The last day of a job I had for seven years, the director of engineering told me I was the best engineer he ever knew. And he worked for some pretty well known engineering firms. If he had told me that before, I might not have left.
A woman came into my office--someone who didn't seem to want to give me the time of day--and the conversation got around to her telling me how depressed she was about her life and loves. After maybe 10 minutes, she thanked me for being such a good listener and said something about I was just so charismatic. I almost fell out of my chair.
I taught electronics at a trade school to a morning class for a couple of years. There were hundreds of students, and I knew I was a good teacher, but I didn't think the students thought once about me when they went home. On my last day of work, one of the guys asked me to give a special last lecture on a topic. As I walked into the room, I was followed by students from my class, the afternoon class and the evening class! They filled the room and presented me with a fairly expensive bottle of whiskey.
I've had a few girls tell me, after it was too late, that they always had a crush on me. Well, I was interested in them, too.
If someone would have just said something sooner, life, for me, would be totally different now.
I've been seriously and repeatedly burned for doing that. I then spent years dialing it back. I'm 53 and only just now working on figuring out how to do that again without letting it turn into some shit show where everyone treats me like I'm their bitch.
Every single guy I have ever gushed at about how keen he is has, without fail, promptly turned into a psycho asshole monster and made me wish I never met him.
Maybe I'm just doing it wrong. But my feeling is there are reasons most people don't gush at you until your last day in their life as you leave: Because so many people promptly act like monkeys do if humans make the mistake of feeding them and just make your life a living hell over the crime of trying to be nice.
My working hypothesis is our brains are always learning - literally everything. We learn our concept of time from our experience with it. We learn our concept of a relationship with another person from our experience with them. If someone comes into our life easily - relative to other relationships - our brain associates them with less value. It’s also horrible logic.
Edit- as for whether someone likes you: people accept, overlook, and tolerate more aberrations from normal/good treatment from people they value or like. If they’ll accept little of your aberrations then they’re unlikely to ever like you - run for the hills. That’s one of my tricks for likeness.
Pecking order nonsense.
People who are big believers in pecking order see you as "beneath" them if you compliment them. They then feel owed and like you are permanently required to kowtow to them and aren't allowed to quit.
Prosody and tone matching.
My son probably is incapable of these two things. He gets very negative social reactions from people all the time. Tone matching signals pecking order at a subconscious level. People aren't consciously aware of it.
I apparently tone match by default, which gets me read as deferential and servile. It works quite well when dealing with, for example, wait staff who routinely get mistreated. I get excellent service anywhere that I am a regular.
But people who do not perceive themselves as "below" me conclude I'm a doormat and they can wipe their boots on me.
People get this idea that they are irreplaceable and I am being so nice because they are so incredibly amazingly rare and wonderful. I have found it works vastly better for me to be kind of indifferent and make sure they realize "there can be another you in a minute." Which annoys the fool out of me.
I agree with all your statements above, though. I think evolution has left us with some social behaviors that can be very frustrating.
I have a very long story from a peer's experiences about how taking mentoring a little far and becoming an advocate for a young engineer can create someone who is both entitled and incredibly lazy in a way that, I think, permanently damaged his career by training him exactly the wrong lessons about value and effort at exactly the wrong time.
Slightly tangential, but my favorite post on this topic:
I have seen / heard of many guys getting complimented over the years (including myself a few times), and never heard of one of them turning into a “psycho”, “asshole”, or ”monster”. A couple times I saw a guy get complimented out of the blue and then kind of stammer something and hurry away looking embarrassed, because he didn’t have any idea how to respond. A couple times I have seen men brush off / refuse compliments it looked like because they wanted to seem modest (e.g. “oh it was really no big deal, please don’t think anything of it...” after someone had just directly said their action was very helpful/meaningful). Once I saw a guy get complimented and respond “yeah, everyone says the same thing”, which I admit is a pretty obnoxious response.
I have also heard plenty of stories of guys who were monsters (physical abusers, stalkers, spreaders of nasty rumors ...), but to my knowledge none of those came out of a compliment.
I believe you, but I’m having trouble imagining quite what happened. Maybe you can elaborate a bit? Do you mean that those men turned around and demanded something more from you? Stopped treating you with basic respect? Wouldn’t talk to you anymore? Chased you around? ...
You make that sound like it's some kind of deliberate manipulation or something, some of us were just brought up with the idea that doing helpful things for people is expected and not really that big a deal, and it makes us uncomfortable when people make a big deal of it.
In the particular case I am thinking about the guy being complimented (probably unintentionally) hurt the other person’s feelings by basically rejecting the very sincere compliment, even though he could have easily said “I’m always happy to help” or something similarly impersonal and satisfied the complimenter without making anything bigger out of it. Or even used the same words he had but less dismissively. Tone of voice matters a lot in face-to-face communications.
