Preparation #4

If you have ever been a boyscout or girl scout then you understand the need for preparation.  Most military pro’s also know the importance of preparation.  I never go on a day trip somewhere without water, snacks, flashlight, knife, and other tools.  We want to prepare for social encounters and other life events.  Imagine the amount of preparation that goes into planning a wedding so that those 3-6 hours are as amazing and flawless as can be?  That’s the type of preparation you want to put into your daily life. But, you don’t want to spend that much time, of course. I want you to be able to apply the 80/20 rule. Now, that we are aware of our strengths, weaknesses, and those of the participants in our social gathering, we can prepare for success.  Our success is defined as whatever goals you want ot achieve from the event, conversation or what have you.

I used to always feel like the last one to find out something whether it was a new video game, new band, or current event.  I hated being the last one to find stuff out so I vowed to change that. I thought about chipsets. They are known for being the original adopter’s of many things unique and unseen.  I wanted to be the ultimate hipster in the sense of the word but not the clothing style.  I decided to find out popular news websites, news apps, new music apps that I can use to stay current.  One of my favorite tech news apps is called AppyGeek.   The Instructables website is a great resource for staying current on cool do-it-yourself projects. There are a lot of great guides on making anything from lawn ornaments to shaving yourself with fire.

The best way to be prepared is to know your surroundings through familiarity. The typical person probably has routine places they go to for different things every week such as church, grocery store, gym, work, and maybe a park.  An expert socialite like you needs familiar social spots so that when you show up people know your name, where you like to sit and what you like to order.  Whether or not your thing is bars, clubs, sports, or pottery. Own it.

For a common social example lets take bars. One week you decide to try five different places, which isn’t hard especially if they are within walking distance.  Feel free to take one friend.  If you take a group then it will be harder to create an identity with the bartenders and servers. Make sure you sit somewhere open with lots of light so that you will be noticed by other staff and patrons.  Don’t be shy with you body language while investigating the decor, patrons, and other details of the bar.  You want the staff to know that you are interested in your surroundings and approachable. Look out for someone dressed extra well. It could be the bar manager. Try to make eye contact with him or her. You order your favorite drink at each one.  Hopefully, you can show up during happy hour where there isn’t too much of a rush so that you can talk to the bar tender.  If there is a big rush during happy hour then this might not be a good spot to select because it will be harder to get noticed.  You also don’t want to be the only person there.  You openly tell the bartender that you are looking for a new bar to go to.  Make sure you leave a generous tip before you leave.

Out of these five bars you have picked one and decided to go back within the next 48 hours with a small group of friends.  Greet the staff by name if you remember.  If you had a great conversation with them and returned within 48 hours then it shouldn’t be too hard. Bartenders and servers are proficient at remembering who tips well. They will be happy to see you have returned with friends. If the opportunity arrives, feel free to introduce your friends and mention that you brought them here because you had such a great time the first visit.

Scenarios..run through in your mind.

Meetup, a great app for iOS and Android, connects you with people who are interested in the same hobbies as you.  You can search groups based based on interests, location and popularity. Once you find a groups you like you may join them so that you can go to the “meetups” and communicate with the members.  This is a great way to make new friends or meet people in a new city.

Tools – Leveraging Mobile Tech

In my quest for originality and never being the last one to find out about something again, I have employed several apps. Check out life hacking apps like Band of the Day, Reddit Is Fun, and Wondrous. When I get new apps, I always make sure to check the notification settings.  Especially if it is a social networking app, I want to make sure I’m notified when anything monumental happens.

Band of the Day shows you a new band every day. Most of the time you get to listen to one to two full songs from the band.  “Reddit is fun” allows you to communicate on the Reddit forums from your mobile easily.  Depending on who you talk to, you could get a negative opinion about Reddit. Some of the content can be pretty useless or unwanted. Reddit is the sewer of the information highway but if you search correctly you may find a shiny quarter of information. It’s especially useful for finding detailed information like “Is it legal to pick up money from fountains in shopping malls?”  Wondrous tracks where you have been in the world by placing a marker on its map.  It creates a fog over the areas that you haven’t been on the map to create a plan on words of the war term, “fog of war”.

Use these apps to get started with your preparation, then find your own new ways for staying current. Interacting with people on Reddit and meetup will give you two very different types of social exposure.   This will help you prepare to deal with different personalities.

Skill-Spontaneity and Pretexting

Being spontaneous helps build great reflexes.  Over lanning is never good in a social situation because you lose site of the big picture by focusing on minute details. Anytime you are offered a responsibility, that is an opportunity in disguise.  You are constantly being tested and selected.  Your boss tests you, your teacher, your significant other’s parents, the guy sitting next to you at the cafe. They are constantly challenging you.  Humans are curious. They want to discover your worth.  Take responsibilities as a chance for opportunity which provides personal growth. When you decide to go with a plan, commit to it. If you promised to take your significant other on a picnic but it rains. He or she might say “ah forget about it” but don’t accept their invitation to let you off the hook. Even though it’s not your fault that it’s raining they will still admire that you offered an awesome solution.  Find a picnic table with  an umbrella  to eat under if they don’t mind eating outside still or setup in the garage on the floor.    The sun porch would also be a great solution if you open up the windows.

