Category Archives: Friendship

6 Stages Of Friendship

1: Strangers

Everyone in the world starts out as a stranger (and potential friend) to you.

 

2: Loose Acquaintance

The first time you meet a person they’re just a random face in the crowd. Unless you meet this person at your arranged marriage, there’s little to no guarantee you’ll ever see them again. It takes time to learn enough about a person to know whether you like them or not. It also takes time to build shared experiences together with which you’ll come to base your friendship on. So even if you really hit it off with someone the first time you meet them, they’ll only be a potential friend until you see them again… and again… and again…and again.

There are over 6 billion people in the world. You only have enough time in your short life to become best friends with a few of them. Your brain understands this. So even if you don’t your mind will subconsciously size up every person you meet and come to a conclusion about whether or not this person is compatible enough with you to be worth pursuing a deeper relationship with. 99.9% of the people you meet in your life will fail the Loose Acquaintance Test. The first time they leave your sight, you won’t ever think about them again. Even if you do remember them, the thought will never occur to you to regret their absence in your life, because they were just some unimportant, random person.

That’s fine. We can’t all spend our lives obsessing over everyone we meet. In fact, we should be conscious of the fact that we should be sizing people up to assess who we can/can’t build meaningful relationships with. If we don’t pay attention we risk passing up the right people and attaching ourselves to the wrong people.

 

3: Regular Acquaintance

If you keep running into the same person over and over again you’ll learn things about each other and build shared experiences. In no time at all, they’ll stand out of the crowd. When you see their face it will mean something to you, and when you talk to them you can continue your previous dialogues. These interactions will evolve your relationship with each other. Instead of just being a random person they’ll become the person you met there who does this for a living and goes to the place you’re at to get… whatever.

Spending time with a person doesn’t guarantee you’re going to be friends. You’ll meet just as many people who, the more you meet them the more you despise them. However, some will pass the Regular Acquaintance Test, and some will pass it faster than others. You could buy coffee from the same barista for ten years before they become anything other than a friendly barista to you. On the other hand, sometimes you run into people who you just click with and end up spending the next two weeks together every day. Not only do you need to spend time with a person to get promoted in their friend book, but you have to spend meaningful time talking, opening up, overcoming challenges, learning and having fun together before your relationship has significant meaning.

 

4: Allies

Eventually, you’re going to work with people for so long that you’ll know their whole life story, their idiosyncrasies, and secrets. You’ll know them well enough to accurately predict their future. But they’ll still just be a regular acquaintance who you know at work. Intimate knowledge is a prerequisite for friendship, but it’s only one component.

Feeling affection for each other is another prerequisite for friendship. When you experience affection towards another person emotionally, you get those feelings from your brain. Consciously and subconsciously your brain has been calculating how valuable that person is in your life. If the results of that calculation are negative then you’ll dislike them. If the results of that calculation are positive then you’re like them. The higher they score, the more you’ll like them. The lower they score, the less you’ll like them.

Friendships are warm and fuzzy, but they’re also based on a cold calculation. Life is beautiful, but life is also war. Everyone and every living thing is competing with each other to survive in a dog-eat-dog world where only the strong survive, and only the alpha thrive. Every stranger is a potential threat to you. They could rob you, bully you, steal your lover, get your job, rip you off, betray you or kill you. You might not walk around all day grimly sizing everyone up, but if a stranger asks to borrow $1000 from you, you’re probably going to say “no” without even having to think about it.

The test that regular acquaintances have to pass before they can get promoted to an ally is the test of trust. When you put your trust in someone else by (for example) lending them money, you risk losing ground in your battle against nature to survive. That’s a profound thing to do because you’re choosing to bet or give a tiny piece of your life. That’s sharing life.

As you and another person reciprocate trustworthiness you cease to be regular acquaintances, and you become allies. Effectively you’ve signed an unwritten truce not to fight each other and to back each other up in their time of need even if it’s inconvenient.

