Category Archives for "Self Improvement and Social Skills"

Sep 28

How to Build Self Esteem – The Guide to Healthy Confidence

By Marcus Neo | Self Improvement and Social Skills

I’ve been on both ends of human performance. I’ve been last in class and first in class, in multiple disciplines in my life, from academics, martial arts, business, relationships, and pursuits. Through the years, I always wondered what are the key principles of high performance. Is it self esteem, motivation, or is it discipline or is it willpower?

Secondly, I also wanted some research behind it. I didn’t want to be one of those self-help writers that publishes another cheesy post on ’10 steps to feel better about yourself today’.

Not another love yourself and everything will be okay article.

 

How to Build Self Esteem – The Guide to Healthy Confidence

How is genuine self-esteem is actually generated? Why do some people feel like a fraud and why some people feel like a king? Why some people feel inherently deserving of success in their life whilst some people struggle with it? Can unhealthy self esteem lead to people boasting of things they never did accomplish?

Initially, I bought the idea of willpower, after all, there are psychological studies that showed that the environment shapes behaviour, as opposed to willpower. However, I, later on, bought into the argument of childhood development: a more Freudian approach.

I’ll argue that high performance boils down to multiple variables, from the environment and your childhood experiences. I’ll also argue that self-esteem is a key fundamental of all high-performance behavior. Your behaviour boils down to one’s self-esteem. How much you believe you’re worth, deep down. Self-esteem leads to courage and eventually leads to an expanded life.

If you believe you’re worth it, you’ll have higher expectations of both of yourself, and others. You’ll have stronger boundaries.

The student who believes he’s smart is going to put in the work whether he’s really actually smart or not. I found that to be true in my short Summer stint at UC Berkeley. I traditionally wasn’t a good student in Singapore. However, for someone reason, because I had the freedom to explore another aspect of my identity in another culture. I ended up performing academically.

In my entrepreneurial career, I quadrupled my price point overnight because I believed that my product and service was worth that price. My parents questioned that decision. Of course. Yes, a higher price leads higher pressure, intensity and a willingness to make the product work. Yet, it sold.

However, these goes to demonstrate that a lot of our decision making and life success is based on self-esteem.

The Freudian Idea: Self Esteem Derived from Childhood

It’s hard not to notice the parallels between self-esteem and childhood experiences. It’s also not uncommon to find people with problematic childhoods growing up with self-esteem issues: self-sabotaging in academics, career and relationships.

It’s also hard not to notice that most parents have high expectations for their children. Ironically, a lot of them weren’t able to replicate similar expectations and behaviours in themselves in the past or present. I personally believe that your troops only follow you when you’re able and willing to execute upon similar tasks. If a sales manager isn’t able to make a sales call and only makes his employees do it, he’s not going to be a manager for long!

The issues also come often in two main spectrums: you either had it too tough or had it too easy. Hence, you lack true self-esteem.

Self Esteem and Relationships

Self-esteem or the lack of can also be expressed in our relationships. If you choose to be with someone because he or she makes you feel confident, a sense of comfort or confidence that you can’t internally generate on your own, then you may lack genuine self-esteem.

However, if you choose a partner who has personal values that you admire, for example, intelligence, confidence, and strength, then that says about your security as an individual, of a feeling of your own self-worth.

In an idealistic world, your employers, friends, and family are going to recognise the best virtues in you. However, in the real world, it often pans out in the opposite. I’m not going to bore you on the cliché that you are the average of the five people you spend the most time with. However, it’s true. To use an analogy: your self-esteem may be challenged if you’re attempting to lose weight and you have crappy friends that don’t believe that you are capable of that.

How to Build Genuine Self Esteem

Self-esteem is the judgment you pass on yourself and by the standards by which you judge yourself. If someone lacks self-esteem, they will feel driven to fake it, to create the illusion of self-esteem.

It has two interrelated aspects: it entails a sense of personal efficacy and a sense of personal worth. It is the conviction that one is competent to live, and worth living.

The sense of efficacy is defined by an individual choosing his goals and action. That one has to be right in the conclusions one draws and choices and make. However, not demanding or expecting omniscience or infallibility.

What he needs is that which is within his power, the conviction that his method of choosing and making decisions is right in principle.

This can come in the form of sharp mental focus, seeking to bring one’s understanding to an optimal level of precision and clarity as opposed to a focus on the level of blurred approximation, in a state of passive, goalless mental drifting.