Years ago, I wanted to do something especially spontaneous that would show her I love her.  I volunteering at the city’s Alzheimer’s walk that spring.   Earlier that morning I had helped blow up about 50 balloons to tie from one end of a light pole to the other to decorate the finish line.  Once the event was over I asked if I could have the balloons. They wondered what I was going to do with them but I said it was a surprised because some of the people know my girlfriend at the time.  I walked the bundle of balloons from the park all the way back to campus to tie in front of her dorm. I also put a poster board sign out that says “I love you”. Multiple girls came out of the dorm while I was setting this up.  I got lots of compliments and gawkings. A couple girls even said they wish their boyfriend did stuff like that. Yes guys, it is cheesy but girls love it. Some guys do as well.  My girlfriend ended up loving it too.

Later that year, we became long distance as she had to go home for the school break. I had to do something that would top the last big thing I did for her. Randomly, it came to me.  Give her a box of Hershey kisses, one for each day we are apart. So, I did. She loved it. The opposite sex loves sticktoitiveness. be positive.do the wrong thing, be different, be unpredictable, say the wrong thing, lose at stuff and laugh about it. when you mess up or do something corny laugh with the person who laughs at you.But don’t mock them, laugh with them. define what is mainstream response. do something different. rinse, repeat. adventures create stories which supplement storytelling. make unorthodox or stretch analogies, don’t let someone be able to guess what your next move is. Be courageous in our actions, if your friends are afraid to talk to that girl or group of guys the ngo for it. Let your friends fear fuel you. For the next week practice hiding your emotions

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#1 Knowledge

I have always been fascinated with finding out how machines and systems tick.  When I was younger, I took apart toys after I became tired of playing with them. When I started going to high school, I switched to old machines around the house or from second hand stores.  Then, when I entered college, I became bored with machines and took an interest in people.  The complexity of human beings attracted me.  Each person on earth is truly unique.  Everyone perceives, understands, hears, and interprets messages differently. Sure, there are stereotypes, similarities, and norms, but the mixes of culture, society, and experiences combine to make us unique. A personality is a combination of experiences, inherited behavior, and culture.  Your unique personality, of course, has different consequences on different people. We can control these consequences by controlling our personality.  We can craft a personality of interest if we know how to change these things that make up our core.

The easiest out of the three core elements to change are your experiences.  Try to experience something new every week, or every day, for the more aggressive reader.  Surround yourself with positive role models.  Find someone who is where you want to be in 5-10 years and befriend them.  The second easiest element to change of your personality is your inherited behavior.  When we are children we have to be taught to share, to tell the truth, and to be kind, but those are the basics. We are necessarily taught the finer skills. We have to teach ourselves how to develop and harness our uniqueness.  Practice observing your own behavior for a week. Carry around a notepad and write down things about yourself that you would like to change.  Notice how you interact with friends, family, and co-workers. The next week, start catching yourself doing the things on your list, then try to promote the opposite or desired behavior.  I did this for years through college and a couple years after.  Never stop trying to improve your image. I should also note, when I say the word image, I am referring to our inward image and not physical appearance.

The hardest and most powerful element that affects a personality is the culture that person exists in.   We can classify them into work or school culture, family culture, and friend culture. There are norms within each of these groups such as always saying good morning to people at the office or having watercooler chats in the break room.  There are also boundaries in things like humor or conversation topics for family culture.  You will either be an influencer or an influence based on the amount of power or leadership you have in these culture groups.  The size of these groups combined with the amount of power you wield in them affects your ability to change these cultures.

That being said, there is some type of emotional, sociological, intangible source that drives everyone. If you find what drives someone then you can influence and motivate them. So, in order to have social power we must first develop knowledge.

Think of yourself as a salesmen and your product is yourself.  In order to persuade someone to buy you, become friends with you, you must find out what they want, then repurpose your personality to offer that trait to them. In order to acquire new friends you might have to get rid of old friends. If you have friends who are adding more complication to your life then consider cutting the time down that you spend with them and use that to spend investing in new friendships.  I’ve had to get rid of friends and acquaintances that were poisoning my quality of life.  This was a hard decision but something I will never regret because it gave me my life back.  Take time to search your connections for relationships that could end up like that down the line. Keep a watchful eye on those.

