The massive technological wave has certainly not helped men stay sharp socially—rediscover this almost lost art.
We go to Tinder to date, we tweet multiple times a day to share our thoughts, and texting has completely replaced phone calls as the primary form of communication. Whether you embrace this technological wave or resist it, the facts are the facts. We’re engaging with others via social media and technology more and more every year. This also means we’re engaging in fewer true social interactions than ever before. It’s easy to see why social anxiety is on the rise. Countless men today find themselves struggling in real social situations.
Whether it be dating, networking, interviewing, or speaking in front of an audience, the massive technological wave has certainly not helped men stay sharp socially. Thus, having social skills today is becoming an art—a lost art. What follows are 7 subtle social skills men should master (or re-master) to stand out.
#1: The Art of Eye Contact
We’ve all heard the advice: make strong eye contact. This is true. Let’s go further. Have you someone who made you feel entirely different, all with a simple look s/he gave you? The ability to give an emotion with the use of eye contact is true power. This includes a loving exchange you communicate with your eyes. You can use your eyes to express a flirty emotion with a dating partner, by narrowing your eyes and wearing a smirk. Or, you can use your eyes to share your desire to leave a venue with another. How? By making eye contact, then, glancing your gaze towards the exit.
The ability to share an emotion or an idea, just with your eyes, is an attractive skill in a dating partner, an effective mode of communication at work, and by giving someone an emotion or an idea through your eye contact, you’ll separate yourself from the pack.
#2: The Art of Fluidly Changing Topics
It’s happened to all of us. One minute, we’re in a group engaging in a fun and easy going conversation. Then suddenly, one person in the group brings up a topic that causes members within that social group to tense up. Oblivious, the person who dove into this awkward topic thread continues, babbling on without the slightest awareness of his/her impact.
This is where the ability to fluidly change the topic thread becomes so valuable. A simple interjection of a new topic, made confidently, at the right moment, moves everyone in the group from a place of tension back to relaxation. The focus of the group was smoothly shifted. Well played, sir. You just made everyone’s day better. Your ability to notice when a thread of conversation should be changed, and to then execute that change, is a subtle social skill everyone will thank you for.
#3: The Art of Using Physical Contact
To be clear, I’m not talking about feeling up your wife or your girlfriend. What I’m talking about is seeing yourself as a transmitter of positive emotion. Whoa, what? Simply, we’ve all met someone who made us feel better simply by placing his or her hand on our shoulder. We’ve all received a big warm hug that literally changed our entire day. As developed men, we must aim for this type of impact. It takes finesse, timing, and awareness. Making physical contact with someone in the wrong way causes awkwardness, as you know.
The key is to see your physical contact as a gift to another person. Unlike the creepy guy who touches someone to ‘cop a feel,’ when you’re the guy who’s using physical contact to make someone’s day better, for them and not for your benefit, your physical contact will almost certainly be well received.
#4: The Art of Embracing Silence
Imagine your on a road trip with your best friend. The two of you are sitting in the front seat, side by side. There’s no music playing, no words are spoken. No awkwardness. Just peaceful silence. This is the tranquility of silence between two best friends. It’s relaxing and it only fortifies the bond between them. This should be your relationship with silence, with all people.
The ability to embrace this type of silence with all individuals you meet can transform your life. Humans are deeply in tune with the emotional state of those we interact with. In that precious moment when silence falls between two acquaintances, the ability to remain calm and relaxed is powerful. In the same way you embrace silence driving down the highway with your best friend, share that moment with everyone. Master this subtle art. Use silence to strengthen your bonds with acquaintances.
#5: The Art of Timely Humor
Canned jokes have never been by strong suit. My first ever public speech, with an audience of over a thousand, started with a canned joke that delivered nothing but crickets. Ouch! Luckily for me, that was years ago and I’ve beefed up my skills a bit.
While I’m still no comedian, what I’ve witnessed is that jokes are actually easiest to conjure when the situation most needs one. A perfect example is in a tight business negotiation. Both sides are close, but neither can agree on a number. So often in this situation as well as others that create tension, the ability to create a lighter emotional state with a simple joke is the spark that ends the tension. Humor is the glue that bonds connection between people. Pay particular attention to when a social situation is in dire need of an “emotional pump up.” Often, simply providing accurate social commentary regarding the present situation will be the perfect material for a timely joke that lightens the mood.
#6: The Art of a Perfect Handshake
We’ve all met someone who squeezed our hands like a boa constrictor wrapping up its prey. Likewise, I’d predict you’ve experienced the “dead fish,” handshake. You know, where the person shaking your hand mimics, you guessed it, a dead fish. These are the two extremes. Both communicate something negative about the person whose hand you’re shaking.
Don’t be the boa and don’t be a dead fish. Aim for the middle. The perfect handshake is the handshake that creates an instant connection, paradoxically, because it isn’t obvious. A handshake that brings too much attention is usually a bad thing. Master the art of the perfect handshake by avoiding the extremes. A simple, firm handshake with strong eye contact goes along way, especially in this tech crazy world where personal connections are a commodity.
#7: The Art of an Authentic Smile
Who doesn’t like being greeted with a smile? A genuine smile warms us up. A genuine smile can literally change someone’s day for the better. Do the world a favor and wear yours as often as possible. A frequent, natural, authentic smile can impact every aspect of your life for the better.
These are the 7 subtle social skills you should master (or re-master) to ensure you’re a cut ahead of the competition! In this 21st century world dominated by tech and social media, make your skilled social expression an art! The world’s in more need now than ever before.
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