This is also through independent thinking and judgment. An individual with self esteem is able to weigh weigh the truth or falsehood of any claim or the right or wrong of any issue independently of uncritical passivity and assertions of others.

It isn’t the conviction that one can never make an error. It is the conviction that one is competent to think, judge and correct one’s errors.

You Must Place Values Above Emotions  

The individual’s self esteem can be said to be the sum of the principles and values that guide one’s actions in the face of moral choices. If you default on the responsibility of thought and reason, hence undercutting your competence in living. You’ll feel fundamentally unworthy. If you betray your moral convictions, you’ll not retain your sense of confidence.

If you don’t respect yourself you’ll never be able to respect others.

Every individual has an innate sense to understand to the best of our intellectual capabilities. Sometimes, this can be negatively influenced in childhood through irrational parenting, authority figures and societal narratives. On the other hand, if an individual develops healthily, and acquires a set of values where his mind and emotions is in harmony, he won’t be chronically torn in between.

The difference between a well-adjusted individual and avoidance is that one is fleeing from reality, and the other is taking proper cognizance over it.

For example, it feels good to be drunk. The same can be said of our emotions. However, being drunk on emotions is often ensued by the misery of a hangover. On the other hand, when you place values above emotions, emotions are your reward and not your nemesis. Through setting standards and values of your own, you’re rejecting other values and standards. You’re building your own personal boundaries and values.

Oppositely, if you do not have values or standards of your own, you accept whatever values offered to you by your external environment.

Develop a Sense of Life Purpose

Self-esteem is also ostensibly tied to one’s feeling of purpose. It is an individuals desire to grow in knowledge and skills, in understanding and control. The opposite is stagnant passivity.

On any level of intelligence or ability, one of the characteristics of self-esteem is an individual’s eagerness for the new and the challenging, for which one is allowed to use his abilities to the fullest extent. Productive achievement is the cause and not the result of healthy self-esteem. Simply put, people who based their self-esteem on existential achievements don’t really have self-esteem at all.

False and Pseudo Self Esteem

The lack of self-esteem can be expressed by individuals who desire to escape consciousness and the ability or need to form rational thought. This is often expressed through the senseless chase of sexual pleasure, money for the sake of money and other vices in society such as drugs or alcoholism. The chase for temporary pleasure experienced from temporarily feeling helpless.

This pleasure is different from the man who uses his faculties properly that is grounded in reality.

Self-esteem is confidence in one’s ability to achieve values and not the external results of it. The former is ‘I Can’, and the latter is ‘I Have’.

The rational, self-confident man, on the other hand, is motivated by an inherent love of values and a desire to achieve them.

On the other hand, pseudo self esteem is an irrational pretence at self-value. It is an avoidance of anxiety and it provides a temporary sense of security. To the individual of authentic self-esteem, there is no clash between his recognition of the facts of reality and the preservation of one’s self-esteem. That is because he bases his self-esteem as an ability to act accordingly with the facts of reality as he understands them.

However, to the man of no self esteem, reality appears to be a constant threat, as an enemy. It’s a constant choice for him. It’s reality or his self esteem.

The determinant of a man’s self-esteem is the motivation between fear and love. You can be motivated by confidence or you can be motivated by terror. To a man that lacks self-esteem, he lives negatively, defensively and extensively. He is always in psychological danger. He never reaches normality.

He takes on the values and judgment of others and never takes ownership of his own life. He has always counted on others to solve the problem of his own survival and chooses values appropriate to this manner of existence. He has always counted on others to solve the problem of his own survival and chooses values appropriate to this manner of existence.

This can take the form of:

  • The man who never makes independent thought or judgment on his own
  • The man who obsessed with being popular, who feels driven to win the approval of everyone he meets
  • The woman who has no sense of personal identity, and who seeks to lose her inner emptiness in the role of a sacrificial martyr for her children, demanding that her children do the same for her.
  • The man that is aggressively, unconfidently masculine, whose concerns are entirely subordinated to feeling a hole in his life through validation from women, one that derives lesser pleasure from the act of sex as opposed to boasting about it to other men

People That Experience a Crisis of Self Esteem

People experience pathological self-esteem crises when their values clash internally. There are absolutes expressed in their cognition: ‘I must not’ and ‘I am willing to’.

