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The power of persuasion is too powerful?


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#21 forsandifs   Members   -  Reputation: 154

Posted 14 May 2011 - 02:59 PM

...


First of all, might I suggest that you don't lock people up in rooms? :/ That's unnecessarily harsh imo especially to someone who is naturally panic prone. I think a wiser reaction would be to adopt a more zen like attitude in that situation.

Anyway, on to your point. I am in between your viewpoint on this and capn_midnight's. I think that kid could become "normal" socially, but it will be very difficult for him. He will have to work very hard on his weaknesses to overcome them, if he can ever even figure out how to.

Also I disagree with capn's viewpoint that people aren't more intelligent in some areas than others. Memory is an obvious example imo. Some people do have photographic memories. I do not and I am 99% sure I will never develop one, not because I think its impossible for me to do so but because it would require a lot of effort I will probably put into other things. On the other hand most people with such amazing memories had it essentially gifted to them.

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#22 Sean T. McBeth   Crossbones+   -  Reputation: 1633

Posted 14 May 2011 - 03:10 PM

...


First of all, might I suggest that you don't lock people up in rooms? :/ That's unnecessarily harsh imo especially to someone who is naturally panic prone. I think a wiser reaction would be to adopt a more zen like attitude in that situation.

Anyway, on to your point. I am in between your viewpoint on this and capn_midnight's. I think that kid could become "normal" socially, but it will be very difficult for him. He will have to work very hard on his weaknesses to overcome them, if he can ever even figure out how to.

Also I disagree with capn's viewpoint that people aren't more intelligent in some areas than others. Memory is an obvious example imo. Some people do have photographic memories. I do not and I am 99% sure I will never develop one, not because I think its impossible for me to do so but because it would require a lot of effort I will probably put into other things. On the other hand most people with such amazing memories had it essentially gifted to them.

"Memory" isn't a subject matter on which to study, and autodidacticism is certainly an outlier quality, just as much as autism. You *can* learn skills to improve your short term recall, and long term recall is a matter of quantity of study. If looking to make value judgments about the efficacy of certain skills over others, we have to look at the average person using those skills, not the exceptional and statistical anomalies.

[Formerly "capn_midnight". See some of my projects. Find me on twitter tumblr G+ Github.]


#23 zedz   Members   -  Reputation: 291

Posted 14 May 2011 - 03:14 PM

There is no such thing as naturally born talent,

Aye, its proven that IQ etc are heritables(?)

I believe
For a man, the gift of the gab is prolly the most important trait to have, higher than intelligence, goodlooks, body stength etc
For a woman, good looks I'ld say would be the most important trait

Both a quite sad (esp the looks thing for woman), but hey thats the world we live in

#24 SteveDeFacto   Banned   -  Reputation: 109

Posted 14 May 2011 - 03:25 PM


I know someone who is clinically diagnosed with asperger's syndrome and I'm going to tell you now he was completely unable to detect when I was becoming annoyed with him. I eventually locked him in the other room and ignored him for 2 hours until his dad came to pick him up. Yet even after that he never picked up on my irritation towards him and suggested that we hang out more often. He actually is very smart as well but he is completely unable to pick up on what others are thinking. If you are suggesting that he could become normal or above normal through training I'm seriously doubtful...

Oh come on, the dude has autism. You can't expect to use an autistic person as an example of what normal skill acquisition is like. No, I don't expect the handicapped to be capable of the same things as fit. I don't expect a paraplegic to ever run in the Olympics, no matter how hard they try. On the other hand, I don't expect a blind man to become a painter, but it does happen.

So what are you saying? Henry in your original scenario has a mental deficiency of some kind, rather than a skill deficiency? If that is the case, how does that at all prove that persuasive skills are somehow more "powerful" than academic skills? And you still haven't addressed the fact that your own arbitrary scenario tries to make John out to be a dolt, and yet he still manages to get shit done and change the world.
You say,
"[John] reaches out to his talented friends and co-workers who admire him and he persuades a few of them to join his company." -- That's just good management! A successful company depends on more than just the efforts of one person. Get over this fantasy that you can live in your head and all by your lonesome become a millionaire.
"Over the next few years John is able to make a profit..." -- yeah, because he's a good manager.
"...despite making many blunders..." -- that happens to everyone, nobody knows exactly what to do all the time. Henry blundered on how to get funding and how to manage people. A much bigger blunder than "didn't make the thing right the first time".
"...he was always able to find the necessary funding to cover them." -- now you're contradicting your own scenario. If the funding is covering up the losses, then he never made a profit. So which way do you want your contrived scenario to go?



