Quarantine or not, you spend a lot of time lounging around the house playing video games, binge watching shows, and browsing memes. You isolate yourself away from others, whether there’s an official mandate telling you to or not.
It’s not that you necessarily dislike other people, you just have a severe distaste for dealing with their bullshit and drama. Plus, the anxiety that spurs the moment you *even think about* being in a crowd or group of people is enough to drive you mad.
To say the least, going out socially is not your forte. You’re worried about coming across as some sort of creep or weirdo, especially to strangers. You hate feeling ridiculed or judged by others. You find yourself constantly monitoring what you do, think, and say, hoping to win people’s approval and then winding up not liked very much anyway... or maybe they do. You don’t know. You get so anxious thinking about it.
You’d rather [sit in your lazy lonesome] than deal with any sort of social situation. So you continue to indulge yourself in hours of movies and gaming.
I mean, certainly, you’d *like* to be around people. You just...don’t understand people or want to. I don’t know, man, it seems like too much of a hassle or maybe it’s just draining as hell. Either way, you and your lazy introverted ass are torn between *wanting to* socialize but at the same time not wanting to do the things necessary to make that happen or going through the emotional turmoil of a panic attack.
Fortunately, it doesn’t take much energy at all to successfully “win friends and influence people”, as Dale Carnegie put it. It’s just a matter of doing simple things, without overthinking it. A true procrastin8r never overthinks, overworks, or over-does *anything*. S/he does *just enough* to get by. No more, no less.
Don’t pressure yourself.
A general rule of thumb in embracing laziness as a procrastin8r is “working smart not hard” in order to minimize effort and maximize results.
Being aware does NOT mean you are hyper alert (again, no over thinking), but calmly aware of the situation and your surroundings and able to make decisions in a relaxed state of mind. We’re going to take a look at how you can become socially aware in the first place and use it to your advantage in establishing stronger connections with others, using a fraction of the effort you may be used to using mind you!
With riots on the street and buildings being burnt to ash, it’s more important than ever to place our Ego to the side and use an empathetic heart and the social awareness skills we’re about to get into.
If, as a collective society, we all had a bit more social awareness, we wouldn’t have all these flames and violence in the first place.
Hopefully we can cure this viru...of social injustice and that all begins with being socially aware on a personal level. Without further ado, let’s dive right into it!
The first step to becoming socially aware (and not so awkward) is to become aware of yourself.
If you can’t even understand your own thoughts and feelings, yet alone accept them, you can’t expect to be so understanding towards that of others.
You want another person feeling like you “get” them. That doesn’t mean you have to always agree. That doesn’t mean you have to always approve, but you can “see” what they’re saying or doing and *why*. You understand the logical reasons and the emotional feelings behind their decisions or opinions You get it. It may not be perfect, or in line with your own judgement, but it’s human and valid. Instead of labeling them with some type of insult, you get to know them.
Likewise, before you slap on a self-pinned label of “failure” or “not good enough”, or whatever negative connotation you want to use, you want to [affirm to yourself]: “I totally see where I was coming from, given my current knowledge and emotional state of mind at that time” no matter what.
At the end of the day, people just want to feel understood, like they’re still “worthy” of being a person. That’s why when you build your own worthiness within, you can better share it with others. No longer are you “trying hard” to feel understood yourself, but rather understand the other person.
You want to get to the point where you already understand yourself and don’t need to “prove” to anyone or anything your own worth. You just know it. You know yourself through and through. You know why you feel the way you do, think the way you do, do the things you do. You don’t need other people to understand it. You aim to understand them in the way you understand yourself, with love and compassion.
The better you are aware of yourself, the better you can relate to other people. Period. Seeing your own emotional responses and triggers can give you a better outlook on other people.
Before diving into the rest of this article, I *highly* recommend reading [the article I wrote last week that covers self awareness in detail].
Basically, you want to be your own best friend and be compassionate to yourself no matter what shit you’re going through or how bad you fucked up.
Caring for yourself, validating your own emotions, instead of using an external source (ie. another person) to do that for you is the foundation for social awareness.
There’s this popular false notion that in order to get other people to like you, you should do things that *make them* like you.
Look, you can’t make anyone like you by doing that.
A lot of people make the mistake of trying to talk about how great their life is, what they accomplished, what they’re interested in. No one cares.
I mean seriously, if you’re not interested in talking to someone, would them trying to tell you about why you should talk to them and how cool they are make you any more interested?