There are different kinds of allies you make in life, and each truce is different. Some friends would only let you borrow $10. Some would let you borrow $100, but they wouldn’t pick you up from jail or give you a ride to work. You can open up to some of your friends, and some friends prefer to keep your relationship more formal or professional. Some friendships involve lust, and some don’t. Your expectations of each of your friends is different, but that doesn’t mean your contracts between them are unequal. Variety is the spice of life. We should be conscious of the different kinds of friendships we have and celebrate their idiosyncrasies.

 

5: Official Friend

When you make a truce with an ally, you agree not to take what the other person has. You can borrow from each other in your time of need, but you’ll be expected to pay your ally back. There’s also a limit to how much your ally will risk on you. An official friend will give you what you need for free without expecting you to pay them back. In fact, they’ll insist that you don’t pay them back. That act goes above and beyond the conditions of a contract. It’s not a bet. It’s a gift, and that’s profound. You’re sacrificing a bit of your life to make another conscious being’s reality better.

Ultimately, friendship is a choice. That choice is yours. Rocks and trees can’t make choices. Only living, sentient beings can. When you choose a friend you express the existence of consciousness in an otherwise inert universe. It also establishes a bond between you and another individual consciousness. The emotions and ideas you share will be unique in all the universe. All of this is valuable enough to justify the existence of life.

But I digress.  Sacrifice is the cost to become an official friend, and it’s not enough to just be willing to make that sacrifice. As admirable as that is, you’ll never be as good of friends with an untested ally than say war veterans are with the people they fought alongside. When you build a history of shared sacrifice with another person you build a history of proven character.

 

6: Best Friend

Every alliance and friendship is different, and while there’s no need to stress over which friendship is “better” than the others, one will inevitably rise to the top. You win that prize by getting the highest score on the Best Friend Test, which is one question long and looks something like this:

Best Friend = (how well you know a person + how many experiences you’ve had with them + how much you care about them + how well you treat them) – (how many conditions you place on each other’s trust)*(mutual sacrifice).

Put your allies to the test and figure out who your true friends are. And put yourself to the test as well. Consider how high your friends would score you. If hardly anybody would give you a good score you’d be wise to consider the hard possibility that you’re an asshole and need to seriously rethink your life. If your friends score horribly low you may consider the hard possibility that they’re not really friends and it might be better for both of you to step out of each other’s lives.

When you do find a best friend, cherish them. When your life flashes before your eyes you’re going to see all the best friends you’ve made through the years. They were your life. As important as that is, it’s also a simple fact of life that you can’t spend your entire life with just one best friend. Things change. People change. You can’t write a song by only playing one note. As beautiful as that note may be, you have to let go when the time is right and move onto the next note, and the next one, and the next one, celebrating all of them for their uniqueness. (That last bit about music notes was paraphrased from “The Lazy Man’s Guide to Enlightenment”).

 

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Should You Let Friends Borrow Money?

If your friend comes up to you and tells you they’re in a time of need and they ask for your help and you look them in the eye and tell them, “Sure, I’ll help you, but you have to pay me back every penny and maybe even interest.” …that means you weren’t really friends to begin with. When real friends hear that a friend is in need, they go out of their way for them, because that’s what friends do. That’s the point of being friends. You’re more than just allies in the game of life.

When a friend asks to borrow money from you, you just give them the money and never expect to see it again. You don’t have to be a drama queen martyr about it. Your friend could ask to borrow money and you could give it to them, and they can pay you back just like normal, but when you hand over your money you know in your mind that you never expect to see that money again, and you’re going to forget about that non-debt as quickly as possible. Then, if your friend ever does pay you back it will be a pleasant surprise, and it will make you feel closer to your friend since they gave you more than you expected from them. And your friendship won’t go through any rocky times because you weren’t  permanently stressing about holding debts over each other’s heads.

It’s fine to lend people money and expect to get paid back; just understand that expecting to get paid back is a clear sign that you’re not friends, you’re allies at best. So if you lend someone money and expect to get paid back, don’t hug that guy a party the next weekend and tell him you’re buddies.