This can come in the form of a woman who has been brought up in an over religious childhood or a restrictive culture. She then finds herself engaging in overtly sexual activities. There’s a clash of internal values. On one hand, sex feels good and natural. Yet, one the other, she was brought up to believe otherwise. This cognitive dissonance engages one’s sense (or lack) self esteem… lead to a crisis of self esteem.

Sigmund Freud maintained that anxiety is triggered by forbidden sexual desire that breaks through the barrier of repression and causes the ego to feel overwhelmed and threatened. The unblocking of one anxiety is also known to unblock stir up other conflicts that are anxiety-provoking.

How to Build A Positive Sense of Self Esteem

Ultimately, a positive sense of self esteem is the product of two things: the ability to form independent judgment and thoughts, and the cultivation of an integrated set of values.

For everyone, the responsibility of thought and judgment is different for everyone. The responsibility and judgment required from a child are different from one of an adult. One has to accept one’s responsibility to choose a set at values, pass judgment, define goals, at some point in his life.

The acceptance of responsibility is a choice, and it’s not automatic nor wired into one’s brain by nature. It is a challenge to which you how you can respond, with acceptance or rejection. To be motivated by terror or love.

The result of being motivated by love and challenge is a positive sense of self esteem. The result of running away from responsibility thought and judgment will be a sense of pain and a lack of self esteem.

It’s a man’s values that determine his values as an extension of himself, as an integral part of his identity. The individual’s self is a cumulative result of year and years of irrationalities, failures, successes, actions and values.

Self esteem or the lack of it is the reputation a man acquires with himself.

There’s No Such thing as ‘High Self Esteem’ or ‘High Confidence’

Finally, there’s no such thing as ‘high self esteem’ or ‘high confidence’. Self-esteem is an opinion about the person you are. Ultimately, self-esteem is a mere bunch of thoughts about whether or not you’re a ‘good person’. It’s not an unchangeable fact.

The problem comes in is when you constantly have to justify and prove to yourself that you’re a good person or that you have ‘high self-esteem’. You constantly have to justify the ‘you’re good enough’ opinion. The act of constantly need to prove yourself and justifying takes up a huge amount of time and effort.

If you stopped exercising for a few days, your mind says: ‘see? I know you wouldn’t last. If you lose your temper with a friend or make a slight mistake at work… there goes your ‘high self-esteem’.’

Early on, when I was a lot more immature, I was constantly worried about how confident I was on a day to day basis. The truth is that some days I feel confident, some days I don’t. It’s just human to feel that way. You’re already enough, as I commonly mention to my clients as a dating coach.

The more you try to justify your high self esteem, the need for perfection. The more it kills you inside. The better approach is to let go of the idea of high self-esteem altogether. You don’t need high self-esteem. Here’s what you need is mere: self-esteem. Plain, and simple.

How to Build Self Esteem: Closing Thoughts

If you feel like you ‘lack self-esteem’ here may be why: 1) you probably lack standards for yourself 2) the people around probably lack standards and expectations in themselves and standards and expectations for you.

Ultimately, your expectations and standards you set for yourself is going to largely fall to the quality of people around you. For a lot of us, you’re going to spend most of your time with your family and close friends.

This is why getting a role model can be a possible solution. Some that you look up to and potentially a role model. This can come in the form of a formal paid coaching relationship, a good friend, an older brother or perhaps your boss.

Self-esteem is the foundation of all success, and also for one to become a better human being. He or she first must respect him or herself, build fundamental self-esteem that leads to personal integrity and accountability.

Works Cited

Branden, N. The Psychology of Self Esteem – a Revolutionary Approach to Self-Understanding That Launched a New Era in Modern Psychology.

Harris, R. The Happiness Trap

 

Jan 14

What Are Personal Values? – Develop Integrity and Purpose

By Marcus Neo | Self Improvement and Social Skills

What are personal values and why are they important in dating, relationships or just life in general? When I was 19 or so, a friend of mine came to me complaining that she was being emotionally bullied by a close friend of mine. I softly persuaded him to stop despite him being a close friend of mine. I didn’t like bullies and I desired to stand up for a friend.

You could argue that by me standing up to my friend, I was acting out of my values. I stood up for my values regardless of external circumstances. I stood up for another friend in spite of being a friend of the perpetrator. I behaved according to my values and persuaded him otherwise, risking a potential loss of friendship with him.

Why are Values Important?

