Ask Ramit: How do you practice improving social skills?
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Earlier this week, I was at a dinner party with a few friends. As I was sitting in my usual position of reclining, drinking and telling dirty jokes, I spotted my mortal enemy: an avocado.
“Hey,” I asked my friend, “can you show me how to cut an avocado?”
Twice this week, I got an avocado sent to me. The first time, I just looked at it and threw it in the trash. I don’t know how to cut that shit.
The second time, I realized this avocado probably cost me like $10, so I tried to figure out how to eat it. I started cutting it like an orange, only the slivers were too thin and I had no idea what to do. Then I cut into the middle and found a pit (which I did not expect). By this point, I was yelling and cursing, and I threw the gutted remains angrily into the trash.
If you’re wondering HOW ARE YOU EVEN ALIVE RAMIT?? you are right. I have very little idea how I made it this far in this life. Anyway, imagine the glint in my eye when I spotted that soon-to-be-cut avocado on my friend’s kitchen counter. She showed me exactly how to cut it into beautiful chunks, and the next morning I cut the first avocado of my life.
Why am I telling you this? Am I turning this site into a cooking blog?
No. It’s because most of us can laugh and enjoy a story about Dumb Ramit not knowing how to cut an avocado…but how many of us don’t know how to do something and never ask anyone to teach them?
This happens with money, careers, health and fitness, and most of all, social skills.
Think about it:
- When was the last time you asked someone how to make small talk?
- Have you ever systematically studied someone who’s really good with people…then deconstructed how they do it? (Or do you consider that too “weird”?)
- How many of us have fallen back on the crutch that “I’m shy” or “I dunno if I should go out tonight…ugh…I’d rather just watch TV” — and then wondered what we missed out on?
It’s fascinating to me that social skills are one of the most important skills we can develop — maybe THE most important skill — yet we rarely look at it as a teachable, learnable skill that we can improve on.
Who here has been to a party where you didn’t know a ton of people, and you weren’t sure what to say? Or feeling tense during a social situation, then endlessly analyzing everything you said afterwards and even cringing?
All of us.
That’s why I wanted to talk about systematically improving social skills.
Today’s Ask Ramit question comes from Richard.
“What are some of the best ways to practice the social skills you suggest — and with that, how do you deal with the initial bumps? So many of the things you tell us to do are easy to practice. But social skills require someone else. If it’s not working, how do I keep the motivation to try again?”
Watch my video response. I’ll show you exactly how you can practice and improve your social skills before you actually have to use them in the real world. My advice may surprise you.
What’s your biggest social skill or networking challenge?
- How to network at cocktail parties?
- How to make small talk in an interview?
- How to improve your body language when you’re meeting someone for the first time?
Leave your biggest social skill or networking questions in the comments below, and I’ll record answers to as many as I can.
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