Awareness #3

Awareness is key to becoming an effective leader in social events.  You need to be aware of your gaps in life.  These are your weaknesses. When you close these gaps you will grow personally.  You also need to be aware of your strengths so that you can leverage them.  The best way to find out your strengths aside from trying new things everyday is to set quiet time for self-reflection. Socialites are efficient at watching where a conversation is going. This is done by observing behavior and characteristics.  This can only come with experience and practice.  When planning a dinner party take note of different personalities of the guests. Be alert to which ones will clash. Blunt people tend to not like other blunt people.   Look at the body language of people you are talking to. If they are relaxed, they will be leaning on something. If they are fidgeting then something could be on there mind. If they keep checking their phone or watch then maybe they are in a hurry. Watch their eyes. Always try to maintain eye contact with whoever you are in a conversation with. Your eyes send more messages than you tongue can send.  You can show someone you are listening by just making eye contact and nodding your head.  If you see their eyes dart around then maybe they are focused on something else.  This doesn’t necessarily mean they aren’t interested in you, but that they attention is divided.  A lot of people find it hard to concentrate one thing for at least 60 seconds.  Concentration takes patience, but those who focus on the topic at hand will be great conversationalist.  I consider keen concentration, focus and awareness “Lifehacker” skills.  A life hack is a colloquial term for any skill that provides life productivity. Check out the lifehacker website for more information.

Once you become really good at reading body language you will be able to read lips.  You will be able to hear things that you don’t normally hear. You will be able to read what people are thinking without them telling you. If you train yourself to learn the physical movements of the lips you will be able to hear from afar with your eyes.  This helps at loud bars and concerts as well as many other occasions.  Websites exist filled with games and guides on how to read lips.  Try out lipreading.org’s exercises.  I challenge you to listen out for a new sound everyday or try to notice something that you didn’t see before. I challenge you to take a break from technology use on your daily commute. Pay attention to details, advanced users will be able to read lips, this helps with information gathering and it’s fun to show off at restaurants with your date. You can tell him or her what the other table is saying .I like to play this game with my best friend when we go people watching. We will act out what another couple or table is saying by saying words the words to ourselves.

Observe your surroundings, by asking questions and you will notice a lot of things you haven’t seen before. When you tell friends about your new exciting adventures you go on or new product ideas. Pay attention to the ones who consistently give you negativity. If they show resentment or jealousy, maybe include them next time and they will be happier. If not then it’s time to cut those ties loose.  Their negative energy more than likely has lasting affects on you and your success.  Abolish the haters, negative Nancies, and saboteurs from your life. You know those debbie downers, the people that are always telling you that something is too hard, or too weird, or too strange. Around 24 years old, I realized that majority of the things I’ve done to get where I was at that point were from doing unorthodox things. For example, the day I graduated college I moved into an apartment three hours away from home then started a new job the next day, contrary to what my parents wanted me to do.  Several years after that, I switched careers from food service to information technology, against one of my former professor’s recommendations. She said that I wouldn’t excel in the field considering the grades I got in my entry level computer courses.  However, I learned that there will always be work available for two types of people. Those who are willing to learn and those who are honest workers.

Another topic of awareness is charity.  You must strive to be aware of neighbors in need. When you help others enrich their lives you become happier and your life becomes more meaningful as well.  Try to learn at least one thing every day and help at least one person everyday. I challenge you to do with by not lending money but lending time and words of encouragement and affirmation.  If you want to reach the most people you need to broaden the types of people you can influence. You need to be able to effectively communicate with the young and old, the rich and poor.  I’m always willing to lend a helping hand to co-workers, friends, and family.  If they someone asked them to describe me in three words, I am certain that one of them would be helpful or caring.  That warmth that I send them generates willingness and likeability. So, offer a to help with dinner, to take out the trash, to wash the car, or help with a big project. The good friends won’t forget your kindness.

Celebrate Awareness - Take 2

Every Christmas I send about 20+ Christmas cards to special friends from work, church, and my social life.  I send them as a reminder of the relationship we have. I want them to know that I cherish them and I think about them during the special time of year when most thoughts are consumed with meeting family. This is one of the ways I nurture my relationships.  Social networks will break down if not maintained from time to time.  Think about the friends you haven’t seen in a while. Friendship takes two to maintain but it takes one to start. Be the person who picks up the phone and calls that friend you haven’t talked to in months or years.