No in my scenario Henry was just below average. In my opinion being clinically diagnosed with some type of disorder simply means you are at a point where you meet the criteria of that disorder and you can absolutely have some aspects of the disorder without meeting the criteria of that disorder. John simply was able to hire smart people to work for him and make him a profit. In the end his fateful and talented employees and his personal relationships with the clients and investors allowed him to make up for any blunders he made.

#25 SteveDeFacto   Banned   -  Reputation: 109

Posted 14 May 2011 - 03:33 PM

...


First of all, might I suggest that you don't lock people up in rooms? :/ That's unnecessarily harsh imo especially to someone who is naturally panic prone. I think a wiser reaction would be to adopt a more zen like attitude in that situation.

Anyway, on to your point. I am in between your viewpoint on this and capn_midnight's. I think that kid could become "normal" socially, but it will be very difficult for him. He will have to work very hard on his weaknesses to overcome them, if he can ever even figure out how to.

Also I disagree with capn's viewpoint that people aren't more intelligent in some areas than others. Memory is an obvious example imo. Some people do have photographic memories. I do not and I am 99% sure I will never develop one, not because I think its impossible for me to do so but because it would require a lot of effort I will probably put into other things. On the other hand most people with such amazing memories had it essentially gifted to them.


I didn't lock him up in a room, I locked him out of my room. I was annoyed with him because I was going to go home and work on something but instead he pushed himself on me and forced me to take him to my apartment to "hang out." When he came over it was basically me sitting there for an hour watching him play video games on my computer.

#26 ddn3   Members   -  Reputation: 1323

Posted 14 May 2011 - 03:38 PM

We'll some treatments for asperger's is just that, to teach them social skill through intensive role playing. It's of course reserved for mild cases, full blow asperger's there isn't much you can do. Social skills is one of the determining factors of success, yes its been well documented in many studies. This isn't some new phenomena which came out with industrialization or anything, this is a core and fundamental aspect of humanity. There wouldn't be humanity if family groups killed each other upon first contact. Empathy, social intelligence and the ability to read non-verbal signals was selected for a million years or more.. We are all decedents of the best socializer, organizers and wittiest of our ancestors. Genghis Khan has over 15 million decedents, he didn't become successful because he was the smartest or strongest but because he had the charisma and organizational skills to unify the tribes of Mongolia (luck and being born into a chieftain clans helped i'm sure)..


It was thought that after say 10 years old you don't form new brain cells anymore.. We'll until they found new brains cells in adults from radiological tagging.. People continuously learn and develop skills throughout their life. (numerous studies show this, even people as old as 80 can learn new skills) Unless some neurological disorder prevents them from it, most people are fully capable of developing social skills after childhood. Of course to what extent they can develop and to what level of competency, that will vary.. There is indeed a window where children pick up these social skills intuitively and those who do will be much more hmm.. fluent in them but that doesn't preclude ever learning them after childhood, no study shows this that i am aware of.


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#27 Antheus   Members   -  Reputation: 2397

Posted 14 May 2011 - 05:28 PM

I know someone who is clinically diagnosed with asperger's syndrome and I'm going to tell you now he was completely unable to detect when I was becoming annoyed with him. I eventually locked him in the other room and ignored him for 2 hours until his dad came to pick him up. Yet even after that he never picked up on my irritation towards him and suggested that we hang out more often. He actually is very smart as well but he is completely unable to pick up on what others are thinking.


Were you annoyed because you knew he had such diagnosis? Or were you at first so horribly annoyed and later when someone told you you went: "of course, that explains it"?

Power of persuasion works on oneself as well. Under some approaches it's considered the dominant factor in one's behavior.

If you enter a new social group and someone told you a certain person is of royal heritage and rich, you would behave differently than if someone were presented as similarly inferior to you.

