“You can make more friends in two months by becoming interested in other people than you can in two years by trying to get other people interested in you.” — Dale Carnegie
Recently someone asked me about reading books on making friends. They seemed very skeptical about it, feeling that it bordered on manipulation.
Look, in the best of worlds we all would get the perfect parents, siblings, relatives, friends, school mates, societies, etc.
However, that’s not how life works.
We get born into a certain set of circumstances, some of them allow us to grow and develop human interaction in an optimal way, some do not.
What I mean by that is that our chances to develop our social skills are, to a certain extent, developed naturally so that we can adapt and navigate the situation we’re faced with from birth.
Sometimes these interactions cause trauma.
For example abusive, alcoholic, or distant parents can negatively form the basis from which we build our social skills. If we’re born the middle child we learn how to cope in a different way than if we’re the oldest or the youngest, and so on.
Now, we aren’t fixed to those roles but they can be tough habits to get out of, and they impact how we interact with the world.
Becoming self aware and developing your social skills in other ways that aren’t necessarily “natural” is a good thing. We get to see the world through a different lens.
If you are born Becky Lewis from Aberystwyth instead of Bai Liao from Chongqing for example, you would’ve “naturally” developed a completely different set of skills.
So, the short answer is: Yes, read a book (or several) if you feel you want some help developing your social skills. No, this isn’t always a “natural process”, it’s based on a lottery system where some people get a good shot at developing their skills while others don’t.
Now, if you assume that ALL the books will teach you how to “fake” things so that people will like you, then that’s just wrong. Sure, there are those books that do teach you techniques for how to “game” people, get them to like you, help you “influence” them etc.
What you will or will not get out of reading books in general, is entirely based on the quality of the books you read and how well you implement what you learn.
What I’m talking about here are books that have the potential to actually help people develop their social skills and form relationships predicated on their authentic selves, not those that focus on manipulating and maneuvering social interactions to suit your needs.
I suggest being careful when categorizing all books in a field or genre as having a certain intention.
While there’s plenty of bullshit out there (what genre doesn’t?) some of the information can be very useful if we haven’t had the chance to develop our social skills.
However, even when they’re useful it comes down to how well the individual taking in the information is able to apply it to their world.
This goes not only for books on social skills and psychology, it goes for all genres.
The key takeaway here is that it is a skill, and it can be learned and developed.
What are some examples of books you’ve read dealing with social interactions?
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