Published on:

9th Aug 2021

A Simple Roadmap

In previous chapters, we’ve discussed some of the specific ways of thinking about social interactions that can make them more positive. They’re a bit indirect, and have to do with perception, psychology, and how to position yourself for the best outcome. They draw upon our brain’s tendency to make positive associations, where perhaps none actually exist.

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Patrick King is an internationally bestselling author and social skills coach. emotional and social intelligence. Learn more or get a free mini-book on conversation tactics at https://bit.ly/pkconsulting

For narration information visit Russell Newton at https://bit.ly/VoW-home

For production information visit Newton Media Group LLC at https://bit.ly/newtonmg

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In previous chapters, we’ve discussed some of the specific ways of thinking about social interactions that can make them more positive. They’re a bit indirect, and have to do with perception, psychology, and how to position yourself for the best outcome. They draw upon our brain’s tendency to make positive associations, where perhaps none actually exist.

Now we’re going to get into some of the direct methods of socializing that will increase your likeability and help you to form better relationships with others.

One important thing to keep in mind is that, for the most part, people are self-absorbed to a fairly high degree. This is significant because it gives us predictability in how to deal with people. If you know what someone is looking for, and you possess the ability to give it to them, things will tend to go better in general. In this chapter, you’ll find a roadmap of sorts to people’s conscious and subconscious interests and desires that will tell you exactly how to act for social success. In other words, a roadmap to follow.

People Want to Talk About Themselves

Dale Carnegie, the famous author of the book How to Win Friends and Influence People, gave a lot of advice on self-improvement, salesmanship, speaking, and interpersonal skills over the course of his life. Much of his advice is now considered common sense, though the very reason it’s so widespread is because of his book. Perhaps one of his best pieces of advice was simply to get people to talk, or even brag, about themselves, because this will make them enjoy conversing with you. He was quoted, “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.” Consequently, this is one of the most bandied-about pieces of conversation advice.

But is there any evidence to back this up?

urns out, there’s plenty. A:

Tamir and Mitchell first designed studies with the intention of observing and trying to somehow quantify the unusually high value that people placed on being able to share their thoughts and feelings. They then recruited dozens of volunteers—the majority of whom were Americans who lived near the Harvard campus—and questioned them about themselves as well as topics unrelated to them.

One method the researchers implemented to determine how much the participants valued being able to talk about themselves was to offer a modest financial incentive to anybody who would answer questions about other people instead. Some of the questions involved casual subjects like hobbies and personal tastes, while others were about personality traits, such as intelligence, curiosity, or aggression.

The researchers found that many of the participants were willing to pass up on the money, preferring the rewarding feelings of self-disclosure over financial gain. In fact, the average participant willingly gave up between 17 and 25 percent of their possible earnings just so that they could reveal personal information.

Moreover, Tamir and Mitchell used a functional magnetic resonance imaging scanner (fMRI) to observe what parts of the brain were most excited when the subjects were talking about themselves. Generally, they found a correlation between self-disclosure and heightened activity in brain regions belonging to the mesolimbic dopamine system—again, the same region that’s associated with the rewarding and satisfying feeling we get from food, money, and sex.

That means that each party in a conversation or social setting is highly incentivized to talk about themselves from a neurochemical perspective. Dale Carnegie was in fact correct. How can we utilize this knowledge for our social success?

The most important step for most will be to start imposing limits on ourselves. Yes, it feels good to talk about yourself as the studies have shown, but when you do so, you are depriving others of the space and time to talk about themselves. You need to be able to consciously put your own needs and desires to the side. In the end, the goal of social intelligence is to make yourself more likable, not necessarily to feel better about social interaction. As we can remember in the previous chapter, it’s all about reciprocity.

Talking about yourself to some extent is natural, both biologically and within the flow of a conversation. It’s estimated that some 40 percent of what we say relates to expressing our own thoughts and feelings, and that’s because it is highly rewarding to do so. Therefore, you must carefully balance your own disclosures with allowing others to speak freely.

This comes in two approaches. First, be cognizant of the types of self-disclosure you typically make. This will ensure you receive the rewarding feelings from sharing your thoughts without being annoyingly self-absorbed.

When you talk a lot about yourself, it often comes across as over-the-top, immodest, highly competitive, or even thoughtless. While you may believe that you are just being proud, or even that you are using self-disclosure simply to make conversation, you have to be mindful of how others might perceive it. When you talk about yourself in an extremely positive way, you can be labeled a bragger, and if you do the opposite and portray yourself negatively, you might come across as lacking confidence or just being a downer.

Here are some common mistakes:

You’re not aware of whose story is being told—is it yours or someone else’s?

You’re not looking for what you can learn, but rather what you can express and add.

You’re not asking questions, and you’re not trying to help the other person express themselves.

You keep starting sentences or questions with me, I, and my.

The second approach comes from the fact that, generally, people want to be entertained. Hence, when you do talk about yourself you’ll be more socially successful if you can tell interesting stories instead of constantly blurting out “I think…” and “I feel…” without any thought toward how the comment will be received. If people aren’t speaking, they want to hear something they are interested in.

Use people’s inherent desire to talk about themselves as a mechanism for achieving social success by consciously allowing everyone else to talk more. Be curious about others, ask them questions that give them the opportunity to brag, and generally let the conversation focus on them. Concentrate on their strengths and allow them to paint themselves in a positive light, being aware of false modesty and reinforcing praise in those moments. Be a good listener, show genuine curiosity and interest in the conversation, and encourage them to continue talking about themselves.

When’s the last time you asked someone five questions in a row without interrupting or interjecting with your own anecdote? What about ten questions? This is the exact type of interaction that feels good to people, yet we routinely deny them of it because we can’t resist our own temptation. It’s easy to do this in a way that doesn’t devolve into an interview—just stay on the same topic and keep digging deeper.

At the bottom of all of this is the essential skill of being an attentive and active listener. We all have the potential within us to become better listeners—it just takes focus and awareness.

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About the Podcast

Social Skills Coaching
Become More Likable, Productive, and Charismatic
While everyone wants to make themselves and their lives better, it has been hard to find specific, actionable steps to accomplish that. Until now...

Patrick King is a Social Interaction Specialist, in other words, a dating, online dating, image, and communication, and social skills coach based in San Francisco, California. He’s also a #1 Amazon best-selling dating and relationships author with the most popular online dating book on the market and writes frequently on dating, love, sex, and relationships.

He focuses on using his emotional intelligence and understanding of human interaction to break down emotional barriers, instill confidence, and equip people with the tools they need for success. No pickup artistry and no gimmicks, simply a thorough mastery of human psychology delivered with a dose of real talk.

About your host

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Russell Newton