If you are suggesting that he could become normal or above normal through training I'm seriously doubtful...

Define normal. People only need to fit into their immediate social circle (family, job, friends).

#28 Khaiy   Crossbones+   -  Reputation: 1342

Posted 14 May 2011 - 11:43 PM

No in my scenario Henry was just below average. In my opinion being clinically diagnosed with some type of disorder simply means you are at a point where you meet the criteria of that disorder and you can absolutely have some aspects of the disorder without meeting the criteria of that disorder. John simply was able to hire smart people to work for him and make him a profit. In the end his fateful and talented employees and his personal relationships with the clients and investors allowed him to make up for any blunders he made.


I think that there's some heavy "woe is me" focus for, um, "Henry". It's very common, and there are a host of ways that it can manifest itself. But there are a couple of things to consider.

First, as others have pointed out, neither John's nor Henry's skills are very valuable in and of themselves. John applied his skills in such a way that he was able to be very successful. Henry did not. John (from the sound of things) couldn't design a good product to save his life. So he hired people who could, and then used his interpersonal skills to make that good product a commercial success, and he reaped the rewards of that success.

Henry doesn't do a good job of managing employees, making sales, or handling the customer service line, but he can make an awesome product. Why can he not hire people to compensate for his weaker areas, like John did? There's no reason he couldn't pitch his idea to investors and get a business partner who could handle those things for him. Another John, perhaps. Instead, despite "making all the right moves", Henry arbitrarily fails for no particular reason. His employee retention is poor-- why? And why is that enough to cripple his company despite his awesome product? Why is he (apparently) handling his own sales, when by any outside reasoning (and, I would assume, Henry's own introspective prowess) he is so terrible at doing so?

People will work with other people, even if those other people have poor social skills, if there's money at the other side. Henry must have been pretty bad to drive away everyone who might have helped him in the critical areas of running his business which he himself couldn't handle. Or, what is perhaps more likely, Henry didn't bother to delegate those tasks at all, but insisted on remaining in the thick of things and inflicting his weaknesses on his business directly, all for the sake of his (very real, but situationally irrelevant) strengths.

So your declaration that Henry has made all the right moves is demonstrably false according to other parts of the scenario. Not only should Henry not be bitter that John is more successful than him, he should not be bitter about his general lack of success. Henry, fueled perhaps by some test scores that he got in high school, seems to have felt himself to be the apex of everything and refused to either improve himself in his deficient areas or delegate tasks related to those areas to people who were better suited. John wasn't hired as an engineer, he was hired as a manager, and to try and cross over would have been a disaster for him. Henry was an engineer, not a manager, and he did try to cross over-- and it was a disaster for him.

Second, holding up an example of a John who happened to be successful doesn't really compensate for all of the other people who are socially gifted, if not academically, who are less successful than John or Henry. There are a ton of people who peak in high school, and never manage to leverage their skills into anything of consequence. And I'd bet that "smart" people, however you want to define that term, are underrepresented in that group.

Third, your description of John's power of persuasion either completely discounts the effort that John has to put into it or it raises that persuasiveness to the level of a cartoon super villain. If John can mind-control others with psychic powers to do his bidding and lay fortunes at his feet, then yes, I would say that his skills are too powerful, as compared with Henry's. But if instead John isn't from a comic book, things look very different.

Henry probably has a number of academic things come very easily to him, even if he has to study sometimes. That would be reflected in his much-vaunted test scores and the quality/complexity of the work that he produces. John is naturally personable, reflected in his large number of friends and ease in building and maintaining interpersonal relationships. If John penned a post on the internet complaining that ability to do well on exams is too powerful compared to interpersonal skills, you would tell him to study harder or more or hire help. Why would the inverse situation be any different?

#29 dublindan   Members   -  Reputation: 457

Posted 15 May 2011 - 07:27 AM

Also I disagree with capn's viewpoint that people aren't more intelligent in some areas than others. Memory is an obvious example imo. Some people do have photographic memories. I do not and I am 99% sure I will never develop one, not because I think its impossible for me to do so but because it would require a lot of effort I will probably put into other things. On the other hand most people with such amazing memories had it essentially gifted to them.