And if you ask one of your friends for money and they get domineering about the details of the loan and keep pestering you about it, then you know you’re not really friends. You’re only as valuable to them as long as it’s convenient for them, but they won’t go out of their way for you, because your friendship isn’t worth a piece of paper to them. They failed the friendship test and aren’t worth the time and effort to pursue a deeper relationship with.

And when you do hand cold hard cash to one of your friends that you never expect to see again, pause for a moment and smell the roses. A good friend is the rarest, most wonderful thing in life, and today you got to experience real friendship; apparently, there’s someone in your life who is worth more than a piece of paper. You’re lucky to have them. Cherish them.

That’s why you shouldn’t lend friends money… that you expect to get back.

 

"Don't let friends borrow money unless you don't mind never getting it back."

 

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Tips On Conversation: Part 1

A painting of two old gentlemen wearing classy suits and top hats talking in a cafe over drinks

 

1: Talking isn’t a competition. It’s an opportunity.

Humans have a tendency to approach conversations like a competition where the winner is whoever proves themselves the coolest, smartest, most successful, or most charming. But life isn’t a competition for social status. It’s nice when people like you, but in the grand scheme of things, it doesn’t matter. Nor are you under any obligation to like or impress anyone else. Think about it. How many times as someone completely changed your life after you impressed them in a conversation? Unless you’re married, probably never.

Trying to impress everybody is futile because you’re completely incompatible with at least half of the people you meet. So you were never going to be friends anyway, and most of the people you do get to know will be gone from your life in a few years, rendering their opinion of you meaningless eventually.

There are more enjoyable and useful kinds of conversations you can have than dick waving competitions. Use conversation as an opportunity to learn, have fun and connect with others. That’s what they’re for.

 

2: Nobody is out to judge you.

Nobody who cares about you will judge you, and nobody else cares enough about you to judge you. Ultimately, you’re just another face in the crowd who isn’t going to be around in a few years. Everyone is obsessed with themselves. When they talk to you, they’re only paying half attention to what you’re saying. The rest of their mind is busy thinking about their own needs and insecurities.

In fact, strangers are more likely to want to give you the benefit of the doubt, because we all want to believe we live in a good world, full of good people. When you meet someone new, don’t you hope they turn out to be nice and enjoyable? When you introduce yourself to someone, they’re most likely crossing their fingers, thinking, “Please, let this person be one of the good guys.” They don’t want you to impress them. They mostly just want you to not make their life harder.

It’s true, there are people out there who will judge you, but those people usually judge everyone. Habitually judging others is dysfunctional behavior that has more of a negative impact on the perpetrator’s life than the victims’. That kind of behavior fits the definition of a mental disorder. It’s not a sign of evil. It’s a condition that requires treatment. So when a judge-aholic looks down on you, don’t take it any more personally or seriously than you would someone with an eating disorder judging the size of your meal.

 

3: Nobody sees the real you. 

If society’s dress code required everyone to wear masks all the time, we would all be more confident. Hiding our faces makes us feel safer because nobody can see the real “us.” The more anonymous we feel, the more permission we give ourselves to act as bold in real life as we would on an internet message board. This is ironic because nobody will ever see anyone for who they really are. Everyone has a completely unique universe in their mind that only sound can escape. Trying to understand who a person is by talking to them, is like an astronomer trying to study the night sky using an ear horn.

Our internal universes are so unique and inaccessible, it’s impossible for us to accurately imagine what reality is like from anyone else’s perspective. Since we can’t see people for who they are, we fill in the blanks with patterns from our own universe. So no matter what you do or say, when anyone looks at you, they mostly see themselves. The way they treat you usually has more to do with how they treat themselves than how you deserve to be treated. So take advantage of your anonymity to act outside your comfort zone, and don’t worry about what people say to a mirror.

 

4: The scarier talking to people is, the more you should seek help.

Talking to people isn’t war. Nobody wants your worst-case fears to come true. They don’t even want to think about it. They just want to feel good. Even if conversations do go bad, in the long run it doesn’t matter. Stressing out about failing in conversations is an irrational fear. That’s the definition of a “phobia,” specifically, social anxiety disorder.

