Social Skills



[op_liveeditor_element data-style=””][text_block style=”undefined” align=”left”]This week, you’re free to do any of the meditation you like. You may select one from past weeks or try guided meditations from apps, audios, and videos.[/text_block][/op_liveeditor_element]

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Day 1


Mission 1 (Communication 101)


[op_liveeditor_element data-style=””][text_block style=”undefined” align=”left”]Let’s start with communication 101.

  • Use simple language
  • Know who you’re speaking with – their needs and interests (and communicate accordingly)
  • Be clear and brief as much as possible
  • Think WIIFT (what’s in it for them?)
  • Be genuine and be yourself (the “you” constructed in the previous weeks)
  • Always be adding value to all conversations. It could mean:
    • Listening with open ears and heart
    • Entertaining
    • Educating
    • Encouraging
    • Complementing
  • Remember the three components of charisma from the book The Charisma Myth by Olivia Fox Cabane
    • Presence (being present in a conversation)
      Use the cue of focusing on your toes (or something as silly) when you get into your head to get back into conversations.
    • Power (demonstrating authority and demanding respect)
      Use the cue of taking physical space to remind yourself.
    • Warmth (being kind and treating people with respect)
      Use the cue of imaging people with wings (like an angel) to remind yourself that every person has good in them.

And remember, no one can read your mind nor can you do that. It’s always best to ask and seek to understand before you communicate.

Which of these ground rules can you practice more of today?[/text_block][/op_liveeditor_element]


Mission 2 (Becoming Assertive)


[op_liveeditor_element data-style=””][text_block style=”undefined” align=”left”]There are 3 communication styles:

  • Passive: A pattern of not expressing my needs, wants, and opinions, and putting others before myself.
  • Assertive: A pattern of clearly expressing my needs, wants, and opinions in ways that are considerate of others.
  • Aggressive: A pattern of forcefully expressing my needs, wants, and opinions in ways that violate the needs of others.

Being assertive is the best way to communicate because it’s the core skill for being fair to yourself, and to others. It’s the right balance between aggression & passivity; yourself & others; and reflecting & reacting.

Here are a few ways to develop assertiveness:

  • Build up your confidence and self-esteem
  • Clarify what you want and lay claim to your rights
  • Listen to others and acknowledge what they say
  • Stay calm and persistence (don’t give up or turn aggressive)
  • Stick to the important points (don’t get into another agenda during the conversation)
  • Use strong body language (which we’ll talk about tomorrow)

Next time you are striking a deal or even having a general conversation, identify your communication style and practice being assertive.[/text_block][/op_liveeditor_element]


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Day 2


Mission 3 (Resolving Conflicts & Negotiating)


[op_liveeditor_element data-style=””][text_block style=”undefined” align=”left”]The sister skill of being assertive is conflict resolution or negotiation.

Before we start, my golden rule is to make sure if the conversation is worth having. Getting in meaningless arguments is a waste of time for everybody. Make sure you fight for a good cause that matters. Now, let’s dive in.

  • Before entering the conversation, think about your strengths, weaknesses and your zone of possible agreements
  • Create a safe and comfortable environment by embracing a mutual purpose and respect.
  • Understand the needs of both sides and listen before you talk.
  • Instead of saying “but”, say “yes, and…” (get on the same page to disagree smartly)
  • Instead of using the word “you”, use “I” (Example: “You just keep rambling on and on repeating the same things.” Versus: “I am not understanding you. Help me hear what I am missing.”
  • Paint a picture for them (for the benefits they’ll get or for how the deal is not possible for you in a lose-win situation)
  • The best way to resolve a conflict is to find a win-win solution that leaves both sides satisfied.

While it can take years to master the skill of having difficult conversations, we’ve covered all you need to know to get started and practice it for the lifetime (starting today).[/text_block][/op_liveeditor_element]


Mission 4 (Getting Feedback)


[op_liveeditor_element data-style=””][text_block style=”undefined” align=”left”]Let’s do a reality check.

I want you to ask some or one of your close friends for feedback on your social skills. Tell them you want them to be brutally honest and you can take the feedback.

Also, tell them it’s really important that they be honest as they are your friends.

Let’s see what feedback you get![/text_block][/op_liveeditor_element]


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Day 3


Mission 5 (Understanding Body Language)


[op_liveeditor_element data-style=””][text_block style=”undefined” align=”left”]Body language and facial expression are hard to crack.

Nonetheless, they are a crucial part of conversational skills.

It involves reading the face, eyes, mouth, gestures, arms, legs, posture, and proximity (closeness).

To get started, read this quick guide to get better at reading and using body language:

Some other useful tips:

  • Stand up or sit up straight (stop slouching)
  • Try not to lean on the wall or cross your arms
  • Maintain eye contact while speaking
  • Notice (or ask someone) what you do when you get nervous. Practice breathing in such situations.

