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People Like You More Than You Know (scientificamerican.com)
577 points by ALee 6 months ago | hide | past | web | favorite | 200 comments

These are true stories. I don't wish to come across as bragging.

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.

This is why you shouldn't be afraid to give out (truthful) compliments folks. For a small communication effort, you may make a big enough impact for your compliment to be remembered for years. Maybe the person will even smile to themselves and write a nice HN comment about it! (or not quit your company)...

This is why you shouldn't be afraid to give out (truthful) compliments folks

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.

People also readily undervalue things that come to them easily - relationships, friendships, money, power, etc. I work at a multi billion dollar facility that is routinely taken for granted by workers. “Oh it’s just this place” sort of thing. I’ve known men and women to undervalue relationships that came to them easily. That exact concept was on display in Hemingway’s The Sun Also Rises. I think the “struggle” really does make people value things and others more highly and the lack thereof less.

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.

I think there are a lot of factors. A few that readily come to mind:

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.

Value signaling.

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.

The article title “people like you more than you know” might actually apply to you... From reading your past couple comments you might be perceiving that people are always trying to one-up you when that may not be their intention.

Yep, humans are imperfectly evolved game-theoretic machines, and all of these petty signals are incredibly important.

FWIW, Doreen you are one of the most level headed and sensible commenters on HN.

You mention your son getting negative social reactions from people -- I don't know how old is is currently, but he may grow out of that in time. I personally started getting much more positive reactions from people in my mid to late 20s, after lots and lots of social practice.

I agree with all your statements above, though. I think evolution has left us with some social behaviors that can be very frustrating.

The sad thing is that one outcome of the undervaluation of things that come easy is that mentoring/guiding people can seriously, seriously backfire.

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.

That seems entirely likely. My favorite math professor comes to mind. I think he weighted the difficulty levels of homework and tests correctly. Basically the homework prepared you for more than the tests and the homework was explained well in class. So you’d for sure have questions on the test that you knew how to do if you kept up with the homework. That may sound like a lot of classes, but he achieved a balance between homework and tests that made it more likely to score well on the test than usual.

> My working hypothesis is our brains are always learning - literally everything

Slightly tangential, but my favorite post on this topic: http://slatestarcodex.com/2017/09/05/book-review-surfing-unc...

> 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.

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? ...

> A couple times I have seen men brush off / refuse compliments it looked like because they wanted to seem modest

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.

Sorry, that was not my intention. I agree that in many cases a modest “no big deal” or “it was nothing” is an appropriate response.

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.

It's also actually socially very problematic to have praise heaped on you publicly. It makes other people jealous and causes lots of backlash.

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.

A way to avoid that dynamic could be to compliment only when no competitors to the receiver are around. A more direct solution would be to make sure those competitors all feel secure.

I don't want to get into a lot of details, but I will give one example.

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.

Sorry you had to go through such a shitty aftermath. That sounds terrifying.

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.

I think a key detail is he wasn't especially good looking and I complimented him on a physical trait. I've known lots of people over the years who had baggage over X and who made X into some big damn deal where it was impossible to say you liked them without it going weird places.

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.

You know, that was one of the first things I thought too, having been on the other side of it. Compliments from women to men can be exceptionally rare, and when they do show up they can have a pretty profound impact. Of course, that perpetuates the cycle because women see that men overreact to simple compliments and are hesitant to give them. Compliments become more rare and... here we are.

I’m truly sorry for what you had to go through. That really sucks.

I get compliments from women all the time. Never on my appearance, but I think I'm handsome.

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.

I know you deleted your other comment, but I'd still like to respond to one point about it. I hope that doesnt give you any troubles, if so, please mention it and I will delete my comment.

> 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.

Pro tip:

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.

> You can also not take it personally

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 didn't mean you. You don't owe me an apology.

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.

Take care.

I'd be happy to hear it.

You too

I have two special needs sons and I've done all kinds of therapy and what not. So kind of randomly:

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.


Oh wow. Helpful advice. I have ADHD and recently been taken off my medication abruptly because my BP was too high. I've been struggling without it.

I'll give your recommendations a try. Thank you! :)

> I point blank asked men what they thought was attractive about me ... every one of them had a different answer

> 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

What is high quality salt?

Not table salt.

The best is Celtic Sea Salt. After that is various other brands of sea salt, Himalayan salt, kosher salt, canning and pickling salt.

How are these other salts better for you than table salt?

