Self-Development Wagon #2: The Nature and Beauty of People
Update June 15, 2013: Updated some examples.
Disclaimer: Reading this will not automatically make you better with people. In order for it to work, you must practice it: understand that there's an area of your life you must get a grip on, that only you can get a grip on (although others may show you how, only you may take action), and that you can do it, even if your initial results end in failure.
If you see any misspellings/errors, point them out so I may fix them.
The Short Version
-You should have read my previous guide on depression, but it uses a lot of the same ideas.
-Spaztique's Law Of Likability: Your ability to be likable is dependent on how well you can see beyond yourself. You cannot fake friendliness, or it will show. You cannot treat yourself like the center of the universe, because that makes you unlikable. The solution for becoming better with people is to learn how people operate.
-Everyone has a different way of seeing the world and living within their "version" of the world. No two people see life the same way.
-Everyone wants to be appreciated/valued/loved. Unfortunately, very few know how to go about it. Worse, the few that don't end up leading to disaster: either they snap and kill their few friendships, themselves, or other people.
-On the ethics of persuasion: persuasion is simply telling somebody something in their own language. You cannot persuade people to do what they don't want to do; it's always in the other person's best interest.
-All conversations are just listening and responding, and you must do a lot of listening in order to properly respond. To listen, you must understand the other person's point of view and let them speak their whole message. To respond, you can accept what they said (good for relationships), ignore them (bad for relationships), or reject them (also bad, but you'll need to reject people in order to end the conversation).
-To carry on a conversation, hunt for statements other people bring up and dig deeper into them. Initiating conversations can be done by giving sincere compliments, observations, or open-ended questions (questions with detailed responses).
-If somebody says something vague or confusing, the right questions can help you determine if you're really on the same page. These questions usually boil down to, "What do you mean by that?"
-The best way to survive an argument is not to get into one. If you must argue, at least get the other person's point of view. If somebody is actively bullying you, don't ignore the person: run, preferably in the direction of an authority figure.
-If you gain a lot of friends and you have little time to check up on all of them, use your friends to relay information, but do NOT use them for gossip or digging up secrets.
-If you're going to lead people, don't boss them around or scare them: be seen as an equal who helps people accomplish a goal.
A. The tale of the author: NO EXPERIENCE NECESSARY!
B. The problem of my audience: they're kids, no life experience.
C. People are your greatest asset.
II. Confidence: People are flawed.
A. The universal experience of being human.
B. Appreciation and acknowledgement is the #1 thing everyone needs.
C. On the Ethics of Influence, Persuasion, and Manipulation: DO THE RIGHT THING (because you don't have a choice)
III. Core Techniques: How to speak to people.
A. The Base Skills/Principles: Listening and responding.
B. Conversational Skills
C. Clarification Skills
D. Surviving an Argument
E. Social Circle Management and Leadership
IV. Exercises: Take it one step at a time.
V. Closing Notes
About this Guide:
The information I am about to give you is enough to fill a $50-$100 eBook. I could have charged you for this information (which is mainly cited from other sources), never update it, and never respond to your individual comments/questions/concerns. However, I don't believe the quality of your life should have a price tag, so as a courtesy of the Walfas Station Wagon, I am giving this to you for free.
