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Mike 03 Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Jan-25-09 04:34 PM
Response to Original message
30. I'm in the same boat. I'm bookmarking this thread in the hope of getting some
advice.

I used to have social graces but over the last couple of years they have deteriorated badly.
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Mike 03 Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Jan-25-09 04:39 PM
Response to Original message
32. There is actually a textbook for psychologists that I came upon last year
that helped me a lot in recognizing what was going on and why.

I would be happy to give you the title, but only if you want it. I hate pushing things on people unless they are interested. It's a relatively new sort of therapy that makes a lot of sense to me.

Good luck with your issues. If you discover something, let us know!

Mike
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crimsonblue Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Jan-26-09 04:24 PM
Response to Reply #32
37. I can smell a scientology plant when I see one..
You've been had!
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crimsonblue Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Jan-26-09 04:18 PM
Response to Original message
35. well... staring at people and drooling probably doesn't help.
:P. But seriously, just make a conscious effort to look people in the eye when you talk to them. Take a real interest in what other people say. When all else fails, get some liquid courage in you first.
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Lucian Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Jan-26-09 04:25 PM
Response to Original message
38. Don't worry about it.
Why worry about what everyone else expects you to do in social situations? Bugger them! Do what you feel comfortable doing and don't worry about what everyone else thinks.
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raccoon Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Jan-26-09 04:32 PM
Response to Original message
39. You're sure you aren't me? I could've written exactly what you did.

I'll follow this thread with interest. :hi:


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