In order to cross barriers of age, build a connection based on interests just like you would with someone who is your age.  Older people tend to value maturity, stability, and vision in a younger person while younger people tend to value, uniqueness, intelligence, and familiarity.  Use these interests and values to bridge gaps in conversations with those who are a different age than you.

You must be aware of your own other-identity. Embrace it. Being comfortable in your own shoes develops confidence and knowledge.  I didn’t start being comfortable with who I was until I found out who I was. Self-identification is the longest journey. Some of us never stop asking who we are. The key is to decide who you want to be then stick to that model.  It’s hard to be friends with someone who is a different personality every day.  We like consistency in our friendships. We like to know who we can count on.   Never apologize for being yourself.  If you apologize for something that you can’t help doing because it’s your personality then you are betraying yourself.  Write down three to five things that you think you are good at then write down three to five things that other people say you are good at. Practice on transferring those skills to another hobby or field.  It is also helpful to mention how important it is to be in tune with your emotions. Some people meditate others like to have quiet time. However you like to medicate yourself, do it. I just want to focus on being aware of your emotions, how they come off in a  conversation and how you interpret other’s emotions.  I take after my mom emotionally and my dad physically. Even though I might not be mad or bored, sometimes my body language and facial expressions show it. After enough getting tired of people always thinking that, I decided to change how I express myself.  I learned that I have to look a tad overly excited in order to avoid people thinking i’m bored or angry. I’m sure you have met that one person who always looks like they are bored, sad, angry or what have you. It can take a while but it is possible to change that expression. You just have to practice in the mirror, then in conversation.  After you start changing your expressions you will receive unsolicited feedback.

Practice observing conversations. Don’t talk much, just listen. If anyone asks why you are so quiet. Just tell them you are thinking.  Observe the direction the conversation is going. Notice the tone of people’s voices. Is one person dominating the conversation? Are there any loud tones? Are there a lot of hand gestures?  If you do talk, practice thinking of what you are going to say, evaluate it, breath, then say it. This sounds like a lot of steps if you haven’t done it before. But once you get good at it , it will become a habit, and eventually you will be comfortable enough to know how the people you are talking to will react to what you are going to say. Remember habits only take 21 days to create.  If you naturally talk a lot then practice focusing on the content of the chatter. Are people saying things that are relevant and worth saying? What the participants say to change topic? Try focusing on talking only when you have something groundbreaking to say. If you only talk when you have something monumental to say then people will pay attention to you more when you speak and you will learn what is really important to say.  You will realize silence is okay. People will live if you don’t tell them how awesome your dog walking was this morning.  Your time is better spent observing.  Remember it is hard to listen and speak at the same time. I don’t know anyone who has mastered that.

Observing makes you aware of other people’s habits. You will be able to select your friends and acquaintances better by observing how people interact with each other.  Go people watching at different spots. Take mental or physical notes of the similarities and differences between people and cultures at the places you choose. For instance, go to two different shopping malls. Then, check out two different coffee shops. You can see differences in the people that would go to a Starbucks versus those who would go to a local, mom and pop cafe. It’s great to pay attention to detail but you don’t want to over do it. Practice deciding which details about a person are defining attributes and which aren’t unique.  Also, focus on which body parts on a person speak the loudest because everyone presents themselves differently.

Skill-Zodiac

Regardless of what you believe about the zodiac, it is an effective tool for dealing with people in all five areas of my speaking with purpose framework.  My focus is mainly on the personality traits part.  I’ve used it to predict new acquaintance’s personalities. I’ve also used it to profile people I am about to meet.  These actions are apart of being aware of personality dynamics and preparing for social encounters.