In modern society, you may find yourself in a constant struggle to stick to your values as opposed to sacrifice them for an extrinsic result.

For example, authenticity and expressing yourself honestly is a value in itself. Honesty, however, sometimes is uncomfortable, especially when expressed negatively to friends or superiors. Your honesty may not be appreciated. It may involve telling your boss something that he might disagree with but might be better for the company. This may put you at risk of offending him (or losing your job). This can be difficult at times, especially so in the Asian culture.

In the realm of dating and relationships… what if your date you are interested in treats you badly? What if he or she’s a no show for three dates straight and cancels on you last minute every single time? Are you going stick up for yourself and perhaps call them out? Or are you going smile, and pretend nothing happened?

Can you uphold the interval value of self-respect? Can you call her out for her negative behaviour, risk upsetting her and losing the potential benefit of dating someone you’re interested in?

What if your friends are always showing up late and disrespectful of your time? What if you valued your time and made efforts to be on time for meet ups? Do you hold back calling the person out to avoid the possibility of not offending him or her?

So, What Are Values?

Values can be said to be internal compasses. They are a judgment about how important something is to us. There are principles that are held internally regardless of external circumstances. Sometimes, they are principles and judgments that you are willing to sacrifice and die for. They can comprise of intangibles such as authenticity, accountability, empathy and respect.

Values are researched to higher self-esteem, in the long run, makes you more attractive to women, increase work creativity, and make you a happier person. Positive values are also usually ensued by strong boundaries.

In short, they’re awesome.

Ironically, it’s people that do not have any values going for them that are unattractive and mediocre. They don’t stand for anything. They are people pleasers. They often crave attention and affection from the world around them at the cost of their personal integrity and values. They’ll never build a strong identity. Counter-intuitively, it’s this constant need for a false sense of acceptance is what repels people away.

In our relationships, it’s the sacrifice of their own personal values that leads to needy and unattractive behaviour.

So Marcus, without sounding like a boring high school counsellor, how can you instil this thing called values in your life then?

Ironing Out Your Values

Ironing out your values can be simple as taking out a piece of paper and writing down what you will and will not accept in your life. This can range from business decisions, relationship values to all other areas of your life. The second step is to commit and be disciplined about it. Note, no one is perfect and it’s OKAY to falter and be flexible. However, just like habits, you just go back to work on it.

  • Your Dating and Relationship Values

So, a couple of years ago, when I started learning how to attract women. The first step was to iron out my dating and relationship values. This means what I will, and will not accept from women, or people in general. This not only helped my self-esteem, but it also made my dating choices much easier.

In my own life today, and in my client’s life as a dating coach for men. You can start with a couple of simple values.

I stopped texting girls who didn’t want to text me back, I stopped worrying about girls who didn’t want to go out on dates with me. Yeah, I get rejected, however, it saved me the heartache, the smokes and games that people play. I decided I’ll not hang out with people who don’t want to hang out with me. I’ll not date a girl who doesn’t want to date me. I’ll not text a girl who doesn’t want to text me. I’ll express interest to women only that I’m interested in.

These values played an important role when on a date. Instead of constantly worrying if I match up to her, I’m going to see if there’s a right fit of values. I’m not looking to impress her.

If you’re wondering what I value in women, physical beauty (I can’t lie), empathy, intellectual curiosity, honesty, nurturance and accountability. From personal experience, I’m a lot more motivated, willing to sacrifice a lot more time and effort and to pursue a girl who’s more physically aesthetic If she’s hot but has selfie problem, sure, I’ll be more tolerant of it. If she’s hot but is slightly emotionally erratic, sure, I’ll be patient. I’m willing to give up many superficial nuances that tick me off.

However, I’m not willing to give up my personal boundaries just to pursue someone who is physically attractive. There are values that are non-negotiable. If she constantly disrespects me or is rude, I am going to call her out on it. If she doesn’t alter her behaviour, then I’ll simply drop her.

Note, I hold these values true for all other relationships as well. I also can’t be bothered by people who don’t respect my time or money. If you don’t respect my time or money, there isn’t a friendship in place anymore in the first place.

Business Values

I once attended a slimy internet marketing business program. Whilst the potential monetary prospects were good, I hated it. Why so? That’s because the way the business was conducted went against my values of providing a competitive and ethical service to society.

I figured that instead of marketing slimy products to people in need of psychological help, I rather figure out the hard and longer route of building an ethical product and service.