The 5W’s are the best way I get to know someone: Who, What, Where, When, and Why.  Review a scenario of the 5W’s in the graphic book.  The first time I talk to someone I ask them open ended questions to find out their religion, relationship status, line of work or study, and political affiliation.  In some cultures it is okay to ask about these things right off the bat. In Washington, DC politics are the main topics at a lot of bars so it is normal to ask someone about their political affiliation.  In Lynchburg, VA religion is a big deal. Folks are very open about their religious beliefs therefore it wouldn’t be abnormal to ask about religion during an icebreaker conversation.  Asking questions are also good ways to move a stale conversation along.

Some people will just ignore someone who says “hi” to them walking down the street or sharing an elevator. I welcome conversations with anyone, no matter what they look like, you never know what you can learn from someone. Also practicing talking is the only way you will be a better conversationalist. I had an acquaintance in college who was friends and roommates with one of my good friends.  I never really spent much time with her specifically but I kept her as a contact after college. Years later, we ended up in the same city for graduate school.  As the senior editor for the school newspaper and journalism student she gained excellent editing experience. She started editing my research papers as a favor during graduate school.

Skill – Mimicking and profiling

Some soft skills that will help with gaining knowledge from people are mimicking and profiling. Profiling isn’t just for policemen.  When I struggled with my depressed during high school days, my mom decided to send me to a psychologist. I went once a month for almost a year. The sessions helped me discover how alone and angry I was but they didn’t lead me to joy.  My feelings of happiness and sadness weren’t consistent, but one day, while waiting in the hallway for my next class to start I met a older guy who quickly became my best friend.  In hour first conversation we found out that we both play the same video games, love the same music, and live less than half a mile from eachother.  I also found out that he worked the graveyard shift inside a submarine for the navy, so if anyone knew about loneliness – he did. Jeffrey became my role model. For a couple years, I mimicked his behavior because he was a big influence in my life.

Profiling is a way for you to infer information about someone based on collections of physical and behavioral qualities. Based on pre-built profiles you can infer information about someone that will help you predict their actions, likes, dislikes, etc.

Capitalize on the insecurity of lost identity. People want to know the 5W’s, who they are, what they are good at, and why. Self-identification is an ongoing process. People never stop redefining themselves. Besides, let’s face it, who doesn’t like hearing reaffirm great things about themselves.  I’m not saying you should suck up to someone or be a “yes man”. That is for amateurs.  Everyday try to find something good about one person and let it naturally come up in conversation.  For instance, a co-worker is telling you about a recent project they worked on,  you can tell them “Modifying XYZ spreadsheets is your specialty. I’m sure you will ace this project!”. Co-workers love being recognized of their strengths.

Always assume someone is watching you when you are in public.  At my college there was a secret society called Chi (pronounced ‘Kai’ not ‘Chee’).  They were the spirit of the school. It was understood amongst the students that Chi was always watching.   One year I dyed my hair blue just for fun. A couple days after doing so, I received a letter from Chi in the mail, condoning my school spirit. The letter also asked me to do the honor of placing the ceremonial flowers and sign on the pedestal for there next Chi Walk event.

If you have ever noticed someone picking their nose in the mirror in their car then you know – people act weird when they think no one’s watching. Don’t be that person and you can avoid some embarrassing moments and office drama.  Your big brother, parents, boss, teacher, they are always watching. Don’t let them know that you know they are watching but always perform your best because you know they are watching.

When debating about projects and current events, only tell someone they are wrong if they can take criticism, and if you know them well enough.  People respect constructive criticism from their peers they trust.  Unfortunately, some people can’t take criticism at all, and offending them isn’t the way to be interesting.  Remember, the best location for criticism is away from other peers.  If you are in a debate or argument, remember to voice your respect for their opinion in spite of your disagreement of it.

Social proof is the scientific term for mimicking. It is a great influence tactic for beginners.  For example you go to your friend’s birthday party where you only know a few people. There are two different friend circles there, his work buddies and former classmates.  You don’t really know his classmates so you attempt to reflect their behavior to fit into the conversation.  Meaning you try to mimic their body language and facial expressions as not to stand out.  It’s a good practice to draw similarities quickly, perhaps after-school clubs, sports, or Greek organizations.

The best time to be unique is when you are in small gatherings.  This is the time you can create originality. Originality is replaceable. This will create a void in their life. When they experience how refreshing your personality is they can’t help themselves by being around you.  If you are in the courting process, limit your time with the person. This gives them a taste.  Think of movie trailers. They just give you the scenes right before the action starts. You have to pay to see the full movie to get the details. This is the same effect we want to have in our social encounters to elicit the maximum influence and desire.  An easy way to differentiate yourself is to join something where you are the only kind of your gender.  Try taking a class or joining a club where the opposite sex stereotypically is the minority. You can look at local sports clubs, music classes, book clubs, different art classes, or hiking,  Surprisingly, many organizations still post things in newspapers, so be sure to check the obvious and not so obvious locations as you hunt for new hobbies.   Thanks for reading, comment, like and subscribe if I changed the way you think.