Thursday, July 24, 2008

5 Exciting Places to Meet New Friends

If you’re trying to overcome social anxiety, you are probably hoping to make new friends.  For many this is a scary prospect as having never been good at doing this, you may not know where to go.  Considering to beautiful weather we have been having, and that fall in not that far away, I have decided to create this list of 5 amazing places where you can easily make new friends.

  1. If you love sports, take up a new sport or join a new league.  Being part of a team is an excellent way to meet great people.
  2. Do you have children?  If so, take them to the park.  Not only will you have fun with your children, but you’ll meet other parents with whom you share the common bond of parenting.
  3. If public service is your thing, volunteer somewhere. No matter where you volunteer, if you’re working with other people, you make new friends.
  4. Another option is to take a course in something you want to know more about.  Whether you decide to go back to college and take up a new career path, or just take a pottery, karate or dance class, you’ll meet people with these same interests.
  5. Get out and go to events that interest you.  There are many great events where you can make friends.  Many town and cities often have festivals during the summer.  Now only do many of these festivals have great food, but you’ll find hundreds of potential new friends at them.  Car shows, computer shows home and garden shows, and even flee markets are all examples of places that you might want to try.

Now go have fun and make new friends, but just remember.  These are just suggestions.  The places where you will make friends with the most ease are the places where you have fun, and are comfortable!

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

A Guide to Finding Your Dream Mate

couplestoastingNearly three years ago, I found myself recently divorced, alone, and wanting to start dating again. Because of my social anxieties, I had very little experience meeting women. This period of time, while difficult for me, eventually became the catalyst for much of the learning and change I have made since. In the time that spans between then and now, I have had 3 serious relationships, and though I still have not found the right girl for me, I am confident that I will. During the next few minutes I will share with you how you can accomplish this as well.

Relationships can unfortunately be distilled into a single formula that actually isn't very flattering. Both people involved in the relationship must give equally to each other of the relationship. If either party stops giving, or takes too much, the other will not be happy and the relationship will begin to fail. With that we understand our role in the relationship before we can even attempt to succeed.

People often say that they want to feel needed in a relationship. While this may seem right, when we are really needed, we tend to get annoyed because the other person becomes needy. Consider this. Which statement makes you feel better? "Honey, I need you to go to the store and get milk." or "Honey, would you mind stopping at the store while your out to get milk?" Actually there are many feelings that neediness can generate in a relationship. Neediness can cause the other person to feel trapped, under valued, or like they're the one that does everything. If neither person is needy, both can happily give because they want to, not because they "have" to. In other words, a relationship will work best when both individuals are self-sufficient, independent, and self-confident.

While there isn't a way to know right off the bat if the people we meet are these things, each of us has the power to become these things ourselves. If you do put in the time and effort to do so, you'll not only be in a better position to succeed in a relationship, but you will also find it much easier to find dates in the first place. These are things you can, and will probably need to work on over time, but you don't have to wait to start dating. Now we just need to know where to go to find dates.

I have seen tons of forum posts where people ask where they should go and many articles that list places.  In the end, only you know where you should look. There is no one place where everyone will find people they are compatible with. My advice to you is to stop looking for some magical place that does not exist.  Get out, try new things, and do the things you love to do. It is in these places that you will have the best opportunity to find what you are looking for.  These places are where you’re most confident, and that added confidence will show. 

Now that you know how important it is to be un-needy and confident, and you know where to look for dates, you’re ready to get out and find that special someone. I wish you the best of luck.  Now, get out and find your dream mate!

Friday, July 18, 2008

The Art of Building Relationships – Part 3 – Basic Rapport Building

In the parts one and two I introduced the concepts of rapport and congruency.  Today I will introduce you to the basic skills you will need to improve in order to build stronger rapport easily.  You will learn what you must pay attention to as well as how body language, speech patterns, and tone of voice affect others.

Building relationships would be much simpler if each person we was exactly the same as the last and we could react to every person in exactly the same way.  In reality, every person we meet will be different in some ways, even if the differences are subtle.  It is these subtleties that we must learn to observe in order to improve our rapport building skills.  What we observe about the people we are relating with is every bit as important as anything we can do ourselves because our observations will dictate the way in which we should interact with the person.

If you attempted to do the “homework” from parts 1 and 2, you have already begun to learn to observe certain aspects of the people you are conversing with. When you are in a conversation, always take time to note the posture, body language, vocal tone of the other person as well as the speed of their speech.  Notice how fast or slow the person speaks.  Notice the posture and position of the person you are speaking to.  Specifically note the positions of hands and feet, the angle their body is at, and whether they are sitting or standing.  Notice if the person’s attention is on you or if it is drifting to something else.   Eventually you will be able to notice all of this transparently during every conversation you’re involved in, but for now you’ll want to slowly start paying attention to more and more so that you can continue to devote your attention to the interaction at hand.  You probably already react to some of these “signals” unconsciously, but one begin to notice their significance, you will be able change your own non-verbal cues to control how you are being interpreted.

