Society is what exists around you, in terms of the people who have direct or indirect influence on your life. It is important to be a good member of that society as it will determine your level of acceptance and hence success within it.
In order to be accepted by the society, you have to abide by the unsaid rules it sets regarding your behaviour. If you feel you are not doing well socially, here are a few guidelines to follow that might help.
Look at your friends with an objective eye. It is said, not without good reason, that you are the average of your five closest friends. The average of their beliefs and behaviour are yours. You might find that difficult to accept, until you look at it, as we said, objectively. If you find that your friends are not very socially aware, it is time to change your set of close friends. You have a mission in mind – to be socially accepted. Choose your new group of friends from among people who are so, and over some time you will find yourself being influenced by their behaviour into becoming someone you aim to be.
Keep putting yourself in social situations, events or activities involving the interaction of lots of people who might or might not know each other. Attend parties, yoga camps, go dancing, pick up a sport, and so on. While enjoying the time spent there, keep trying to engage others in conversation. This will help you hone your social skills through trial, error and practice. This will also make you known to the other members of the society. Networking is among the most important defining factors of socialising. If you find it difficult to strike up conversations initially, going for weekly classes is a good idea. Once you start meeting the people regularly, beginning to interact will be easier.
Train yourself to use the 80-20 rule when you interact with them. Let them do 80% of the talking while you listen. Use your 20% ‘talk time’ to ask relevant questions to encourage them to continue talking about themselves. Keep the questions open ended so that the conversation continues from their side. People love talking about themselves. So, you will be more socially accepted if you encourage them to do what they like doing. At the same time, you can pick up their social skills from the way they talk and share. Mirror the energy of the room when you guide the conversation. Make your questions light when in a party or club. Keep them more serious and deeper if in a class. Always pay attention to your own behaviour through it all. The way you talk. Your body language. Specially your body language.
Practice, practice and practice. Perfect yourself.
But also do your theoretical homework. Keep canned questions handy. Have your own arsenal of tools and tricks to turn conversations into unique interesting ones. Pick up as much as you can while you hear others talk. About diverse topics, information, jokes and more. Remember a good conversationalist has a lot to share about different worldly matters. Add these info bytes to your mixed-tape of social tools.
But, to address the fact that in Singapore it is considered weird when a stranger strikes up a conversation, we will tell we you how to get all this practice. Sign yourself up for social situations where those present are ‘locked in’ together for a period of time by necessity. Like a class. There, conversations will tend to happen naturally, and it will be weird only if interactions did NOT happen.
Hoping to make your acquaintance at the next social gathering! Till then, practice!