I agree with capn_midnight on this one. I think photographic memory is an outlier just like autism. So, while its unlikely anybody can learn to have photographic memory (just like its unlikely you can learn to be a savant), I think memory can be trained.

I am slowly doing just that (trying to anyway, maybe I'll change my opinion if I don't succeed). I have an amazing memory for stuff that is unimportant and just doesn't matter (I can often remember close to exact quotes from movies or TV shows that I've seen many years ago), but a terrible terrible memory for important stuff, like peoples names, dates and ordinary things like that. At the end of the day, I force myself to try and remember things from throughout the day - what shoes was somebody wearing, what was the persons name etc. Personally, I think everyone has an adequate memory (you know, unless theres something physically wrong of course) and the rest is just a matter of observation and training your brain to retain these things. For example, I don't care about what shoes somebody wears, so I won't notice it and won't remember it. I'm hoping that by the end of my experiment I will remember all sorts of random things that I usually forget and will be much more observant too. So far, it seems to be (very slowly) working.



#30 Hodgman   Moderators   -  Reputation: 31799

Posted 15 May 2011 - 07:47 AM

"Memory" isn't a subject matter on which to study, and autodidacticism is certainly an outlier quality, just as much as autism. You *can* learn skills to improve your short term recall, and long term recall is a matter of quantity of study.

Off topic ----- but memory is indeed an area that can be studied on it's own, like math, or poetry, or social interaction. With sufficient study of memory itself, one can achieve and demonstrate what would appear to a layman to be a "photographic memory". There are many schools throughout history that have had this on their curriculum, and IMO it should be on our modern school's curricula too (along with logic)...

#31 Vectorian   Members   -  Reputation: 109

Posted 15 May 2011 - 08:24 AM

Talk to people, by far the easiest and most effecitve way.


I agree that its the most effective way, however I can't yet agree that its the easiest. There's a deep seated reason why shy people are shy. They certainly don't want to be shy, quite the opposite, they often day-dream of being socially affluent. Its not just simple fear of being embarrassed or worse that makes them shy. Its much deeper and more powerful than that.

EDIT: On the other hand the value of a friend or other half is much higher than that of a 100 euros, but I cannot make myself talk to 10 strangers for the potential reward of a friendship or other half (even though objectively its probably a much easier and safer task than climbing 10 trees). It could almost be described as an abject terror that renders you almost incapable of logical thought, action, or speech, a rabbit in headlights effect. Its simply not that easy for those who are shy.

I know, I used to be that way to. I used to go out on the town explicit purpose to ask for directions from ten people, and couldn't bring myself to speak to a single one. But once you realize that almost everyone wants to talk to you as well, it becomes much easier. I can't even recall being denied conversation (more then from people who are obviously busy) and with time it becomes very easy (and fun).

There is no other way to do it - just do it. All the books in the world won't help you say 'Hello'.

(Although I would suggest starting conversations with observations like "It sure is pouring" or "Where is the damn bus?" instead, since people don't think you're "after" them then.)



#32 Vectorian   Members   -  Reputation: 109

Posted 15 May 2011 - 11:10 AM


"Memory" isn't a subject matter on which to study, and autodidacticism is certainly an outlier quality, just as much as autism. You *can* learn skills to improve your short term recall, and long term recall is a matter of quantity of study.

Off topic ----- but memory is indeed an area that can be studied on it's own, like math, or poetry, or social interaction. With sufficient study of memory itself, one can achieve and demonstrate what would appear to a layman to be a "photographic memory". There are many schools throughout history that have had this on their curriculum, and IMO it should be on our modern school's curricula too (along with logic)...


Yea, using the method of loci it's quite trivial to memorize huge amounts of data. I learned the periodic table in two hours when I first tried it. And I got a friend who taught himself to memorize 6x6 grids of 2-digit numbers in under a minute. Good memory is just hard work, edge cases like savants are not really relevant. Same applies to perfect pitch, which people have been able to learn from being utterly tone deaf. I also recall a German student who learned to multiply 6 digit numbers in one semester, and the Norwegian explorers who memorized a phone catalog with 80000 names when they were stuck on the North Pole for a few weeks (don't ask me why they brought the catalog).

