Good Social Habits

Every successful life is built upon successful habits; by extension, everyone with a successful social life acquired it by maintaining good social habits.

Social habits deal not with who you are, but who you are perceived as: your image. For mostly epistemological reasons, the image should not be mixed up with the character– whereas your character is who you perceive yourself to be, your image is who you are as determined by others.

The fact is that no one will truly know who you are as a person; this is quite advantageous, as you can be whoever you want to be in the eyes of others, without having to compromise who you are as a person. The other main advantage is that by presenting yourself as something greater than what you are, you are able to acquire social status beyond what your actual value would permit.

The key to social perfection, as crude as it might sound, is to play the game– in other words, manipulation of people.  Most people play the game, whether they are aware of it or not, but it’s much easier to win the game if you know the rules, the loop-holes, and the best ways to “cheat” (Social Engineering).

Social habits deal primarily with the basics of a good image– in this case referring to things that will cause people to see you in a positive light: how to make yourself look good. There are several simple habits that will assist with improving your image, but all of them require thorough knowledge of the different type of people that you will be dealing with, and leverage the social needs of other people to give you the social advantage.

1. Each morning, spent 10 minutes per day performing an impromptu speech in front of a mirror on an important social issue. As much as possible, pay attention to the way you present yourself: facial expression, body language, and tone.

2. Whenever you speak with anyone, be very conscious about the words that you choose, and only speak as much as absolutely necessary. Eloquence is key!

3. Before you say anything, take into consideration how people would react to your words. Remember, it’s better to say nothing at all, than to say something that would cause others to think badly of you.

4. Your physical appearance and fashion decisions reflect who you are as a person, so it’s important to looks and dress in such a way that projects a favorable image.

5. If you are a writer (like myself), then emphasize perfecting the art of journalism. Journalists are experts at connecting with people, so that their readership will want to read their articles; any writer (regardless of the type of writing) should think like a journalist, as this is key to one’s writing being well-received by the target audience.

6. As much as possible, limit your social repertoire to prepared speeches. This might sound like a bad idea (makes you sound fake/robotic), but by becoming an expert at writing in such a way that is powerful and that people around you can really connect with, you can improve your image a lot more effectively than you would with haphazard bullshitting. You’ll soon discover that casual speech isn’t of much use outside small talk.

7. Become a master of small talk– I’ve found this is best done by being a regular user of microblogging services like twitter, as with services like these, you don’t have a choice (status updates limited to 140 characters). While the words in small talk aren’t that important, it gives people (particularly females) the illusion that they are connectingwith you; small talk thus primarily serves the purpose of building trust. Small talk usually lasts until people become friends, at which point it becomes largely irrelevant.

8. Social Prerequisites: There are some important possessions that one must have to be “taken seriously”– these are mostly symbols of status, and status is a very important aspect of one’s social image: a career, a car, a cell phone, a girlfriend, an apartment/house, a pet, a college degree, etc. If you wish to project a favorable social image, these are the bare social necessities as far as possessions go.

9. Basic Skills: There are many different social skills that will improve ones image, but these are some of the more basic ones: home economy, communication, writing, Internet, computer, public speech, “game”, interview skills, and even foreplay/sexual competency.

10. Friendship Management: Particularly with the rise of Web 2.0, managing friendships has proven to be one of the most difficult tasks. To ensure that your friendships are valuable, you need to prioritize friendships based on which friends are of greatest value to you, and give those people the greatest amount of attention, both online and in-person.

Editor’s Note:

To clear up a potential misunderstanding- In the beginning of this post, I stated the following: “For mostly epistemological reasons, the image should not be mixed up with the character– whereas your character is who you perceive yourself to be, your image is who you are as determined by others.”

My brother evaluated this statement, and found it to be untrue, noting that the “character” is more commonly used in reference to another person, not in reference to oneself. For example, you might say “Bob is acting out of character”, or “I like people with good character.”

Certainly, when character is used, it is usually talking about someone else. But that does not mean the character *is* what other people perceive it to be. It’s all about perspective; what is “character” to one person might be their “image” to the world, and what the “image” of that person is would be considered that person’s “character” to everyone else.

To clarify: The image that you project will be what other people perceive as your character; conversely, the character people perceive you determines your image.

This can be confusing, as many (perhaps most) people associate their character and their image as being different ways of looking at the same thing; after all, for most people,  you are who you project yourself to be, and what other people think of you is synonymous with who you really are.

However, this is a naive and fallacious way of thinking, because you do not actually know what people think of you, being limited to what they tell you (which may or may not be their real opinion), whether or not you interpret their words correctly, and whether or not their judgement of your character is an accurate one. The answers to all three of these criteria are No, No, and No! One cannot know anything about another’s character with certainty– in fact, the above examples of referring to another person’s character are in fact fallacious (despite being disgustingly widespread), as it’s impossible to known anything with certainty about a person’s character.

Because of this lack of certainty and the high data corruption inherent in communication, I find it’s crucial to distinguish your true self (character), which is determined by your own knowledge about yourself, and the self that you project, where the nature, or “image” of that self is ultimately determined by how it is interpreted by others. Thus you have your “character” (who you *really* are), contrasted with your “image” (who you project yourself to be, as interpreted by others).

Hopefully this helps clear things up, instead of causing further confusion ;-)

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