Social anxiety exists only in your mind. You can turn it off like a light by thinking about anything else. If that doesn’t work, read some books on coping with social anxiety disorder and insecurity. If that doesn’t work, go see a mental health professional. Relief will only come as quickly as you pursue it.

 

5: The more you look at things from other people’s point of view, the less lost you’ll be. 

I learned some of the advice in this list from books, but I picked most of it up from watching people and trying to imagine life from their point of view. It’s easy, fun and enlightening. The more you understand where people are coming from, the better you can communicate with them. The less you understand them, the more lost you’ll be. If you don’t make a conscious decision to habitually look at conversations from other people’s point of view, you’ll always be lost.

 

6: Relax. We’re all apes here.

Some of my advice may seem contradictory, pessimistic or arrogant, but there’s a logical, impartial explanation for all of this. For example, I say people are unique, unknowable universes, but you can figure them out by watching them. I say people deserve love, but we’re all obsessed with ourselves. I say people are lost, ignorant and selfish, which raises the question, why don’t I live alone in the woods if everyone is so intolerably dumber than me?

Relax. I never said I was better than anyone else. The truth is, we’re all basically apes. We’re really clever apes, but our thought processes and motives are primitive enough to be predictable.

Apes are going to ape. That’s no reason to hate them. We may be goofy creatures, but we’re also cosmic miracles. The fact that we exist at all is reason enough to love us.

No matter how much better anyone thinks they are than anyone else, we’re all apes at the end of the day. There’s no reason to feel superior or inferior to anyone else. Nor is there any reason to stress over winning the approval of other apes. If someone ever throws shit at you, take it as personally as you would an ape throwing shit at you. If someone treats you divinely, cherish it. In the meantime, relax.

 

7: People would rather hear what they have to say than what you have to say.

When people talk to you, it’s like you’re standing behind an opaque mirror, and they’re talking to a reflection of themselves superimposed over a hazy outline of you. They’ve been talking to themselves their entire life, because they’re all they know of the universe. Being the only thing in their universe, their lives revolve around themselves, and they’re the most important thing in their universe.

People want to talk about what’s most important to them, which means anyone without social anxiety disorder probably wants to talk about themselves. Usually, they don’t even want to have a two-way conversation. They just want to talk about themselves and have you listen, smile, nod and compliment them.

The more you talk about yourself, the less they’re going to feel like they’re getting out of the conversation. After a few minutes, they’re going to lose interest and spend the rest of the conversation impatiently waiting for their turn to talk or for the conversation to be over. Impressing people in conversation requires almost no talking at all. The only thing you have to do is find out what aspect of their life they want to talk about and ask them about it. The harder you try to blow their mind with what you have to say, the more likely you’ll convince them you’re an arrogant bore.

 

8: Flattery will get you everywhere.

People may be unique and unknowable universes, but making them feel good is simple. Just make them feel good about themselves. Give them the approval they so desperately yearn for. Flatter them.

Look at their wardrobe and how they present themselves. Find whatever they put the most thought and energy into and compliment it. Part of them doesn’t even care if you’re sincere or smooth about it. They just want positive reinforcement.

It looks desperate if you constantly praise people, but they won’t hate you for it. More likely, they’ll feel bad for you that you feel the need to impress your equals. However, you can stealthily give them subtle positive reinforcement by smiling, looking them in the eye, laughing and agreeing with them.

This doesn’t mean you should act like a Stepford Wife. If you’re talking to a violent racist, you shouldn’t be laughing and agreeing with what they say. But as a general rule, if you want people to approve of you, then approve of them. They wish you would.

 

9: Your name is the sweetest sound you can hear in any language.

Everyone is existentially lost in an incomprehensible universe waiting to die an unexplainable death. We don’t even know if we really exist or if this is just a simulation in a dream. Even living in a city, surrounded by people, you can feel utterly meaningless if nobody ever says your name. Hearing someone say your name verifies your existence and connects you to society. It makes you feel popular, important, and worth knowing. When you hear your name, for that moment, the attention is on you. You’re the belle of the ball. We all want to feel that, and we rarely do.