One very important signal that we all send is eye contact.  You have most likely heard that you should always maintain eye contact while speaking, but you may not know why.  Our eyes can say quite a bit during a conversation.  For instance if you are speaking to a person and notice that she is often looking up at a clock, you can probably assume that she is either bored, or nervous about being late for something.  If the a person were rolling their eyes, you could probably infer that he was annoyed by something.  You may then be able to infer further what is annoying, or why the person is bored based on the conversation or other cues.  For instance if the person appeared to be sweating more than normal, you might also consider that they may be nervous.  When you are building rapport, you want to communicate that the other person has your attention.  Maintain eye contact when they are speaking as much as you possibly can.

Another think to look for is the other person’s posture.  If you mirror the same posture, you will find that the other person will be instantly more open to you.  This happens because it creates an instant commonality between you and the other person that can be identified with.  From here you can begin to make subtle changes to your posture that will affect the other person in the ways you would like to affect them.  For instance if the person is in a stiff, nervous posture, you can slowly shift to a more relaxed posture, and they will likely follow and be more relaxed at the same time.  Speech works in much the same way.

As with mirroring posture, you should also attempt to mirror speech volume, tone, and speed as best you can.  If you do this, they may follow you as you shift them to the state you want them to be in whether it’s more confident state, or a more relaxed state.  In most cases this means you will gradually make vocal changes in steps over time allowing time for the other person to follow in between.  Combine your speech with eye contact and pattern matching and you will be much better at building rapport.

Now that you have a good idea of what it takes to build rapport I have one more “assignment” that will help you to notice how these techniques work.  If you want to, before reading Part 4, I want you do a little experiment while you are talking to someone.  Initially match the speed of the person’s speech.  After you’ve said a few sentences to each other at that speed slow down slightly and then continue speaking at that rate.  Do this a few times, and pay attention to the speed of the other person’s speech. Now, after speaking back and forth a bit more, speed the speech back up slowly, and notice the effect this has on the other person’s speech.

Be sure to come back soon because in part 5 I will begin to discuss the use of everything you’ve learned up to this point in various situations that you may find useful.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

The Art of Building Relationships – Part 2 – Congruency

In the first part of the series, I took time to explain what rapport was, and how you will be able to build better relationships with it.  In this part more on the inverse, and how body language, and incongruence can lead to bad or untrusting relationships.  Congruency can almost be said to be a metric or how consistent you are with your self in your communication.

In most cases, when we think of communication we relate it to the words we say with our mouths, and maybe the tone of voice we use to say them. Many people never realize that their tone of voice, and their unconscious body language have a huge effect on the way that people respond.  This because short of the words we say, the other channels are normally processed unconsciously.  When we are incongruent, people tend to get a feeling that something isn’t quite right about us, or that we’re strange or weird.

If you didn’t do your homework from Part 1, you’ll may want to from this point on.  I am designing it specifically to help you to be more aware of what is happening around you which will be crucial in developing strong rapport skills.  If you did do it, think now about what you noticed.  When people were communicating well, what feelings did you get from them?  What was their body language like when you had this feeling?  What about when they were communicating badly?

Now here’s your homework for Part 2.  I want you to find the answers to the same questions as in Part 1 only this time while you are in conversation.  Answer the same questions for the person you are speaking with.  Are you confident?  Are you nervous?  How is that reflected in your body language?  How is it reflected in your tone of voice?  What about the speed of your voice?  If you slow down your speech, what happens?  If you speed it up what happens?

In Part 3 I will begin to explain how you can learn to build rapport.  I hope to see you back!

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

The Art of Building Relationships - Part 1 - What is Rapport?

Whether you're here because you want to learn to get dates, conquer your social anxiety, or just because you want to learn to be more socially inclined, at some point you will need to know how to build relationships. Maybe the first thought that pops into your head when you read the word "Relationship" is the thought of romantic relationships, but there are many other types of relationships that we build all of the time. The social interactions we have with friends, family, colleagues, cashiers at stores, and even people we meet in passing all require a relationship of one form or another. A relationship is defined as an emotional or other connection between people, so in reality we have a relationship with everyone that we are connected to in any way. Your ability to build rapport is essentially your ability to build good relationships.

The art of building good rapport could very well be one of the most important things you will ever learn. Imagine if you could walk into an interview, and have the interviewer feel comfortable with you almost immediately.  Imagine striking up a conversation with a group of women you’ve never met before and having them feel like you’ve known each other for years.  Gaining good rapport building skills will have positive effects on every aspect of your positive life. As your skills improve you’ll begin to notice how people are more at ease speaking with you as new doors open to new possibilities in your life.