Table salt has problematic additives. One of the additives is an anti-caking ingredient. It is the reason table salt pours easily. Other forms of salt tend to clump up.

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.

>"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."

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.

> "Don't worry, your ugliness doesn't bother me. After all, you're friendly!"

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.

I think this is a response after they complained about their own height.

"oh man, why am I so short?" - "hey man, that doesnt bother me at all, you look great none the less"

More like you can't say "I like you" because all they talk about 24/7 is how no one will date someone their height. You would practically need to give a sworn affidavit that you didn't care. They don't let you avoid the issue by talking about anything else at all.

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.

In case this thought hasn't arisen already : it is likely the reason you observe that all the men you become involved with are crazy assholes is that you're subconsciously selecting only that kind of man.

You had an affair and you still feel you can judge this guy. Whether that means you cheated on a contemporary partner, or simply that you enabled him to cheat on his "alcoholic wife," you objectively did something immoral, yet you feel no remorse, just rationalized butthurt that he didn't pick you.

> 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.

just rationalized butthurt that he didn't pick you.

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!!"


That's a rather ugly personal attack, which violates HN guidelines. However, for the record, since not everyone will already know all this:

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.

I'm sorry I was mean. I wish you the best.

> Maybe I'm just doing it wrong.

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.

Yep, and it's completely natural for a guy to think a woman might be expressing interest in him given those circumstances. But the emphasis is on "might". He should also indulge a bit of skepticism and feel the situation out.

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.

> Yep, and it's completely natural for a guy to think a woman might be expressing interest in him given those circumstances. But the emphasis is on "might". He should also indulge a bit of skepticism and feel the situation out.

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.

No, I don't restrict my compliments to only those I'm interested in romantically. Nor do I restrict them to just women. I also don't interpret every compliment I receive as a romantic advance.

No, but the problem is that compliments from women are a very common way for them to indicate interest- so you have a set of "compliments from women", of which a subset is "compliments from women that are actually them hinting they're into you", and you need to have a lot of experience and be sensitive to subtle cues to tell which is which.

>Women giving men compliments is, for the most part, interpreted as a come-on. It's not fair

Umm..I'm pretty sure men complementing women have it a lot worse.

Not in my experience. If a woman does interpret a compliment as an approach, they are very unlikely to act as if that gives them carte blanche to behave proprietorially towards the complimenting party from that point on. It's hard to imagine the experience @DoreenMichelle reports happening to a man.

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.

I am so confused...it sounds to me from the story not that she complimented someone who then starting acting like a psycho.

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.

The reason you may be experiencing this effect is that some people, such as me, absolutely loathe being praised or complimented - it’s incredibly uncomfortable, for a number of reasons:

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 don't know why you are framing this like you disagree with me since we are both saying "Yeah, that giving compliments thing? Doesn't really work so well in my experience."

I don't know why you are framing this like you disagree with me

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".

The comment was edited after I replied. Someone else replied to me before I noticed the edit, so I couldn't delete my remark.

It depends on the sincerity of the person giving the compliment. It’s hard to gauge or measure that sometimes. I try to be charitable, but I am also disposed to paranoid thought loops so I’m a bit more charitable than most people to compensate for that mental defect.

That's a very good point. And prob the main reason why so many people hold those thoughts: the implications are very much unkown and the risk is very high. Generally, people don't like to take risks.

I don't think you're doing it wrong, maybe just a bit unlucky but I can see for sure that happening.

You are in the wrong circle or culture. So act accordingly. But it is different in other circles/places of the world.

After a presentation about the software we built the last year for internal consumption (something we do twice a year -the talk, I mean), this high-rank guy come to my office and told me I was a really good presentator and that "We are wasting your talents, you must give more talks or training". I did not expect that. I felt very grateful for his words.

>This is why you shouldn't be afraid to give out (truthful) compliments folks.

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!

If you tell someone how you feel and goes awry, some people cannot handle it. This is prime reason people don’t tell their feelings.

Also, not trying to brag: I've also been told similar things, usually by people that thought less of me (or so I thought, sometimes for years). Typically it's a 'last day' phenomenon. I've had a fair few experiences where I was leaving a place and thought everyone had hated me, but, like you, I was totally wrong.

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[0].

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.

[0]https://www.surplusandoutdoors.com/greatcoat-swedish-airforc... (something like this)

or maybe it's just customary to tell anyone you think they are cool, really enjoyed working with them and wish them the best when they leave

Or somewhere in between: most people like something about you, so in a context where compliments are called for they can make a genuine one, even if they don't feel that great about you overall.