Nobody really knows my backstory but a few people, but it boils down to this: since I was five, all I wanted was to know how to be liked by others. In virtually every school I went to, I was banned from seeing other children. In kindergarten, I got kicked out of nearly every school for breaking rules I was never aware of: don't cut in line (I never knew about lines), don't play with toys in class (class? I thought this was like daycare!), don't tattletale on other students (why? is bullying perfectly okay?). When I finally did get into a kindergarten class that told me the rules, I fit in and found friends, and I ended up with one of the most lavish birthday parties of the year. In elementary school, I was usually never allowed at recess for something I did in class: talk out of turn, complain about work, or not acting like an adult even though I was a child. Then I spent most of middle school being homeschooled. In high school, I had all of the typical traits of somebody who would shoot up a school: shy around people, nervous, depressed, doesn't talk to other students, prejudice against the gay students since so many people said I was gay, and so on. So, they barred me from staying after school, meaning no clubs or hanging out. The irony is that having friends would have prevented those behaviors; perhaps they should have learned that the reason people with loner behaviors shoot up schools is because they're depressed, and rather than gain notoriety by befriending everyone, they shoot the people that have been depriving them of happiness, even though they would have gladly helped them if they had the right social skills. By college, my brother got married and my sister had a baby, and I was friendless and alone. After failing to check myself into a mental hospital (they said I was too much of a danger, even to them), I hit the literal rock bottom of my depression, then I eventually got up and slinked over to a book store. There, I read Walter Anderson's "The Confidence Course" which became one of the base books for my previous article on depression/happiness (which this article will build off of). In five years of closely studying confidence, communication, storytelling, and philosophy, I have become artistically and socially adept. Now, with this guide, I'll do my best to pass my knowledge onto you.
On my audience:
Most of you who are reading this are still quite young and in public school, and I'm a fully-grown adult (well, a graduated college student, but still older than a great deal of you). The greatest lesson I learned from being held back from other kids for "breaking the rules" was this: I was once a kid and I will never forget what it was like to be a kid. I have made it a personal goal to understand that kids live in a very different world from adults, and although I sometimes forget, I do my best to remember that kids are kids and adults are 20% adults and 80% really large kids.
For example, in the world of school, all of the worst people have not been weeded out of society yet: you are still stuck with potential drug addicts, criminals, and killers, living among you all as bullies. In the adult world, all of these bullies have gone to jail or a cemetery because their stupid tactics for living life do not work, so naturally, there are much kinder and understanding people in the adult world.
Unfortunately, the adult world feels like it's so far away: one thing I know about being a kid is that kids focus more on the present than the long-term because time feels so long, and that leads to kids wanting quick-and-easy results. However, success is determined by how much you can endure short-term boredom for long-term fun, instead of short-term fun for long-term disaster.
I wish there was a way to condense this guide into the short version I provided above and let it have the same effect, but learning things like this doesn't work like that. If you want an easier time reading this, read this one section at a time, and each section one paragraph at a time. Split it into ten minute chunks or read one section every hour or day. Eventually, the entire article will fly by, you'll be finished, and you'll feel much more socially confident than when you started.
People are the most valuable thing in the world:
I don't mean this in a selfish way: people are amazing when you truly understand them. People often hate what they don't understand, even if they "know" they understand them, and that's why I think those who hate people truly don't understand them to the full extent. To quote Nicholas Boothman in How to make people like you in 90 seconds or less, "Other people are your greatest resource. They give birth to you; they feed you, dress you, provide you with money, make you laugh and cry; they comfort you, heal you, invest your money, service your car and bury you. We can't live without them. We can't even die without them." Even the things you use to make you happy while you're alone, like video games, books, TV, whatever, were all made by people. All of the greatest moments in my personal history weren't when I wrote my stories or made my cartoons, but watching people laugh, smile, or cry over those stories and cartoons. I've also had a blast playing games with my friends, and so have a great number of social circles. There is a reason why so many kid shows want to nail home the idea of friendship: people, for the most part, are our greatest source of happiness.
Yet, a great majority of people tend to look at the bad side of people and then never bother connecting with anyone, and then they have the nerve to complain about being lonely. There's a problem in our society where we have people who constantly say, "I don't need anybody," or, "People make me nervous," or, "All people do is hurt you, so never get close to anybody," but then wind up complaining about being alone and wishing for love. In psychology, we call it "cognitive dissonance." Cognitive means having to do with how the brain interprets the world (cognition) and dissonance means something is not matching. The appeal of the tsundere archetype, the punchy girl who still has feelings for the main character of a romance series, is the mismatch of this mean surface behavior and the underlying need for love. While this may be fun in fiction, it's horrible in real life: it keeps us from making friends, meeting new people, and eventually getting jobs, getting married, starting families, or (as Nicholas Boothman hypothesized) dying.