As you anxiously await part 2 of this series, where I will delve deeper into building rapport, you may wish to do a little bit of homework.  Start to pay close attention to the interactions around you.  Watch both positive and negative interactions, and try to determine how different aspects factor into them.  Watch the postures of the people involved.  Listen to the tone, and pattern of their voices.  Watch their movements.  Most importantly, notice how all of this affects the conversation.  

Until then, have a great time observing those around you!

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Was I Socially Distressed?

by Dave Marshall of

I don't know whether I would have been classed as socially distressed when I was young.  I was certainly very, very, very, shy and this shyness affected me all throughout my teenage years and through my twenties and into my thirties.  And then I had an idea, I was working for a large corporation that had an education department and I thought " if I could get it job as an instructor, the company would train me and if I could talk to a classroom full of students then I wouldn't be shy”.  Simple eh!  Well no, as I discovered. Even though I had trained as an instructor and I spoke to a classroom full of students I was still shy.  Not as shy as before but still very shy.  I also paid the price of living in fear every time I had to give a lecture because I knew I was only one page ahead of the students in the Manual, and they were far better qualified than me anyway.  And so life went on, I improved as an instructor in the classroom and my shyness reduced a little bit.

Then I discovered psychology!  I attended lots of courses on various aspects of practical psychology applied to business.  I discovered many things about myself, one in particular was that I was an introvert, surprise surprise.  Another was that other people would view me as being an eccentric person, and I thought everyone was as mad as me, apparently not.  This did teach me a valuable lesson and that was only 2% of the population were like me!  And the other 98% didn't much like the people who were like me.  Now this may sound a very simple discovery that it was a real eye opener to me.  What I learnt was, in public at least, I had to back off from some of my wild ideas and behave like the “normal” people.  I also learnt that something in my past had caused my introversion and so I continued to pursue the dream of becoming normal.

Many years past and I didn't become less introverted, but I did became involved in counselling and therapy, and discovered this new thing called Neuro Linguistic Programming (NLP).  I then proceeded to learn everything I could about  NLP.  In particular one of the many methods available was called  time line and, using this approach, you could go back in your memory to a particular time that caused your problem.  And as you looked back at this event you could correct the way you saw it and the problem would go away!  Well, could that really be true?  Yes, it is for most things that cause most people trouble.

Another method is to pretend that you can see the unwanted feeling in front of you (I know it sounds weird, but give it a go) and now notice what colour it is(really weird!) And its shape (even  more weird) and now as you pretend that this coloured shape that is in front of you starts to spin, notice what happens as you make it spin faster and faster.  And faster and faster and faster and faster.  Keep doing this until it changes colour and shape and when this happens slow it down until it stops.  Notice what the feeling is like now.  It should have changed into something that feels quite comfortable.  Put your arms around it and pull it into your body.  Now think about the time when you would expect to get the old feeling in the future, meeting new people next week or something, and notice how you feel when you imagine that you are there, seeing new people, hearing them  ask who you are, saying “how are you” and feel them shaking your hand. Pay attention to the new feeling that you will now have.  You can use this technique for any negative or stressful feeling that you may have.  Even if you were on your way to a meeting and start to feel uncomfortable just stop for couple of minutes and spin the feeling.

There are many many techniques in NLP that you can use that are beyond the scope of this article.  Have a look at my website  and, which are both free to use, and contain lots more things you can do to overcome life's problems.

By the way, I would not say I am socially distressed any more, but I am still considered to be eccentric  HO HO !!!

Good luck,

Dave Marshall

Thursday, July 3, 2008

Day 1 on the Quest to Quit Smoking

Today is the day that I quit smoking.  I know there are at least a few others joining me on this adventure so I figured I would share my experiences, and maybe some of you may want to share yours as well. 

I smoked my last cigarette last night, and put on a patch before going to bed because I was craving more before I went to bed, and the booklet said that wearing them overnight can help avoid cravings first thing in the morning.  That seemed to work.  I was awake for over an hour before I even thought about smoking.  That’s when the strangeness started setting in.  I started catching myself unconsciously searching in my pockets for a pack of cigarettes.  My lighter was there, my spare, but no cigarettes. 

Having realized that I am doing this concerns me a little bit because buying them has  also become habit.  Occasionally I’ll walk into a store to get something and ask for a pack just out of habit.  I’m afraid to go to the store now because I’m afraid I’ll do this.

So far other than the habitual issues, I’m not having any problems.  The patch seems to be doing its job and I don’t have any cravings.  I didn’t have any strange dreams last night, and the patch isn’t bothering me.  Hopefully this will be it!

Good luck to all of you!