Saying someone’s name is more than just existential flattery. It’s the difference between a stranger and an acquaintance. The more you hear someone say your name, the more a part of their life you’ll be. To build a long-lasting relationship with someone, you have to say their name.

 

10: Don’t constantly tell people your life story.

Very few people really want to know your life story. It bores everyone else. It also eliminates your mystery and anonymity. The less people know about you, the more they have to fill in the blanks with speculation. We tend to assume people are more perfect than they are. The less we know about them, the more we build them up. This is why teenage girls get so obsessed with boy bands. Since she’ll never meet the boy in person to find out what he’s really like, she falls in love with a mental construction of her ideal boyfriend. To far lesser degrees, everyone you know has done the same thing to you. The more they know about you, the more they see you as a regular, flawed person.

I’m not saying you should strive to be fake or aloof. You should have at least one confidant who knows your entire life story and all your secrets, and you should share your stories freely with the people you want to build life bonds with. But in casual conversation with acquaintances and strangers, you have more to lose than you have to gain by constantly spilling all your beans and cramming them down people’s throats.

 

11: Don’t constantly tell people your traumas, dramas, and dark secrets. 

Nobody wants to hear about the best vacation you ever took. They really don’t want to hear about the worst things that have happened, are happening, or might happen in your life. All they want, is to feel good.

Hearing your horrible stories will force them to visualize unpleasant things. Then they’ll feel sad for you and guilty that they can’t save you. Then they’ll feel anxious as they try to come up with a solution to your problem. Then they’ll feel frustrated when you don’t take their advice. Then they’ll feel afraid you’re going to ask them for something. When the conversation is over, they’ll feel relief that you’re not battering their psyche like an emotional tornado. After they leave your company, they’ll continue feeling bad. If this happens enough times, they’ll avoid you.

Nobody wants to feel your pain. They want to feel your joy. If you can’t make people laugh, the least you could do is not go out of your way to burden them with your problems. If you need to talk about your problems, you should talk to a therapist.

 

12: Don’t constantly whine about anything. 

Your life might be great, but there’s something else wrong in the world that pisses you off, like your government, immigrants, your lover, your boss, the opposite sex, young people, etc. Nobody wants to hear about it. Nobody cares that you’re upset. They care about making it through the day as happily as possible.

When you bitch about anything, you put a rain cloud over your audience’s head. You may be right about what you’re saying, and it may be important, but depressing the people you hang out with isn’t going to fix the world’s problems. It’s just going to earn you a reputation as an emotionally draining whiner.

 

13: Nobody wants to hear you brag.

You can impress people by bragging for a few minutes. The longer you try after that, the more it’ll have the opposite effect. You’d think people’s admiration of you would be proportional to how awesome of a life you’ve lived. But the more amazing your life is than theirs, the more your success highlights the shortcomings in their life. That makes them feel unfulfilled, which makes them feel guilty. Then they resent you for rubbing it in. Then they dismiss their emotional pain by blaming you and labeling you an arrogant brat who thinks life is a dick waving competition and always hogs the conversation telling your life story that nobody wanted to hear in the first place.

If you do have some really great stories that are genuinely interesting, wait until the most poignant time to share them, preferably when someone asks. Your stories will be far more impressive and digestible if you save them. Then people will be amazed you lived a more interesting life than they thought. Then they’ll fill in the rest of the blanks in your life with more positive speculation.

 

14: Don’t one-up people’s stories.

It’s painful enough to hear someone deliver a monologue about how much better they are than you. It’s even worse when they try to trump all of your stories. This is the fastest way to convince people you’re not worth talking to.

 

15: Be vigilant not to constantly auto-contradict people.

Having anything you say shot down is annoying. Yet many people’s default manner of speaking is to contradict everything anyone says. They believe they’re being smart by finding exceptions and holes in other people’s statements, but their efforts accomplish nothing. They don’t learn, teach or stand for anything, and it shows. Even if you’re right, your audience probably wouldn’t listen. The only thing they’re going to learn is that you’re impossible to talk to.

 

16: Don’t play the devil’s advocate.

