Improve Your Social Skills In Under 30 Minutes, With Ramit Sethi

Improve Your Social Skills In Under 30 Minutes, With Ramit Sethi


today I wanna talk about social skills, and how I used to be a freak of nature; 127 pounds I as I like to tell people I had the dimensions of a supermodel a female supermodel. And I wanna talk to you about how important social skills are. I’m not saying I’m the best at social skills ; that’s not the case at all. I’m told that I don’t smile enough, that I’m not vulnerable enough, that I’m cold sometimes are many things people say and those are the nice things by the way. But I learned over time how to talk to people in different situations, for example: I used to not know how to talk to women. I I would come across, like, I might be able to get people to laugh, but I was almost like a clown.

Rather than the usual shyness advice I want to make sure you learn from people who have really gone through it. Like struggled with social anxiety for decade and come out on the other side level of gone through it. If this is your first visit to Social Professor make sure you check out the shy to social page and grab the free audiobook ‘how to talk to anyone’ which is going to turn your life around.

and I didn’t know how to be masculine, I wasn’t sure how to be a man. Same thing was true up talking of talking to people at cocktail parties or random events. I would go up to them I would shake their hand, I knew that much, and then I wouldn’t know how to carry the conversation how do you make it interesting? how do you present yourself as someone memorable? how do you actually learn about someone beneath the surface of “oh who are you and what brought you here” and things like that? so what I want to do is show you how I went from that, to some of the things I do now. Now I’ll routinely speak in front of a hundred or even thousands of people.

I’ll appear on national TV. I’ll do things in one take, which I love doing. I don’t waste my time when I get in front of the camera ‘be done’. so what I want to is show you an example of me appearing on a national TV show, and analyze what’s going on in terms of social skills.

here take a look: Most of the work is done before you ever walk in that room: making sure that you’re a top performer, asking your boss what it would take to get a compensation adjustment, and actually exceeding those goals. and letting your boss know..: now what I just did there wasn’t very obvious, but I did it for a reason. When I held up my fingers and said and basically did 123, I did that because anchors are very quick to start speaking again. This segment is very very short and they want to get right back to the message so when I’m still doing one two and three with my fingers, I’m suddenly signaling her but I’m still going with my points and you notice that at the end, I lowered my voice to let her know I was done making my point and just like I’m about to lower my voice now, you’ll know when I’m done speaking “Say you, you should go in there knowing that even in this economy there’s still a shot for you to have a race.” : absolutely people don’t believe it, the first thing he say is ‘well maybe that works for that guy or that woman’.. : what I did there was, I realized I jumped the gun.

I started off speaking very, very quickly, so instead of speaking very quick like this I slowed it down. I made an expansive gesture and slowed down my speaking. sometimes in the middle of a sentence you realize you are speaking very quickly and then you can actually slow it down and get more in control of your voice. What may seem really slow to you, actually seems highly credible to other people.

: ‘but not for me’, : I know! you worry they’re gonna go in and upset your boss, like he is gonna say how can you talk about that in this economy you expect to get more money’ : ‘yes, because most people believe they walk in and say ‘I want more money’, and the boss says ‘no’, and they walk out embarrassed. That’s not the worst : what I’m doing here is being very expressive. now, not my face you know I have I’ve one of my new year’s resolutions one year was actually to smile more. But here I am using a lot of really high pitched tone, like ‘yeah, give me money’ and i’m saying no it doesn’t work.

and it’s good because it mixes things up. One of the biggest challenges I see people having is they remain in the same flat monotone speaking, like this about the most exciting thing that ever happened to them, like the birth of their daughter they still speak like this. it’s just not emotionally engaging and so to be able to get expressive with your face, your smile, even your intonation can be extremely powerful in getting people to pay attention to you. now I used to go into meetings when I was younger and, like, I’d be meeting a CEO or something, and they would say “what do you think we should do with this?” what do you think about that and I would start jumping into the tactics: “well, I looked at your website and I really think you should change your check boxes to radio buttons..” and they would be like “who the hell is this guy he’s speaking at this level I’m speaking at this level”.. I didn’t understand how to calibrate myself.

