In the modern day, social skills are more important than ever. With our physical needs all but met, we now have the freedom to turn toward more emotional needs. Unfortunately, not many people understand how to obtain these social skills. In the last post, I talked about how empathy improves social skills. Today, I'll be going over how to obtain empathy so you can improve your social skills.
Obtaining empathy isn't difficult, but it isn't easy either. It's one of those things that takes a while but is well worth the time spent.
Obtaining empathy helps with more than just conversation. By learning how to connect better with others, you are setting yourself up to be able to resolve conflict much more effectively.
Becoming that person who can make somebody feel special through your attention is very powerful, but requires empathy. Here are 3 ways to obtain more empathy.
1. Become interested in others
Have you ever encountered a kid that just wouldn't stop asking "Why?" until he was satisfied? That kind of curiosity is what you want, minus the annoying parts. Lack of social skills stems from not being able to get out of your head. The easiest way to get out of your head is to become interested in the person right in front of you.
The biggest concern people have in social interaction is running out of things to say. They think it's super awkward for silence to happen.
Awkward silences being a different topic altogether, let's focus on running out of things to say. By becoming interested in the other person, having things to say is really easy.
There is a caveat to this: you have to pay attention in order to get the best results. It's only when you pay attention that you pick up on different things you can talk to them about.
I mentioned in the last post that everybody's favorite topic is themselves. You can find so many things to talk to somebody about if you pay close enough attention.
By paying attention, you are forcing yourself out of your head. You become able to take in what they say and connect with them on it.
This does take practice to do, but once you get it down you'll notice a big difference. Rather than stressing over what you'll say next, you end up flowing with the conversation.
2. Work on your self-image
Yes, it's a little counterintuitive. Empathy is mainly about others, so why work on yourself? As mentioned in the last post, you want to be like a cup that's overflowing. That overflowing liquid is excess, so you give it to other "cups" around you. Having a strong self-image allows you to become that overflowing cup.
First, let's talk about how the cup works.
The liquid that fills the cup is validation. The more you have, the more full it gets.
So how does a strong self-image lead to an overflowing cup? Simple: your self-image gives you an abundance of intrinsic validation.
This leads to two important points.
First, in a world where people are primarily seeking external validation, having a strong self-image allows you to obtain validation without needing to use others.
Because you don't need to use others, you can fully enjoy them and their company. And when you enjoy their company, they feel validated. You are filling their cup by having a good time.
Second, you become outcome-independent.
This isn't to say that you can't have motivations or ulterior motives. Every action you do will have some sort of motivation.
The key here is you aren't reliant on a specific outcome happening. This contributes to getting you out of your head, which allows you to have flowing interactions.
If you must remember one thing from this post, remember this section about self-image. It brings so much more benefit to your life as a whole.
3. Do some research
Did you know that there are a ton of books out there on the topics of body language and non-verbal communication? These two topics are quite vital to human communication, yet so many people see them as unnecessary. This will be your secret advantage. Empathy comes much more easily when you understand what to look out for.
When I started developing my empathy and social skills, I came across quite a few books that either mentioned some non-verbal stuff or were full-blown non-verbal communication books. After going through them, I saw significant improvements in my social skills.
From books on how to talk to people better to what to pay attention to when reading body language, I learned about so many things that make interaction with others like a game.
I remember growing up that my dad would never really let me or my brothers say anything that could potentially offend my mom. Fast forward to today, I've completely thrown that to the wayside in favor of reading others to know when I should make a joke or not.
The biggest benefit this brought me was getting me out of my head. I was paying a lot less attention to myself and more to the people talking to me.
The end result is I'm now able to pick up on the emotional state of the other person and act accordingly.
If I had to recommend books to do research with, it would be Joe Navarro's books on body language. Those books, specifically, "What Everybody is talking about", are what gave me the most benefit.
My second best recommendation would be Robert Greene's, "The Laws of Human Nature."
Empathy is a skill. If you want to hone it, you need to use it. It won't develop if you don't use it on others.
In this modern age of self-absorption, being empathetic is like a superpower. It's kind of like you can read minds!
In order to develop this superpower, you need to become the overflowing cup. Build your self-image, obtain that abundance, then share it with the world.