That you are good at something is just the sum of your upbringing, not something that was genetically predispositioned. Your parents are the greatest factor, which is very obvious when you look around your social circle (at least in my case). The guy who's parents are musicians is an extremely skilled guitarists and can play a dozen instruments. He who's parents are biology researches ended up being marine biologist. He who's parent is a lecturer on leadership is in the military and working his way up the ranks. It's not genetics, you inherit skills socially. If your parents are introvert, you will likely be so as well and vice versa.

#33 zedz   Members   -  Reputation: 291

Posted 15 May 2011 - 06:22 PM

That you are good at something is just the sum of your upbringing, not something that was genetically predispositioned.


http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Heritability_of_IQ

There are some family effects on the IQ of children, accounting for up to a quarter of the variance. However, adoption studies show that by adulthood adoptive siblings aren't more similar in IQ than strangers,[25] while adult full siblings show an IQ correlation of 0.6. Conventional twin studies reinforce this pattern


INTELLIGENCE - fact - genetics plays a huge part

PHYSICAL (sport) - someone who is 1.6meters tall aint gonna be the best basketball player, or the mother was smoking whilkst pregnant etc. i.e. genetics is important

SKILLS (music etc) - here I'ld say genetics would be the least important, though intelligence&physical do help

Oh sure studying, practicing etc help everyone to a degree but all the studying/great upbring in the world is not going to change someone born retarded into an einstein

#34 Hodgman   Moderators   -  Reputation: 31799

Posted 15 May 2011 - 06:47 PM

INTELLIGENCE - fact - genetics plays a huge part

INTELLIGENCE - fact - upbringing plays a huge part.


Take Einstein's kid and raise them in a sensory deprevation chamber and they'll be a vegetable. Take Cletus Delroy Spuckler's kid and raise them in a loving and nurturing environment that caters for their genetic disadvantages and they'll end up with an above average IQ.

Almost everything where we can say "that's genetic" is just a head-start or a slight handicap. The right environment can either overcome or reinforce these handicaps. The exceptions (the only truly genetic destiny) are obviously genetic diseases, which are extremely rare.

#35 jbadams   Senior Staff   -  Reputation: 19341

Posted 15 May 2011 - 07:10 PM

Intelligence, being smart, or being highly skilled are often far less important than putting in effort.
 

I'm a strong believer that the moral of the fable of "The Tortoise and the Hare" is usually taught incorrectly (or perhaps more accurately incompletely) to children.

The story, in short for those who may not know it goes as follows:
Spoiler


Now, as I've always heard it taught, the moral of this story is "slow but steady wins the race" -- which is of course not true in and of itself -- had the hare not stopped to take a nap there is no way the "slow but steady" approach of the tortoise would have resulted in victory.

A better lesson to take away from the story might be "don't be lazy" ; just because you have (or think you have) a strong natural ability in an area doesn't mean you will automatically succeed, you still need to put in the effort and apply that ability to find success. The other obvious lesson is that being less capable in a certain area does not automatically mean failure; if you apply yourself and put in the work you can often still succeed. Furthermore, had the tortoise had access to and foresight to use a horse to carry him through the race he may even have been able to beat the hare even without the nap, showing that where someone is less able it can be a good idea to find the help of someone who can contribute more strongly in that area.



Also, as others have already mentioned (putting aside highly unusual circumstances like a mental or physical disability preventing or restricting use of certain abilities) skills are learned and up to certain limitations can be improved with study and practice; there is a limit to how fast a human can run, but any able-bodied person who takes to training and running regularly will end up able to run faster and for longer than they could before they started training. The same applies to social skills, business management, and even things like memory. If you're lacking in social skills you should get out there and practice.


Lastly, in the story from the original post, I believe John has an additional advantage that has not yet been commented on in great detail: John appears to accept that he will make mistakes, and is willing to try anyway, while from the sounds of it I suspect the highly-skilled Henry might have a bit of a fear of embarrassment and/or public humiliation and put far more effort into trying to do things right the first time and avoid mistakes. Mistakes are an excellent learning opportunity, and whilst they can sometimes be costly and should be avoided where easily foreseen they should not be something to fear, and should certainly not stop you from trying things. If you have trouble training your social skills because you're afraid of embarrassment you need to let that go and force yourself to do it anyway -- if you're just chatting to people in lines at shops, whilst on the bus, in bars or any similar situations then what does it matter if those people form a bad opinion of you? You're unlikely to see them again anyway, and if you do the slip-up may well be forgotten anyway, or might be written off as the product of a bad day if your social skills have since improved. Get out there and try, or you'll never get better!


