Living in a world where human interaction is inevitable, it is crucial for us to evaluate how we are managing our daily interactions, be it with strangers, neighbours or even people close to us. Our ability to manage these complex relationships is almost linear to the quality of our lives and is what makes a person of success and accomplishment.
Some loathe meeting new people or getting into new relationships thinking that it would only give them inconvenience. By staying in isolation within this self induced bubble, these individuals think that they would be able to preserve the status quo by blocking off any initiatives to get them out of their enclosed walls. Little do they know that this ‘wall’ is in fact the limiting factor which has been suppressing the quality of their lives.
A handful of these ‘bubble dwellers’ know but choose to be comfortable at their present state, numbing and consoling themselves with various distractions in life until they finally realise the need to burst this bubble. These bubble dwellers did not start out habitating within those cold walls. Perhaps they had been through certain experiences in life which exhausted their social lives and caused them to be wary of social advances or they might be suffering from mental disorders such as social anxiety which makes it extremely difficult for them to open up to others.
Why are some people more adept at social situations?
To understand why some people are more adept at social situations, one should understand the barriers preventing people from being good at it. I would say that most problems or setbacks stemming from social situations, arise from being overly prejudging, cynical and presumptive of others advances.
People tend to develop their perceived image of an individual based on their past experiences, what they see or hear, be it from their own inferences of the individual or via hearsay.
During this passage of time, these images get solidified in their minds as they get more input about this certain individual which supports what they think of this perceived person. This is the general process of judging someone.
The problem with this is that most of those self made inferences (or judgments) might be based on loose biased sources which could even come out from the person who is being judged himself.
It is therefore important to understand accurately the context, content and what a speaker is trying to convey before laying out judgments, be it consciously or not rather than jumping the gun on what kind of person someone is likened to be.
How can this be achieved?
Without communication, there is no way you can find out about another individual except by prejudging based on his behaviour or manner of speech.
This is not reliable as people act differently according to the situation they are in or the people they are talking to. Most people put on false fronts to appear amicable especially when meeting someone for the first time. Having known an individual for an extended period of time does not equate to knowing what kind of person he or she truly is.
When communicating, it is important to note one’s body language as they can be giveaways to what someone thinks of another person. Eg; Eye-rolling or heaving sighs.
It is via open and honest communication with prolonged exposure to a person’s speech which will help us move a step closer in deciphering what composes this individual.
2) Active Listening
By listening attentively when someone is speaking, you are able to capture gists of messages conveyed and even sift out the attitude a person has towards you if you listen close enough. In order to prevent misunderstandings, paraphrase what someone has said to ensure accurate interpretation of what was conveyed. This enforces to the speaker that you are interested in what he is saying and has correctly interepted his message. Avoid interrupting the speaker or changing the topic abruptly as it would show that you are not interested in hearing what he has to say.
The speaker will like the fact that you showed genuine interest in his words and it will also help clarify any doubts you have in what was expressed to you.
1) DO NOT listen to a certain sentence or phrase, judge the situation and take it personal
I have came across too many individuals whose attitudes change drastically by listening and then judging someone based on a simple phrase or a sentence. People who take offense easily like this have more to lose than gain.
They judge something prematurely and get bruised by those words when in fact, the speaker had no intention of conveying such a message in the first place.
Judging in this way is detrimental to a relationship especially the ones which are budding.
Always take middle ground and understand the context and content of the message.
Not everyone is out there to get personal with you. You can blame the speaker to be an instigator who triggered you but there is no one who can know what exactly what kind of words to say or not in front of you except for yourself. If you get bruised easily like this, how can you withstand the harsh winds and ruthless seas of the world?
2) Be in control of your emotional state.
Unknown to the individual, by judging a situation erroneously, the scene is set on replay mode in the individual’s mind which further reinforces the interpreted inaccuracies.
Always be aware of your thought process and validate if what you have interpreted is fair, not only to yourself but to the other parties involved.
A scenario of what happened to me when I was in Korea for a trip
Parties involved, Korean (Person A), Swiss (Persons Y and Z) and myself
Person A was excited to meet up as she never had the opportunity to mingle with people from Switzerland. I decided to ask her out to cheer her up as she broke up with her boyfriend a few days ago.
We decided to go on a picnic in the evening at Han River as Person Y & Z had never been there before. On the way there, we passed by Noryangjin Fish Market, a place known for their fresh seafood. Y, Z and myself have been craving for raw fish as we haven’t had any since we arrived in Korea. I casually asked Person A if she wants raw fish since I was reminded of it upon looking at the station and we alighted at that subway station.
We had a great time at the fish market and at the river. Fast forward to the day Person Y & Z had to leave. The four of us decided to have a farewell lunch together since Person A was only available at lunch time since it was a weekday.
Due to having a language barrier, Person A got confused over the appointment timing which resulted in me missing out on the lunch outing. I explained to Person A about the confusion and she was upset, thinking that I was nitpicking on her.
She then exclaimed that I asked her out the other day because I needed her help for navigation and negotiate prices at the market which was totally untrue because I only had the simplest thought of wanting to hang out and cheer her on!
I had only decided to go to the Fish Market when I was reminded of it when we were on the subway but she thought I called her out to use her! It is scary how the human mind can think if we let it run wild and loose. I was totally dumbfounded that she had such thoughts. I explained to her my side of the story and fortunately enough, we were able to reconcile our misunderstandings.
If you have noticed by now, the key in being adept at social situations is to have open communication and not prejudge any individual or situation carelessly. Some individuals know that they should not be thinking in a certain way but they can’t help to do so fuelled by their emotions.
Start to take control of your emotions progressively and conscientiously. Soon enough you will be able to do so in no time.
Comment if you have anymore to add!