Here’s a few examples. You’ve just met a girl your age at a gathering with some mutual friends.  Here birthday came up in conversation at the event so you know she is a cancer.. Check the full guide you received in your package for more information on the using the zodiac.  In the few hours you all spent together, you can tell she likes attention from you which means she’s into you but could be quite needy.  You have reinforced these discoveries using the personality guide that shows Cancer signs desire a moderate amount of attention from their friends.  However you are a gemini who doesn’t want to be responsible for entertaining someone for too long.  Seeing these trends you make a decision that she could be more possessive later down the line. Knowing these facts and many more, you can better consider your options or give yourself a heads up to problems that could arise in a potential relationship.

You just ran into a woman at a coffee store who is thinking about starting the same type of business as you.  She gave you her business card. You are interested in starting a business with her but aren’t sure at how your personalities will mesh. Even though you hit it off at the cafe, does that mean you will be excellent partners?  In the interest of time, you want to get to know her quicker in your next icebreaker meetings so you look up her zodiac sign in the guide book. Thankfully, you found out her birth month by an elicitation technique of asking her what her favorite month is. She told you January, then you followed up by asking her if that was what month she was born. She willingly told you that it wasn’t. She was born in December. She just really likes New Years Day.

So, she is a Sagittarius. Upon reading the zodiac guide you find out her sign is very career-minded, goal driven, and great at understanding laws.  This will prove very helpful in researching laws that your business must abide by.  You saw this fiery passion inside her for a little bit during your initial meeting.  At your next business meeting with her, you ask her questions to find out information that will support this prediction about her personality.

If you have a significant other, spouse, or best friend, try this fun exercise.  Look up each other’s birthday signs in the guide, read each other’s sign descriptions and list which you think are true and aren’t true of the person.  Then, share your answers with each other to see what your friend thinks of you. Next, take note of what traits you all have in common.  As I’ve said, we are all unique individuals. Different people born in March will have different personalities that align with the descriptions in the guide. It is up to you to find out which ones are true and which ones aren’t. The guide is merely a tool for predicting a person’s personality. Once you get to know them you will find out their true tendencies.      

Tools -Apps, Informants

    There are a couple of great apps that help with developing different types of awareness. Consequently, there is an app on the iStore called Awareness that lets you listen to music in your headphones while also hearing the outside world.  There is another app called AWARENESS, developed by a New York psychologist, that helps you develop freedom and peace in your own shell.  I think self-reflection, if done regularly  can be very helpful in discovering changes in your lifestyle.

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Power #2

My mom and my grandfather always used to say knowledge is power. Read, read, read. Talk seldom, listen often.  More people read less today than 30 years ago. Newspaper sales have decreased while online news subscriptions have increased.  I had two friends who worked for the Virginian pilot for a couple years until they got laid off after the 2008 recession. The recession just tipped the bucket for a lot of businesses that were sitting on the edge of decline already.  We leave in a marvelous age where we can report and read news in real time. We can also look up almost any information within seconds thanks to powerful search websites.  The internet is and will continue to morph into an efficient outsourcing of our brain. There’s no need to carry around a Rolodex anymore or remember phone numbers and dates of birthdays because we can store those in our phones.  Powerful people, in a social sense, know a wealth of information.  The ancient powerhouses like Michelangelo, Leonardo Di Vinci, and Albert Einstein knew about various different fields of work.

Powerful people don’t have to be heard. The best influencers are powerful listeners.  If you just sit back and listen to people they will teach you a lot. Loose lips sink ships. Sometimes if you just sit back, listen, and ask the right open ended questions, you can find out the scoop at the office or the next big change with the school board.  This information can be used as leverage for something later down the road.

I love talking to senior citizens, they have so much knowledge and insight on the ways of the world.  Some have a story for everything.  A lot of times we might look at a person’s outer image to judge the usefulness of their stories. This will cause us to miss out on useful connections. Two of my favorite bands, Kiss and Metallica, are considered weird amongst certain clichés of people, not in the heavy metal scene. Yet, they’ve sold out hundreds of shows, millions of albums, and toured all around the globe.  Obviously, their message resonates with someone.  It is apparent people understand them and are gravitated towards them.  No matter what your message or passion is, there is at least one person out there who understands you. There is someone who can level with you. You just have to keep your eyes open.