If you're finding you're stuck without conversation try asking questions about the other person and then responding to what they say; people usually like to talk about themselves, and as long as you aren't constantly pestering them asking a couple of questions can be a good way to strike up conversation -- perhaps they'll say something that will allow you to segue to one of the alphabet stories suggested earlier in the topic. Asking questions is simple --
"that's a nice sweater, where did you get it?" [...] "Oh, what a bargain, I might have to check out that sale. I once got a <insert popular brand here> shirt 50% off because..."
or
"I see you've changed your hair, I like the new colour, when did you get that done?"
or
"So where is that accent from anyway, I take it you're not originally from the area?"
or if you're trying to start up a conversation with an unfamiliar woman (or man), even the lamest of lines will work as long as you deliver it confidently and with a smile -- remember, you're just talking to them, it doesn't necessarily have to lead to anything further -- you can decide to pursue that if the conversation is going well and you're interested:
"Do you know how much a polar-bear weighs?" [...] "Just enough to break the ice, I'm Henry."

With a little practice and a few mistakes you'll quickly learn what usually works and what usually doesn't.

#36 D.Chhetri   Members   -  Reputation: 181

Posted 15 May 2011 - 09:13 PM

I haven't kept on the discussion, but just a thought, often when I think about being persuasive( to girls or friends ), I feel like I'm doing something bad, something immoral. Because, usually, I would have to lie or bend the truth a little or don't say the truth. For example, I could tell a girl I love her just to get what I want, or I could tell my friend I'll pay you back let me borrow $20 for gas and so on... So sometimes, for me morality and kindheartness or whatever you wanna call it, gets in my way.
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#37 szecs   Members   -  Reputation: 2185

Posted 16 May 2011 - 01:25 AM

Just some random opinions without reading back:
Learn communication skills and don't be a douchebag and don't take everything soo seriously.
Not everyone likes to manipulate people, not everyone measures success in the things the OP implied. (okay, it's a bit off topic) Those words about "average wife" were quite um.... stupid.

To me, developing good socials skills started (and pretty much finished) with NOT GIVING A SHIT. It works. You know the situation "meet the parents". I did that all weekend, with relatives, goddaughter etc. I didn't give a shit about my "reputation", I didn't want do be appealing etc. And I was, at the end.

I got a job that way too. I was honest because I didn't give a shit. I immediately got the job.

#38 szecs   Members   -  Reputation: 2185

Posted 16 May 2011 - 02:02 AM

I haven't kept on the discussion, but just a thought, often when I think about being persuasive( to girls or friends ), I feel like I'm doing something bad, something immoral. Because, usually, I would have to lie or bend the truth a little or don't say the truth. For example, I could tell a girl I love her just to get what I want, or I could tell my friend I'll pay you back let me borrow $20 for gas and so on... So sometimes, for me morality and kindheartness or whatever you wanna call it, gets in my way.


You don't have to be. That's why I said not everyone likes to manipulate. I had "successes" when I was honest. Not awkwardly honest like in Liar, liar, but sometimes I am almost that honest. But again, success is very subjective. Due to my OCD, I just can't lie to or manipulate important people (obsessive thoughts would drive me crazy). And due to my laziness, I pretty much can't manipulate anyone anyway...

#39 SteveDeFacto   Banned   -  Reputation: 109

Posted 16 May 2011 - 02:19 AM

INTELLIGENCE - fact - genetics plays a huge part

INTELLIGENCE - fact - upbringing plays a huge part.


Take Einstein's kid and raise them in a sensory deprevation chamber and they'll be a vegetable. Take Cletus Delroy Spuckler's kid and raise them in a loving and nurturing environment that caters for their genetic disadvantages and they'll end up with an above average IQ.