Holy crap, I'd expect a coat like that to be $150 easily.

cool coat, though

At my previous job on my last day there was no one in my reporting line around so I went to the group next door and asked their manager if I could hand in my company BB and credit card to him instead. He was bemused but said OK.

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.

> 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 started happening to me after I got married.

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.

> Well, I was interested in them, too.

If you would have just said something sooner, life, for you, would be totally different now.

That's exactly what I thought. What's the harm in just telling them? He makes it sound like it was completely out of his control.

I think there are pretty obvious difficulties with telling coworkers you’ve a crush on them.

I think you got that wrong, he didn't say they were coworkers. But sure, that'd be very different.

No it wouldn't.

A coworker stared at my boobs for a little too long and I felt immediately uncomfortable and put a jacket on. If he ever expressed interest in a romantic relationship, I would feel really uncomfortable, and probably quit.

Not really, direct communication, eye contact etc... If one cannot do that, facebook friend them and try to tell them that way. The worst they say is they are not interested.

It's a numbers game.

Uh, meanwhile in the professional world, this kind of behavior gets you fired. I heard Netflix has a five-seconds rule of eye contact, for crying out loud.

> 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 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.

I wouldn't necessarily put too much evidence in what people tell you on your last few days. Not too say rule it out, and the bottle of whiskey is something hard to deny.

Now can you imagine...in someone's eyes, you are the person they are not even sure if he likes them or appreciates them or not!

The lesson here I think should be to not make assumptions about what others think of you. In your case, you assumed these girls were not interested in you but you say they should have told you, maybe you should have told them and it would have been even better?

Reminds me of a video I saw: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Iqq1roF4C8s

I can certainly relate. But the thing is, a lot of times people don't say anything. And life can sometimes require us to be a bit bolder than we otherwise would be, to get what we want.

I'm sure this is true.

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.

This reminds me of a fortune cookie I once had, that I first thought was aggressive, and then I found liberating:

"You'd care less about what people think about you if you realized how little they do"

Another related quote: “Nobody cares how much you know until they know how much you care.”

Another great one: “I am not what I think I am. I am not what you think I am. I am what I think you think I am.”

How do you interpret this quote, especially the last line. The first line is how I see myself, the second how you see me, then from who's perspective is the last line?

Shared social perspective. The same thing - what we think other people think - is what most affects our behaviour about most of social reality.

Here's a more detailed and illustrates article on what that means: https://www.ribbonfarm.com/2015/04/08/the-essence-of-peoplin...

Similarly, about what people think of you: "Those who matter don't mind, and those who mind don't matter." https://en.wikiquote.org/wiki/Bernard_Baruch

"Most people are too worried about what you think of them to have to time to worry about what to think about you".

I'd like to mention how much truer this is in today's world. Specifically, if you live in an urban city. Today, everyone is constantly bombarded with information from multiple sources that they often forget much about past interactions with people they aren't close with. Even if you are close with someone, they are very much likely to only remember significant memories or memories which you remind them of.

When some one said, "Most people laugh at you," his reply was, "And so very likely do the asses at them; but as they don't care for the asses, so neither do I care for them."

- Diogenes

That's the spirit that got Linus Torvalds where he is now —

"Be abrasive, don't pull punches, be a 'git'. People don't care about you, so you can't really hurt them anyway"

>where he is now

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.

Well, we're all saddled with git's total disregard for the user experience.

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...

I quite like gits user experience, personally. If you don't like it, there are lots of tools built on top of it that make it easier to use. Not sure what the issue is.

Git could be a showcase of inconsistent and confusing UX. If you like it, and you don't see any issue with it, then you know nothing about good UX.

This is unnecessarily cruel. Design is subjective: someone liking git's UX design doesn't mean they "know nothing", just that they have very different opinions from you.

And please don't respond to this telling me all the ways git's design is bad; I'm not disagreeing with that.

I never said it was good UX in general, just that it is good UX for me. And with tools like git one you learn the commands the UX doesn't matter. For a developer tool I think that is fine.

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.

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.

He started to change a while back and now even more. I am sure you missed this that happened recently.


Have you seen that his statement was a reaction to a New Yorker investigation about how his attitude had discouraged women from contributing to the kernel?

"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.

