Category Archives: Social Skills

Psychology of Socializing

A collection of notes on the Psychology of Socializing

Socializing with Strangers improves your mood: Hello Stranger (NY Times) article on how the social norm of avoiding contact and pretending everyone else doesn’t exist when walking by them in public or sitting next to them on public transportation increases everyone’s feelings of being disconnected from one another.  The study found that most people are open to having a conversation with strangers, and because most learn to be nice to strangers as a social convention, and your emotions are influenced by your actions, by having conversations with strangers, their nice actions translate into more positive emotions, and people feel better about themselves after talking to strangers than after ignoring them.  The same article references a study where if you go too far in the opposite direction, staring for too long and too intently at strangers, you come off too strong and people avoid you.  

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Conversations Friendship

A collection of indicators of friendship that can be found through conversation.

Example 1: Bob mentions he has been promoted, but is concerned and tired at the large amount of work he has now been given.

  • Acquaintance response: congrats on the promotion!  Surface level conversation about positive issues
  • Friend response: how are you feeling?  Caring conversation about deeper issues; feeling the friend’s concern and exhaustion and empathizing.

If you don’t know what to say, think of a compliment and say it.

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Eye Contact

I once ran into two groups of people, a group of friends walking behind a group of strangers.  I looked with no facial expression at my friends, then looked at the group in front.  Then smiled a bit in the general direction of the 3+ people I knew and then walked by them.  This was rude and super fail eye contact–if you are friends, you should greet each other respectively.  From their perspective, they saw me staring in their direction, then away, then smiling randomly towards them without eye contact–I made none of them feel like I recognized or acknowledged them personally.

That is the power of eye contact: to let someone know that you are who they are focusing on.  People will like you more if you make eye contact with them, and the interaction will feel more genuine.  That’s not to say you can’t look away during a conversation, but it does mean that you should be careful about how you look away, because your body language may communicate that you are disinterested or not paying attention.

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