This forced me to iron out my business values. I decided that I’ll only make an income through ethical products or service to consumers that don’t hurt society. The systems and products have to work without relying on psychological manipulation. Secondly, I’m not going to work for anyone who uses his network or relationships as a ‘stronghold’.

Ironing out these values made a lot of business choices down the road much simpler. Out went the scammy products that prey on delusional or people that are in a bad spot in life. Out went the nights of drinking just for the sake of clinching a deal. Since I had these values in place, it freed me up to learn how to market products and services ethically.

Helpful and UnHelpful Values 

It’s said if you pursue negative values such as popularity and fame, it’s ‘negative’. However, I don’t entirely see it this way and I think negative values can be a good motivator for positive values. If I didn’t desire to be with attractive women, I’ll not have undertaken this self-improvement process. If not for the desire to be financially free, I’ll not have attempted to be an entrepreneur. This blog wouldn’t exist. I also think everyone is motivated by different intrinsic and extrinsic motivators at a certain point of time.

Negative values are fundamentally superstitious, immediately uncontrollable and socially destructive. If you value popularity or fame or how much you’re liked or accepted by everyoneThat’s not immediately controllable. That’s because you can’t control how people think of you.

If you measured yourself by a million dollars in a bank, that’s an external value that isn’t controllable. It’s merely going to drive you crazy. Negative values are reliant on an external event such as flying in a private jet, getting threesomes or travelling the world in pursuit of purely a hedonistic lifestyle (read: guilty).

Arguably, negative values can be good motivators initially. You didn’t get into self-development if you didn’t want to date more attractive partners, make more money and look really awesome amongst your friends right? Negative values can give you a good start, however, for long term happiness, you’ll need to prioritize internal values in the long run.

Positive values are reality-based, immediately controllable, self-generated and are socially constructive. Positive values such as innovation, honesty and vulnerability are immediately controllable and can be self-generated right this moment.

For example, instead of valuing popularity or how much I’m liked by people, I can make an internal value of improving my dating/ social life. That way, the mere act of taking action to go out to a bar to meet more women is small win for me regardless the end outcome.

Positive values are always internally achieved and there’s no completion to them. They are also process oriented. Honesty and vulnerability are internal values that can be practised right now and in every social interaction for the rest of your life.

How to Establish Your Values Without Being an Asshole?

So the one thing about values that people get confused is that you got to be somewhat of an asshole when expressing your values.

Having strong values doesn’t mean that you go around calling others out on their ‘poor values’ or ‘lack of values’. It just means recognising that you have different values than them and sometimes it’s just a lack of compatibility. The first step to establish your values is to express it in a matured manner. If the girl you’re dating shows up late, you don’t have to scream at her for showing up late. Just making it known and calling her out on is enough.

You can always say: “Hey, I hope you won’t be this late the next time we meet.” In a respectful and assertive manner.

I also want to note that your values should be flexible and based on context. If you have an amazing friendship with someone who’s always late but has many other merits, then it’s perfectly fine to just accept that personal flaw in that individual.

What Happens When You Change Your Values?

When you change your values, it’s normal for your old relationships to blow up in your face. This can be demonstrated by calling out certain behaviours from old friends and possibly ticking them off the wrong way. In my own personal growth, I started valuing my time and I started being serious about my business and my work. If someone cancels on me without letting me know, I’m sorry, that’s non-negotiable. I’m calling you out.

The friendships you made through your life probably supported and confirmed the values of yours. However, when you begin to shift your values, you’re going to inevitably experience a lot of friction amongst those old relationships.

In my experience, long term relationships and friendships are the hardest. You may find yourself in a place where your closest relationships no longer understand you anymore. However, do these friendships have to have to go? I don’t think necessarily so. There’s no need to cut out a person because of a difference in values, that’s because, despite a difference in values, there may be overlap in values.

However, if you are constantly bickering over petty behaviours. That merely goes to show that you have different fundamental life values and have completely different priorities completely, then perhaps some time off that particular relationship might not be a completely negative thing.

In my experience, I found out the hard way that people around you are going to have different values from you do at the different point of their lives in multiple areas of their life from relationships to careers.

This is true of your relationship with to your parents, your childhood best friends, your boss, your pet goldfish and your colleagues. You may have a childhood friend that has conflicting values at some point of his or her life and a loss of friendship is inevitable.