Some people don’t realize they’re stuck on auto-contradict. Others make it a point to say things they don’t even believe because they’re on a mission to poke holes in people’s conversation. If you call them out on it, they may say they want to help stupid people correct their ignorance, which may be true, but their deeper motivations are sadism, self-centeredness, and insecurity.

If your audience really is ignorant, then taunting them is like belittling a child because he hasn’t gone to college yet. Even if they’re too stupid to see what a misguided fraud you are, your actions still prove you’re a bad person in the greater scheme of life.

If your audience is smarter than you think, which they probably are, they’ll see through your shallow game. Even if they don’t, they’re going to remember how you made them feel. If you didn’t make them feel good, they’re not going to try to be a positive force in your life.

 

17: Don’t gossip or bitch about other people behind their backs.

It’s common knowledge that anyone who gossips to you will also gossip about you. Every time you gossip, you’re convincing your audience you’re not trustworthy. And, obviously, you can only talk about other people so many times before it gets back to one of them. On the other hand, if you never do wrong by people, then that’s what people are going to say about you, and respect is going to come back to you.

Constantly bringing up negative information doesn’t help you or your audience achieve happiness. Sure, gossiping is a guilty pleasure, but it pales in comparison to the good feeling you get from talking about the positives in life. There are enough that focusing on the negative is like going to a rose garden and looking for dog shit to sniff.

 

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Tips On Conversation: Part 2

A painting of two old men dressed in nice suits and top hats having a lively conversation in a cafe over drinks

 

1: Talking about touchy subjects ends in absurdity often, violence sometimes, and cohesion rarely.

There’s an old saying, “Never talk about politics or religion.” This is because nobody has the exact same beliefs, and we tend to defend our beliefs more than we question them. We behave this way partly because we’re cognitive misers and party because we’ve been indoctrinated not to question certain topics. Either way, talking about those topics is more likely to end in conflict than cohesion. However, people are more likely to avoid conflict than jump at the chance to escalate it. So you’ll probably spend the whole conversation dancing around taboos, trying not to offend each other.

The whole exercise was probably futile to begin with because most people only have a vague idea what they believe. So the deeper you dig, the more excuses and flimsy justifications you’re likely to find than useful or interesting knowledge.

 

2: Disagree respectfully.

By some people’s definition, an enemy is anyone who disagrees with them. Yet, everyone disagrees with everyone on something. If you perceive disagreements as battle lines, you’ll have to go war with everyone, and the only thing that would accomplish is making enemies out of all your potential allies and friends.

The chances of you changing anyone’s mind about anything are slim. The odds fall to zero the moment you speak disrespectfully towards them, but the more polite you are, the more kindly they’ll have to view you and your ideology.

Even if you can’t convert them on the spot, you may plant a seed that will germinate later. Regardless, you can still win their respect by treating them with respect and presenting your arguments professionally.

 

3: The only person who wins an argument is the one who learns something.

Since you’re unlikely to change people’s minds about anything, and it usually doesn’t really matter whether or not you do, the only thing you stand to gain by arguing is learning something yourself. And since arguments usually happen when both people are half right, the fact that you’re arguing in the first place, probably means you need to learn something. Fighting the other person is the worst way to accomplish that goal.

 

4: Accepting responsibility for your actions will get you out of trouble better than making excuses.  

The topic of hundreds, if not thousands, of conversations you’ll have throughout your life will be about how you did something wrong. People tend to instinctively defend themselves when criticized, which is one of the worst things a person can do to themselves. When people say to your face, that you did something wrong, they’re almost always at least half right. Their criticism is like a gift from God because it warns you what’s wrong with you and tells you what you need to fix, before you suffer any real consequences. Getting defensive and/or fighting the people who try to hold you accountable is like fighting a doctor who is trying to remove the knife you stabbed yourself with.

There are two kinds of people in the world: those who make excuses and those who don’t need to. The more excuses you make, the fewer people will take you seriously. If you want to impress people, then listen to them, and admit when you’re wrong. You might think weaseling out of accountability lets you save face, but it really just makes you look like a weasel. If you accept responsibility for your actions, admit when you’re wrong and fix your flaws, the people you once disappointed will come to look up to you.