Even worse, without the ability to communicate with others or social confidence, we can't negotiate with bullies, unfair teachers and parents, or authority figures, so we will always be crushed under the thumb of people with more social confidence than us. You may think you're better off just staying away from people for the rest of your life, but understand that the greatest danger to your well-being is a lack of social skills and social confidence. Every job you will ever have involves people, every work of art you make will be seen (and for pros, published) by people, every service you will ever use is operated by people, to be alive is to be in constant contact with people. Do not fool yourself into thinking your skills alone will let you live in society: nobody will know you have those skills until you talk to people. This idea is so important that it must be repeated: The greatest danger to your well-being is a lack of social skills and social confidence.
So, how can social confidence save your life? The effects are nearly countless:
-You can strengthen your family relationships, even if you're the black sheep, even if you're at the bottom of the family food chain, even if it's just to understand why and how your parents/siblings do what they do.
-You can limit the number of bullying situations at school, or at least gain potential allies to protect you.
-You can grow a larger fanbase for your works of art, your videos, and more.
-When people like you, they tend to put up with your faults more, defend you, and make time for you. You have a much better chance of being treated fairly if you are socially likable. At times, people will be unfairly nice to you: they'll listen to your worst ideas, even if a socially inept person has a better idea; they'll let you speak when you have nothing to say, even if a socially inept person has the answers to life, the universe, and everything; you'll be the go-to person regardless of experience, while the socially inept expert is passed over. Life is not fair to the socially inept, but life is unfairly kind to the socially confident.
-You are much easier to employ because you can communicate your skills more clearly. A disgusting truth of life is it doesn't matter how well you can do something, but how well you can sell yourself in order to do something. The greatest geniuses of our society may be smarter than 99% of the people in their field, but because they aren't socially skilled, they lose their jobs to people with better charisma and less skill. Occasionally, somebody with skill will pop out of the crowd and gain recognition, but unless they like people, they won't stay at the top.
-In romance, you will be less susceptible to the deadly disease of "oneitus": an unhealthy obsession with a person of romantic interest as "the only person I am capable of having as a girlfriend/boyfriend." The socially inept put all of their emotional resources into this one person, yet they don't have the skills to actually express their feelings (or worse, they actively hide their feelings because they're afraid the other person will find out who they truly are and it will drive them away). As a result, the other person goes unaware of these feelings, meets a socially confident person, falls in love with the socially confident, and the poor social inept is destroyed, swearing off of love forever and thinking they just weren't meant to be happy.
Luckily, social skills and social confidence are just that: skills and the ability to know you can use those skills, and all skills can be learned. I learned them, thousands before me have learned them, other people learned them by making it a priority, and so will you!
On growing and learning:
Of course, growing isn't merely changing your behavior: if you read my previous article, you know that in order to change anything, you have to change what you believe is possible or impossible, and you can't do that on an intellectual level, but on an emotional/gut level. Another way to look at it is the concept of The Elephant and the Rider, a concept (borrowed) by the Heath Brothers, two business writers, in their book Switch: your brain wants to tell the body it wants to do something, but the body will always win out because your nervous system is programmed to stop you from doing certain behaviors to protect itself, much as a rider may want to tell an unruly elephant, "GO THIS WAY!," but the elephant is only relying on what it wants to do. If you try to take control as the rider, learning social skills will be very difficult and take a long time. If you change the direction of the elephant itself, then you'll pick up and practice these skills more quickly.
Learning builds on itself. The more things you hear about on the same subject, the more your ideas are reinforced, varied, or debated. Throughout this guide, I will define various definitions to illustrate my points, since I'm often too wordy for my own good at times:
Principle: A truth that works and has worked throughout all recorded time. For example, "Listen to other people to hear what they have to say in order to respond," is a principle.