It’s values that ultimately bring people together and tear people apart. You’re going to be what you value. Choose your values wisely.

Works Cited

J, Z., S, S., J, C., & Z, Z. (2009). Social networks, personal values, and creativity: Evidence for curvilinear and interaction effects. Journal of Applied Psychology, 94(4), 1544-1552.

W, M. M. (2007). Happiness and Virtue in Positive Psychology. Journal for the Theory of Social Behaviour, 89-103.

 

 

How to Talk to Women
Jan 02

How to Talk to Anyone – Exact Lines You Can Use

By Marcus Neo | Self Improvement and Social Skills

You see your ideal partner sitting across the table at Starbucks having a quiet cup of coffee. He or she is dressed casually. They look kind of intimidating. They are attractive. They are also alone. The hundreds of possibilities run through your head. Or maybe you are at a networking session are you see the hiring manager of your dream job standing beside a booth. You want to try start a new conversation with them. However, you freeze and you don’t know what to say, much less how to say it.

How many of us experienced similar situations like this? How do you talk to anyone even if you aren’t naturally “extroverted”?

Talking to anyone and starting conversations is a skillset that anyone can learn.

How to Talk to Anyone – Conversational Mindsets

Firstly, there are good conversational mindsets that can make or break any conversation.

This can be done by adopting conversational mindsets such as 1) using effective language, 2) learning the art of making statements, 3) creating endless conversation threads by actively listening and 5) understanding the mechanics of how to connect deeply with anyone.

Mindset 1: Lower The Bar For a Conversation

The first step to starting a conversation with a stranger and making sure you never run out of words is to lower the bar for conversation.

In my younger days, I was notorious for being too witty or lost in abstract arguments in my head. It single handedly submarined a lot of social, romantic and business opportunities. Only relying on pure wit or intellect is actually a horrible way to start a conversation, or talk to anyone in general.

The need for serious or deep talk in the first couple of minutes is a narrative from movies you watched growing up where the actors and actresses often come up with witty lines and the ‘perfect moment’ to start talking to someone new. In reality, this is far from the truth. Starting a new conversation is always a little awkward at first. Just keep it simple.

Mindset 2: Statements Versus Questions

Have you ever had someone who you just got to know ask you repetitive questions? I bet you have. It also felt irritating. Guess what, people feel the same way as well. Let’s not treat new conversations like an interview, shall we?

In general, statements offer more ‘social value’ and opportunity for the other party to get a conversation going.

Instead of going down the usual route of interviewing someone and asking questions… you can make statements. This way you’re giving your input and giving them a window to respond to that statement.

The trick here isn’t to just stick to statements. It is to mix in statements and questions. However, if you were just to stick to statements, most people will not know how to respond. From my experience, they’re just too used to people asking questions all the time  and haven’t built any social skills to share themselves.

Making statements is a better conversational habit as compared to asking questions and waiting for their reply. Of course, if you were to make both statements and ask questions and they won’t respond, it means that they are not ready to talk to someone new.

Don’t take it personally and move on.

If you’re sticking to questions, you don’t get to express your identity and you don’t really grease the wheels to hep them express themselves. The other party got to take part minimally in a conversation for the interaction to go well.

Mindset 3: Listening Actively 

One of the common pitfalls of learning how to talk to anyone is to only talk about yourself and only showing interest in topics that you are interested in.

One time, I went out with one of my girl friends. She had relationship woes. For three hours straight, she went on was how shit of their ex-boyfriend treated her. That spanned the whole of three damned hours. Whilst I’m perfectly cool with lending a listening ear, it just got downright exasperating and I felt like killing myself at the end of the session.

One a side note: if you want to feel better about yourself. It’s recommended to step outside of yourself and empathise with someone else’s problems. This is much better than ruminating through a self-defeating loop in your mind, obsessed over your own problems, trouble and pain. It helps, try it.

If you’re genuinely interested in the world of others, it’ll lead you to a lot more conversational opportunities.

Take a good listen to people around you. Everyone’s attempting to jam their point of view down everyone else’s throat. No one’s truly listening.

Conversations at the end of the day are a two-way thing. Yes, you get to share your story, once they are done listening to yours, do make a point to listen to their story. Part of being interesting is being genuinely interested remember?

