Do you know what you’re doing wrong in conversations?
I’m betting you have some ideas, but here’s the thing…
Over the years, I’ve found most of what I thought I was doing wrong socially was actually fine. The REAL mistakes took me years to uncover.
- Because deeper issues cause you to run out of things to say
- There’s more to it than just needing better conversation skills
And if you don’t realize these mistakes now and fix them, you could end up taking years to gain social confidence instead of months.
I don’t want that for you. I know YOU don’t want that for you.
So I propose an exercise right now…
Spot the mistakes I made in this embarrassing true story below. If you do…kudos. But I have to warn you, these mistakes are probably NOT the ones you’re thinking.
Ready? Set? Go…
My Embarrassing Loser Story (Mistakes Included)
I remember the cheek-blushing embarrassment that day in my creative writing class…
It was my first semester in college and I actually enjoyed the writing course. I was fine talking technique in group discussions.
But outside the structure of class, I had no idea what to talk about. My classmates would casually chat with each other before and after class while I stayed quiet.
I had no idea what to say to them. Nothing seemed good enough. I felt certain they’d find me lame and make fun of whatever I’d mention.
Then it happened.
One day before class began, everyone chatted and laughed more than usual. And what I began to understand is, one of my classmates had thrown a party over the weekend.
Everyone had gone.
They had all bonded and gotten closer.
Everyone except me that is, because I hadn’t been invited.
I felt like, “Great! Here’s another group of people I’ve failed with. I’m just going to keep getting passed over like this my entire life.”
I mean why couldn’t I just talk with people normally like everyone else? Why couldn’t I make new friends? I SHOULD be able to, I thought. Something must be wrong with me.
But it didn’t stop there.
I had many more experiences like this. Too many to mention.
But the end result was always the same. I’d feel like anything I’d say wouldn’t be good enough. Like I was so immature and a loser compared to others. So I’d stay quiet while people ignored me or snickered.
Finally I decided enough was enough.
- I bought every book on improving conversation skills I could find
- I sat in my apartment and memorized techniques
- I became a conversation skills connoisseur
But nothing changed.
In fact, I just got MORE confused socially.
I’d go out with friends and be even more scared to approach people than before. That really made me think something was wrong with me. I mean, I should’ve been able to talk easily to people right? Because now I knew what to do. But I STILL couldn’t make it happen.
I spent almost a year like this. Trying to learn more and better conversation techniques while wondering why the hell I wasn’t improving.
If not no worries. After all, it took me a while. So here they are…
1. You Want to Master Social Skills at Home THEN Go Out and Meet New People
Many people try to improve socially by FIRST learning all the “how-to” they can find.
They want to understand the entire process before getting out there, so they “know what they’re doing.”
I mean I understand the mindset, because I did it too.
I figured once I completely knew how the conversation thing worked:
- THEN I could go out and do well socially
- THEN people would like me
- THEN I wouldn’t get rejected or humiliated anymore.
It just doesn’t work that way.
The best way to get better socially is to go out and be social. YES, it helps to first learn basic techniques that work in most cases. But if you aren’t APPLYING what you’ve learned, it’s useless.
Not only that, if you have too many techniques in your head, you become more confused than ever. It’s impossible to remember what to do when. You can even begin to feel awkward in social situations once comfortable to you.
Here’s an important lesson…
Because knowing what to do DOES NOT mean you are instantly able to do it. You have to practice.
Trying to improve socially by only reading technique is like an Olympic gymnast learning the parallel bars by only watching videos. If that gymnast never actually gets in the gym to practice those moves, do you think she’ll win a medal?
Hell no she won’t.
She won’t even make it to the Olympics.
Becoming competent socially works the same way. You must learn a little technique, THEN go out and practice it even though you don’t feel ready.
It’s through putting your knowledge into action that you’ll truly learn it and get better.
When doing this, yes…
- You’ll still feel scared and uncertain
- You’ll make mistakes
- You’ll get embarrassed
But you must push through that and do your best. Over time, you’ll improve.
Ultimately, the mistake here is to wait until you’re confident to be more social. Instead, you should first be more social to develop confidence.
“I fear not the man who has practiced 10,000 kicks once, but I fear the man who had practiced one kick 10,000 times.”
– Bruce Lee
2. You Think You SHOULD Be As Charming And Outgoing As The “Social Naturals”
There’s a dirty word I want you to look out for in your vocabulary: Should
“ I SHOULD be able to do this…”
Maybe you envy the popular people in college like I did, or the “IN” group at work. You see them casually chatting with each other…
They’re charming and outgoing…
Everyone likes them.
And you think, why can’t I do that? I should be able to. Something must be wrong with me.
Yet this can be a major cause of nervousness and uncertainty you feel socially. You feel you MUST perform well (like them) and be impressive. And because of all that pressure to be charming, you get “performance anxiety.”
You start worrying, “I hope I don’t screw this up like I usually do.” And guess what…the nervousness itself causes you to blank, be awkward and stay quiet.