Concept: An idea based on principles. The stronger the principles, the stronger the idea.
I believe in Principles over Concepts. This is why I favor Robert McKee's "Story" over Blake Snyder's "Save The Cat," because "Story" only goes over Principles (the first chapter even defines principles) and "Save The Cat" only goes over Concepts (like making exposition interesting by making it funny, while McKee says it's just another action like talking, moving, or anything else). This is also why I favor John Gottman's "The Relationship Cure" to Leil Lowndes' "How To Talk To Anyone," because Gottman breaks communication down to its most basic components (the emotional bid, illustrated in one of my comics) and Lowndes uses nothing but gimmicks (like waving to everyone when you enter a party to give the illusion of popularity). This guide is mostly about principles, but the latter half has many concepts to help you with your people skills.
This is not to say concepts are bad: in fact, most advice is given as concepts since they're quick and easy to learn, but not every concept applies to each person and not every concept works. The more you learn, the more concepts will be reinforced, varied, or debated. To define these...
Reinforced Concept: You hear the same idea repeated over and over again. For example, in every social skills guide, it is better to listen to people than to constantly speak of yourself because other people want to be heard. These concepts are universally accepted as true because they have strong principles.
Varied Concept: You hear the same thing explained from multiple points of view. For example, in some social skills guides, you can hook interest by figuring out somebody's key values and then playing to those values, while others say that finding common ground through shared experience, aka rapport, is how to do it. Both essentially lead to commonality through different means. These concepts believe in the truth of a principle or principles, but express doubt in the methods to get to the end goal.
Debated Concept: You hear an idea that conflicts with another idea. For example, in some social skills guides, it's best to give strong eye contact at all times, but others say that too much eye contact is rude (in fact, it is rude in some cultures to give eye contact at all). Rather, there is usually a middle ground to be found, often through experience. These concepts are debated greatly, so it is up to you to find the real truth. To check the validity of a Debated Concept, check how strongly the principles behind the concept hold up. If the principles are really strong, then perhaps the other concepts have blind spots and you'd be best working these ideas into the other concepts. If the principles are weak and contain no validity, it is usually a bad concept and should be used as reference in case you ever encounter somebody who listens to these poisonous ideas.
In order to continue, you should have read my guide on Depression/Happiness, which defines a great number of concepts that will make socialization much easier. If you absolutely must skip it, here are a few more definitions:
Beliefs: Feelings of absolutely certainty based on your interpretations of past experience, experiences of others, information you've gather, or even imagination. This certainty acts as your autopilot, but while it's useful in simple objective-based information, a disempowering belief in a complex area (such as social skills) can destroy you. All breakthroughs are based on break-withs of old disempowering beliefs and adopting new empowering beliefs that aid you in learning the skills you want to learn.
Problem-Oriented Mindset: You focus on problems more than solutions. For example, you walk into a crowded room and think, "There's too many people. I can't talk to them. Even if I do, they're all going to stare at me like I'm some kind of idiot." From this viewpoint, there is a sense of scarcity and finality, so there's no point in learning anything or doing anything. AVOID THIS MINDSET AT ALL COSTS BECAUSE IT WILL DESTROY YOU!!!
Solution-Oriented Mindset: You focus on solutions more than problems. For example, you walk into a crowded room and think, "Who should I talk to first? Maybe I should scout out the room and look for an open group to slip into. If somebody stares at me, I can joke about it or just leave them alone: they're probably judgmental jerks anyway." From this viewpoint, resourcefulness matters more than resources, and the mind looks for ways to learn and adapt under any circumstance.
The Pleasure-Pain Principle: Everything you do is to avoid perceived pain or gain perceived pleasure, based on what your brain has conditioned into your nervous system: at the heights of your emotions, your brain seeks out the most immediate consistent thing and then adds a reference to your brain to react that way (the marbles in the jar of marbles metaphor).
