How to Improve Your Social Life: 6 of My Favorite Timeless Tips

by Henrik Edberg


Image: kalandrakas (license).

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“Each friend represents a world in us, a world possibly not born until they arrive, and it is only by this meeting that a new world is born.”
Anais Nin

Today I’d like to share a few of my favorite timeless tips for improving your social life.

Here are six of them.

1. Be wary of building walls.

“People are lonely because they build walls instead of bridges.”
Joseph F. Newton Men

The ego wants to divide your world. It wants to create barriers, separation and loves to play the comparison game. The game where people are different compared to you, the game where you are better than someone and worse than someone else. All of that creates fear. And so we build walls. But putting up walls tends to in the end hurt you more than protect you.

So how can you start building bridges instead? One way is to choose to be curious about people. Curiosity is filled with anticipation and enthusiasm. It opens you up. And when you are open and enthusiastic then you have more fun things to think about than focusing on your fear.

Another way is to start to see yourself in other people. To get that there is no real separation between you and other people.
That may sound vague. So one practical suggestion and thought you may want to try for a day is that everyone you meet is your friend.

Another thing you can try is to see what parts of yourself you can see in someone you meet. Try it out and see what you find.

2. Your relationships are in your mind.

“As you think so shall you be! Since you cannot physically experience another person, you can only experience them in your mind. Conclusion: All of the other people in your life are simply thoughts in your mind. Not physical beings to you, but thoughts. Your relationships are all in how you think about the other people of your life. Your experience of all those people is only in your mind. Your feelings about your lovers come from your thoughts. For example, they may in fact behave in ways that you find offensive. However, your relationship to them when they behave offensively is not determined by their behavior, it is determined only by how you choose to relate to that behavior. Their actions are theirs, you cannot own them, you cannot be them, you can only process them in your mind.”
Wayne Dyer

“It is not he who reviles or strikes you who insults you, but your opinion that these things are insulting.”
Epictetus

How you choose to interpret people and your relationships makes a huge difference. So much of our relationships may be perceived to happen out there somewhere.

But as mentioned in tip #1 in this article, your underlying frame of mind – do you build bridges or walls? – will determine much about your interactions both new people and people you know.

So you really have to go inside. You have to realize that your interpretations from the past are interpretations. Not reality. You have to take a look at your assumptions and expectations and thought habits. Find patterns that may be hurting you (and others). This isn’t easy. Or always pleasant. You may discover that you have had some negative underlying habits of thought for many years.

But to change you have to do it. Instead of just keep looking at yourself as some sort of unmoving and objective observer of the world and reality. A change in you could – over time – change your whole world.

3. Avoid being boring.

“The best way to be boring is to leave nothing out.”
Voltaire

Don’t prattle on about your new car for 10 minutes oblivious to your surroundings. Always be prepared to drop a subject when you start to bore people. Or when everyone is getting bored and the topic is starting to run out of steam.

One good way to have something interesting to say is simply to lead an interesting life. And to focus on the positive stuff. Don’t start to whine about your boss or your job, people don’t want to hear that. Instead, talk about your last trip somewhere, some funny anecdote that happened while you were buying clothes, your plans for the summer or something fun or exciting.

4. Focus outward, not inward.

“You can make more friends in two months by becoming interested in other people than you can in two years by trying to get other people interested in you.”
Dale Carnegie

A lot of people use the second, far less effective way. It is appealing because it’s about instant gratification and about ME, ME, ME! The first way – to become interested in people – perhaps works better because it makes you a pleasant exception and because the law of reciprocity is strong in people. As you treat people, they will treat you. Be interested in them and they will be interested in you.

5. Don’t get stuck in the questions.

“I wish I had an answer to that because I’m tired of answering that question.”
Yogi Berra

If you ask too many questions the conversation can feel like a bit of an interrogation. Or like you don’t have that much too contribute. One alternative is to mix questions with statements. Just say what band you are really into instead of asking what band they are into. Or say what you think about local sports team’s chances of winning the next game. Or, while using common sense, just what you are thinking about what is happening around you right now.

And then the conversation can flow on from there.

So open up and say what you think, share how you feel. And if someone shares an experience, open up too and share one of your experiences. Don’t just stand there nodding and answer with short sentences. If someone is investing in the conversation they’d like you to invest too.

And like in so many areas in life, you can’t always wait for the other party to make the first move. When needed, be proactive and be the first one to open up and invest in the conversation.