Like “Oh look at me. And me this. And me that”
Nothing’s worse than the cocky asshole who won’t STFU about himself.
Stop trying to be a jester entertaining the courts of lords and ladies. Be a damn king or queen. You’re not here to entertain them. They’re here to entertain you.
I mean, it’s okay to be a little cocky, in a teasing way. But there is a line. You don’t want them thinking “Gee all this person talks about is themselves. I mean,they seem pretty cool and all, but damn, how boring!”
People want to feel like they’re interesting, and most people can be. Every single person has a story. Your goal is to find out what that story is.
You can share a bit of your own story, but for the most part,[ let them do the talking]. Lead the conversation with specific questions that relate to their personal story. Uncover the truth of them as a human.
Again, you’re pretty much validating their worthiness by showing interest.
Instead of thinking “They may not like me or what I have to say”, start thinking “I may not like *them* and what *they* have to say. It’s all mindset.
Don’t be overly eager either to find out all about them. While on one hand, you don’t want to be all about yourself, on the other, you don’t want to be all about them either.
Show “interest”, like I said, and that’s a key word. Interest is the attitude of “Let’s see what you’re about”. It’s all about being slightly curious, nothing more.
There’s a fine line between that and obsession.
Obsession is weird. Obsession is awkward. Obsession is not okay. Obsession is the attitude of “OMG I NEED TO HAVE HER!” You don’t want to be so hooked to the person that they begin to lose respect for you.
Remember, if you treat someone like a celebrity, they will treat you like a fan.
Show interest, without being overly eager. Use that laziness and simmer down. You find them likeable but not godly.
You find them...human, actually!
If you’re not the best conversationalist, and find yourself making awkward pauses, wondering what to say next, here’s a little secret: conversation threads!
These basically keywords that you listen for and allow to steer the conversation down a new topic, or thread.
When someone mentions a specific word or phrase, be aware of the implications of what they say. Every word they say has subtext. Just think outside the box.
Maybe you see a woman walking her dog and you say “He looks like such a good boy. I’d give him treats if I had some.”
“Oh he won’t be getting any treats. He tore up my garden yesterday. I’m taking him on a walk to get his energy out because obviously he has a bit too much of it.”
Hmm...Did you catch the thread?
Gardening! Now you know she gardens. Is she an environmentalist? Is it something she did as a kid? Who taught her how to garden?
Maybe you find out her grandfather taught her and she used to go to his place in the mountains
The awesome thing about conversation threads is that at any time, you can “circle back” to an old thread and create new ones.
Now you can choose to ask about her relationship with her grandfather or maybe you ask about what it was like up in the mountains or maybe you decide to “circle back” and ask about what she’s growing in the garden or even more about her dog. The choice is yours. Plenty of “threads” to choose from.
In this way, a conversation will never end until you choose to end it. Plus, this shows you are interested in getting to know them.
This requires you to turn off the noise in your head, as we’ll get to, and actually listen and pay attention to what they’re saying. Focus on the words coming out of their mouth, not about what you’re going to say next.
The answer in what to say next is *told to you* if you just listen.
4. Have a couple “go to” topics
When in doubt, have a couple topics, about 5-10, that you can pull up as a sort of “makeshift thread”. This can easily help you recover from “Oh shit, what now?” moments during the conversation or even get it started in the first place.
If they’re not giving you any good threads to follow or if you feel a thread has sort of died (which to be fair, usually it hasn’t and there’s always more to discover), you can always pull these topics out of your back pocket.
Current events work wonders in conversation/thread starters. Interesting trivia that can grab attention is a killer too. Talk about the articles and books you read.
Bonus points if you can relate it to a previous thread, but not necessary. If you are aware of what’s going on in the world, you can better relate to others about all those happenings.
You can also examine the current environment for some of these “go to’s”. For example, as you see people walking around with their masks during this COVID outbreak, you could say something like “How you doing on this mighty apocalyptic afternoon?”
Or “Did the zombies come yet or is that next week?”
Whatever comes natural to you based on the surrounding environment and current state of affairs.
Many people think that the more you do, the harder you try, the better results you’ll get with people and relationships.
I mean sounds reasonable. Nearly every aspect in life operates under that formula.
Want to get better grades? Study more. Want to get in shape? Exercise more. Want to form better relationships with people?
The obvious answer would be to “do more” for them. Well, that couldn’t be further from the truth.