Before moving further into this guide, you must move in with a Solution-Oriented Mindset: you must automatically assume you can learn what I'm about to teach you and that what I am telling you will work, and if it doesn't, you will learn why it doesn't work.
Beliefs to adopt to gain a Solution-Oriented Mindset for this guide:
1. "Unless I take action and do something about my changes, I will not gain social confidence or social skills."
2. "I must do the changes. This guide may steer me in the right direction, but it is I alone who must talk to people and test these principles, then adjust them so they fit with my life."
3. "I can change. It might not be immediate, and what I know I still don't know much about social skills or social confidence, but just as I've learned so many other things, and since it's possible to get good in any subject if you focus on it enough, I can learn. If I fail, I will learn. If people reject me or treat me unfairly, I will learn. If my strategy doesn't work, I'll change my approach as many times as I have to until it does."
4. "My problems are not permanent. I will solve this social thing in time, and I will reap the benefits of my new friendships, my career, and the new knowledge I can gain from others."
5. "My problems are isolated incidents: even if this social thing is a problem, I still have some control over other areas of my life."
6. "My problems are not personal: if everyone else can learn to be social, including the once-socially inept writer of this guide, I can, too, if I have their standards, beliefs, and strategies."
If you're in the right mindset to learn, then let's begin.
Building Social Confidence
Spaztique's Law of Likability - If there's anything you get from this guide, at least get this...
It's simple: your ability to be liked depends entirely on how far you can see beyond yourself.
What does that mean?
Dale Carnegie, writer of How To Win Friends and Influence People said the easiest way to win friends is to be truly interested in other people and show it. Unfortunately, nobody wants to follow that advice because they're so worried about themselves. After while, why should we care about those other idiots and jerks when we are the ones that deserve to be liked?
Here's why: you're coming off as an unlikable jerk. This is what you're telling people:
-"SHUT UP! Nobody cares about your topic! I want to talk about my topic because my topic is better!"
-"You're an idiot! I am clearly the smarter person, so people should listen to me!"
-"You're wrong! I am clearly the smarter person, and you should know that!"
-"Your problems don't matter! What about my problems? I have it so much worse than you!"
Even if you feel sorry for yourself, even if you feel "entitled" because you suffered or were ignored or whatever, this comes off as insulting to other people. Not to say you can't peacefully disagree, but if you only care about yourself, nobody else will care about you, because...
-They don't want to talk to you because you cut them off, tell them to shut up, and you don't listen anyway: you might pretend to listen by nodding, saying "yeah," and perhaps even asking questions, but you couldn't care less: you're just being "polite."
-They can't ask you for advice because you only talk about advice that relates to you. It's like the classic story of the hungry peasant asking Marie Antionette what he'll feed his family: Mary tells him to feed them bread, but he doesn't have any bread, so she tells them to eat dessert bread (the origin of the phrase, "Let them eat cake.") instead.
-All you do is bring up your personal drama and dump it on other people when they already have enough problems themselves.
Do not think that you can change people to make them like you: you will have an easier time working on your behaviors/beliefs than changing somebody else's to like you. You cannot control people listening to you, but you can control the words that come out of your mouth and the actions you take, and in the second half of this guide, you will know what actions to take.
Instead of pushing your own ideas onto others, you must be truly interested with other people and show it. You must figure people out like puzzles and get to know them, and they will normally trade the appreciation back. You will not ask for subjects that do not interest you, nor will you fake sincerity, because you can't: you must dig for something you can appreciate. You may think they're stupid or jerks or whatever, but read on to find out how these "idiots" and "jerks" operate.
The Universal Human Experience:
To feel confident with people, you must understand them in the way a mechanic must understand how a car works before being able to work on it. After all, that's the universal experience of anything we don't know: if I asked you to fix a car and gave you all of the proper tools to do it, you wouldn't know what to do. The same concept works with people: what can make people intimidating is that you don't know what they're thinking, so how do you know what to say? Luckily, I'm going to tell you exactly what people are thinking/feeling.