Today, notice a) how others use body language and b) how you use body language (and what can you change about it?)

(Optional) Take the following quiz to test how well you read other people:[/text_block][/op_liveeditor_element]


Mission 6 (Face Reading)


[op_liveeditor_element data-style=””][text_block style=”undefined” align=”left”]Anyone can put up a fake facial expression. But before that, there’s a short period when you can read people’s true emotions.

That opportunity is called micro-expressions. People use micro-expressions all the time. How many you notice is up to you.

Sometimes, it’s a quick rolling of the eyes, a scowl, scrunched up eyebrows (negative) and other times they can be authentic smiles, nods, leaning in (positive).

So try to take notice of micro-expressions filled with anger, sadness, disgust, happiness, fear, surprise, and contempt. If you practice enough, you’ll feel like face reading ninja.[/text_block][/op_liveeditor_element]


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Day 4


Mission 7 (Making Small Talks)


[op_liveeditor_element data-style=””][text_block style=”undefined” align=”left”]Let me ask you a question.

Do you like small talks?

Honestly, I used to hate small talks. But actually, they’re not that bad once you learn how to do it. They open gates to closer bonds and deeper friendships you may have never encountered otherwise. So it’s best for all of us to learn the art of small talk. Here’s how you do it:

  • Take the lead! Don’t be passive.
  • Strike a balance between asking questions, listening and sharing about yourself.
  • If they are interested or excited, let them talk about it.
  • Keep your ears open for finding similarities (because that’s how we bond).
  • If you haven’t found similarity yet, ask open-ended questions or share something about yourself you think they might be interested in. Then listen. Repeat until something clicks.
  • Change up your questions:
    • Instead of asking “How are you?” say something like “Tell me about your day.”
    • Instead of asking “What do you do?” ask something like “Working on anything exciting these days?”
    • Instead of asking “Where are you from?” ask something like “Have any vacations coming up?”
  • Change up your answers:
    • Give funny or unexpected answer (instead of common replies)
    • Connect one topic to another and use that to steer the conversation
  • Change your focus from yourself to focusing on them. Make them feel important. Be interested.

Now, pick the best ideas from above and apply them in your next small talk.[/text_block][/op_liveeditor_element]


Mission 8 (Giving Compliments)


[op_liveeditor_element data-style=””][text_block style=”undefined” align=”left”]How many compliments do you give a day?

For most people, the answer is zero.

I’ll be the first one to admit that I was really ignorant about giving compliments. Even when noticed good things about people, I’d keep it to myself.

Then I realized the beauty of appreciation and praise. It not only makes others feel better, but it also makes you feel happy to spread those positive vibes around you.

Make it a rule: when you like something about someone, tell them. Get comfortable giving genuine compliments.

Remember: “People may forget what you said, but they will always remember how you made them feel.”

Make people feel good, smart, happy, amused, etc. Smile, be positive and bring energy. Don’t be rude or mean.

What better day to start than today?

Brighten up someone’s day by either sending them an appreciation letter or giving a compliment. Don’t shy away from this. Trust me. Do it. :)[/text_block][/op_liveeditor_element]


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Day 5


Mission 9 (Telling Stories)


[op_liveeditor_element data-style=””][text_block style=”undefined” align=”left”]Long before we learned to talk, we connected through stories. We’d draw on the walls to connect through stories. Today, stories are still one of the most powerful weapons to connect with others.

Learning to tell stories will make you a king at communication. However, it takes a long time to master the skill. But it’s okay because anything worthwhile takes hard work and practice. So no matter where you are, we can start working on it from today.

First, your stories don’t have to be big. Just start practicing by telling small scenarios in your daily life.

Don’t get to the point. Build up curiosity and follow a story arc. While there’s a lot you can study about stories, here’s the simplest form of narrative you can remember:

You will know if you’re getting better at telling stories by reading people’s reactions.

Last, learn to put off the masks and become vulnerable. We all are humans and we can only deepen our connection once we start to open up with others.

The best way to get started is to collect stories from your everyday life and narrate them to people.[/text_block][/op_liveeditor_element]


Mission 10 (Becoming Vulnerable)


[op_liveeditor_element data-style=””][text_block style=”undefined” align=”left”]Speaking of vulnerability, let’s take a step further to practice becoming vulnerable.

What does vulnerability look like? Here are a few examples:

  • Saying “I love you” first
  • Going “all in” in a relationship, knowing it may not work out
  • Asking someone for help
  • Sharing your hopes and dreams
  • Sharing your fears and insecurities
  • Asking someone’s opinion
  • Sharing an unpopular opinion

Vulnerability involves a risk of rejection, hurt, disagreement and ridicule. But we have to learn to be okay with them. Because without vulnerability, you’ll cage yourself in a prison where you won’t experience (or let others experience) all of you.

