Five Rules for Social Interaction

I collected my thoughts about optimizing social interaction. Though these thoughts are weighted with the intent to attract a mate, they are generally applicable in other contexts as well.

Start Talking

– Talk more not less. Unless you’re somebody who can’t shut up, in which case your problem is not starting a conversation, but not properly adjusting to the needs of your audience. On the other hand, if you’re like me, you may clam up and fail to start a conversation. So, talk more. Other people typically want constructive, meaningful interaction as much as you, so give it to them. This is to be applied in situations where you are waiting with other people; at the airport, or maybe waiting to pick up your order at the counter of a fast food place.

Be Bold to Bless Others

– A concept inspired by the teachings of Earl Nightingale: if you make the sale, you both win, if not, you both lose. A good relationship doesn’t change one life for the better, it changes two lives for the better. If the idea of helping yourself doesn’t give you the juice needed to overcome the gravity of your comfort zone, then maybe the idea of helping somebody else will. Now there’s a creative way to apply the Golden Rule.

Act Out Desirable Traits

– I would tend to believe that starting a conversation is a display of confidence, which, duh, women find attractive. People tend to be attracted to confident people in non-romantic ways as well; they’re called ‘leaders’. Confidence is something everybody wants to have. Life-strategist Tony Robbins makes this point about rapport: “People like people who are like themselves, or, like how they want to be.” Confident is how most people want to be. Cheerful is how most people want to be. Energetic is how most people want to be. You could continue on with a list of desirable traits, each having varying degrees of effectiveness depending on the audience.

Act Immediately

– Talk more in situations of chance meeting; situations where you’re close enough long enough to make eye contact and talk at a normal conversational volume. This takes more finesse than the waiting situation I mentioned earlier, where, if not for your phones, you would have been staring at each other, anyway. Start with a friendly greeting, and quickly follow up with a statement or question that grounds the greeting in context so it doesn’t seem out of place or even threatening. Maybe they dropped something unaware and you politely return it; there’s an opportunity to introduce and say something nice. Maybe you both happen to be looking at tea in the grocery store, and you ask them what their favorite variety is, initiating a line of conversation and giving them an emotional boost by valuing their opinion. Use that little piece of common ground to warm up to a formal introduction and a more extended conversation.

Feelings Over Facts

– The route to deep conversation is through emotions, not facts and figures. Telling someone your name, simple as it is, has emotional value. Going with the stale old stand-by, “What to do you do?” does not. Get as quickly as possibly to dialogue about what the other person loves, and more importantly why they love it. Practically, if you’re going to be on the subject of vocation, ask them how they got into that field. There’s a good chance a story will unlock some emotionally substantial material from which you can build a bigger conversation. Reason doesn’t drive behavior, emotion does.

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