The most beautiful, sobering idea I came across early in learning about people is that every person, at their core, is shy, lonely, and go through the same emotional experiences, always worrying about being judged, always worried about being accepted, always worried if they can be themselves. This may be hard to believe, but even the most popular socialites are in need of people, they worry about how people perceive them, and they all go they have their same sense of embarrassment, worry, and stress that we do. Some of them go about it the wrong way (they shut themselves off emotionally to protect themselves), but in the end, it's often to stop their shyness: they have to find some method to connect with other people.
Ingrain this into your mind: everyone is lonely and just wants to be understood/appreciated. Without yet applying the Pleasure-Pain Principle to this, you'll at least understand people better. When you apply the Pleasure-Pain Principle to people, there comes another insight about people: people have different methods for satisfying their loneliness and rules regarding friendships.
Why do superficial people hang out with superficial people? Because that's their personal standard: to look/act any less than that would violate their rules for not just friendship, but how to live in general. The nicest people often have low standards for friendship: to them, if somebody just responds in-general, they can be considered a friend. The people we can't stand, either because they're so mean or so withdrawn, have ultra-high standards for friendship and make friendship seemingly impossible, with such standards like, "They have to unconditionally love me no matter what or it's not friendship." If your standards are too high, it will destroy your odds for meeting others. If others have rules that destroy their ability for friendship, you have two choices: disarm them by living up to their standards briefly (which I will teach later in this guide) or find better friends, and since there are far more shy people than jerks, you are better off looking for others if you are socially inexperienced.
This must be repeated with bold type: there are far more shy people than jerks, especially as you grow up. If it is too difficult to disarm a jerk, then just work with everyone else, because everyone else is either just as shy as you, shyer than you, or less shy and slightly more friendly. A problem with being in school is that you are still surrounded by potential criminals who have not gotten arrested or sent to jail yet, and their rules are quite messed up, like, "Anyone who looks at me funny MUST get beaten up," or, "If they look nerdy, they deserve to DIE." This is another reason why you should take advantage of the fact you're surrounded by shy people: you can eventually outnumber the bullies if you cannot disarm them first.
In addition to there being more shy people than jerks, there are more polite, sympathetic people than jerks. Throughout school, I slouched, I looked down and away from people, and I had my arms wrapped around me tightly. My body language was that of somebody with severe depression (mainly because I was suffering from severe depression). People avoided me, even though I needed them the most, and the ones that didn't avoid me were the jerks and bullies because it's fun for them to destroy something that looked so emotionally weak, while others had the stupid rule, "If somebody looks depressed, get them to toughen up by beating them up emotionally or physically." Why weren't the non-jerks responding? Now that I'm older, I finally realized why: they think if something's bothering you, it'd be polite not to say anything. Worse, I don't blame them, because a number of people who suffer severe depression often just respond, "I don't need your help! Don't pity me! Nothing's wrong! I can make it by myself! Nobody should care about me!" So, out of politeness, we slink away, and that depressed person sinks deeper and deeper into depression, and they wonder why nobody likes them. Never think for a moment you're stealing sympathy from people: by nature, all of your friends are friends out of sympathy, because sympathy is simply emotionally caring for somebody else. If we didn't have sympathy for our friends, then friendship wouldn't matter: our best friends could kill themselves, and all we'd think is, "Well, isn't that unfortunate."
How do we gain this kind of sympathy? Through understanding and appreciating the other person.
Appreciation and acknowledgement is the #1 thing everyone needs.
How can somebody be alone in the crowd? How can somebody get surrounded by hundreds of people who claim to admire them, and still feel alone? It's often because these lonely people are acknowledged for their accomplishments or physical attributes, but they've never been acknowledged as people. Some people are just happy with people acknowledging their works, but then there comes a point when they want to interact with fans (I am one of these people, but I know how to get past my works and talk about other things).
