Have you ever had that ongoing feeling of wanting more friends, better work success, more dates, more people in your life – and you knew that your lack of “social skills” was the main thing holding you back?
You’re smart, you’re a good guy, you might even be on the handsome side of things and have it together in many ways. But you watch others pass you by that have better social skills and more charisma. They look so “natural” being social.
How do they do it? What’s their secret?
Well, I’ve been there. I was one of those guys who used to watch other people have the kind of social success and influence I only dreamed of.
Growing up, I was an only-child and got a lot of what I wanted. My parents were pretty good at not giving me too much, yet only-children can be demanding. I was also a sensitive and shy kid who said what he thought and didn’t see a problem with it.
The problem was I didn’t really develop the social skills needed to be good with people – skills that would allow me to get along well with others and have better connections, more influence, and greater social impact. As you might imagine, I had problems talking with women, too.
It’s like I was screwed from the start, because I couldn’t begin a conversation well, let alone continue it. Sometimes people would view me as shy or aloof. Later in life, I would often come across as mean, harsh, or “trying to act tough.”
I was overcompensating for all my insecurities, and I was really scared inside.
I remember entering the work world after my first year out of college, frustrated with my inability to meet women and be social in general. I wound literally pound my fists on the sidewalk out of anger. I was nearing my breaking point and was also a bit of a drunk then, too.
I knew there had to be a way to not be so clumsy and anxious socially. So I began my journey to get better at being myself and connecting with others when it mattered most.
I bought books, bumped into the pick-up community, and became a weird guy for a while. Like a duck out of water, I was waddling around, unsure how to walk.
When I discovered that I had the profile of someone with social anxiety, everything started to make sense.
During that time I was lucky to come across an organization that taught more than just pick-up lines. They taught actual social skills that applied to dating, work, and life. This shifted the way I thought about things, and as I practiced, I integrated these skills into my life.
I also became more successful at work as I continued to study the art of being social. Soon I was leading teams and enjoying the feeling of everyone working together and accomplishing something.
I attended retreats and seminars. I hired coaches to make me a better person, up my communication, and help me embrace my mojo. I even went through training to become a coach myself… for the maximum effect of becoming a better and more social man.
Sometimes that feeling still hits me – the feeling of that aloof kid in the corner no one would talk to. But I now know how to step out of that feeling and move forward in my life and social interactions with certainty and confidence.
Today, I have more friends, contacts, and clients and have had more dates and experiences with women than I could have ever imagined. I’ve been successful and continue to be, though, like everyone else, I still have a lot to learn about life.
There’s a big payoff to learning to be social. You learn that being introverted, socially awkward, and under-confident isn’t a lifetime sentence or an incurable disease.
If I were to boil down what it takes to become socially confident and have a great social life, the three master keys would be:
1. A Giving and Abundant Mindset. You have to be a giver and be abundant in your thinking. You have to be generous. This doesn’t mean with money, though it doesn’t hurt to buy a round or two of drinks here and there. Rather, be generous with your vibe, with your smile, with your conversation, leadership, and ability to connect with others. Invite people into your life and create experiences in which people enjoy themselves and connection with others.
2. Get a Solid Handle on the Skill Set of Conversation. If there’s one thing I’ve learned over the years, it’s that there are structures to social interactions and conversation. Learning these can help you build a strong foundation for becoming a social and conversational master. There’s no singular right way, but if you don’t know how to effectively share about yourself, ask questions, listen, give compliments, and champion people (among other skills), then you might be missing out on living your best social life. If I ever start feeling dead in conversation, I know I have the structure to support me and get me back in the game.
3. Step It Up as a Leader. I truly believe that we’re all leaders within; we all have that capacity. Some are more natural than others, but that’s because some learned the behavior set from an earlier age. That means we all can learn to express our inner leader if we aren’t currently very practiced at it. At first, it can feel like a huge challenge if you are only used to passively following others. It’s challenging to put yourself on the line, take social risks that people might say “no” to – but that’s all part of being a leader.
I teach all of these concepts and skill sets (and more) in my Authentic Social Influence course.
Anyone who has a high degree of excellence for self and knows that his biggest challenges should never be tackled alone can experience a similar transformation from a shy and awkward guy to a social man.
If you have the strong desire to change and become a social man, you can do it. I have full belief in that vision… and in you.
About the Author:
David Hamilton is a professional coach, speaker, and workshop leader from Denver, CO.
In his workshops and sessions, David uses a transformational approach to help clients create the lives, businesses, and careers they really want. As a former sufferer of social anxiety and related depression, David has overcome this condition and recreated his life on his terms and now helps others deal with deeper issues that stop them from having the life they want.
You can check out David’s work at Everlution and Social Expression , both personal development blogs aimed at helping people with mental/ emotional mastery and social agility so they can achieve sustained success and fulfillment in their life.
Are you ready to expand your social and emotional intelligence?