The New Yorker article didn't reveal anything that wasn't well-known in the technical community for years, nor did it turn up any instances of misogyny or sexual harassment. They even mentioned that there's no evidence that he's been more abusive to women than men. It wasn't clear to me why they even ran the story - seems like they were trying for another #MeToo moment, but just ended up restating the obvious: obsessive male geeks can be a pain to work with (regardless of gender).

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.

but just ended up restating the obvious: obsessive male geeks can be a pain to work with (regardless of gender)

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.

Linus has stated many times that he wants less beginners contributing to the kernel, especially the scheduler, which has nothing to do with gender.

Be thankful Linux is willing to be the BFDL, otherwise corporate interests will undo 20 years of progress.

Linus seems to care these days. This does not translate well across different cultures. I've lived in two cultures and still have a hard time practising "not caring" about other people.

When you're young, you worry a lot about what others think of you.

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.

This is such a great insight, and is one that I came across later in life. Once you realize how little friends/acquaintances care about the minute details of your life, it is very, very freeing.

I think we can only genuinely care for 20 or 30 people tops. Like as in really really care.

It's one thing to know this, but another to actually feel it.

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 get that feeling and I think it may be true sometimes. I had this especially with my childhood friends when we grew older, I felt like somehow I didn’t really count unless I had something to bring them. So I left for greener pastures. Worked great for me, I’d rather be alone than pretend to be liked.

If you don't like yourself, and you assume that others would be rational in not liking you as well, it is very easy to project those feelings onto them.

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.

Absolutely, you teach others how to treat you with your actions -- but that applies more to new acquaintances than old friends you made before you were even really a person (i.e. childhood friends.) I'd say I like myself a little too much today, to a point of it nearing complacency. I think that group was just kind of negative and standing on each other, it happens.

Sounds like some combination of low-grade depression and anxiety. It's not helped by modern society generally not expressing gratitude or affection for each other. What you're feeling is pretty common.

This happened to me a lot when I was younger, it still happens now but not as much. I'm thankful for friends that noticed I was retreating a little and would go out of their way to invite me to hang out, or just bring me out of my shell.

Yes, this.


I transferred into my university as a junior. I was older than my peers, having trod a somewhat unconventional life path before transferring. My first year at the new university, I felt felt alienated and invisible. While I made a few close friends, I couldn't seem to really integrate into the larger social fabric of the place. People just didn't seem to care about me.

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.

It takes me about 3-4 months of being around someone regularly before I’m convinced that they aren’t constantly annoyed by me and everything that I say. I hide it pretty well.

Sartre was on to something with his comments about “the gaze of the Other”.

It takes me about 3-4 months of being around someone regularly before I'm able to hold a conversation that's more than direct answers to direct questions. It's impossible to hide pretty well, or at all really.

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.

I’ve had the same issue, and it’s really tough. I’ve had some success by asking people questions, paying attention to the answers, asking follow up questions, sharing details about myself if relevant. It doesn’t come naturally and I don’t always do it right, but it has allowed me to become friends with some people who I wouldn’t have been friends with otherwise.

Yeah, basically this. I personally don’t like people asking me a lot of questions, and so for a long time I assumed this was generally true.

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'm no ace at social interactions, so please treat the following as a straw-man theory, but...

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?

You're definitely on the right track. Human communication is rarely just about the words that you speak. Your speech intonation, pauses, body language etc. speak volumes. Those that don't understand these things well tend to not "get" what others are trying to tell them via all the non-verbal stuff.

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.

>Apparently it isn’t. People like to talk about their lives.

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...).

Which annoys the shit out of regular people and is one of the reasons they shun us, I've come to learn.

I've been trying to do this. Even practicing in the mirror, but it doesn't feel the least natural. Like I still don't know the rules or limits. I feel like a bad actor playing a bad part who doesn't know his lines. Everyone else seems to do it without a thought. I used to think everyone just thought stuff up more quickly.

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.

As engineers we are capable of fixing this. Feign interest. Learn small talk. Eventually you’ll hit a point where you are not faking it but very much engaged.

> I used to wonder if people ask others the obvious "you're fat, aren't you" etc.

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.

> 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.

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.

>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.

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 recognize this, and yeah it's obvious why others find it strange.

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.

In reading your description, I see significant parallels with my experience...I had never noticed the "rules" perspective. That helped shed some light on things, so thanks for 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.

>I just wrote and there's an answer in my head straight away, small talk with strangers gets complete silence in my head. Maybe imagine that it's you that initiated the talk, and start asking them questions back.