In Dale Carnegie's "How To Win Friends and Influence People," the most important need people have is the need for a feeling of importance. According to life coach and psychology expert Anthony Robbins, the top six needs of a human include (in no particular order) certainty, uncertainty/variety, significance, love, growth, and contribution. Personally, I want to lump significance and love into the same category: significance is when people love what you stand for or what you do, and love is just when people love you, but when you take these to their logical conclusion (giving others significance can lead to love), they both just mean people love you. In every guide I have read, virtually all of them agree on this principle: in order to get people to like you, you must understand the other person first.
"But what about me," you may be asking, "How can I get people to like/love me?!" We're getting to that. Once I detail how other people work, I will tell you what to do to get them to like you. If you skip ahead without acknowledging how people work, there is no technique or tip I can give you to make people like you, because then you turn into a general manipulator, and not only do people hate manipulators, but they see through their disguise of "friendliness." In order to have any success with people, you must care for them. If you're just doing this out of personal gain, it's all going to fall apart on you: everyone is selfish, and if you're going to leech off of them, they'll abandon you because they're losing more than they're gaining. Even the nicest people have their limits, and nobody wants to be in a parasitic relationship where one partner is always taking and never giving.
Of course, this idea of caring for other people may be offputting at first, especially when you're just learning about how they work: I was one of these people, with a big emphasis on the word "was." Before I read "The Confidence Course," everyone gave me the advice, "Don't be interesting, be interested," and I wondered, "Why? Everyone else is stupid, shallow, and not worth a damn. I'm smarter than all of these morons combined. If anything, I should be in charge of them, and they should be more interested in me!" Nobody explained why I should be interested: they gave me a concept without any principles. Then I had it explained to me in "The Confidence Course" that the real reason you should be interested in other people is that everyone cares about their own needs being fulfilled, and I realized I was no different: I cared so much about them making me happy that I forgot to care for them. I was treating people as a commodity, rather than living, breathing people with hopes, dreams, needs, and most importantly, the need for a feeling of importance and to be understood. Then, with each guide I read on human nature, the more I started caring for everyone else, and the more I cared, the more they cared back: it worked like clockwork. The point: the reason they say, "Don't be interesting, be interested," is because mutual relationships must be mutual: you must show you like the other person before they can like you back. Again, each person has their own definitions of what it means to be liked, but with enough talk (which we'll talk about later), you'll figure it out.
Going back to Carnegie, we think of starving people for food as cruel and harmful, but we starve people of appreciation and understanding everyday, and in the end, starving people of appreciation causes mental illness, personality problems, and at its worst, people gunning down schools or movie theaters and/or themselves. A lack of social skills is LETHAL for society. This is not something I take lightly: one reason I wish to make social skills open to the masses is that without easy access to these skills, WE COULD DIE.
I am not exaggerating.
In a best case, lack of social skills and social confidence could lead to the destruction of an online community, the disillusionment of a family, or a steady spiral into loneliness and poverty: the best cases. For the worst cases, look at just nearly every shooting in the last bunch of years: Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold, students of Columbine High School, were frequent targets of bullying and were both socially awkward, but rather than learning about how to deal with people in a safe, creative way, they let their frustrations out on April 20, 1999 when they gunned down their school, killing thirteen and injuring 24. In one of his journals, Eric Harris wrote the following: "Everyone is always making fun of me because of how I look, and how f---ing weak I am and s---. Well, I will get you all back: ultimate f---ing revenge here. You people could have shown more respect, treated me better, asked for my knowledge or guidance more, treated me more like a senior, and maybe I wouldn't have been as ready to tear your f---ing heads off... That's where a lot of my hate grows from. The fact that I have practically no self-esteem. Especially concerning girls and looks and such. Therefore people make fun of me... constantly... therefore I get no respect and therefore I get f---ing PISSED." Take away the need to kill everyone, and Harris mirrored how I felt in high school, as well as nearly everyone I know still in high school. Unlike them, my need wasn't to destroy, but to understand: why were people picking on me? Any idiot can pick up a weapon and destroy what they don't understand, but this only leads to short-term success and then ultimate destruction, while learning how something works leads to short-term AND long-term success.