so when I’m going to these meetings I would say something, and I would actually see people’s eyes rolling or people start going like this, I mean people would actually look at their watch and go “oh God is this guy going to start talking again?” and it really irritated me, because I knew I was doing something wrong. I didn’t know what, and I would watch other people and they would start speaking And it would sound crisp, and they would use intonation, and I was sitting here speaking in a really bored way but I thought I was really interesting. and then I can tell I was not because people would be looking at their watch.. not a good place to be. so along the way I learned a lot of little social cues, social triggers and different things I could do to improve my social skills. I want to share a few of them with you today. now some of these might seem a little bit basic, like what do you do when you walk up to someone at a cocktail party? what do you say to them? but i wanna walk you through this process and I’m confident even one of these, just one could dramatically change the way you interact people. and in my experience more and more experienced you get, your technical skills matter, but your social skills matter at an increasing rate.

That’s why I’m spending this time today here in the studio talking about some insights I learned in terms of social skills, and let’s see what you can apply to your life starting today. okay so I went out to a lot of different I will teach readers I said: what are the challenges you have when it comes to social skills? one of the biggest was “what do I do when I see someone at a party and I just wanna talk to them? I’m not talking about using game and going up and negging them, I’m not talking about that. maybe another time. today I’m just talking about what do you say at a professional event that can actually get a discussion started. Here’s 3 lines that you can use. very simple stuff, but stuff that people don’t often use. so one thing you can do just go up and say “hi nice to meet you, I’m Ramit, what brought you here?” simple very simple.

what brought you here. then they’re gonna say “I came here because I know the.. the founder of this thing..” “oh that’s interesting how do you guys know each other?” ask another question and now you’ve got a conversation started. second thing you say very simple: “hi I’m Ramit” “hi I’m Mike” boom off to the races. typically in events that you go to where you’re going to introduce someone, they’re there to meet people as well. In fact, to reframe your mental game you can say, ‘look I’m actually doing them a favor by talking to them’ why? because no one wants to be the person standing at a party alone.

so by going up to them, yeah it’s anxiety producing, and you feel kind of wierd, but trust me they actually feel amazing you came up to them. and here’s how you know: imagine yourself at a party, you’re up there you just got yourself a drink you can like looking around you’re about to pull your phone out so you look busy, and somebody comes up to you and says hey my name’s John. awesome, you feel great. someone picked you at this crowd to come up and talk to you you’re going to be grateful, not weirded out. OK? that’s how we start changing the way we think, as well as changing our behavior.

another way you can break the ice is to simply go to someone and say ‘so how do you know John?” John being the name of the organizer, maybe the birthday host. so I’ll give an example. I was at a birthday party the other day, it was a birthday party for, it was a co birthday party thrown by four different people at a bar, and you know I came out to my friend is it how’s it going happy birthday. and then I was mingling, so I didn’t monopolize my friends time and what do I do? so after I said hello you know we can hang out a little bit I mingled around and I went up to people I said oh so how do you know Michelle and that was a great conversation starter because of course, everyone’s there, they’re are supporting your friends and we got some great discussions, right? someone has this great startup, someone’s doing this, someone was making fun of another person’s shoes it was great. that is how you can break the ice and get that conversation started. the next thing that I will teach readers told me was, ‘how do I keep a conversation going?’.

so it’s one thing to got someone say you know what brought you here or how do you know the host, but it’s another too kind of ask that question and then get stuck. so what do you do to keep the conversation going? and going in an interesting direction? Let me give you a few suggestions. my biggest mistake early on was asking too many questions. okay so I’d be like oh so what brought you here? oh really? you know him? do you know that? what do you do? bla bla bla and get a little bit weirded out like is this dude interrogating me so what I would do is instead of simply asking question after question after question ask a couple questions and then I might make a statement reflecting on what they said. I might say “that’s really interesting you know I wouldn’t have thought that would be natural to go from X to Y but the way you say it it makes a lot of sense” and of course they’re like off to the races with that right? so one thing I learned was not as too many questions typically I know this from eavesdropping on hundreds have dates that happen next to me in the places that i write, coffee shops and things like that every time a date sits next to me I immediately go to my computer, put my headphones on you and then listen for the next hour it’s what I do. and so I’ve been able to draw several conclusions from this the number one is guys talk about themselves way too much. so my problem was asking too many questions, oftentimes you have guys, especially when they’re talking to women, they’ll just talk too much blah bahbah bahbah not actually asking anything about that person. they walk away, and if you were to say like what do you know about that person, they’d be like ah I dono they seem really nice, they laughed at my jokes so you want to be very careful about calibrating yourself.