Look, we all do this in one way or another. We compare ourselves to others.
But here’s a sometimes hard to accept lesson that will save you A LOT of grief:
Accept that it’s okay to be where you are right now.
- You don’t know what to say sometimes…it’s ok.
- You feel awkward and lack social intelligence…it’s ok.
- You don’t have many (or any) friends right now…it’s ok.
I’m NOT saying you shouldn’t try to improve. Of course you should. That’s what my site and business is all about after all.
But beating your head against a wall thinking you MUST be a certain way NOW, it just makes you feel crappy.
You get depressed.
That makes you NOT a fun person to be around AND it can cause you to give up.
Besides, thinking you should be as skilled socially as others is a brain trap.
There’s 101 reasons you may not be as good as others socially:
- Maybe, like me, you had a series of embarrassments that made you overly cautious
- Maybe your parents were shy or quiet so you learned it from them
- Maybe you’re different from most people where you live so you’ve never fit in
- Maybe a combination of the above or many more possibilities
My point is this…
YOUR history, YOUR life circumstances have brought you to this point. It’s not your fault you’re where you are now. This is the only place you CAN be given your past experiences.
You’ve done the best you can with what you had.
Those “popular” people you envy, they had completely different life experiences than you. THAT’s why they may be better socially.
It’s completely unrealistic to compare yourself to them. They haven’t lived your life and vice versa.
That’s why it’s best to base your progress on you and you alone. Judge yourself on your growth. Accept that it’s ok to be where you are, who you are now – no need to feel ashamed.
Just decide to move forward from this point on. If you don’t do that, you waste your energy on criticizing yourself instead of using it to move forward.
So next time you catch yourself thinking you MUST be as good as that person over there, stop.
Then gently remind yourself you’d LIKE to be better socially. You’re working at it and gradually improving. But if you’re not as charming or outgoing as that guy over there, it’s not a big deal. You’ll get there eventually.
3. You Look For EXACTLY What To Say And Do Instead of Fixing The REAL Problem
The day to day issues we face are often something like this:
- We see someone we want to talk to but can’t think of how to start
- We come across awkward to others when we want them to like us
- We don’t know how to keep a conversation going that we’re already in
For these reasons and many more, it’s understandable our first questions are:
- Tell me what to say so the conversation starts well
- Tell me what to do so people will like me and find me attractive
- Tell me what to talk about when I run out of stuff to say
But as any socially confident person will tell you, these questions aren’t the important ones.
When you’re confident socially and you believe in yourself, it doesn’t so much matter what you say or do.
Look, it all goes back to the 80/20 rule.
The techniques you learn that you consciously “perform” (things like eye contact, conversation topics, etc.), affect about 20% of people’s reaction to you. On the other hand, truly being confident and believing in yourself accounts for 80% of how others see you.
Because if you don’t think highly of yourself, you AUTOMATICALLY (and uncontrollably) give off subtle cues. Cues which cause others to see you as low value. So they treat you that way.
The exact opposite happens when you believe in your own worth and have confidence in your social ability.
The point is this:
What’s MOST important is not the techniques you know, but what you believe about yourself and socializing.
I mean, yes, learning techniques like good body language and the Conversation Flow Framework…that’s at least a place to start.
But it’s kind of like trying to stop a nuclear meltdown by painting the outside of the reactor.
If you want REAL charm where you can say most anything and have it “work,” then you need to address the core issues causing your lack of social confidence.
In many cases, this goes back to deeply rooted limiting beliefs within you.
- I’m not good enough
- I’m a loser
- I need to watch what I say or I’ll offend someone or embarrass myself
- People MUST like me
- I always fail in the end
Now these are just a few examples, but look at them! One of two things is true about each:
- It’s NOT true at all
- In the grand scheme of things…it doesn’t really matter
Yet what DOES matter is these beliefs matter to you right now. That’s why even though you may understand getting embarrassed or offending someone isn’t that big a deal, you STILL clam up sometimes.
So the answer is to pull these false limiting beliefs out by their roots.
Once you’re free of them, you’ll have MUCH more power to be spontaneous, charming and the best YOU possible, no matter who you’re around.
This isn’t hard to do once you know how.
In fact, that’s what my Fearless Flow course does. It walks people step by step through the process of rooting out these limiting beliefs. So their natural confidence shines through ALL the time.
Well, this was a rather long article but very important I feel (congratulations to you for getting through it).
It took me a LONG time to figure these issues out in my own life. I truly hope my experience helps you avoid the mistakes I made.
P.S. – Some of the biggest mistakes we make are getting stuck in analysis paralysis, being too hard on ourselves, and looking for the wrong types of solutions. Yet being aware of these roadblocks is the first step to beating them. Work to avoid these mistakes in your own life for a more consistent and bold social confidence.
If you’d like a more step by step approach to building “always-on confidence” and people attracting social skills, check out my course here: Fearless Flow Conversation And Confidence Course
(“Danger” by KatJaTo is licensed under CC by 2.0)