Ya gotta take the procrastin8r approach. Don’t invest more emotionally into a connection more than another person.
Less is more. Cha! Cha! Cha! Charisma!
Be aware of how desperate, not to mention hardworking, it comes across when you’re out there trying to people please and do everything to make the other person happy when they do very little, if anything for you.
You get friend zoned because you showed too much care too quickly, with zero or a minuscle amount of investment on the other person’s end. He who cares least controls the relationship.
I’m not saying to not give a fuck about them, and be an entirely selfish asshole, but give less fucks than they do (you can take that either metaphorically or figuratively).
6. Get out of your own head.
If you’re having thoughts like: “They must hate me. They probably think I’m such a loser.”
Man, maybe it’s not about you. Maybe they’re just upset about not being able to get a haircut for months. Maybe they’re having trouble breathing in their mask. Maybe the way you look just reminds them of their abusive ex.
Who knows? That’s on them.
You’re not responsible for their feelings, so don’t put them in your own head.
7. The Anxiety NEVER stops
You’re always going to feel anxious. No matter how many friends you make, no matter how many strangers you approach on the street. No matter how many boyfriends or girlfriends you have. You’re always, always, allllllwaaaayss going to feel the burning sensation of anxiety.
That’s instinct. It’s natural. You can’t control it. You can’t stop it. And the more you try, the stronger it grows.
So instead of telling yourself to stop feeling a certain way, ask yourself *why* you feel that way. What is the anxiety trying to tell you?
Recognize the feeling is valid, but say “fuck it” and go strike up that conversation with a complete stranger, go have that “serious talk” with your significant other, go out with your friends when they invite you.
You know you want to. Your anxiety may have a point, but don’t give it control. Don't let anxious feelings turn into worry. Anxiety happens. Worry is when you let it linger.
I hate the phrase “break outside your comfort zone.” It implies that you have to do something you don’t want. You do want to socialize. You do want to create strong friendships and relationships. You don’t want to influence people.
You just can’t (or believe you can’t) because you feel too much anxiety or it’s something you just don’t have the energy for.
You can’t “break out” of your comfort zone without “breaking down”. So the goal is not to break out of anything, but to expand it (without breaking).
Like building a world of Minecraft, you have to start small before you have a cube empire. [Start with being comfortable alone, in your own presence], before expanding to a big social circle. Take it one conversation at a time. Slow n’ steady. The first conversation is with yourself.
The deeper you are comfortable with yourself within, the more comfortable you can be in (outer) social situations. You don’t have to be happy and joyous at all times, just...comfortable, at ease, relaxed.
Produce inner-calm and peace and you’ll create an alluring aura for others to come to. If you let anxiety run its course and take control though, you’ll instead create your own fate of being weird an awkward. Those who think they are gonna fuck up, fuck up. Thos ewho think they’re gonna be too anxious in social situations are gonna well, predict the future.
Remember, anxiety can’t and won’t stop. No matter what level of confidence or success you’re at.
You just say to your anxiety: “Okay, thanks for telling me, but we’re fine.”
9. Say the right words at the right time.
We’ve sort of covered this [in the article about how to live with someone you’re stuck with in quarantine], but sometimes ya gotta know when the appropriate time to say something is, instead of just blurt it out becaus eit’s on *your* mind.
Think about what’s on the other person’s mind. Think about how they are feeling. Empathy. Use it.
If Sally just told you her cat died, it’s probably not a good time to ask if she had a chance to finish that book she was reading.
Use context to the situation in deciding what to say and when to say it. It’ll save you the hassle of someone lashing out or thinking “Why would he say that right now?”
We all have smartphones and we’re all checking the dozens of social media accounts 24 hours a day, in between catching Pokemon, raising a farm, and crushing candy.
But if you really want to up your social awareness game, put down the phone. You’ll be able to see cool new things, like body language. Woah!
Plus...It’ll be easier, I mean *a lot* easier to listen and hear what the other person is saying.
It’s difficult to concentrate on the conversation while you're browsing Reddit looking up cute dog pics. Be in the room. Be present.
11. Save yourself stress. Plan ahead.
Do it later. That’s the procrastin8r way. Wait ‘til last minute.But there’s nothing wrong with being prepared when that last minute comes. Think about all the things a person might say and plan your response to each of them.
Be adaptable, willing to improvise a little bit, if things don’t go exactly “according to plan”, but just like being aware of conversation threads, be aware of the potential outcomes. Remain unfazed no matter where things go or what pops up unexpectedly. Expect the unexpected and you will be prepared for anything and everything.