asking too many questions or not asking enough questions at all ok? here are a few ways you can keep this conversation going. so one thing you can say is so what brought you to this event? and as they tell you that, ‘oh you know I’m here because my company sponsored it and blah blah blah’ then you follow up on the next natural question which is oh what do you do? now that’s a little bit of a cliche question, but it’s an easy one that you can pull out if you need to and you’re stuck. what do you do gives you an opportunity to kinda practice your different answers too. so for example if I say what do you do and someone says ‘oh I’m a strategic operational consultant’ I may be like okay that sounds really impressive I’m just not sure I understand what it means. or I can say oh wow so do you work with all industries or do you work with all industries or just this technology industry? see how I took two totally different approaches? if I’m costly talking to different people I can actually test which one works better just by watching the reaction.

one is kinda fun lighthearted one one is a more curious serious one probably if we’re at an event I actually but you that the first one goal for better if you’ve calibrate your body language one thing you can say is you know what was your biggest takeaway today? what was your biggest insight today? I would again test those two words you can get very different responses from just testing those. One thing you can do that works really well, is after listening to people really understanding who they are you might ask and what do you do? or are you here from outta town or are you local? oh I’m here from outta town or from Houston “oh Houston I love to bbq there!” so one thing you can do is also make a coment on them. you can say something like ‘you know you seem pretty adventurous you know I know a couple of other management consultants but I don’t know anybody who does scuba diving on their off time it seems pretty ventures’ obviously you’re complimenting them but you’re doing it in an authentic way why? because you point out ‘look I’ve listened to you, I know other people like you and you seem XYZ’. now you’re not doing this to be a kiss ass. if you do this and you’re not authentic, people will recognize it from a mile away. what you’re doing though is truly listening to them and then making a comment a little bit about who they are. now obviously you know something nice to say, don’t say it at all. I learned that lesson myself as wel. l but what you can do is show that you’ve been listening, it actually honors someone when you make a comment obviously complimentary comment, ‘so you know i’ve really listen to who you are and it seems to me that XYZ’ that’s really the message you’re sending.

they love to have their thoughts acknowledged. they love to be the center of attention, more importantly they love that someone would take the time to actually think deeply about them and make a very informed positive comment. like if someone came to me and he said you know Ramit you seem, you seem a lot more thoughtful than I thought you know like on your website you can make his bombastic claims, you’ve got the I will teach you be rich name, but meeting you, you really seems like you spend a lot of time studying the psychology, the deep theory of the stuff you’re talking about. I’ll be over the moon. I’ll be so happy for the next month just thinking back to what that person said. of course because its positive, it shows me that they’ve really understood who I am, and what would happen? I would like that person. so we’re not tricking anybody here if they said something like Ramit, you really seem like amazing. like you seem like just awesome, like everything you do is just so successful, just incredible.

I wanna I don’t know how you do but I just wanna know everything. I’d be like aah your like kinda creeping me out. but if someone is actually thoughtful and listens that can really change the tenor of that conversation oooo k: how do you get yourself out up a conversation whether it’s fortunate or unfortunate I have developed a nac for extricating myself from super awkward conversations possibly because they happen to me so much. possibly because some other people watching this corner me, and then I have these really weird conversations where I have to figure how to get myself out. so I’ve tested many many many ways and I’m pleased to deliver what I’ve learned along the way.

so let’s say you’re in a conversation, one of two things can happen that make you wanna leave: 1 it’s just the natural end of a conversation right you can have said hello you got to know each other, great. the second thing is you’ve kinda encountered a weirdo who’s just like, you know, they’re just a little bit off or their coming along pretty strong basically every woman watching this is like yep that’s been happening since I was 13. so you know it. but guys we don’t really have that experience up having to extricate ourselves as much. so there are classic ways to get yourself out o these things.