 

 5: Take advice. 

You can learn how to fix your flaws before they get you in trouble. You probably ask people for advice all the time. The more you bitch about your problems, the more advice people are going to give you whether you want it or not, because that’s the only way they can unburden themselves of the problems you’re dumping on them. People’s advice is rarely 100% true, but it’s also rarely 100% useless. You have nothing to gain by rejecting advice and everything to gain from embracing it.

 

6: Don’t give much advice.

Everybody needs advice, but people rarely take it, even when they ask for it. Trying to give someone advice, or expecting them to take it, almost always ends in nothing but frustration for the giver. You’re more likely to burn a bridge than saving a life. I’m not saying you should never give people advice. I’m just saying, be aware that you’re playing with fire. If you start to see smoke coming out of the other person’s ears, stop.

 

7: Ask for advice. 

People like to give advice, as long as you listen to them and take what they say to heart. It’s flattering and creates a meaningful connection between the confidant and confessor. Plus, it just feels good to help people. This is convenient because you need advice. You’re so lost, you don’t even know how lost you are. Everyone around you is a treasure chest of information waiting to be opened. Not asking for advice is leaving money on the table.

 

8: Don’t let people constantly dump their problems on you. 

You should try to help whoever you can because all life is equally valuable. So it’s as good to help others as it is to help yourself. This also means it’s important for you to make the most of your own life, and it’s a waste of your invaluable time and energy to coddle people who just want to bitch about everything with no intention of changing anything.

It doesn’t even help the person with the “apocalypse of the week,” because it enables their parasitic behavior. As long as they have a willing host, they’ll stay an emotionally crippled parasite forever, guaranteeing their trivial problems will always be your emergencies.

 

9: People tend to mimic your emotional tone.

Humans learn about the world by mimicking others. Even as adults, we’ll stand up if everyone in the room stands up. It’s almost impossible to frown in a room full of laughing people, and it’s just as hard to laugh in a room full of crying faces.

Behavior is contagious. This doesn’t mean you always act like the last person you spoke too, but you will get swept up in their emotion. For example, if you meet someone who is crying, you’re going to react with sadness. If you someone screams at you, you’re going to want to scream back. When someone shows you kindness and love, you’re probably going to be nice to them.

If you want people to like you and be nice to you, then approach them with happiness and friendship. If you want someone to listen to you, don’t scream at them. If you don’t want people to be stressed out and anxious around you, don’t act like everything is always hopeless.

 

10: Everyone uses and reacts to emotional tones differently.

As children, we tend to assume everyone is more or less exactly like us. We reason that if we’re all human, then we must all express emotions the same, but we’re all unique snowflakes when it comes to that. For instance, you’d think you could judge how mad a person is by how loud they raise their voice, but some people shout when they’re not mad, while other people perceive any outburst over a whisper to be apocalyptic.

It’s harder than you’d think to accurately assess people’s emotional state or intentions. So it’s a generally good idea to stay on guard not to let yourself get swept up by people’s emotions. Hear them out while wearing a dumb leopard expression on your face. If there really is an emergency, getting swept up in their hysteria won’t help you fix it. On the same token, don’t shout at people or react to minor inconveniences with excessive emotion. Even if you’re calm in your head, you’re freaking everyone out.

 

11: Don’t interrupt.

You’d think it goes without saying not to interrupt people when they’re talking, but it happens every day because the point of being rude is you don’t think about how your actions affect other people. Look at conversations from the other person’s point of view. They’re in it for what they can get out of it. They probably feel insecure and want to prove their worth. They’re just hoping someone validates their existence by saying their name and complimenting them. No matter how you look at it, they just want to have an experience that makes them happy.

When you interrupt someone, you may as well stop the whole conversation, point to the person you just interrupted and declare whatever they’re saying isn’t important because they’re not important. Then carry on the conversation. Nobody deserves to be made to feel unimportant. It’s unjust and will probably make an enemy out of the person you cut down. Plus, observers are more likely to view you as rude, than as the savior of the conversation.