How to Talk to Anyone

Mindset 4: Use Effective Language 

One principle of being a great communicator is by using effective language. This means using the shortest number of words possible to in conversation to get your point across. You’ll rather have five minutes of succinct  conversation as opposed to fifteen minutes of beating around the bush. This way, you’ll also come off as more well spoken and charismatic.

This means removing ‘ahh’ ‘you know’ and ‘erhms’ and other filters when conversing.

This doesn’t mean you speak like a robot either. You can use different tonality and pace to get more emotion across in your conversations. Writing and keeping a journal can help with this skillset.

When there’s nothing to say, don’t feel like a need that you have to say something. That’s part of being grounded in your social interactions. There’s no need to fill every silent gap with something to say. In psychology, it’s said that people who can’t help but ramble on to ‘keep the peace’ may be displaying a form of anxious attachment.

When in doubt, ask yourself, ask yourself, are you saying something because you’re afraid of the silence or the slight confrontation? If the answer is Yes, then it’s OKAY to keep to yourself. Remember, you don’t need permission to speak to anyone, or not speak to anyone.

How to Start a Conversation out of Nothing and Talk to Anyone

Skillset 1: Asking Innocuous Questions

I used to think that simple questions sounded stupid and it’s ‘impractical’ to ask someone on such questions. However, I realised innocuous questions are a mere social tool and conversational starter to get some social juices going when talking to strangers.

No one goes deep into their life story in the first few minutes of getting someone new, and no one expects a life story within the first few minutes either.

Some example of innocuous questions:

  • “What are you up to here?”
  • “How’s your day?”

You’ll be surprised how far these innocuous questions can help is starting a conversation with an interesting stranger.

Skillset 2: Making Simple Observations

Secondly, you can also start a conversation with a stranger (or an attractive woman) by making simple observations. You can get creative with this. It can be something in the current environment you’re in, it can be the nicely tailored suit that he’s wearing, or the cute blue toenails she has spent hours on. It can be the weather. It can be the fake tan she has on. (read: I’m kidding)

  • “Wow, the weather’s pretty hot today.”
  • ‘Those are nice blue toenails you have on, they are really cute.’

Just like asking innocuous questions, think of it as a conversational starter. Once you get small talks like that going, you can follow these observations up with a question, or a cold read.

Skillset 3: The Art of Cold Reading

Cold reading is the art of making an intelligent guess about something about someone. It doesn’t matter if you’re wrong or right. The point of it is to get the conversation going. It’s one of the most effective and a bread and butter of conversational tools that you should include in your daily life if you’re looking to improve your social and conversational skills.

Cold reading is done by making harmless neutral assumptions with the people you are talking with.

Examples of Cold Reading:

  • “Hi, you seem to be a really artsy person. Did you take an arts subject in school?”
  • “You look like you’re a school teacher… with that crazy hair you must be a pretty bad one, all the kids must stare at those crazy colours…”

The thing about cold reading and guessing is that you’ll never go wrong with it. If you get it wrong, he or she will correct you, and perhaps add onto it. If you are spot on, they’ll likely to think that you’re quite perceptive and may engage with you in conversation because of that. One time I got most of my cold reads right by chance by guessing a girl was half Japanese and studied at University of London. She reacted positively and was curious how did I know so much. I followed up by teasing that I stalk her daily on Facebook and Instagram.

Through cold reading, you can keep conversational threads flowing and then relate these threads back to your own life with your own experiences.

I’ve personally used this conversational tool thousands of times to spark new conversations or in the middle of dying conversations threads. It works every time.

Cold reading is a skillset that you can use to make statements. Even simple ones that include making observations about the environment or something that catches your eye. It’s possible to turn every question into a statement. For example, instead of asking what someone does for a job, why not make a statement that they looks like they work in creative line or looks like a teacher and etc.

If you get it wrong, they’ll correct you. If you get it right, they’ll be quite surprised at how intuitive you are. There are no loses to making cold reads.

You can also make statements about your day to day life. Instead of worrying what to ask next, you can just go off randomly on your day or events that interest you: ‘I hate my boss, he just made me do two times the work today’.

It’s better to be random and interesting than to be predictable. However, don’t be too random, as it won’t work in an Asian setting.

Statements done right can inspire someone to find out more about yourself. It can inspire someone to ask more questions about you. This way, it’s a two sided conversation.

Caveat: I’d like to add that questions are alright in an Asian setting, in some Asian cultures, people in general aren’t really conditioned to lead a social interaction, you’ll be required to do a little bit of babysitting by mixing questions with statements.