it’s very simple. if you see that the conversations kinda dying down to a natural level, or you’re just ready to leave, you don’t have to make it awkward. you don’t, not at all. classic way to do it is simply. you say well it was a pleasure meeting you, thanks for chatting. that’s it but notice that in my intonation, even in my body language, I’m signifying every possible way it’s time for me to go.

if you don’t do this, oftentimes, and this has happened to me many times, you get stuck talking to the same person for like 40 minutes, and you’re like why am i here talking this person? I wanna like mingle, I wanna go get another drink, i jus wanna do something other than getting stuck. but you know something we’re afraid of confrontation. I know I have been afraid of confrontation the past. so you can use this line of “you know, it was a pleasure meeting you, thanks so much for chatting” and you’re on your way. now I will tell you that in a couple situations I’ve had someone who wasn’t very socially receptive and they just didn’t get the message. so like okay sounds good I’ll come with you and I’m like nah nah. so I, this actually just happened about a month ago.

I was at a bar meeeting some people, somebody introduce me to somebody else, and I’m chatting with this guy, he’s of monopolizing my tim, e and I was tryna make my way out of it, but he’s one of those guys that he would start a sentence any be life and then he would have another clause and another clause in other sentence and then he tell a story, and I’m kinda like this; I’m sitting here like ‘ please kill me right now’.. so I tried my line, and he actually, like, he wouldn’t let me go he’s like ‘oh yeah yeah yeah, but one thing: when I was a young lad in a blah blah blah’ so actually, I finally had to be very, very, very direct with him. I said “you know what I really appreciated talking you, but I’ve got friends here from outta town, and I’ve gotta go talk to them now. thanks.” and he was like “oh”, he finally realized that he had been kinda monopolizing my time. almost by definition he hadn’t realize that.

so that is kind of an escalation script you can use if someone’s really not getting the message, but in general, ninety nine percent of the time you can simply say “you know what, it’s been a pleasure thanks for chatting” and you’re good to go. one thing you can do to be extremely memorable is to tell stories. now in my dream job course I talk about having a story toolbox. this is basically having a few stories ready, you can just pull out of your pocket at any given time. so whether you’re in an interview, whether you’re at a bar, whether you’re at a birthday party meeting people for the first time, you can have like a short story, a very emotional story, a longer really funny story, and you can kind of hone and test the stories until they are razor sharp. any professional comedian, for example Louis CK, Chris Rock, any these guys they practice their jokes over and over and over again. by the time you see them on a stand up special they are finely honed perfected jokes. you can do the same thing with your own stories, okay? so I’ll give you an example: I was recently teaching a class and I told a story about how I used to write a comedy column, and I told this story, and a few minutes later someone said to me hey Ramit, you always talk about testing stuff, have you ever tested anything on us right now as we’ve been here for the last couple days? I said actually yes, when I was telling a story about writing a comedy column, I was testing to see if it hit and it totally BOMBED no one smiled, no one laughed it was just dead crickets in the room.

and I said I’ll never tell that story again let’s take a look is when I, i used to write a comedy column for my college newspaper, it was called two guys who are better than you . I actually have a thing for names like it’s very, it’s not too modest. anyway um and the funny thing was we took, we took these photos the first day, they took photos of us, and we did these really, we did like normal photos, and then we did these really weird ones cuz the photographer, well they were supposed to be a friend of ours, so we did these really weird photos like I stuff like that. and they actually accidentally ran the really weird photos.

so people were like, seriously what kinda guys like, put these photos in the newspaper. so from then on we just ran with the weird photos.. there was a question about whether you test your stories yes oh yes listen I, who hear, you’ve heard me tell some of the same stories twice, you guys are aware that by the time you see Chris Rock or Louie CK, they’ve taken the same joke and tested it fifty different ways. are you aware of that? just like that i test stories so I I have a story that i think is a great story and I’ll tell it and i’ll know, and I’ve told stories today and I know, and I’ve told them into slightly different ways than ever before. and I’ll notice where it hits and where it doesn’t. for example did you guys noticed that as I told that Stanford daily story I talked about my photographs with my friends? my friend? and did you notice that it didn’t really hit? you guys didn’t really get it, or laugh at the end, where I talked about how they ran the weird photos. only being here in the room could you notice from this perspective at that part that that story did not hit and I’ll never use it again..