It’s good to learn things about the world but let’s start with the easiest thing, yourself. What do you know? What things are you good at? What is your specialty.  Are you a master or a specialist?  The skill that you are freakishly good at, that would blow the minds of students at a high school talent show, will be what we want to focus on.  This is the trick you can whip out at a small dinner party to show off your entertainment skills.    A few years ago I was at a pretty intimate dinner party with neighbors in the riverside community where my friend lived. We were all gathered in the kitchen as the food was finishing up cooking.  There was a young girl there named Samantha, who worked as an accountant. When the current conversation seemed to die down she told to check out a neat trick.  We watched as she went into the cupboard to grab four different glasses. She listened for the sound of crystal with the tap of her spoon.  Next, Samantha filled the crystal with different levels of water.  She delicately dipped the tips of her fingers in some of the water then rubbed them around the edges the crystal.  We watched and listened intently and after a couple notes we could make out a tune.  When Samantha was finished we all clapped in astonishment.  From that point on, she was the highlight of the party. Everyone wanted to know the 5W’s.

So, find out what you are good at. See if there are any clubs for that at your school or in your community. Join the club, take the class, master the course, and take over the scene. I’ve always been good at creating art with my hands. I’m good at organizing colors on things like furniture, clothes, and posters.  In high school, I started with basic art classes to work myself up to ceramics class.  By the time I got to the top classes I was the only guy in the class.  My artwork also had a reputation for being unique. A few classmates would always have something interesting to see about my work or petition me for advice on theirs.

Now, I take jewelry making classes at a local bead gallery downtown.  I’m still the only guy and I receive lots of petitions for jewelry design ideas.  I’m always meeting new people there. My guy friends are surprised when they find out I made some of the jewelry lying around my home.   Interesting art pieces are always a talking point.  It is good to have a few laying around your home. When I was growing up, my mother asked for my opinion on her clothing and shoe choices because she wasn’t good at it but she knew I was.

Subtleties of Black

Being assertive means standing up for yourself. These type of people are seen as powerful.  They stand up for what they believe is right without stepping over others.  They are the lions of the group, that believe, encourage, and fight for their friends.  If you apologize for little things quite frequently, try analyzing what you are apologizing for and if it is really necessary. Are you really sorry that you forgot to leave the orange juice out for your wife?  Does she care that you are sorry?  You can look more confident by laughing things off. Do your peers feel that your apologies are legitimate? Accept that bad things happen, people make mistakes, then move on.  If you never apologize for anything, then it’s time to start taking responsibility for your actions.  New friends will be attracted to your mature desire to take the high road.  Stand proud when you own up to something that you did. The opposite sex loves that. If you  are considered over-assertive then try to take time to observe other people’s viewpoints.  Find the positives in their ideas.  Take a chance on someone. Get to know them as a person then you will be able to trust them easier.  When in a negotiation, practice being silent, let someone else voice their ideas, and evade conflict with employees.  Your coworkers will notice how silent you have been. You will have more attention on you that way versus being aggressive. Dr. Ames and research assistant Mrs. Wazlawek from Columbia Business School conducted a psychological survey that found that the key to developing the right amount of assertiveness is self-awareness.  When engineers build bridges they can look at the math and tell that there is too much structural support in one section of the bridge.  However, it is hard for us to notice how overly assertive we have become.

Skills to use – Reverse Psychology and Courage

Reverse psychology not only works on kids but adults as well.  This behavior works the best on people with sensitive ego’s and people who hate being ordered around. Managers don’t like being told what to do because they are used to telling other people what to do. If you have an awesome idea at work and your boss isn’t as open minded as others, try telling him how bad it would be if we went with in direction ABC.  Tell him you don’t care what direction we take the project in as long as it’s not going ABC because that would just ruin things.  Sometimes the quickest way to acquire something isn’t the most direct way.  Part of dealing with different personalities is learning who you can directly ask for things with and why you have to work through some hurdles with first. Truthfully, we are all little kids at heart. As the average life span increases we strive to look younger. Everyone has a little childhood left inside them. It’s just buried under the mundane responsibilities of our daily lives. We want to be held, adored, etc. we are curious, greedy, and naive by nature. Being original takes courage. Lots of major media heroes are revered for their courage like Asland, Thor, and Elsa. Everyone liked those characters because they could count on them. Their courage affected their persona, making them look more powerful. You could have something in common with them.  As you go about your day look for someone you can help. Heroes come in all shapes and sizes. It is surprising how little things are appreciated by some people.  People remember the strangest little things about you that you wouldn’t have even thought twice about. Talk, listen, observe, find out what is on their mind, and you will get your chance to shine. Spying Turquoise
Elicitation is something that you may or may not have done unknowingly. I did it before I even knew it was an important skill.  It is the process of covertly extracting information from someone through conversation without letting them know the intended purpose of the conversation.  If mastered, you can use this skill to find out things about people to use for later.  I’ll let you decide what to use the information for. A master will also be able to detect and deny elicitation techniques used against him or her.