How to Keep a Conversation Going with Anyone

Now that you have started a conversation, so how do you keep a conversation going with anyone and how to never run out of words? In new social interactions, it’s best to assume to the burden of taking the lead to start, to continue and to lead conversation. Instead of ending your conversations with one-word answers: Yes or No, try to end it with stories, statements, emotion and specifics.

  • The Art of Improvisation

There’s a misconception that people pay attention to words and phrases. However, it’s the meaning of the conversation that people are more interested in. If you just pay attention to to phrases and words, it’ll result in an unnatural conversation. It’ll seem as if you’re trying to keep this conversation going and you’re afraid of silences.

The secret to creating endless conversational topics is to get good at improvisation. You can only get better with this skill by learning from stand up comedians. I started off studying George Carlin and Louis CK in attempting to better my chances with women, however, their style of comedy can be quite dark and self depreciating. That’s not really good for romantic situations. There are other good comedians such as Russell Brand and Russell Peters.

The best way to get good at improvisation is to gain an appreciation of language. Improvisation is impertinently important in learning to tease and build a sense of camaraderie. Old friends tease each other. Lovers tease each other. You can break the ice by being good at improv and teasing.

How to Talk to Girls - Start a Conversation and Connection 03

The Art of Story Telling: How to Tell a Story

Can you come off as charismatic when talking to anyone? Starting conversations is an important skill. However, learning how to continue them in a dynamic manner is also equally important.

Ever know someone who went on and on and on… you can’t help but quietly look away hoping he gets the signal that he’s being too too long-winded? Or maybe you know someone who awkwardly attempts to fit in a joke in his conversations?

Human beings, by nature, are enrapt by stories. People in power, businessmen, priests (erhem), comedians, and politicians all use the art of storytelling to explain, persuade and influence others to their way of thinking.

In the dating advice for men community, memorising stories and routines are popular methods. Whilst this might work in the short run, there’s going to come a point of time where you’re going to run out of words. Hence, I advocate understanding the principles of what makes a dynamic conversation and apply them using your own life stories and experiences.

Learning how to tell a story in a structured, and interesting manner will make you a good conversationalist and every great story has a rough three-step process.

  • The Set Up

The set up gives context to the conflict of the story. It’s the general setting, such as the location and brief details of the story. The set up should be as short as possible. But it’s necessary to give the initial context and foundation for the follow-up of the complete story.

If you don’t set up your stories, you’ll come off to others as random in your conversations.

One simple one lined example of the “set up” would be this:

“I was attending my school orientation the other day. Whilst watching the orientation games, there was this girl that tripped and fell. I was an asshole about it and laughed a little.”

It’s descriptive and gives background to the story.

  • The Conflict

The conflict is the part where you introduce the majority of the story. This should be the part that causes tension and expectancy. The content of the story needs to be captivating and hook others into wanting to know what will happen next. If there isn’t much conflict in the content of your stories, you will get the feeling that you ramble on a lot and others are not paying attention to you.

To continue to story from the set up:

“One of the most attractive girls in the whole of the camp took me by surprise and gave me a smack on my arm. I actually froze up! I froze up and walked away like an idiot! I should have just said something out of my mouth or smacked her back. But I didn’t. I retardedly froze up and walked away.”

“However, I never really felt right, that’s because I didn’t want myself worth to be judged on how many girls date, or anything like that. I also felt I wasn’t experienced enough to coach guys that might be twice my age.”

  • The Resolution/ Punchline

The resolution and the punchline are where you insert ‘the moral of the story’, the ‘punchline’ and the ‘joke’ to end of the story, or just closure for a generic story. People who don’t conclude their stories properly will often get blank stares when they’re finished speaking, or people will ask them “Yeah, and…?”

To end off the story with a punchline:

“Lesson learned! Never ever stand beside an attractive woman during orientation games.” (Joke)

“Nonetheless, I’ve decided to give it a shot, as long as I do my research, and stick to my values, and business values, I’m sure it’ll turn out alright.”

These are all true stories by the way.

Learning how to tell stories in a dynamic and interesting manner is a conversational habit has helped me over the years with strangers, sales and persuading others in my business and dating life. Learning how to structure your conversations is going to be helpful for everything from sales presentations, networking events, casual conversations and other forms of social interactions. It can also make or break a romantic interaction when you’re expected to lead in conversation.