My point was just that I wouldn’t consider even the most insensitive such responses to be “monstrous”, so I was wondering more specifically what Doreen Michele meant.
The single most effective thing I have found for reducing forum drama is to mostly ignore any compliments. Saying "Thank you" is inevitably followed by multiple people feeling compelled to openly and publicly hate on me.
I had an affair in my twenties with a man whose life could have been absolutely ruined because of it. He wasn't especially good looking, but he had beautiful blue eyes and I had a thing for blue eyes and told him how much I liked his blue eyes. We were not sleeping together at the time and it wasn't an unreasonable thing to say, given circumstances. This was a huge turning point in the relationship and he ended up nutcase levels of obsessed with me.
This man is the reason I did not use my first and last name online for many years -- because it is a fairly unique combination and I didn't want to be easily and readily found by him. Five years after I ditched him, he hired a fucking detective to track me down and called my house where I answered the goddamned phone in front of my children, like that isn't awkward as all hell.
No, he hadn't filed for divorce from his alcoholic wife. No, he hadn't left his incredibly conservative career. No, he absolutely was not in any position whatsoever to say "Oops, sorry. You can move in with me." if his phone call outed me to my husband and resulted in a divorce.
I'm not exaggerating when I say psycho asshole monster. It's only not been more of a debacle because avoiding drama is one of my skills, thankfully.
It sounds like he took the compliment as a sign that you were really serious about him and the relationship, whereas you intended it just as a statement about his eyes.
The “nutcase levels of obsessed” part sounds like a pre-existing problem / part of this guy’s temperament, rather than a normal response to receiving compliments. The people I know who attracted stalkers didn’t so far as I know trigger them with any particular action.
Dunno, I’m not a psychologist. I would be interested to hear more about this kind of compliment-as-behavior-switch in other kinds of circumstances.
Short men do this a lot and make it impossible to say "Eh, your height doesn't bother me, but I like X about you."
Men who see themselves as ugly do this.
Men who are heavyset and hung up about it.
Etc ad nauseum.
At some point, my personal policy became "Sorry you have so much baggage. I'm not your goddamned therapist. I wouldn't touch you with a ten foot pole, not because you are short, but because, Oh. My. God. BTDT, got the t-shirt and life is too short for this shit, geez."
People paint themselves into a corner and make it impossible for other people to make X trait into a non issue. And then it becomes this hill to die on and god help you if you stupidly are oblivious and genuinely didn't think they were too short, too ugly or whatever.
I’m truly sorry for what you had to go through. That really sucks.
It's always something genuine like my art I post in social media or a cool shirt I happen to be wearing, or that I'm always genteel.
I think it depends on your culture of course but from my experience it's a weekly occurrence.
> He made it absolutely impossible to tell him I liked him without it going really terrible places.
I feel for him. I do have ADHD as well, and it is very hard for me to accept compliments. I was also bullied in school which I assume also plays into this. Everytime someone compliments me, I feel like I am getting set up for a joke. Raising your hopes, and then slashing them in the most hurtfull way possible. "Oh wait, you actually thought I like your eyes? lmao you're such an idiot"
But I do also agree that you're not his therapist, and that he probably should have talked to his therapist(which I assume he saw for his adhd) about it. I did. Its great.
Go ahead and "take the bait." The assholes who are merely setting you up will out themselves as assholes and you can stop wondering. You can also not take it personally because they are assholes. They are telling you who they are, not who you are.
And then the non assholes will finally have a chance to connect with you in a genuine way without having to try to wrestle you to the ground and cram a compliment down your throat against your will. Because I assure you, healthy people won't do that. If you set your boundaries to "Fuck you and get the hell away from me" healthy people will stay the hell away. The only people who will try to get close will be people with serious issues and it becomes self fulfilling prophecy.
I'm not comfortable with compliments either. Most people are perfectly fine with being told that as an explanation for lack of ability to graciously accept a compliment and then they don't have to wonder if you think they did something wrong.
Anyway, I think I'm done here. Too many people seem to feel I need "advice" or whatever and I don't.
I cant. Malfunction of the executive functions make it pretty hard to relativize it. Initially I am gonna think, wow, thanks, I guess my eyes do suck, and so do I. Usually people would try to think about it again and be able to relativize it "wait, why did he say that? wow, what an asshole thing to say". But I get stuck in that "I guess you're right" feeling.
> Go ahead and "take the bait."
