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Focusing On How We Come Across Instead of on What We Want To Say

From my perspective the central element of building Self-Sentiment, is determined by how much we concentrate on how we are coming across during a social interaction compared to how much we concentrate on what we want to be saying.  At one end of the extreme, some people are so concerned with how they come across, they become too nervous to speak!  This is of course a problem in its own right.  At the other end of the extreme, some individuals are so concerned with doing what they want and saying whatever they are thinking that they pay no attention to how they look and sound, and to whether or not they are talking too much or generally being somewhat embarrassing. 

Social boldness is a powerful skill.  However, if we want to maximise our social potential, we must temper social boldness with a strong attention to tracking how others perceive our social interaction. 

I see the navigation of social interactions as a skill.  It is entirely possible to be mindful of numerous social dynamics during social interaction the nature of social interactions, the ongoing subtle emotional responses we are eliciting in whomever we are interacting with, the way in which our appearance and body language is affecting those around us, how to stimulate conversation with various different personality types and how to change a person’s mood through occupying their mind with the kinds of emotional thoughts you choose.  In essence I see the skill of navigating a social interaction like learning to play an instrument.  There is so much we can learn in order to become ever better at eliciting the responses we desire.  And similarly to learning an instrument, it involves both careful consideration of practical technique, but possibly more importantly, practise.  This is why I, somewhat boldly, titled this section ‘Social Mastery’. 

What to consider during social interaction

We probably all know certain people who embarrass us when they interact socially.  Perhaps they are overly forward when they first meet someone.  Perhaps they laugh extremely loudly.  Perhaps they never stop talking or interrupt others because they are so concerned about what they wish to say.  Perhaps they are overly blunt.  Each of these traits are probably borne out of an individual emphasising what they want to say and concentrating on what they are feeling internally, as oppose to how they come across to their listener.  Little children do this, and have to be taught social etiquette.  Its not unusual for a little child to say ‘mummy why is that man so fat?’, whilst the overweight man is in hearing range.  I remember going to see one of my Nana’s next door neighbours one Christmas and my mum instructing me not to say, as I had done the previous year, ‘Where’s my Christmas present?’  Children are concerned with their own impulses and desires and initially do not consider how they are coming across to others.  They need to be taught. 

And once again, we return to impulse control: our underlying theme of Ego Mechanism.  Those who have strong Ego withhold initial impulse response and carefully consider what response will bring them the most reward.  This also applies to how we act in a social situation. 

I will now outline some questions that might be worth considering during a social interaction.  Asking ourselves these kinds of questions might demonstrate that we are considering how we come across socially as oppose to simply considering what we want to say. 

Questions concerning how we are coming across socially

Am I overly concerned about getting my point across?
Am I talking for too long and not letting the other person speak?
Am I revealing rather too many personal details to this person?
Am I placing my best foot forward first or am I painting a somewhat negative picture of myself?
Am I laughing too loudly?
Am I looking interested when I am listening to someone or am I looking preoccupied, possibly thinking about what I want to say next?
Am I being argumentative, again overly concerned about proving my point?