One very common thing I work on with coaching clients is social skills. Through that work I’ve seen a lot of common patterns and have come to use a three layer model to think about and discuss how people are interacting with the people around them. If all three layers are in good shape, you will have a great social life. If even one is missing or lacking, so will be your social life.
The first layer is who you are at your core. This is important for many reasons, but in this context it’s important because any relationship with any depth will eventually expose your true self, so it better be something good or you will be doomed to surface level friendships and will find yourself spending most time with acquaintances.
I saw this problem a lot in the pickup community. Many people would fix the outer layers so they would get dates and have girls around them, but they were totally unable to have relationships because they hadn’t worked on themselves enough.
The traits you should have at your core could be up for debate, but I think most people would agree that integrity, compassion, and a good moral compass would be included here. If you don’t have these traits, you’d be well served to figure out how to cultivate them, though the path to that goal may be a long one.
The next layer is the experience you bring. How do people feel when they’re around you? Do they feel inspired? Can they be themselves? Do they feel light and happy? Or do you bring the mood down by complaining? Do you make people feel uncomfortable? Do you overwhelm them or do you force them to carry the weight of the interaction?
It’s not simply enough to be a good person at your core, you must also bring a positive experience to other people. This doesn’t mean that you always have to be upbeat or happy and never rely on your friends for emotional support. It means that when you are around people you are aware of the group dynamics and are trying to improve them. You engage people who need to be engaged, you let people speak who want to speak, and you help act as glue between different people.
The last layer is proactive connection with other people. When someone new is part of your group, you should proactively reach out and make them feel included. You should engage them by asking about themselves or sharing relevant experiences with them. You can’t sit there and expect for them to do all of this. You may even have to get out of your house and go to places that have people in them and strike up conversations.
Each of these three layers takes effort to develop. Social skills and a social life aren’t easy things to build. To really have a good social life, you must have all three because they work in harmony. Not having all three is like having a car with no transmission and wondering why it doesn’t drive even though it has nearly every single part. The effort is worth it, though, as our social lives are a huge factor in the happiness and satisfaction we have in life.
Photo is sunset on Lake Mead in Las Vegas. Did you know there is a huge awesome lake in Las Vegas?
I’ve turned off comments because I got too much spam and I’m not all that good at replying to comments anyway. If you tweet at me (@tynan), I’ll probably answer, though.