The FBI practiced elicitation before I did though, take some tips from their online counter-intelligence training.  Serious businesses use this tactic for non-public information gathering from competitors.  It is a combination of body language, poker face, and great conversation skills.  To practice your elicitation skills, try planning a surprise party for someone. If it is someone you don’t know then it will make the exercise more challenging.  Discover their food tastes, gift ideas, likes, and dislikes without them knowing. Here are some personality traits that are the most common to exploit: politeness to newcomers, appealing to an inflated ego, desire to feel knowledgeable about a topic, and  tendency  to gossip.

Introduction – Why do we we want to be more social?

Why do we care about increasing our social power? Well we all want something. Whatever that something is it can’t be achieved alone.  Majority of the things we have were given to us by someone. In order to get what you want, you need to increase your circle of influence.  Well how do you influence others? You have to be interesting enough to mesmerize your audience.

In a time where face to face communication is on the decline, it is imperative that we learn to be effective communicators.  We must communicate to establish connections and communities with our neighbors.  The Generation X, Y, and Z, are disconnected from society in real life but connected on the internet. They have a false sense of society.  This is birthed the issues of social anxiety and fear of public speaking.  Studies have been conducted that prove people would rather die than speak publicly.
Social network in a course
In this blog series I want to talk to you about the 6 degrees of connection, social engineering, leveraging of feelings, connections, influence and many other topics.  I took the strategies I’ve been using all my life and turned them into a system I can hopefully teach other people to use.  Have you have ever known someone who is naturally, really good at something? One of my favorite guitar players Yngwie Malsteen, is that guy.  In a one of his interviews he was asked to explain how he plays so well and fast at the same time. He failed at explaining this then apologized because he simply couldn’t  explain how he does something so natural as breathing. If you have ever watched him play then you know what I mean.

I will teach you the tools and skills you need to exercise this framework.  To be interesting means to be intriguing, to gain attention. Our goal in this is to not just catch someone’s attention for the moment but to have them thinking about you even after you leave.  Everyone wants to be intriguing. They want to also be intrigued; entertained.  Do you want to captivate audiences, impress your boss, land that business deal, make new clients, get the rock star husband or the model wife?  This blog will teach you how to manipulate your social encounters to your advantage. This guide is directed towards anyone who wants to improve their reputation, deepen relationships, and widen their scope of influence. I want to show you how to build lasting friendships and increase your happiness through engaging interaction.  Here are the highlights of what I will go over.

This guide is directed towards anyone who wants to improve their reputation, deepen relationships, and widen their scope of influence. Your outcomes in life are a sum of all the decisions you and others connected to you make. If you can control your actions and influences those  actions of others then you can effectively change your destiny.  We demand attention, some of us more than others. People are naturally curious. When you first meet someone they will be somewhat interested in you. Your goal is to captivate them right from the get go.  People tend to be more interested in someone they can’t figure out.  Once they figure out your habits, tendencies, eating preferences etc. things get monotonous and predictable. For instance, in a new relationship you might be obsessed with your new partner. You want to learn their likes, dislikes, political affiliation, religious affiliation, where they like to eat, shop, and play.  Once you figure out these things and you all get into a routine – go here for lunch on Wednesdays, and here for breakfast on Saturdays; things start blurring together.  You want to delay the time it takes people to figure you out, almost like leaving breadcrumbs.  Once they do figure you out, you want to keep your daily life unpredictable and fascinating.  It’s possible to maintain while also doing new things weekly.

