Get a job, volunteer position or hobby that forces you to be social

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fall out boy rolling stones coverI was out a couple weeks ago and one of my wings was talking to one of the members of Fall Out Boy in the bar we were at. I was amazed that no one in the bar even noticed him. My wing knows the guy and told me that he is pretty much socially inept and no fun. I found this incredibly fascinating that a member of such a high profile band would be so poor at social interaction.

I watched him from time to time throughout the night and he basically messed around with his phone and tagged behind his more alpha wingmen. I didn’t see him talk to anyone.

After seeing him I realized how easy it is for someone less in the spotlight like myself to have social problems. Society nowadays is incredibly impersonal. You can go through your day with only having to have the most brief and routine conversations with others. There are few situations where you are actually FORCED to have a highly personal and interactive conversation with someone you don’t know.

I’ve had several professional jobs but the one job that made me break out of my shell and become the most social was when I was just a lowly department head of a yard at a home improvement store. I had to create small talk with 100s of customers from all walks of life every day. I had to interact with dozens of workers from other departments of the store to solve issues even in difficult and heated situations.

This improved my social abilities in regards to meeting women and wingmen.

I spoke with two guys this weekend who had similar situations.

Beethoven is a frequent commenter on this blog and I got to meet him Saturday. He was fearless when it came to opening and spent the majority of the night in set. He said he had a business job where he had to make cold calls and visit companies unsolicited and attempt to sell them products and services. Getting rejected was a daily occurrence for him. This destroyed any approach anxiety that he had and eliminated his fear of rejection.

Similarly, I met a guy in his early 20’s whose parents were Jehovah’s Witnesses. He was telling me how at an early age his parents had him go out and approach strangers on the sidewalks and knock on their doors and tell them them about his religion. He said that it was hard but it was important in helping him become better with social interaction and public speaking.

I’m now a computer programmer so I unfortunately am not forced to talk to my colleagues that much in a typical day. If your job or environment is like mine and you have problems overcoming approach anxiety and interacting with others you might want to consider finding a hobby, part-time job or volunteer position that will force you to be social.

Join a local co-ed club that interests you. Volunteer at the local humane society. Get a part-time job as a waiter, bar-back or even at a department store. Sure these will consume more of your time but it will be time well invested.

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Comments: 7 comments

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  • Bobby Rio
    February 18th, 2008 at 9:57 pm

    Solid advice.. geting a part time job or volunteer work not only helps improve your social skills but it also expands your social circle.

    For me it was a job as a real estate agent that helped me a lot.. i never minded in person communication but I always froze up when calling a girl for the first time.. well, after making sales calls all day it got pretty easy to call a girl

    I will stand by an earlier post of mine… you will not get any easier ass than working as a bartender or waiter in a semi popular place.

  • Beethoven
    February 18th, 2008 at 11:32 pm

    A sales job where you go to lots of conferences and/or tradeshows is a great way to get comfortable talking with strangers. You can talk to dozens in one day! This is where you can really master the art of beginning with small talk and transitioning to a more meaningful conversation. A business card close is in a lot of ways similar to a number close: the prospect has to feel comfortable with you in order to exchange cards with you.

    And yes, making sales calls all day does make phone game easier. Some things I learned from doing sales calls are: (1) know what your final objective is (for example, setting up a get-together), (2) know in advance at least a few of the things you’re going to say.

    I like to have at least two to three bits of material ready so that if there is any bit of a lull in the conversation I can keep the flow going. Examples might be something interesting that happened to me recently, like maybe you dented your car, your brother had a baby, got a new job - can be anything really, but make sure it’s not too mundane. Or you can talk about something going on in the world: a very major news story, extreme weather outisde, some TV show, etc. But don’t ramble on - for every anecdote you share about yourself, make sure you turn the subject over to her next (unless she takes your initial topic and runs with it).

    Hopefully she has half a personality and a fun, natural conversation can spark, but if not, you’ve got to be prepared to fill in the gaps. The good news is, phone calls don’t have to be long - in fact, the shorter the better! After about two or three conversation threads, I then go for the close, “I’m heading downtown on Wednesday, we should totally meet up!”, something to that effect. Just like its preached in live pickup, leave on a high note: if you just wrapped a funny little thread and her interest is piqued, that’s when you plan the date and get the hell off the phone.

  • Mack Tight
    February 18th, 2008 at 11:41 pm

    I wish I would have spent my teens and early 20’s bartending or being a waiter rather than working factory jobs.

    I took a mixology class last spring and got my responsible beverage server license but I never did anything with it. This post is going to make me do something about that.

    Good comment!

    I’ll integrate it into a follow-up post tomorrow.

  • Brad
    February 22nd, 2008 at 2:48 pm

    Another great place to get a part time job… the gym.

    It’s unbelieveable how easy some of the pulls are…

  • Mack Tight
    February 25th, 2008 at 12:07 pm

    I would love to work at a gym but I don’t want to get stuck pressuring people into signing shady yearly contracts. I kind of refer to that in this post.

  • Brad
    February 25th, 2008 at 12:21 pm

    It’s funny you say that…

    It’s because of this overwhelming attitude about the industry that many of the up and coming clubs are going to a strict month-to-month basis.

    The health club industry is an interesting beast… to say the least.

    I read your post and your advice is pretty sound although I have seen some great clubs that don’t subscribe to the tactics you mention.

    Those are the ones to work for as they have the best clientele (ie higher status in general)

  • Mack Tight
    February 25th, 2008 at 1:03 pm

    You know what Brad, you’re right.

    There are so many jobs I should have tried out that I made petty excuses not to.

    The simple truth is that you can start working at a health club and if you don’t like the job you can just quit.

    The clientele at a health club are going to be more attractive than the average person.

    I may have to pickup an application at my local club on the way home.

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