This is very hard to do, but I am working on it. Its not easy to overcome a childhood trauma though, and trust people again. It took me about half a year to finally open up to my therapist. Learning to trust again, and let yourself be vulnerable is terrible hard after learning for 10 years that its the wrong thing to do, you cant "just do it"
I didnt mean to give any unsolicited advice, apologies
I know some things that might help, but I'm leery of posting them because that makes me the one giving unsolicited advice, a thing I'm already guilty of here.
Nutritional supplements actually have a better track record than drugs for dealing with things like ADHD. If you can pinpoint the things that you need for your brain, you can see real improvement over time.
B vitamins, high quality salt, the right fats and certain minerals, like magnesium and calcium, are likely candidates. Start a journal. Try one and only one new thing at a time to see what it does. Don't buy multi vitamins. Get individual supplements and make sure they are bioavailable.
Mold problems at home, work or anyplace you spend a lot of time can have significant negative impact in mental function. Try to root out moisture issues and mold problems.
Start a private journal and deconstruct what people say to you, how you feel about it and why you feel that way. Most people aren't terribly nice. The veneer of civilized behavior tends to be pretty thin. It may be more them than you. You may find your reactions aren't as irrational as you think they are.
During my divorce, under circumstances where I didn't really care how things played out and a lot of men were chatting me up, I point blank asked men what they thought was attractive about me. This was incredibly eye opening because every one of them had a different answer. So my ideas about what made me attractive -- that it was X or Y specific thing -- were completely busted and it was a fantastic experience. People are attracted for reasons specific to them. It isn't really a case of "I have X trait and that is my main attraction."
So if you ever have an opportunity to participate in a workshop or similar where you can get feedback from a variety of people, you might be surprised what you learn about how the world sees you. It can be a wonderful antidote to the thoughts about yourself that dominate your self image.
Similarly, I did a series of self portraits in therapy and that was eye opening. Most people don't really have a clear idea of what they look like. Their idea of themselves is often something of a caricature that exaggerates specific traits and underplays others.
I'll give your recommendations a try. Thank you! :)
> Most people don't really have a clear idea of what they look like
Wow! I had no idea about this, that's super interesting
The best is Celtic Sea Salt. After that is various other brands of sea salt, Himalayan salt, kosher salt, canning and pickling salt.
Sea salt also has additional micronutrients. It isn't just sodium chloride.
Not necessarily a huge issue if you are perfectly healthy, but it makes a surprisingly large difference if there is anything wrong that intersects with these chemicals in some manner.
Men who see themselves as ugly do this."
Wait, you think telling someone, "Don't worry, your ugliness doesn't bother me. After all, you're friendly!" is a reasonable thing to say someone?
That's the exact opposite of making X trait a non-issue.
I had someone say pretty much this to me at work. It startled me but for some reason wasn't a problem. I've since noticed many successful, well-liked (rich, famous) people are quite ugly.
"oh man, why am I so short?" - "hey man, that doesnt bother me at all, you look great none the less"
It becomes a case of "No one loves me because of my big hairy wart. Want to see my big hairy wart? Let me tell you how many hairs it has. I've actually named all the hairs. This grey one is called George. It's vastly uglier than the other hairs because it's grey..." Ad nauseum, making it absolutely impossible to go "My, what lovely hands you have. Gosh, that's a terrific jacket and it really goes well with your eyes. Want to have coffee sometime?"
They basically insist you love their wart upfront in a way that just makes the entire thing a non starter no matter how hard you try to avoid the topic of their wart and focus on other things. No, their wart is their entire dating identity and only someone with a wart fetish could possibly figure out how to work things out with them.
> He wasn't especially good looking, but he had beautiful blue eyes and I had a thing for blue eyes and told him how much I liked his blue eyes.
These statements would set up massive, bar-you-from-the-industry-forever red flags on any man that dared express them.
You might try reading things a little more carefully. I rejected him, then spent years arranging my life to avoid him. I'm absolutely not butthurt that we didn't end up together. More like "Dodged that bullet!!"
A. I've been a member here for over 9 years. My previous handle was Mz. Some of the people asking questions know that I have an established track record here and are familiar with at least some of the following details.
B. I was molested for several years as a child and raped at the age of twelve. I'm quite open about that fact, as well as the therapy and infidelity and divorce that is part of my backstory.
C. I'm not advocating for infidelity. I'm also not going to automatically vilify people for it. I spent years reading all of the research I could find on the topic to sort my crap. It's usually not a black and white case of one spouse as villain and the other as victim. It's typically more complicated than that.
D. The last man I had intercourse with was my ex husband the night before he physically moved out the first week of May 2005, more than 13 years ago. I've been celibate for medical reasons ever since.