After that, on April 16, 2007, at Virginia Tech, Cho Seung-Hui followed in his "heroes" Harris and Klebolb's footsteps and, for the same reasons of loneliness and disgust with people, killed 32 and injured 24. Recently, we had the otherwise normal college student (near my age and past my education level) James Holmes who gunned down a movie theater, killing twelve and injuring 58 after a descending into unemployment, a breakup, and withdrawing away from society into madness. In case it hasn't been nailed into your head, LONELINESS IS LETHAL!!!
However, these are major cases: every other time, these people kill themselves (and even after these shootings, they still kill themselves). If you want to prevent the next big shooting or a suicide, whether it's you or somebody else, you need to be sociable.
On the Ethics of Influence, Persuasion, and Manipulation: DO THE RIGHT THING (because you don't have a choice)
Before we move on to the techniques, gathered from a dozen schools of psychology and self help, we must further discuss the controversial topics of influence, persuasion, and manipulation. All of these have a bad reputation because we keep hearing of people who manipulate others into doing bad things or for personal gain. However, these are only worst cases: like how knives can be used to cut foods and whittle crafts, but it seems we fear them because we hear of serial murderers who use knives as their primary weapon. Allow me to ease your concerns regarding these:
1. Persuasion tools are mainly for getting your ideas across that you could otherwise not express: If one of our friends was going to put their hand on a hot stove, what would you do to stop them? You'd convince them to stop, of course, but how? You could yell, "Don't do that, you idiot," and then they do it anyway out of spite. Or perhaps you give a logical, detailed answer, and they say, "Well, I'm going to try it anyway, just to see what all of the fuss is about." However, if you're able to see the situation from your friend's point of view and break down your friends' leverage points (what's to stop him?), your friend will realize, "Holy crap! This is a REALLY bad idea!" You weren't controlling your friends' mind or "manipulating" them: you used specific techniques to get your idea across to a person who would not otherwise understand your point of view. The art of persuasion is simply saying what you want to say in another person's language.
2. You do not have to manipulate people to get them to like you. One of my biggest newbie mistakes, a mistake I've seen many others make, is believing in the myth that in order to be likable, you have to manipulate others into liking you, but this myth is just that: a myth. There is no trickery involved to get people to like you: just give people honest appreciation and understanding, and if they're socially healthy, they will reciprocate. Be warned that you cannot fake honest appreciation: people will see through your lies and realize they are being manipulated in the sinister sense of the word. In fact, one of the top ways to gain friendship points with other people is to be a better listener than a speaker: as I said before, everyone is interested in themselves to one degree or another (even selflessness is to make them feel better), so by talking about their favorite subject, you don't really have to say much to be "charismatic."
3. The best persuasion is always done for the other person's best interest. A salesman will honestly believe his product will enhance the life of his customers, the successful pick-up artist eschews from corny pickup lines and instead entertains and intrigues both women and men (more contacts means more social opportunities), and even religious leaders think their philosophies will lead people towards salvation. Occasionally, we'll be wrong about how to help people, but for the most part, people only persuade to help others. Again, it is worth mentioning that if you're doing something that's not in the person's best interest, they will know, and they will have no reason to comply or listen to you further.
Got that? Persuasion is just a way of getting your point across, you don't need it to get people to like you, and if you are going to use it, use it for good.
In summary, all people are flawed, lonely, and in dire need of appreciation and understanding. They have different ways about satisfying these needs, and if we don't help these people out (or learn how to get others to help us), it could lead to disastrous results: either the destruction of a community or the destruction of life. Persuasion is only ethical in that it's only a way of getting across ideas you could not otherwise express without social skills, but it is not needed to get people to like you and is only down out of the other person's best interest.
Now, onto the actual techniques in part 2: fav.me/d5pf8av