Improve Your Social Skills
Improve Your Social Skills is a comprehensive, practical guide to social skills. It explains the core principles of social interaction in clear, easy to follow lessons. I wrote Improve Your Social Skills to be the guide I desperately needed during my own social struggles. Growing up, I was the most socially awkward kid you would ever hope to meet. But when I was diagnosed with Asperger’s Syndrome in high school, I realized that my social problems were caused by a lack of social skills, not by some inherent flaw in my character. After my diagnosis, I studied social skills for more than a decade. On January 1st, 2012, I launched ImproveYourSocialSkills.com to share what I’d learned with the world. Hundreds of thousands of people visit the site every year, and today I’m proud to help an even wider audience through the Improve Your Social Skills book. The guide you’re about to read is a compilation of the social principles I’ve learned during my lifetime of personal social skills study, as well as the techniques I developed while offering hundreds of hours of social skills coaching. It offers detailed blueprints for basic skills like conversation and body language in depth, and provides clear explanations for complex topics like empathy, making friends, and dating. I wrote Improve Your Social Skills to share the principles that have changed my life. These principles led me to a life full of close friendship, satisfying connection, and tender romance. I wrote Improve Your Social Skills because I want everyone to have that kind of life. I believe you deserve a place to belong. I believe that you can live a life full to the brim with friendship, connection, and love. I wrote Improve Your Social Skills to help you believe it, too.
When I was in college, I signed up for an internship with Students International, an organization that works among the poor in the Dominican Republic. I was assigned to the construction outreach where Rudy, the Dominican construction leader, taught me a great deal about both construction and life. One day, after we’d spent hours painstakingly laying a foundation for a house and making sure everything was perfect, he turned to me and said, “We always spend more time on the foundation because the foundation is everything. If the foundation is solid, the house will be strong. If the foundation is crooked, the house will be flawed. It’s the same thing with your life—if the foundation of your life is in solid things, you will be strong. If you set your foundation in crooked things, you will crumble.” (He talked like that ALL the TIME. It was like building houses with Yoda.) I think Rudy was on to something. If you take the time to lay your foundation right, then you will be successful in whatever you’re building – whether a house, a life, or a set of social skills. That’s what this “Foundations” section is about. I wrote it to help you think through the way social skills affect your own life. This guide is a very powerful tool, but before you pick up any tool, you need to know what you’re trying to build. I know you are probably eager to get started on the “meat” of the guide, but trust me (or, if you prefer, trust Rudy.) The foundation must come first. Foundations contains four lessons: How to Use the Guide Here are some guidelines to help you get the most out of the guide Setting Goals For Your Social Skills Journey Why are you trying to learn social skills? What are your goals? What has your history with social skills been? Where are you, and where are you going? Overcoming Fear And Social Anxiety Social interaction can be scary, and it’s easy for fear to hold us back. But it is possible to overcome your fear, and in this section I show you how.
Manipulation vs. True Intimacy Some other social skills gurus recommend using social skills to manipulate others into doing what you want. But truly fulfilling relationships are built on trust and respect, not manipulation and deceit.
How to Use the Guide
You may use the guide however you see fit. Read the entire thing in one sitting. Skip around to the sections that interest you most. Read it out loud to your cat. The world is truly your oyster. But if you want to get the most out of the guide, I have some advice for you. Read the guide in order. The later chapters reference concepts from earlier chapters and cover more advanced topics. It is particularly important to read in order within chapters, since the sections in each chapter build directly on one another. You are welcome to skip around all you like, but if you find that a certain chapter or section doesn’t make sense, your best bet is to go back and read what you missed. Practice what you learn. The only way to learn how to apply the principles in the guide to the real world is, well, to get out and apply them to the real world. So take some time every day to practice. Watch TV with the sound low and study the body language of the actors until you can recognize comfort and discomfort. Strike up a conversation with your coworker and practice maintaining conversational flow. Spend a bit of time at the end of the day to think through your social skills goals. Pick a social skill you want to master, and put in some time every day practicing it. You’ll find yourself richly rewarded. Study slowly but consistently. It’s certainly possible to fly through the entire guide in one sitting, but there’s a lot of content to take in. Give yourself the chance to really absorb everything you can. I recommend a bit each day, reading a subsection of a chapter or two, and then making sure to practice what you read during the day. Don’t go it alone! Ask friends, family and mentors to help you with your social skills journey. Your support network can be a great source of advice and encouragement. You should have specific goals in mind as you work through the guide. Improving your social skills just to improve your social skills is good, but it’s hard to stay motivated if you don’t have clear goals. Having clear goals allows you to track your progress towards that goal and stay motivated. Supplement the guide with other sources. Improve Your Social Skills has a lot of great content, but there are other social skills resources that can build on what you learn in Improve Your Social Skills. Even today, I keep an eye out for great social skills books so that I can continue to learn and grow my skills. I’ve compiled a list of some of the best books on social skills that I’ve found, which is a great place to start. However you decide to use the guide, remember that practice and persistence are the two biggest keys to your success. Be diligent to practice the things you learn. If you do, you will be well on your way to social success.
Setting Goals for Your Social Skills Journey
A good friend of mine likes to ask me, “Where are you, and where are you going?” He asks this because he believes that life is a journey. The person you were yesterday is different than the person you will be tomorrow, because the person you were yesterday was not shaped by today’s experiences. You will change as you go through life. It’s inevitable. But how you change is up to you. You will be changed whether you spend your weekend watching TV or helping a family build a home, but it is your choice that determines if you pick up the remote or the hammer. Unfortunately, it’s hard to make the decision to change for the better. It’s easy to put off a beneficial change until later or to give up as soon as the change becomes difficult. That’s why it’s important to know where you are and where you’re going. When you don’t, it’s like trying to make a long journey without a map. You won’t have the first idea of how to start, and you won’t know if you are drawing closer to your goal or just walking in circles. But if you understand where you are and where you want to go, then you can draw a map. You can plan for the journey and prepare yourself for the obstacles that you might face along the way. The journey may still be a long one, but you know you will not give up because you are focused on your destination. In social skills, knowing where you are means that you understand your current social strengths and limitations, and you understand how those strengths and limitations affect your life. And knowing where you’re going means you have a concrete set of social goals, as well as a plan for reaching those goals. I have some questions to help you find out where you are and where you’re going, and I encourage you to think through them in depth. Let the questions inspire your thinking, and don’t worry too much about how you respond to each question. There are no right or wrong answers; the questions are only there to guide your thinking. Where are you? What are your social strengths? Social strengths are the positive elements you bring to relationships and social interactions. They can be social skills, but they don’t have to be. Being loyal to your friends or having a genuine desire to get to know others both count as social strengths, even if they might not be social skills. Think about the best relationships in your life. These might be current relationships or relationships from your past. What were those relationships like? What made those relationships so good? How did those relationships affect your life?
How have you tried to improve your social skills in the past? Have those methods been successful? If so, what made them successful? If not, what would help you be more successful this time around? What are the current gaps in your social skills knowledge? What are the elements of social interaction that you don’t understand, or that you struggle to do successfully? Why did you decide to start reading Improve Your Social Skills
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