Almost everything where we can say "that's genetic" is just a head-start or a slight handicap. The right environment can either overcome or reinforce these handicaps. The exceptions (the only truly genetic destiny) are obviously genetic diseases, which are extremely rare.


I was home schooled and by that I mean I sat around all day playing video games. I didn't even have the internet. My mother never graduated me and I was forced to get a GED. Despite the fact that I never went to school and never had any type of formal education I graduated in the 99 percentile. Less than 1% of high school graduates scored as high as I did. The only explanation is that it must have been genetic or that video games really make you smarter but I'm doubtful of the later...

#40 forsandifs   Members   -  Reputation: 154

Posted 16 May 2011 - 04:22 AM

I know, I used to be that way to. I used to go out on the town explicit purpose to ask for directions from ten people, and couldn't bring myself to speak to a single one. But once you realize that almost everyone wants to talk to you as well, it becomes much easier. I can't even recall being denied conversation (more then from people who are obviously busy) and with time it becomes very easy (and fun).

There is no other way to do it - just do it. All the books in the world won't help you say 'Hello'.

(Although I would suggest starting conversations with observations like "It sure is pouring" or "Where is the damn bus?" instead, since people don't think you're "after" them then.)


Hmm, yes. I agree up to a point, ultimately you do have to "just do it", but in my experience the change required to go from rabbit in headlights to being able to talk to strangers at the drop of a hat is more involved than thinking "just do it".

I have realised I am socially retarded, and realised that I have always dismissed and/or heavily underestimated the very important value of social skills, developing them only to the point where I could have friends and a girlfriend. This was for various reasons. For example due to not wanting to be manipulative and dishonest because I didn't realise you could have great social skills without being manipulative or dishonest. Also due to expecting my other natural attributes to take me where I wanted to go. So I made a decision to change that. I absorbed the advice on the subject I could find on the internet and the advice given in this thread. I wrote down some ABC stories and decided I would go alone to interesting places and events instead of with my friends. (Thanks thread people :) )

I was going to do that past Saturday night to a club my friends and I don't usually go to, but as it turns out a friend decided to come with me anyway. Still my plan was going ahead. I was going to go there relaxed, and be comfortable enjoying the music and having a few drinks even if I didn't talk to anyone all night. I think this last part was key in this instance. Not actually expecting to talk to anyone. Just finding a way to be comfortable in a social situation that I wanted to be in. And if I did meet new people then great.

It worked out alright, by being relaxed I was actually able to overcome the usual paralyzing fear, and because I wanted to I managed to talk to plenty of strangers that night. Sure I wasn't very acomplished, in fact I was probably a bit simple, and know I came across as weird to a few people, because my friend was giving me a bit of feedback and said I was flattering people that were known to him a bit much. Honest and generous praise is a habit of mine that I practise appropriately with close friends, but which I guess isn't so appropriate with strangers, however no big deal because I didn't ostracize myself from the scene :P . But I had a good time, managed to meet a fair few people with positive though not far reaching outcomes, managed to get social practise, and managed to get into the "just do it" zone at least for the night!

I will keep practising my social skills until I become the social butterfly I want to be :P (though with the difference of remaining loyal to my friends). Cheers.

P.S. I'm going to try the polar bear line someone mentioned in this thread one day when I'm confident enough :P I've heard it before and never thought much of it but this time I lol'ed at it, probably 'cos I now think it could actually be pulled off.

P.P.S I also need to work on my memory skills to remember people's names much better. I'm shamefully awful at it.



I was home schooled and by that I mean I sat around all day playing video games. I didn't even have the internet. My mother never graduated me and I was forced to get a GED. Despite the fact that I never went to school and never had any type of formal education I graduated in the 99 percentile. Less than 1% of high school graduates scored as high as I did. The only explanation is that it must have been genetic or that video games really make you smarter but I'm doubtful of the later...


EDIT: Congratulations! That's an interesting account. Another theory is that perhaps your brain was still starving for knowledge and you had a pretty much clean slate, and therefore learned it all really efficiently. If that is true then perhaps we overrate the importance of having such a long period of education as most people do. Stick kids in uni from the age of 11 till 15 (so that they have time to develop fundamental skills and the ability to make choices before going to uni) and then let them at the world?




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