so in this case I realized that the story was so bad that there was no chance of salvaging it at all. usually if I get like one laugh, I think alright this person’s got a good sense of humor. but in this case it was just dead. in other cases I have stories where it’s really good people are engaged, and then their eyes start dropping and that means it’s a little too long, okay? so you have to really be socially receptive to look at the person as you’re telling the story and kinda gauge where they are interested, where they are not, where are they laughing, where are they not.

that is more of an advanced technique that you can use as you tell stories, that’s exactly what comedians do, right? they’re noticing not only the volume of the crowd, but the tenor of the crowd. is the person laughing in the middle a joke? are you laughing at the end? how long are they laughing? what kind of laugh? THAT, determines whether the joke earns its way into their special. how to make small talk so I get so many emails from people that say ‘Ramit, I don’t want to habe to waste time making small talk. I prefer to just get to the point’ and I say “you’re doomed” because most of life is about making small talk. it’s about building relationships, getting to know each other it’s about neighbor saying ‘how are the kids?’ it’s not instrumental, it’s more symbolic for the most part. and if you actually built a great relationship, then you become close and maybe one day you need something from your friend your friend need something from you.

but you don’t build a relationship based on just getting to the facts. Okay? that’s why I’m telling stories here. that’s why my emails are this long, but they’re different than “top five things you must do today”, because we want stories you want things that engage us. so I wanna show you how to do small talk. that’s it that’s a big task for small talk, but i wanna give you a couple of suggestions and I want to show you a video, on how to actually do this. in small talk, yes you do have to play the game and it is a game.

you’re talking to people, you’re building relationships, you can’t just go to a restaurant, sit down, and immediately have the food brought to you in five seconds and you leave now you have a little dance the waiter comes to how you doing today what can I get you any allergies any company brings a food how’s everything taste it’s a whole process. we may think that we want everything to be direct, but actually we are comforted by having a long set rituals. like ‘how are you’, ‘my name’s Ramit’, ‘what brought you here?’ that’s great how do you know this person on it’s a ritualistic and it exists for a reason. so yes, you have to play the game. and yes the game is more important than you ever thought. the other thing you do in small talk is: you take control don’t wait for the other person to do it. I see this so often, oftentimes I’m working at a coffee shop and I see two people kinda meeting for the first time, right? semi professional context, and one person will just kind of be passive, like they’ll just be sitting there, kind of waiting for the other person take the lead, and the worst is when they’re both passive and I’m like, “somebody kill me, cuz this is the most awkward conversation I’ve ever seen in my life.” but what you can do, is take the active role that means asking a couple questions, making a comment helping the conversation flow in the direction you want to flow right? that doesn’t mean taking total control, but it means if there’s an awkward silence it’s awkward because of you, not because of them.

I want to show you an example, from a little tear down I did with my students, and show you a short segment about small talk. take a look: Uh well, I work on an MMO. if you know World of Warcraft, it’s a game just like that. and if you’ve ever played World of Warcraft, there’s a lot of things on the screen that tell you what’s going onand that you interact with in order to interact with the world that’s what I work on. i help you interact with this rich world. Ramit: so I’m like oh that’s pretty cool uh how long you been doing that? Guy: about three years. uhm.. Ramit: you can’t depend on me to guide the conversation.

Guy: yeah.. uhm.. for about three years uuh the first year or so was mostly a learning experience but then.. Ramit: I don’t care. nobody cares.

nobody cares about your career at this point. we’re in the social world, remember? right. they’re done. we’re done with video game stuff, let’s move on you don’t even want to talk about your video game stuff! Why do you keep talking about it!? Guy: so how do you go from A to B? you said it’s weird to put it in the same sentence Ramit: alright we’re going to switch roles, so I’m you you’re me. so back up and ask me the question “Oh that sounds pretty interesting how long you been doing that?” I’ve been there about three years, hey, let me ask you a question you know that guy in the audience who asked that, the question about the hot sauce? do you know what he was talking about? no clue. okay what just happened there? you made the transition. Ramit: I did it. Guy: sure.