That fact has freed me of a lot of baggage from an unfortunate childhood and I no longer live in fear that "I'm really just a whore and was born such, obviously, which must be why grown men did unspeakable things to me as early as age 3 or 4."
At this point, I'm quite clear that I'm socially conservative and "the marrying kind."
My infidelity is not the reason my marriage ended. My ex is a good man who put up with a lot of crap because he loved me. He deserves a purple heart for what I put him through. He's one of the reasons I recovered from my childhood trauma and did not, instead, either commit suicide or end up in jail for some reason.
No, you're just falling foul of a dynamic that preexists you. Women giving men compliments is, for the most part, interpreted as a come-on. It's not fair, and it hinders the frank communication between men and women that makes really healthy social environments such a joy to operate in, but it's the case more often than not.
I was in this position a few years ago and interpreted her complements as a romantic interest in me. I explored the situation by asking her out to lunch, inquiring as to whether she was dating, etc. I learned she had a boyfriend and that she was happy in the relationship so I backed off.
Admittedly it's anecdotal but I believe that there are simple and effective ways for both sexes to communicate interest, availability (or lack thereof) while still managing to remain respectful of yourself and others.
wat? maybe I'm really off here. but someone telling me I have nice eyes, or look fit, or she likes my outfit, I really would not interpret that as hitting on. Do you only make compliments to women when you're sexually/romantically attracted to them? (I'm genuinely curious). I personally do not, and I would be very upset if those comments were interpreted as trying to hit on someone.
Umm..I'm pretty sure men complementing women have it a lot worse.
Some 'compliments' are of course thinly-disguised acts of creepiness. Different category altogether, and dead easy to spot for people within a normal range of emotional intelligence.
I compliment people (men & women alike) quite frequently. Usually on their work, sometimes on their behaviour in other respects, less commonly on appearance. When directed towards a woman, not once has this been interpreted (AFAIK) as a come-on or unwarranted approach. By and large people can tell when you're being friendly with a light touch, and without an agenda.
It sounds like she complimented someone, things grew from there, they had an actual physical affair, and then he started acting like a psycho.
Why is the compliment even remotely relevant to this chain of events? Do we imagine that if he made the first move he wouldn’t have turned out to be a psycho later? Or that psychos never make the first move?
Maybe I just misread the story.
1) What Do You Want? More often than not, people have an ulterior motive when giving a compliment. You’re telling me you like my shirt, or that what I did last week was kind, and I’m wondering what sort of onerous task or bequest you’re about to request of me. It’s usually a “loan” (donation) that folks are after, and if not it’s “can you come and fix my technology” or “can you build me a website” or “my drains are blocked and I have a fear of plumbers”.
2) The Punchline. A compliment is often a prelude to a criticism, following the classic shit-sandwich school of management. “You’re the most intelligent person I’ve ever met .... and I’m going to have to ask you to leave the company” “I like your shirt ... but you need to do something about your face”. If someone close to me starts complimenting me I just tune out until the criticism bit, as the compliments are just so much hot air, and I’d sooner not hear happy falsehoods.
3) Platitudes. Most folks don’t mean the compliments they say - they just fill the air with noise because they find silence uncomfortable. You happened to be nearby, and they won’t remember that they complimented you yesterday, and will let you overhear them giving the same compliment to 20 other people.
So, in short, people issue compliments because they a) want something, b) want to criticise you without them feeling bad about it or c) because it’s habit and they don’t mean it.
So - complimenting people is a poor strategy for life - it just makes people guarded, and ultimately avoid you because you’re giving so many compliments you must want them to do something really unpleasant.
It’s a shame that this is how it is, but it is.
I can't see that he was framing it like he disagreed with you. You were the one doing that, it seems to me.
You again and again on HN tell of how awfully the people in your life, the people on here who won't talk to you, the people who do talk with you, have treated you. Then you rebuke people for offering advice, trying to help.
Then you tell us "avoiding drama is one of my skills".
I don't think you're doing it wrong, maybe just a bit unlucky but I can see for sure that happening.
That's what I try to do. Sometimes people take it as insincere flattery because I guess they think it is sarcasm at first. But I do mean it, every time!
There is one glaring exception though: my winter coat. It's really the only piece of clothing that I have consistently received unsolicited compliments on. It's an old Swedish army surplus wool first-class greatcoat. As it's army surplus, it comes in nearly every size, so it fits me like a glove, and is fairly cheap.
It's a lesson I've tried to learn: dress well. However, in my own 'experiments' only the coat gets the compliments, not nice shoes or shirts or ties. You kinda have to dress 2 levels higher to get noticed enough for others to say anything.