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 can relate to this description a lot! I find that my mind is very blank whenever around people (from strangers to closer acquaintances), which makes it really hard for me to avoid modes in which the other person asks me question and I feel like I'm filling out a questionnaire verbally.

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. :)

If one sits silent, how can the other gauge if they are good friend material?

Watch some of the movies with Jay and Silent Bob to understand this.

That's funny. It takes me about 3-4 months of being around someone regularly before I'm not constantly annoyed by them and everything that they say. I hide it pretty well.

I've had to learn the difficult way that my first impression of people is usually not an impression they deserve.

> It takes me about 3-4 months of being around someone regularly before I'm able to hold a conversation that's more than direct answers to direct questions.

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.

This is exactly how to start a good conversation. People make small talk as a way of signaling that they'd like a conversation. All you have to do is say something that keeps the conversation going. The best things to say are positive statements about how you feel or what your background is because it gives the other person a chance to relate to you.


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.

I honestly suffer the same thing. I think deep down, it is a character flaw for sure. Something egotistical and asshole-ish.

Interestingly, I’d say both apply to me and it’s actually about the same time period, too.

I spent the first 40 years of my life wanting to be liked by everybody. I would go out of my way to be polite, not to cause waves or friction, and to basically be the 'nice guy' that everyone would like and be comfortable around.

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.

I imagine this will get buried in the comments, but this brings up a separate truth that I have only recently begun to discover.

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

This is true of open source contribution as well. A few moons ago, I (relatively) quietly stepped away from a rather large open source project that I had contributed a fair amount of impactful projects to. There was no fan-fair made about my departure from any party, including myself. As time passes and people find out, they've reached out to say how much they appreciated what I had done - much more so than when I was active on the project.

It's deeply satisfying on many levels to hear as much.

Yeah, I left my business of a decade a few years ago as my health had gone to hell and I couldn’t continue - nobody, no colleagues, no clients, not even my co-founder, said goodbye, never mind anything else. Nobody cared that I ended up in hospital repeatedly, mortally unwell. If I bump into them in the street they don’t even recognise me - and we worked together for over a decade in some cases.

Confirmation that you’re hated can be just as satisfying and cathartic.

I sounds counter-intuitive, but it must be satisfying because you move from worrying/wondering to knowing. Not unlike finding out your partner has had an affair. Obviously that's a terrible thing to discover, but finally knowing allows you to start the process of healing.

Yep, it’s pretty much the same feeling, having experienced that, too.

smh. someone down-voted the good feels. I will find you, and I will hug you.

I saw a reference to this (not sure if the same article) idea about a week ago and started talking to people at work as if they want to like me if they can find a way to. I've been since feeling less alienated from the broader staff (outside our five-person technical team).

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.

If I remember How to Make Friends and Influence People, it was more about showing people that you care about them. Not so much pleasing as showing interest and empathy.

This is especially true at work with your manager because he/she they placed a bet on you (by hiring you)

This reminds me of the saying, "We're not who we think we are. Nor are we what others think we are. Rather, we are who we think others think we are."

The quote is also further up the thread and I'm repeating my comment, but how do you interpret the last line of the quote. The first line is how I see myself, the second how you see me, then from who's perspective is the last line?

It's confusing isn't it... I think it's you will become the person you think other people think you are?

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.

So then "you're the average of the company you keep"?

1. how I see myself 2. how everyone else sees me 3. how I _imagine_ everyone else sees me

yours: a bit of your paranoia, a bit of your misunderstanding about others, and a bit of what you actually got right.

just work on minimizing the first two

Other than my wife, I really don't care if people like me anymore. I want to be respected and taken seriously. Anything beyond that is gravy.

It has two cookie notices that cover more than half the screen. Wow! Why do we present this horrible UX when the user has no course of action. You’ll be tracked anyway right ?

Also not wishing to brag. The craziest example of this I can think of from my own life is that during one particularly crazy house party during my graduate days I ended up super drunk and waking up in this girl’s bed the next morning. When I was sober I regretted it quite massively. But the morning was horrible. She said how she had liked me for ages and how everyone thinks I’m this great guy but I don’t even know it. It was truly bizarre because I never realised she liked me at all. In fact, we used to argue a lot about random topics like political things and so on. I thought I annoyed her. It was just a bizarre and awful morning.

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.

Interesting that you felt horrible despite her saying she really liked you. There's a lot going on in the mind.

Well I felt horrible because I was toying with her feelings a bit since I didn't feel the same way (plus my massive hangover).

This makes you a good person in my book. Everyone makes mistakes, but some don't recognize them as such.