You shouldn’t worry yourself to sleep about how things might go wrong. Things can go right too.
Play a “Choose Your Own Adventure” in your head and imagine all the possible stories that can be written, both good and bad.
Body language can tell you a lot about what a person is thinking or feeling. It’s less about what they say but how they say it and how they physically animate it with their body.
If a person tells you they are “doing fine” but stands slouched, with their arms crossed, they’re probably upset about something. A person’s mood is often expressed physically, so keep an open eye.
We won’t cover body language in detail right now, maybe later...eventually, but just know that the more aware you are of the intricacies of body language, the better able you will be to say the right thing at the right time.
One good way to sort of “practice” your social awareness is to watch other people as an observer.
In this way, you have no stakes in the game. You are just a spectator, not a participant. Failure to read body language correctly or understand the other person’s feelings and point of view have no consequences. You’re just watching, like a lazy sloth from high up on the tree.
Of course you don’t want to stare and look like a creep, but if you’re not yet comfortable with going out in public and watching real people, you could try watching movies.
Actors and actresses display emotion with their tone of voice, facial expressions, and of course, body language. Pay attention to these details and see if you can spot what the character is feeling in a specific scene.
No one is you. You are you. You have your own thoughts, beliefs, and emotions. You can’t assume someone else is just like you. We’re not all clones.
Another person has a different background than you. Understand that. Understand them.
Something you like and find kind may be annoying to someone else. Something that irritates your balls off, may just be the type of affection someone needs.
Oftentimes, people will express care to you in the way they want to receive care. All you have to do is pay attention to what that is and reciprocate.
Learn to speak another person’s “love language” by examining the way in which they express it.
No need to jump through hoops trying to buy elaborate gifts if all they need to hear is a simple compliment to feel loved, or at the very least appreciated.
Don’t make the mistake of doing things the other person doesn’t want or need. This is just a waste of time and effort. Be lazy.
Often this “doing things to make someone happy” comes from the desire to meet your own needs of “feeling good” .
Actually do things for other people, not for yourself.
15. Ask. If you don’t ask, you’ll never be sure.
If you’re not quite sure what another person is saying or can’t quite put your thumb on the type of body language they’re using, if you’re left feeling confused, or don’t want to just assume (and make an ass out of u and me), then ask.
Ask the other person what they’re thinking or feeling. It does no harm to do so. You can even tell them “Let me see if I got this…” or “I’m trying to understand. Is this what you’re thinking…”
Imagine being the other person. Imagine living *their* story. Don’t judge what they did or how they act based on your own story, your own experience. Try to mentally and emotionally experience what they are going through and make a judgement based on that.
Discussions become arguments when two people can’t lay back and observe the other’s perspective. Basing their world view on yours and vice versa is counter productive.
You have to see through their eyes and look at things from their frame of mind.
Now that doesn’t mean you have to break your own frame, but it does mean that you at least become aware of theirs and fully understand it, to the point where you see how they *could be* right, even if at the end of the day, you “agree to disagree.”
When approaching a disagreement (before it lands into an argument or shouting match territory), ask yourself “How are *they* right?” instead of thinking “How can I prove them wrong?”
See the other side of the debate as a person trying to be understood, not as your enemy.
17. See the whole picture
If you’re getting upset with another person, before escalating it into a big drama or fight...
Take a step back. Procrastinate. Examine the situation from a third person perspective. Remove your emotional attachment to what’s going on. Get out of your damn Ego!
Focus and take a look on the wide range of things. Be aware of the full story, not just your side of it.
Trying to impress somebody or “woo” them over is a waste of time and way too much work. Your goal is to understand the person, not to win points. That’s it. Make other people feel understood instead of aiming to feel understood by them.
When it comes to social situations, there’s no need to let anxiety conquer you. While there’s no way to avoid the anxiety, you can certainly choose how much power it has over you and your decision making process.
Spend less time “trying hard” to make friends and keep relationships and more time on actually understanding where the fuck they’re coming from and what their story is.
Give people the impression that they are worthy and likeable, without going overboard. Make them feel like they want *your* approval, not the other way around, by matching their level of investment and interest,
And finally, don’t base your entire self worth on how socially adept you are. Build your own self worth within and the social abilities will come naturally.
Relax and listen to your friends, your significant other, your teachers, your neighbors, your roomates. They all have stories. Let their story be heard.