The most interesting people have layered personalities.  You should focus as much on your personality as you do your appearance. If you don’t focus on your appearance much then perhaps find another book to read  then come back to this ones. Your personality supports your appearance.  The physical features will draw new friends in but the deep conversations will make them stay.

Everyone is different but for some, personality can be easier to change than physical appearance. A habit only takes 21 days to create, even less for younger readers.  It is important to work out your brain as well. Stronger brains create stronger and quicker habits, as well as more fruitful conversations.  In the words of The Most Interesting man in the World, “ Being boring is a choice”.  As an interesting person you will control: what happens in your mind; how you display thoughts in your mind and what impression you instill in the mind of your listeners. Interesting people develop connection based on emotions. Feelings and emotions matter in developing connections.  Intimacy and curiosity go hand in hand; they develop interest.  The more intimate a relationship is with someone the more interested they are in you.  When I say intimate, I don’t mean physically.  I mean to have a deeper understanding of someone because knowledge compounds interest. Sometimes people aren’t satisfied with just knowing a little bit they want more. Take for instance when someone wants to know a juicy piece of gossip.  They aren’t satisfied with just a hint. They want the whole download on the drama.  The goal here is to develop a deep personality.  Remember, experiences create deeper personalities and deeper friendships.  If you want a deeper relationship with someone go out and do something. Go explore a new part of town you have never been too like a park, shopping mall, or lake.  In this blog series I will tell you about the 5W’s of conversation: Who, what, where, when, & why.  We will talk about public speaking hacks like facilitation.  Information gathering techniques used by the FBI and other major crime fighting guru’s.

When I used to work at a logistics firm, I met a manager named Yusuf, whom I judged by his appearance initially. Once I got to know his personality, he surprised me.  He could quote just about any verse from the bible word for word. He also knew a lot about horticulture and herbal remedies.  From that point on, I was interested to learn more about him.  He became a great mentor to me. He taught me how to approach women, how to do save money living on my own, and how to control my mind to reduce social anxiety.

Here is what predictable (aka boring) people do:

  • The same thing everyday
  • Create drama for attention
  • Perform almost every action with theatrics

Interesting people carry an air of mystery and walk with subtly. For some individuals, one day you hate them and the next day you like them and don’t know why. Yes, being interesting is fun. Being wanted is exciting. Not knowing what you are going to get into every weekend is the bee’s knees.  Thanks to the increase of time spent on computers, the finesse of a socialite and master communicator are more noticeable. It is also easier to subjugate minds that are constantly trapped in cyberspace. I pass by people at work and they ask me how I’m doing I say fine, even though I’m skeptical of whether they really care. Then, I ask how they are doing and they just keep walking. Or I see people and say hello and they say fine how are you, don’t even look up from their phone because they are so engrossed in what they are doing. They are stuck in their own routines.   Given this, It is hard to make new friends and bid for people’s time. Time is a commodity. Most people tend to already have a set friend circle and routine making it hard to slide your way into their lives.  This is why I will get into the importance of marketing yourself for friendship, relationships, business partnerships and more.

Awkward is one of the most used words in today’s pop culture.  From 2012- mid 2015, Almost 10% of the terms searched on Google contained the word awkward in it whether it was the Awkward MTV comedy show, awkward family photos, or awkward moments.  This word is used to define any uncomfortable social interaction.  Whatever the case, we live in the most awkward era to date. Awkwardness is caused by lack of social graces, familiarity, and awareness. We will improve on developing these positive features to ward against this behavior.

I want you to know that it is okay to be weird, special, or strange. Why be boring? Boring is normalcy, routine, complacent. Everyone is weird, some people are just better at hiding it. I will teach you how to embrace your unique weirdness and display it as an asset. I’ll teach you how to be special but not “special”.

Exercise #1 – Create an alias
Secret Santa
This is a fun way to practice getting out of your shell. Be creative with it. It’s got to be unique. If your real name is already unique then think of a simple alias. Use this name when going out to restaurants, bars, or other public places where you will have to use your name.