6. Genuineness is awesome.

“Never idealize others. They will never live up to your expectations. Don’t over-analyse your relationships. Stop playing games. A growing relationship can only be nurtured by genuineness.”
Leo F. Buscaglia

I think that one of the most important things in a relationship of any kind is to be genuine. Few things are as powerful as genuine communication and letting the genuine you shine through. Without incongruence, mixed messages or perhaps a sort of phoniness.

It’s you to 100%.

It’s you with not only your words but you with your voice tonality and body language – which some say is over 90% of communication – on the same wavelength as your words. It’s you coming through on all channels of communication.

Being your geunine self – the one where you build bridges and are open and giving – will give you better results and more satisfaction in your day to day life because you are in alignment with yourself. And because people really like genuineness.

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PS. Just thought I’d give you a quick update and tell you that my new ebook will be out and for sale on the blog next week. It is called the Power of Positivity and contains 22 chapters on how to improve your life in areas such as productivity, social skills, attitude, motivation, self-esteem and thought habits.

I am very excited about it and about getting it out there. So be on the lookout for that.




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{ 27 comments }

Will June 3, 2010 at 8:21 pm

I loved #4!

Dale Carnegie has been one of my favorite authors for a while. I think being thankful is another point that helps you become more social. Not in the sense that you are a pious monk, but you focus on the deeds of others and appreciate what they have done for you and what you already have. Not a lot of young-out-of-college folks have grasped this yet.

Prague June 3, 2010 at 9:07 pm

Wow, I really like your comments about relationships being in your mind. Isn’t that the truth when we over-analyse and over-contemplate what’s happening when we’re on our own and not with our friends. Wise thoughts…

Parker Lee | howtomingle.com June 3, 2010 at 9:45 pm

Hey Henrick! I think my main sticking point back in the day was definitely building up a wall, and asking too many questions.

Being a social coach, I had to eventually learn how to be comfortable with just letting situations pan out by learning that I don’t always have to “be the one” making the effort by asking questions.

I can attest to your advice at hand, good reminders!

–Parker

Marthe June 3, 2010 at 10:23 pm

I really liked this article. So many good points that I really see, but forget at times when I get insecure.

Miron June 3, 2010 at 11:34 pm

I read your blog for a long time and I’m most impressed with this part on making the ego quiet. I wasn’t aware of that for almost my whole life.
And lately I notice it with other people. I can see if they are lead by common sense or their ego. And being driven by ego can do as a lot of damage. I know it did it to me.

Thanks for your tips, you are doing great job.

Joshua Noerr June 4, 2010 at 2:01 am

It’s so important Henrik when with your friend or new aquaintences, not to be so quick to answer every thing they say with a story of your own. So many people play this “plus one” game, and forget that you will go a lot further by just asking more questions.

They want to be in control, but what a lot of people don’t realize is, whoever is asking questions is in control of the conversation, because you can steer it. It also makes you more likeable in general. Thanks for the post.

Claire - Gratitude Connection June 4, 2010 at 2:49 am

Dale Carnegie is the master of art of improving your social skills, and social life. His advice is timeless. I love these other tips as well, and probably I’d say being genuine is the key – you can’t maintain a fake persona for long!

Petteri, Happiness Hunters June 4, 2010 at 3:31 am

Good points. Dale Carnegie’s How to Win Friends and Influence People never fails, it’s my favorite book. He talks about how people love dogs because they are so sincere and always genuinely happy to see us.

We should be like dogs, and greet every new person enthusiastically, like we would have known each other forever. It works. :)

Renee June 4, 2010 at 8:50 am

Thanks yet again Henrik. Great tips, and of course Dale Carnegie is right. And so are you, in saying that you need to focus on others in order to make friends.

Most people talk too much about themselves – and yet not enough people feel like they are being heard. Quite a sad situation, at times!

-XxX-

Roman Soluk June 4, 2010 at 9:32 am

Thanks, Henrik, for these nice tips! Very interesting and useful, I think.

Your posts are, as always, very helpful!

Muthiora Mwathi June 4, 2010 at 10:47 am

Thanks for the TIPS – Very universal.
Nairobi, Kenya

HappinessandWisdom June 4, 2010 at 5:51 pm

Great post! I really like number 6, as I think this is the foundation upon which all of the other tips are built. Many people spend so much time trying to impress in order to help a relationship, that they actually damage or limit the potential of the relationship in the process. Being genuine, flaws and all, is much more attractive to people – that’s got to be good for one’s social life!

friendship quotes June 5, 2010 at 8:49 pm

Really, ego can be very harmful. It stops you from growing your network. We should simply be polite and welcome the world in positive way. Great learning from this post. thanks for putting in.