The reason we hide from others is that we worry that people may not accept or love us when they see the real us. And we want people to like us so we can form deep, fulfilling relationships.

But if that’s our goal, shouldn’t we stop caring about people who don’t accept us and focus on the ones who love us for who we are?

So here’s an exercise I want you to do:

  1. List all the people who you make you feel like hiding yourself.
  2. Write reason(s) you don’t like opening in front of them. (examples: lack of familiarity, trust, respect, intimacy, the right attitude, etc.)
  3. Now decide to either not form a closer relationship with them or give them a chance by slowly opening to them and sharing your true self with them.

No matter the output, you’ll be better off after doing this exercise. Now go set yourself free by becoming vulnerable today.[/text_block][/op_liveeditor_element]


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Day 6


Mission 11 (Asking For Help)


[op_liveeditor_element data-style=””][text_block style=”undefined” align=”left”]As mentioned above, one way to be vulnerable is asking for help.

Asking for help is not a sign of weakness. We all need help and there is no shame in asking for it.

But there’s a way to ask for a favor:

  • Be direct with your request (don’t increase their mental load by confusing them). You can start with something like “I’ve got a favor to ask… would you be able to..”
  • Give a reason. Giving a reason drastically increases the chance for the other person to say yes.
  • Give them the freedom to say no. When you give them a choice, they are more likely to help you. For example, you can say something like “I’ll totally understand if you can’t…”

If they say no, don’t take it personally or hold grudges. Everyone has their own agenda.

If they say yes, don’t forget to thank them!

So what will you ask for today?[/text_block][/op_liveeditor_element]


Mission 12 (Developing Confident Voice)


[op_liveeditor_element data-style=””][text_block style=”undefined” align=”left”]Imagine you were led by a leader. How would you like your leader to sound? Confident or shaky?

You’d most probably pick a leader with a confident voice.

Life is no different. We prefer to listen to people with a grounded voice.

The best part is that you don’t have to be born with the perfect voice. You can work on your voice to make it sound more grounded and better.

Here’s the method to develop that voice:

  • Breathe through your diaphragm (not your chest)
  • Take pauses when needed. No need to speak too fast.
  • Work on using fewer filler words.
  • Stimulate your deeper voice by humming
  • Animate your voice (don’t be monotonous)

Of course, this isn’t one day’s work. It takes a while to see a noticeable difference in your voice.

But you can take a step further today.

Practice speaking in front of a mirror or a camera and try doing the things mentioned above. Do you notice a difference?[/text_block][/op_liveeditor_element]


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Day 7


Mission 13 (Influencing)


[op_liveeditor_element data-style=””][text_block style=”undefined” align=”left”]Whether you realize it or not, we try to persuade or influence other people all the time.

Influence is powerful, and it can be used for good or evil.

Should you be influential? I don’t know. Depends on your purpose. But I assume you’re a good person, aren’t you? ?

There’s a famous fable of the sun and the wind that goes:

The wind and the sun decided to have a competition to decide once and for all who was stronger. They agreed that the winner would be the one who could persuade a man to take off his coat. The wind blew and blew, but the man only held on more tightly to his coat. Then the sun shone gently down, and within minutes, the man took off his coat.

The moral of the story? You can’t force someone to do what they don’t want; instead, the art of persuasion is to get them to want what you want.

How can you do that? By leading by example, coaching, listening, being empathetic (remember week 4?), sharing your stories or experiences, and so on.

Other than that, you can create a need, appeal to basic or social needs (prestige, money, status…), get people to agree or say ‘yes’ to small things before asking for bigger things (or do the opposite where people say ‘no’ first so they feel compelled to say ‘yes’ for small requests), help others and they may help you back (reciprocity) or use scarcity by limiting your availability.

What will you try today?[/text_block][/op_liveeditor_element]


Mission 14 (Building Rapport)


[op_liveeditor_element data-style=””][text_block style=”undefined” align=”left”]Do you want to know a communication hack used by people who seem to connect with anyone?

It’s called building rapport.

It’s such a subtle move, but it has a huge impact. We already laid the groundwork in Mission 7 when we talked about making small talks. Now here are the next steps to improve your conversational skills:

  • Subtly mirror others’ body language.
  • Make non-creepy eye-contact by looking in the eyes for about 60% of the time and look on the side the other times while indicating that you’re listening. (don’t get distracted)
  • Nod and smile when appropriate. Also, bring in humor when you can!
  • Use other person’s name! You know a person’s name is the sweetest sound in the world, right?
  • Judge less. Throw away the stereotypes so the other person can feel safe.
  • Most of all, be genuine. (people can smell fakeness)

Pick one or more things from above and try them today. Try keeping the gap between knowledge and practice as short as possible.[/text_block][/op_liveeditor_element]


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Day 8


Mission 15 (Giving & Receiving Feedback)


[op_liveeditor_element data-style=””][text_block style=”undefined” align=”left”]Giving and receiving feedback is hard.