Is this really the problem though?

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.

What does that even mean? I'm sure some like me more than I think and some hate me more than I think. But mostly 99% of the people don't care because they have their lives to lead.

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?

This is a bit out of touch with reality. People generally care a lot of what others think of them.

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.

Life might be a little harder if all your colleagues couldn't stand you, for instance.

I need this taped on the ceiling above my bed, to my door, to my office, etc.

Source research: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/30183512

"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.

Life is too short to wallow in self-pity. Give yourself more credit.

I think it has also have something to do on how you look towards life. If you are more like to be optimistic about life, you're doing the same as much as you look towards other people.

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.

I am sure it depends on the topic you are talking about. When I see something that doesn't match my ideals, I start talking about it, which creates some sort of a negative atmosphere.

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.

Does it really matter what others think? Too much of our self-worth is tied up in the fleeting opinions of others. There are only two opinions that matter to me: my wife’s and my daughter’s. The rest of humanity is made up of people I interact with for a specific purpose, such as work, and those interactions are governed by certain rules. Within such frameworks we play our roles and go our separate ways after, and no one’s self esteem needs to be hurt.

I used to not give a damn about how others think, and just did whatever fancied me at the moment. But now I'm older and wiser, I actually do care about what others think.

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.

You might hold the opinions of your wife and daughter higher given your point in time, which I'd agree with. However, others opinions of course matter, no they shouldn't totally control how you think about yourself but they certainly do have an impact on how you perceive yourself.

For those that perhaps don't have a wife or daughter, then the opinions of others of course have a higher weighting.

I can see how this is a natural tendency that we have all fallen victim to, but I wonder if the idea of self-worth has gotten twisted. In reality, people have misconceptions about other people all the time, and it does us no good to constantly worry that others’ impression of us may not be what we want it to be.

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.

Things don't happen "naturally". It takes effort/work to do anything. Therefore there is very rarely natural attraction. It takes work/effort to make people respect and like you.

I have this exact same amount of care about the opinions of others (my wife + children matter to me very deeply; everyone else can go fuck themselves) and it hasn't exactly endeared me to others, but personalities are hard to override :)

Curious on how much cognitive dissonance is caused by this. "I believe they don't like me. I also believe I need them to like me."

Anyone got a link to the paper referenced? I followed the link in the article but got hit with a login wall.

From the website of the lead author: http://www.ericaboothby.com/s/The-Liking-Gap.pdf

Thank you

I highly doubt this is true. More likely, people won't officially admit how much they hate each other. But all you have to do is listen to any group talk about an absent friend to hear reliably negative feedback.

I have a much better reason for not “mingling” than that: It’s a colossal waste of time! 60s conversations that inevitably end just when they might get interesting is pretty much my definition of hell.

Yeah, but none of that helps with me not liking them

If you listed and categorized the people you dislike, what would the breakdown look like?

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.

As I get older, there are fewer people I actively dislike, but I also have less patience to spend on people I don't actively like.

... which can lead to actually liking fewer people, because to meet new people you really like you generally need to spend time with people you only tolerate. The network effects work better with more overall socializing, and in my experience you can’t even hit the maintenance threshold (let alone the growth threshold) by only spending time with those you really favor.

4. There are too many people and too few hours in the days to care about them all, so some got optimized out.

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.

That's exactly what I thought when reading this article. I avoid some social situations not because I care about what they think of me but because I don't care to talk to them (or already dislike them from some previous encounter).

I don’t think that everyone feels how the person in the article does. But from talking to my friends, most people think less of themselves, socially, than they think of others.

I'm sorry and in honesty I am not sure which problem is worse. I really like being around a wide variety of people and hearing what interests them and about their lives etc. I also can't imagine how anyone could possibly be interested in listening to even the most interesting parts in my life. Seems like the two personalities are on opposite sides of the same spectrum.

To make that statement, it means people massively overestimate how much people hates them.

People too busy trying to look perfect, or thinking how to fix their problems, are too busy to think and praise your ego.

One question:

Insecurities come before or after that? Is it a cause or an effect? Or neither?

Liking, respect and depth of rapport are overlapping but different. Some people like a fool but don't respect them, and respect a criminal without liking them. Others have deep rapport with someone they're ambivalent about because of circumstances.

If we can just tell if others like us, like IOI from the seduction community, we wouldn't treat others as if they don't like us, so the self-fulfilling prophecy of the inner critic won't be the reality.

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