Dunno if that helps at all with this issue.
https://www.surplusandoutdoors.com/greatcoat-swedish-airforc... (something like this)
An hour later I get a call, I have to come over there urgently. When I get there, that guy has organised me a leaving party on the fly. There were 30 people, cakes, and a card full of nice messages. Several people made speeches. I was totally blown away, he didn’t need to do that at all. If I had worked for that guy I probably never would have left...
I've had a few girls tell me, after it was too late, that they always had a crush on me.
This started happening to me after I got married.
Social signalling is very important. The fact that you're married is a signal to others that you're stable/good/OK enough that another human being has committed to spend their life with you, to start a family with you, to be exclusive with you etc. It is signalling maturity which many folks find calming and attractive.
This seems common. I'd bet that they feel safer admitting this after the fact; not wanting you to assume that you should pursue a relationship with them.
If you would have just said something sooner, life, for you, would be totally different now.
It's a numbers game.
I get this a lot too despite not being any great conversationalist. I think in some sense people who don't talk too much are blessed with being perceived as great listeners.
Another thing I'm sure of is how little time most people spend thinking about other people. Even the people in my life I don't care for, I rarely spend more than a passing moment thinking about them, even if they're in the same room.
The ones I do think about a lot are the ones I love (wife, children, closest friends).
Despite knowing this, though, I'll admit that I can spend a lot of time thinking about That One Dumb Thing I Said at Dinner Around My Friends - again, though, I'm 99% sure most people don't remember the dumb or embarrassing things others say or do.
"You'd care less about what people think about you if you realized how little they do"
"Be abrasive, don't pull punches, be a 'git'. People don't care about you, so you can't really hurt them anyway"
A celebrated 100x programmer at the top of the software engineering hierarchy, whose work helped span a trillion dollar industry?
He might have regretted being so abrasive as of late, but let's not paint things as if he failed to accomplish much because of that. In fact it might have helped solidify a more cautious approach around kernel development and keep possible detractors at bay, in the early days, compared to him being too polite and accommodating.
We'd still be struggling with the positive and negative aspects of open source software if Linus hadn't existed, just as the first world war would probably have happened anyway if Gavrilo Princip hadn't precipitated it. Bear in mind that however good a coder Linus might be, RMS is still an influential figure for political reasons despite checking out of the coding business years ago. Politics, charisma of one sort or another, celebrity...
And please don't respond to this telling me all the ways git's design is bad; I'm not disagreeing with that.
Like Stack Overflow. They got to where they are though encouraging ruthless curation and moderation via earning points and badges. And having won the Q&A industry, now they want to shed that image.
"Torvalds’s decision to step aside came after The New Yorker asked him a series of questions about his conduct for a story on complaints about his abusive behavior discouraging women from working as Linux-kernel programmers."
He is in disgrace.
Undoubtedly Linus is going to need to moderate his temper in the future, but I'd hardly call this "in disgrace", and I don't really see this as something he'll have trouble bouncing back from.
I wish we could get this message out there. If more women are interested in programming, great, but all I care about is making software development less of a toxic, alpha-geek hellhole for the people already in it.
Be thankful Linux is willing to be the BFDL, otherwise corporate interests will undo 20 years of progress.
When you're middle-aged, you stop caring about what others think of you.
When you're old, you realize nobody is thinking about you.
For a variety of reasons, I get quite bad paranoia sometimes that nobody actually likes me. I feel like at best they tolerate me, and at worst are using me. It's a really shitty feeling to feel. It's caused me to drift away from a lot of friendships because I think "they don't really like me", and then months or years later, I run into them and they ask me why I drifted away.
It took me quite a lot of time to come to terms with the fact that it's just my brain fucking with me. I still can't shake the feeling sometimes, but at least I can recognise it and work around it. It's a weird cognitive dissonance to have, to know that all your friends like you and enjoy your company, but at the same time feeling like a piece of shit that nobody wants to be around.
I would also rather be alone than have pretend relationships. But make sure you really know what is happening. Because projecting your self hate is a much more common problem than being surrounded by actors.
In fact if you already know that you dislike your self, it is almost certainly what is going on.
Or, so I thought. One day at a party, after enduring this perceived ostracization for two semesters, a very drunk close friend pulled me aside to tell me that everybody thought I was this "mysterious transfer who thought he was too cool to talk to anybody". Everybody wanted to talk to me.
Most everybody knew of me, a number of girls had crushes (!!!), and a few flattering (though unfortunately, untrue) rumors even circulated about my exciting life before coming to school. Everybody wanted to get to know me but I apparently exuded some aura of elitism that kept people at bay.
I was stunned, to say the least.