Ramit: I leaned in, ‘hey let me ask you a question’ leaned in, I mean that’s just typical body language thing, I want to just like it’s like we’re getting a little, ‘I gotta ask you this question that’s been on my mind like oh I’m like wondering, or like, ‘oh my god did you see that thing over there?’ whatever whatever! I’ve given you a bunch of mistakes that we commonly make, I’ve also given you some techniques for improving your social skills. again socially skilled people are not just Naturals. they actually practice at it for years and years and years. now as I told you, I was an awkward weirdo. ah, to some extent I’m still awkward in different ways. but I will tell you that I learned to improve systematically by kinda watching the reactions to the things I said and the way I comported myself.

as I was going through my book launch, I asked my publisher if they’d be willing to get me social training in other words media training and they were like ‘why? we you’ve been on TV we think you’re pretty good” and I was like ‘well I want to improve my skills’ what I really wanted to say is ‘cuz you’re gonna pay for it’ and they did and i actually learned a ton. they brought me into their studio, they had read my book, they helped me take a message that was this big and compress it down to ten to fifteen seconds. then we went, they filmed me, and we watched it over and over and over again. each time I got better and better. I hated watching myself on camera, but I got so much better by just the end of the day. if you asked me, you know tell me about I will teach you rich I could answer in nine minutes, or i could answer in 20 seconds, and that’s what I learned. and I want to do the same thing for one of you.

One of you will be invited to New York I’ll pay for your trip, I’m also gonna pay for your media training as well. you’re gonna learn how to improve your own social skills. you are going to watch yourself on camera, you get to work with an expert coach, you are going to work with the same firm that I worked with, to get my training and you’re gonna learn every little weakness that you have and how to dramatically improve it. this is life changing stuff. now for one of you here’s how it works: I will select out of the comments left below I want you to each leave a comment telling me what is your biggest weakness when it comes to social skills be specific. don’t just say ‘rambling’ say I tend to ramble for example here’s one thing I did, here were the results of it, and here’s one thing I’ve tried which has or has not worked. ok, tell me about the challenges that you have when it comes to social skills.

I’m afraid to talk to people I don’t know what to say when I first go up, I get awkward, I’m not sure if I’m under dressed tell me the details I will pick one of you and in a future email I will let you know who won you’ll be flown out to New York, you’ll go attend the media training session, you’ll become very very good. now remember to be eligible for this you have to subscribe to my email list there’s a form right below this make sure you do it, and then leave a comment explaining exactly what your biggest social skills challenge is, so that I can choose one of you to fly in New York and get this expert level world class training. thanks for watching…

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Comment (12)

  1. I’m afraid of saying something incorrect and be made fun of. I also tend to completely freeze in a conversation not knowing what to say next.

  2. My biggest problem is i get awkward. I’m not really a quiet person but I don’t talk with conviction and be boring in conversations. It’s very hard for me to tell a story, what I do good is only responding to other people’s story and ask questions. Any advice?

  3. I tend to over analyze people. I tend to watch their reactions and body language to hard. And I scare them away during the conversation by trying to target what emotion they are feeling.

  4. i was gonna stop watching this video but i couldn’t. this guy really knows how to talk to people and keep them interested. very interesting stuff

  5. My biggest weakness is eye contact. For example, I don’t know what to look at when I break eye contact and it’s hard to maintain eye contact sometimes as well. Either I make bad eye contact or I stare the person down.

  6. i completely fail at smalltalk. i have no issues having deep conversations etc because i know a lots of stuff. but at small talk i completely fail it just seems so stupid

  7. I don’t know what to say
    I’m awkward
    I’m confusing sometimes
    I don’t really smile
    Girls are pretty
    I don’t know how to keep a conversation going
    Fear of rejection
    And no confidence

  8. biggest weakness is trying to engange with people asking them questions, commenting on their answers BUT they dont even try to carry on conversation


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