There’s a lot of talk about personal productivity these days. It seems like everybody has a way to hack something to make it more efficient and sexy. There’s absolutely nothing wrong with people wanting to do things faster, but unfortunately I’ve noticed a trend in these improvements. Nobody really focuses on how to improve their social skills.
Nobody wants to hack their social life.
This is ironic to me, because a major life lesson I’ve learned is that the more adept you are socially, the better your other successes in life. Take business, for example. Who hasn’t heard the saying “It’s not what you know, but who you know”? Nobody can deny the power of connections. But don’t think for a second that better social skills only helps you in business.
Social skills are different from most other skills because they are used in every area of your life. Work, friends, play, family… every waking moment of your life that involves people uses these skills. However, regular ‘ol productivity hacks and such just help with getting things done more efficiently.
No, I think it’s high-time we started paying attention to our social abilities. Here’s a few ways to improve on them:
- Spend more time with real people. While I do think keeping up with relationships with sites like facebook and myspace is great, they still doesn’t replace the actual human interaction. Building real relationships is what matters most with people. The more real relationships you have, the better your life will be. Guaranteed.
- Spend less time online. Nothing aids your social life like stepping away from the computer. I personally think that people can actually get addicted to these man-made machines. You’ll soon find that the less time you spend on the computer, the better. In fact, spending less time in front of the TV is also helpful. These are the things that keep us socially stagnate; they ensure that we don’t get a chance to see real people.
- Start conversations with total strangers. Oh come on, live a little! It’s a great way to become more comfortable around people. If you can become totally comfortable with talking to total strangers, you’re going to be much more at ease around the people you know. I recommend trying this in a grocery store.
- Go out of your way to listen. Man is this one ever important. If you’re always taking about yourself, nobody’s going to want to chat with you. Trust me. We’ve all got friends who do this (or do this ourselves). It’s no fun. Here’s a general rule that I try to use: Listen first, ask questions, then talk. It works in almost every occasion.
These are just a few ways to improve our social abilities, and is in no way comprehensive. Many smarter people than me have written entire books on the subject. But it should at least open some eyes to becoming more aware of our own social lives.
I’d love to hear your social tips below. If there are enough of them, I’ll publish a follow-up with all of the tips listed. (Be sure to include your url so I can give proper attribution.)