So yeah, we never know what others think of us. I never quite recouped my squandered social capital, but it was a huge wakeup call that I'll carry with me through life. We can rarely trust our internal critics when it comes to evaluating what people think of us, and sadly, we miss opportunities because of it.
Sartre was on to something with his comments about “the gaze of the Other”.
Everyone I've ever known says something like "you don't talk much, do you" or something equally obvious. I used to wonder if people ask others the obvious "you're fat, aren't you" etc. I've learnt that few people like a strange, mostly silent creature being around long. It's very rare that I'm around anyone long enough for me to get past it and actually make a friend.
I read articles that open with "all it takes is a little conversation". Gee thanks. That's the hardest thing I know, and getting harder the further into being an adult I get.
Apparently it isn’t. People like to talk about their lives.
I guess my main reason for not liking people asking me questions is how their eyes glaze over and they start fidgeting when I answer. Maybe it’s me. I find it pretty annoying so I give terse answers or deflect in one way or another.
But other people do like personal questions it seems. And I admit, it helps build relationships.
I guess my problem is I just am not that curious about people I’ve just met. It would be pretty rare for me to give a shit about what you do for a living, and so if I ask, it’ll be my eyes glazing over.
But I do make the effort anyway, particularly if I get the feeling that someone is a talker.
I wonder if you (and I) sometimes fail to recognize when the person asking those questions is actually communicating something different (e.g., they want to become more friendly with you). But we fail to recognize that they're using a cultural idiom to do so.
A neuro-psychologist has told me that based on some testing I've had done, there's a decent chance I'd also test positive for Asperger's. And this kind of focusing on the literal without noticing that it pattern-matches a different, idiomatic interpretation would make sense for a person with Asperger's.
It reminds me of that line from the song What a Wonderful World, "I see friends shaking hands saying how do you do
They're really saying I love you."
If that's what's really going on, perhaps the number of questions you're getting can seem less onerous?
Initially it seemed extremely confusing to me; why would someone ask/tell me something when they meant something different? What did they really mean when they said something? Those questions continue to cause me much anxiety but I am beginning to learn more about these non-verbal communication skills.
It kinda make sense that this is more common with nerds/geeks: we spend an awful lot more time with ourselves and things we like doing rather than socially with peers/friends/relationships. The people who tend to be more social, learn more social skills this way... kind of a chicken and egg problem.
Us nerds usually don't, but most people LOVE it.
(And even us, nerds etc, it's until we got a bond/trust with someone. Then you can't stop us from talking either -- e.g. in any sci-fi or tech convention where some nerds are gathered...).
The friends I have came to know talking comes later. Mainly from a situation where we were around each other enough to get past my weird quiet stage.
I think this is mostly because fat-shaming is a thing in many cultures; a very toxic phenomena that has caused much unnecessary anguish.
> I read articles that open with "all it takes is a little conversation". Gee thanks. That's the hardest thing I know, and getting harder the further into being an adult I get.
I have no advice for you, but I really wanted to say: I'm sorry that you've had a life like that.
Well if someone is fat I don't have to wonder if they're fat, because I annoy them and missed their hints to get lost, or whether they just lost a loved one and are not in the right mood, or because they're a 'strange' creature.
Well, being a friend is all about communication. If one sits silent, how can the other gauge if they are good friend material?
They could be totally incompatible, a jerk, rude, stupid, etc -- and there's no way to tell otherwise unless they actually engage in speak.
>I read articles that open with "all it takes is a little conversation". Gee thanks. That's the hardest thing I know, and getting harder the further into being an adult I get.
That's the insight though -- the "little" part, i.e. that it shouldn't be viewed as something difficult that one has to get "right".
Just say whatever BS, small talk, etc. Doesn't have to be anything profound or special. It will pick up from there and go on autopilot after a while.
I find it difficult to explain. I can fake and cope when rules are known. I can talk where there's shared rules for everyone like an interview or a class, with staff in a store. When it gets to free format, like the lunch break, I don't know the answers any more and have to take time thinking up something to say, so people reasonably move on to more interesting targets. Or just start to find me weird. Put another way, ask me what I want to eat or of the code I just wrote and there's an answer in my head straight away, small talk with strangers gets complete silence in my head. I never seem to recognize body language and signals either. Then it gets difficult, as I have to start thinking hard for what's next. I once thought everyone's that way and just really fast at it.
I've heard enough people describe it in ways that make it sound so easy, like riding a bike not needing any thought. I need to translate it into my native language. I don't think I'm making any sense now, so I'll stop.
Think I may be somewhere on the aspergers, autism or ADHD spectrums, I recognize some of all, but none seem to quite nail it. Looking back a better career choice would have been the military to live mostly under known rules. I can do that.
