Hey what-up guys?
I think there's all kinds of bad cliched and generic advice that I for one could have done without a few years ago. When I say "popular psychology", I'm talking about mainstream advice that when it comes to self-esteem and inner confidence building is JUST. PLAIN. WRONG. I'll start off with a pet peeve of mine. Apologies in advance for the swearing, it's just some of this stuff get's me rattled up because of the countless times I stuffed up and ended up following bad advice rather than just doing the things I already KNEW to be correct.
#1 Just be 'confident'
I think this is the most misunderstood and captain obvious piece of advice that exists on the planet.
Ok, yeah sure it's good in general to be confident if you want to be successful in social situations, for example. It's also good for a poet to be creative, or for a gymnast to be flexible.
It's not like anyone who dishes out this statement is spelling out something particularly new or interesting!
The fact remains that there are all kinds of nuanced complications that most people don't even consider when it comes to developing genuine confidence.
a) Confidence is a mindset that is DEVELOPED SLOWLY when you KNOW that you're ACTUALLY GOOD at something. A bodybuilder is confident in his ability to bench press 140kg because he KNOWS he can do it: he's spent many years working up to that weight on the bench and he's done it before time and time again. He didn't just walk in one day as a beginner and think,
"Oh, you know what? Today I'm going to bench press 140kg because I'm the shit."
This is known as ARROGANCE.
b) There are different types of confidence. The above kind of confidence refers to a very specific kind of situation relating to physical prowess and a situation in which you know you can do something because you've done it time and time again. When it comes to people skills most people are talking about a kind of confidence that reflects a positive mentality and a general comfortability in one's own skin. If this is what you're talking about, then STATE IT.
It's not fair to just say to a shy quiet nerdy guy, "oh just be confident and you'll be alright", because you're talking to the exact kind of person that's going to pull apart that kind of advice like a laptop and see how all the separate cogs and electrical parts work. It won't occur to him that he simply needs to switch the laptop ON. How do I know? Because I've fucking BEEN THERE, I know what it's like!
And anyway, whatever you're goal it IS more complicated than 'just be confident'. If you want to be successful in social situations, you want open body language, you want eye contact, you want good conversational ability, you want to live the kind of interesting dynamic lifestyle that ALLOWS you to have good conversational ability, you want emotional ability, you want to GIVE more than you TAKE...the list goes on and on. And when you're giving this kind of generic cliched advice to one person, you've got to remember that s/he might have DIFFERENT strengths and flaws socially.
Case in example: during my university days I knew an autistic girl that was quite miserable and unpopular. Yet in many ways SHE WAS FUCKING CONFIDENT. She could talk for her country, it's just that 90% of what she talked about revolved around herself (ME, ME, ME), a lot of the time she was complaining (often about the fact she was autistic and how she had things rough), and she seemed to be totally oblivious of pregnant pauses and instances in which she was interrupting other people (so when SHE got interrupted she was quite confused about what was happening!!).
Now contrast that with a shy, analytical guy who doesn't say much because he's always looking for that perfect thing to say, he doesn't like small talk and he thinks that most people reflect an egocentric capitalist dog-eat-dog mentality and therefore is something of a misanthrope.
Would you give these two people the same generic "just be confident" advice?
Of course you fucking wouldn't! That's because 'confidence' is a very broad term that covers all manner of personal qualities and attributes. You need to understand people for their individual qualities first and then address those specific issues. And what you THINK is an issue might only work as a disadvantage for a person in CERTAIN situations. Case in point: that shy, analytical guy I described above might be terrible in social situations, but might be a brilliant mathematician!
#2 Don't talk about yourself / The best compliment you can pay a person is to listen
Again, like with confidence, this is advice that is not without it's merits. But to get those merits, you have to understand the practical scope of applying that advice. Is a guy that has nothing to say about himself but constantly asking interview-style questions about the other person in the hope they will fill in the silence an interesting person? Didn't think so.
People often relate to other people's experiences by SHARING THEIR OWN, i.e. talking about...you guessed it...THEMSELVES and THEIR EXPERIENCES.
I can't believe how often this simple fact get's ignored! If there is one thing a conversation is NOT it is:
'a [monologue] delivered in the presence of a witness'
That is the most socially retarded and cynical view of conversation I have EVER had the misfortune of falling prey to. And sadly it's the advice that society preaches. It's the equivalent of saying that a woman's role in the bedroom is to lye back and let the man do his thing: women can't come, and sex is only enjoyable if you are a man.
Sure if you are having a conversation, you have to gratify the ego of the other person, you can't just talk non-stop and hope the other person will be YOUR witness. The most interesting conversations involve a deep emotional connection via sharing personal annecdotes and experience. Interview questions are important too but mainly because they give the conversation structure and help change a subject when the repertoire of available shareable knowledge shrinks.
#3 Just be yourself
A baby is 'just being itself' when it goo-goos and ga-gas. Unfortunately, this isn't very interesting for people to listen to: it doesn't bring much in the way of value. Unless you can deliver these nonsensical lines in a dead pan Charlie Chaplin fashion (which I can
), then I wouldn't bother!
Just be yourself is good advice, if we're talking about following your own passions - the ones YOU are genuinely interested in, rather than the things OTHER PEOPLE want you to develop! - to become a more rounded, and interesting individual. But usually, if you are having problems relating to people it's because 'yourself' the way you are RIGHT NOW, just isn't interesting enough. Sorry to deliver the harsh truth guys but if you can't bench press 140 kg yet it's because you haven't built up the skill yet. If you can't get with super hot girls yet, it's because you're social skills aren't developed enough yet and 'yourself' just isn't good enough.
Before we develop as well-rounded confident alpha male/alpha female human beings with deep emotional experiences, most of us are whiny cry babies that moan about how unfair the world is, and never do anything to improve OURSELVES or change things around us. That's right: we improve OURSELVES (hint: 'ourselves' just aren't good enough the way they are - so fucking man up and change things!).
Don't listen to these stupid bullshit cliched advice that your friends dish out like I used to! Normally the path that seems correct to you is the one to follow...and that is another cliche. Just take it all with a pinch of salt. Ok...another cliche, but you catch my drift!
...Damn, I'm really bad at this.
There are other little cliches and pet peeves of mine but I won't delve for now. Share a few of your own if you feel so inclined.