Sadly, most people don’t know how to do it and for that reason, people hurt each other and come off as rude (even when they intend to be helpful).

Let’s establish some rules for effectively giving and receiving feedback so we all can get better without hurting each other.

Giving feedback:

  • First, think if it needs to be said.
  • Focus on behavior, not the person.
  • Be as specific as you can.
  • Give feedback at the right time (usually not in front of others or when the other person is not in the right mental state).
  • Use the sandwich technique (start with praise, stuff middle with feedback, end with praise).
  • Give examples from your own mistakes.
  • Try maintaining a 5:1 ratio of positive to negative comments overall in general. That means every criticism or negative talk should follow 5 positive ones.

Receiving feedback:

  • Be open to the feedback.
  • Don’t take it personally by focusing on becoming better.
  • Clarify exactly what they mean if you’re unsure. (and ask more reflective questions to dig deeper)
  • You don’t have to agree with the feedback. Listen, nod, take what’s useful, discard what’s not.
  • Finally, thank the other person.

So today, choose one person and ask for their feedback on something and then offer them your feedback if they are open to it. Use the pointers above as guidelines. When you do it once in a safe environment, your brain remembers to repeat it in everyday life. So don’t skip the practice part![/text_block][/op_liveeditor_element]


Mission 16 (Being Funny)


[op_liveeditor_element data-style=””][text_block style=”undefined” align=”left”]Humor is a super skill.

If you can learn to develop it in everyday conversations, you’ll win the hearts of all people (and have fun at the same time).

Many people believe being humorous is all about talent. While some people are more talented than others, it’s also true that anyone can learn to become better at finding and delivering humor.

Today is a good day to start. Here are a few ways to get started:

  • Insert an unexpected punch in a normal sentence.
  • Make fun of yourself.
  • Over-exaggerate.
  • Always be scanning for absurd things in the environment, events or in your thoughts.
  • Immerse yourself in funny content from time to time (and notice why it made you laugh).
  • Be your own kind of funny and find people who have the same sense of humor (insiders jokes are my favorite).

Your task: Make one person laugh today.[/text_block][/op_liveeditor_element]


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Day 9


Mission 17 (Forming Relationships)


[op_liveeditor_element data-style=””][text_block style=”undefined” align=”left”]Have you noticed that no one actually teaches us about relationships?

Relationships are a crucial part of our lives yet they rarely teach us how to be a son, daughter, husband, wife, father, mother or a friend.

Dr. Jean Baker Miller coined the ‘five good things’ in every mutual growth-fostering relationship. These are:

  1. Sense of zest or energy
  2. Increased sense of worth
  3. Clarity: Increased knowledge of oneself and the other person in the relationship
  4. Productivity: Ability and motivation to take action both in the relationship and outside of it
  5. Desire for more connection: In reaction to satisfaction of relational experience

Besides that, relationships are like plants. We need to nurture them or they die. After college, it becomes hard for us adults to find new close relationships or even maintain the old ones. We get busy in our lives and rarely find time to meet new people or our old friends.

It doesn’t have to be that way if we value friendships and commit to nurturing our relationships with people who matter. Here are a couple of ways to do that:

  • To meet new people, join an activity using websites like Meetup.
  • Introduce people in your network to make it a group you can do activities together.
  • Actually set up time and place to get together. Take the lead.

That’s your task for today. Make a plan to either attend an activity to meet new people or call up your friends to plan something to do together.

In the end, the memories with friends will be one of the few things that will matter.[/text_block][/op_liveeditor_element]


Mission 18 (The Key To Better Relationships)


[op_liveeditor_element data-style=””][text_block style=”undefined” align=”left”]Let’s finish the last mission with one of the most important part of any relationship.


So often, we use sarcasm, rage, ignorance, and other nasty ways to communicate with the people we love.

I’m guilty of that  as well. But we need to realize that if we truly respect the relationship, we need to let go of such ways to communicate.

To fill your relationships with more respect:

  • Give and take respect by leading with an example (treat others the way you want to be treated).
  • Do not insult or gossip about people.
  • Don’t let momentary silly emotions scar a relationship. If you need to, take some time out and give the other person some space.
  • Be in the right relationships (where there is a mutual respect). Let go of the ones that are not built on the foundation of respect for one another.
  • Respect the differences by being aware of them and accepting them.

Where there is respect, there can be love and kindness. Without respect, no relationship exists.[/text_block][/op_liveeditor_element]