It is apt that you mention the military. I have heard from a few sources that the military is a really effective at teaching people to BS, but mainly due to long periods of sitting around waiting with little to do except goof off or shoot the breeze.
Whatever they say, just follow with something on subject. There's no "correct" answer in small talk.
Even straying off topic is OK -- see it as opening a new "sub-thread".
I've started observing some upward trend over the past 2 months, so maybe I could offer some food for thought that doesn't cue the "Gee thanks" in your head.
- I felt rather apathetic about life for some time. I felt less uncomfortable around people and my mind felt less blank after caring about more things. I don't have a simple answer to "How do you care about things more?", but I can say more if you're interested.
- I feel like an outsider pretty often, which makes it hard to be myself around others. For example, I like to learn math, but I feel too embarrassed to answer that to "What do you like to do for fun?" Now I tell people about the more "acceptable" pasttimes that I've picked up recently, like some tidbits I've learned from cooking + asking for their cooking and taste advice. I don't find these cooking conversations as engrossing as when I can talk to someone else about math, but it's a medium between "don't have any interest in the other person" and "really want to be their best friend".
- I often fall into a state where I see most people around me as "NPCs". A game that helped me shift out of this was people-watching and story-telling. When passing people on sidewalks, I would take an extra second to watch their face and body language and guess what they were thinking or feeling.
- I sometimes come off as nervous, closed-off, or unengaging in conversation. Recording a couple of my conversations + listening to them helped me hear myself from 3rd person, and be more aware of when I interrupted people or when I sounded disengaged. There are a ton of hacks I learned for having more socially-acceptable body language. This helps me feel less nervous, so I spend fewer cycles worrying and a little bit more engaged in the conversation. Examples:
* I tend to not make eye contact because people's stares made me nervous; making eye contact with one of their eyes is much easier than both.
* I talk somewhat quietly and find it hard to raise my volume; I talked from a deeper part of my voice (which incidentally also calms me down).
* I would either cross my arms, put them behind my back, fidget with my hands, fidget with items, or put my hands in my pocket, all of which send a closed-off signal; when I don't have an item to hold, I try to leave my hands at my side and focus on touching my thumbs and index fingers as lightly as possible, which also calms me.
- I found myself pushing off responding to friends on Messenger/text because sometimes I didn't know what to say or because it takes too much effort to think of something to say. I found it helpful to practice responding immediately whenever possible.
- I had to keep reminding myself that even the most socially fluid people probably only click with at most 20% of people, so having "failed interactions" is very acceptable.
Ultimately, I think it's about being less distracted and more alert during conversations. My thoughts wander a fair amount, and I still have a long way to go before I'm fully present in these conversations. Feel free to email me if you want to share some thoughts privately; I'm still figuring this out and could use some other perspectives. :)
Watch some of the movies with Jay and Silent Bob to understand this.
I've had to learn the difficult way that my first impression of people is usually not an impression they deserve.
I had trouble with this for a time, I just tried to take my answers a tiny step further. If someone says "Wow, it's cold outside", instead of just responding with a "Yeah, it is cold", try and add your opinion on it. "Yeah it's cold, I love this weather", or "Yeah it's cold, I hope it gets warm for the weekend, because I was planning $outdoor_activity". Anything along those lines will make you seem more personable.
I tried this for a while, then for some reason got really conscious that the over-use of "I" and "me" in the response made me sound too self-absorbed.
So nowadays I'm usually slowly thinking through whether a statement like "Wow, it's cold outside" warrants mere concurrence or greater engagement.
It wasn't until I went to a personal development seminar, and the speaker was a very frank gentleman who said - "Look, whenever you walk into a room of 10 people you've never met, you will find 1, maybe 2 of them that you will like immediately and instantly get along with. 6 or 7 of the rest, you will probably become friends or acquaintances with through the course of time. The remainder will never like you no matter what you say or do."
Understanding that was a huge shift for me internally. I stopped trying to impress everyone, but instead focused on people who showed interest in interacting with me in all social situations. My friendships tended to stay the same, but my personal happiness levels increased markedly, and I stopped feeling guilty or worrying about what I did wrong when the odd person was unfriendly or ignored me. I feel free enough to just be 'me' again. The old saying of "You can't please all of the people all of the time" certainly rings true.
People just want company.
I have a tendency to assume that I don't have a meaningful relationship with someone with whom I have not spoken to extensively. Or, similarly, that they don't like me if we don't speak when we're together.
Something I've learned through traveling is that sharing silence with people is just as important as sharing words with them, and people like you either way. Sitting at a cafe or in a backyard having a drink quietly is all we need. We just want to feel acknowledged
It's deeply satisfying on many levels to hear as much.