Rob June 6, 2010 at 12:45 pm

I definitely agree when you say that relationships are in your mind. So much of our life is lived in our mind, rather that than just seeing things for what they are.

Joshua: nice comment about not being quick to answer – It’s something I have to do myself. As you say, it can be far, far more interesting to keep asking questions, rather than to chip in an opinion or witty comment.

Genuiness is awesome – indeed!

Thanks for the post Henrik.

Jarrod - Cultivating Heroes June 6, 2010 at 12:48 pm

Something I have been focusing on this week is to not apply the rules and standards that I live by on other people.

I am noticing that when people get upset about how other people act it is often because they are acting in a way in which we do not believe acceptable humans should live.

Tala June 6, 2010 at 9:06 pm

been reading some of your posts and i really like this one. i find it very true especially no. 2, people can choose who to be patient with and never get mad at them. i guess its just really how we choose to see the person

Daniel June 7, 2010 at 12:17 am

I have been needing advices like these for some time ;)
Keep the great work!

Henrik Edberg June 7, 2010 at 11:34 pm

Thanks for all the comments and added tips, guys! :)

Petey Silveira June 8, 2010 at 2:18 am

Love #6, being genuine! Being authentic and genuine is a gift to those you are in relationships with! People can always sense who is real and who cannot allow themselves to be real. It is a gift to be genuine…and it is always returned by the receiver…how could it not be?
Thanks again for some wonderful pointers Henrik!

Chris Akins June 8, 2010 at 5:48 am

Great insights. I particularly like “your relationships are in your mind.” It is true that we create our own realities based on how we filter information through our beliefs and paradigms. Attitude matters.

The other aspect of this post I like is about not building walls. This relates to how we bid for and respond to bids for connections with others. By not bidding, or by closing down others’ bids, we build walls that make relationship growth impossible.

Chris

Richard June 8, 2010 at 1:28 pm

really great tips. thanks for sharing. I really like Dr. Wayne W Dyre

:)

B June 9, 2010 at 2:32 am

Great post! I especially love the tips on stop being boring and being genuine. Those would definitely be my top two bullets on how to improve your social life. Nothing turns me off more than someone that tells me every detail of their day or that doesn’t know how to be themselves.

Thanks for your post!

Jen June 12, 2010 at 5:30 am

Love anything Leo has to say! He is great!

Tasneem R June 12, 2010 at 9:54 am

Thanks for the tips . I’ll try and apply few of them if not all . I particularly liked tip no. 4 where you said one should try and focus outward rather than inward . Yes sometimes we give too much importance to ourselves . We should show interest in others and become friends with them rather than waiting for others to approach us first .
Here’s a Phd certified test suiting to the theme of your post –
How Good Are Your People Skills? – This test finds out how well you interact with others.
http://www.3smartcubes.com/pages/tests/peopleskills/peopleskills_instructions.asp

Flame_Phoenix June 18, 2010 at 11:18 pm

Most people in this blog simply seem to “eat” all you say and believe all you say without criticizing. Not all your arguments are strong and some of them can even lead to disorganization which can psychologically lead to a pathology, or a less good behaviour.
Per example, reducing the relationships you have with people to mere thoughts in your mind can make you accept more offensive behaviours than normal, thus damaging your overall social image (which you never mention).
You can’t be mister nice guy all the time, actions have consequences, and you also need to learn how to deal with it when someone takes an offensive actions against you – there is no choice in here, you can’t simply not “see” a punch in the face as an OK action.

I could counter-example more of these tips, but I won’t be doing it. It is overall a good post and I believe your feedback is positive and genuine and so I should be encouraging you. I do feel the obligation of leaving this fair warning: people should listen to your messages, but ALWAYS with critical sense and careful analysis.

I truly wish you good luck on selling your book. I even felt inclined to buy it myself :P

Niluka Weerasinghe June 20, 2010 at 3:27 am

Great tips,
I am impressed, keep continuity writing.

Niluka

Joshua June 22, 2010 at 1:28 pm

Love the point on focusing outward, and the quote from Dale Carnegie – I have read win friends and influence people 3 times now, and I learn more from it each time – so key to focus on others and get interested in them! Thanks!

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