 

12: You don’t have to lie to kick it.

Lying to make yourself look better never works in the long run. Eventually, people will see what you’re doing and lose respect for you. If they do believe all your outlandish stories, they’ll resent you for making them feel inferior or just for talking about yourself all the time.

People don’t stay friends with those who impress them the most but with those they feel the most comfortable around and don’t have to compete with. If you believe you need to constantly impress your friends, the problem is either in your head or you need new friends.

 

13: Talk about cops, blood, sex, and drugs.

If you’re ever in a group that’s either struggling to keep a conversation going, or the topic is boring, ask if anybody has any good stories about themselves or a friend involving cops, blood, sex and/or drugs. You’d be surprised how many stories everyone has involving those topics. They’re as fun to tell as they are to hear. Plus, it creates a meaningful connection with people when they share mildly taboo information about themselves. However, the more formal the social gathering, the more inappropriate it would be to raise these topics.

 

14: Always have a few jokes up your sleeve.

Jokes are always enjoyable, but it’s rare to hear one person tell more than five jokes in a single conversation. Anyone can memorize five jokes to have ready. You don’t need to tell a joke in every conversation, and you certainly shouldn’t tell the same five jokes every time you talk. Tell a joke if someone asks, if it’s relevant to the current topic, or to bridge a silent gap in conversation. People will like you for it, and your conversation will be more fun.

 

15: You are what you talk about.

If all you ever talk about is children’s cartoons, then that’s what your mind will consist of. If all you ever talk about is how angry you are about injustice, you’ll live in a bitterly unjust universe. If all you ever talk about is pop culture, your life will amount to a television commercial. If you spend your whole life bitching about other people, then you fit the definition of a bitch.

If you always speak nicely to people, you’ll feel nice, and you’ll have nice memories to look back on. If you ask everyone for advice, your mind will fill up with superpowers. If you meet people from all over the world and listen to their stories, you internal universe will become as colorful as a Holi festival.

 

16: Mind your karma ghosts.

The emotional impact of how you treat people lasts long after you’re gone. If someone walks away from you happy, they’ll probably be nicer to the next person they meet. If someone walks away from you angry, they’ll probably be meaner to the next person they meet. The bigger an impact you have on people, the longer they carry the ghosts of your actions with them. The memory of a single conversation with you could pop up in their mind periodically for the rest of their life, bringing those old feelings back to the surface, like a ghost from the past haunting them.

Your actions have ripple effects that extend across time and space. Every time you make someone feel good, you make the world better. Every time you make someone feel bad, you make the world worse.

 

17: Mind your appearance.

The cleaner and more professional you look, the more professionally people will assume they should interact with you. The more sexually attractive you are, the more people will try to woo you and overlook your flaws.

The sloppier you dress, the less seriously people will take you. The more you dress like a stereotypical violent criminal, the more people will be afraid of you. The blander you dress, the less you’ll excite people.

The weirder you look, the more likely people are to reject or dismiss you, which can be a blessing or a curse, because the more you look like the person you’re talking to, the more likely they’ll accept you… and hold you accountable to the cultural standards and values of people who dress like you. In other words, when in Rome, do as the Romans do, but if you don’t want to be held to Roman standards, don’t dress like a Roman, but don’t be surprised when the Romans don’t accept you.

 

18: Surround yourself with people who enjoy talking about the same things as you. 

Conversation is an opportunity to learn, have fun and build connections. If you’re constantly bored by the conversations you have with the people in your life, then you probably need to surround yourself with new people who want to talk about the same things as you. Life is too short, and the potential for joy is too great, to spend time with people you don’t find interesting.

Cutting people out of your life doesn’t mean you think you’re better than them. There’s no such thing as “the best people.” There are just the best people for you. The people you’ll enjoy talking to the most tend to be the ones who share most of your interests as strongly as you.

 

If you enjoyed this post, you’ll also like these:

 

Dating Advice
Relationship Advice
Sex positions and techniques
General Sex Advice
Philosophy of Sexuality
Friendship
My Tweets About Romance

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