Confirmation that you’re hated can be just as satisfying and cathartic.
I didn't have any reason to believe it, but thought it was a fun meme and the placebo effect might be pleasing. What, maybe I've begun going out of my way to charm people by believing this is what they want.
I should reread "How to make friends and influence people" -- I remember it being a repetitive litany of "try to please people". But maybe this is the whole point -- people want to like you, but they may need some help.
Like you might not be an asshole, people might not think you are an asshole but if you believe that people think you are an asshole you will become an asshole.
just work on minimizing the first two
So I suppose a corollary of “people care about you more than you know” is that you need to treat people as well as they deserve.
The author claims her reason for not being able to „mingle“ with a room full of people is that she‘s afraid people won‘t like her. For me at least, the reason is more like missing relevance. Why should I talk to stranger X instead of stranger Y? And what would we even be talking _about_? That‘s what is holding me back from starting conversations.
Sure, not being able to tell if people like you is a problem. But in my opinion this only comes into play _after_ you‘ve made first contact.
Are there people I like more than they know. Sure. Are there people I hate more than they know. Absolutely. But really 99.99% of the people don't matter. I don't think about them or them me.
Ultimately, you care about your family and friends. Do people waste their time wondering if "people" like you or not?
Personally I can't even grasp as how one can think that 99.99% of people doesn't matter. They most certainly do to me. Why would I not care about "them"? I believe seeing others as a waste of time is probably not doing yourself or anyone else any good.
This isn't to say I base my self-worth on what others believe to be true about me, but staying open to their perception makes it easier for self-growth. I get more input and can evaluate it and see if it's something that I should implement in myself or not.
"The Liking Gap in Conversations: Do People Like Us More Than We Think?"
Having conversations with new people is an important and rewarding part of social life. Yet conversations can also be intimidating and anxiety provoking, and this makes people wonder and worry about what their conversation partners really think of them. Are people accurate in their estimates? We found that following interactions, people systematically underestimated how much their conversation partners liked them and enjoyed their company, an illusion we call the liking gap. We observed the liking gap as strangers got acquainted in the laboratory, as first-year college students got to know their dorm mates, and as formerly unacquainted members of the general public got to know each other during a personal development workshop. The liking gap persisted in conversations of varying lengths and even lasted for several months, as college dorm mates developed new relationships. Our studies suggest that after people have conversations, they are liked more than they know.
But if you have other reasons as for like you've gone through traumatic experience, I think it will have effect about on how you will connect to people thou some process like counselling may work things out for them it still depends on your status and outlook towards life. Financially, emotionally and physically.
While I am sure the people around me value that perspicacity to some extent, I feel like sometimes they wish I would just shut up and let things be like they are without focussing on imperfections that surround us.
So being positive probably is a better way to make people appreciate your presence.
What I realized, after living in many different places and cultures where I get treated differently, is that being self-centered/absorbed is a privilege only afforded by people who are well liked or respected. Just like rich people never have to worry about making ends meet, healthy people worry less about getting sick, and men rarely worry about lining up at public washrooms.
Naturally well liked/respected people can afford to worry less about how others think of them. The unfortunate ones will have to deal with harassment, rejection, ostracization before eventually figure out how to be liked, or how to find people who will like them.
For those that perhaps don't have a wife or daughter, then the opinions of others of course have a higher weighting.
Perhaps the better approach is living day in day out how you want to live and the people you’d want to be around will be naturally attracted to that in the long run after seeing who you really are. That way, you are not out there trying to impress others but being yourself, not giving an iota of a care about what others think, and trusting that they way you live will naturally bring you in contact with people who have respect for you and vice versa.
Seems like a less stressful, healthier way to live, at least.
I personally found as I got older (not implying that you're young, just that I changed over time) that many people I previously disliked were now just people I felt neutral about. More specifically, I thought they were well intentioned but flawed as all humans are, and their flaws just happen to be the ones that bug me but not others.
The people I actually dislike is now a much smaller group, and they almost all fall into three categories:
1. People who lack personal integrity
2. People who act smarter/more qualified than they are and hurt people as a result
3. People who consistently take things the wrong way. In the context of race and gender stuff, this is a hard line to draw, but in my experience the egregious cases of taking things the wrong way are rare and fairly obvious. I don't mind well intentioned people in the gray area.
All three categories are just frustrating or tiring to be friends with or to work with, and they drag everyone else down with them.
This is how I generally feel when meeting people that I'm 90% sure I will never see/interact with again. For the 10%, that I do, I probably come across as uninterested in them or 'aloof', but, meh.
Insecurities come before or after that? Is it a cause or an effect? Or neither?