#65 - How to make more friends in school or work? Avoid these mistakes!
In school, we don’t get to learn social skills. No one teaches us what mistakes not to make. When Erik was young, he was a lonely child with very few friends.
A few years ago he started reading about social skills and how to interact with others and it opened a world of new knowledge. More than anything, he could see all the mistakes he had done when he was younger. For the first time, he realized that it wasn’t bad luck that made him lonely, it was mistakes that he did.
May 16, 2020
How to make more friends in school or work? Avoid these mistakes!
In school, we don't get to learn social skills. No one teaches us what mistakes not to make. When Erik was young, he was a lonely child with very few friends. He always thought it was just bad luck and never understood why.
A few years ago he started reading about social skills and how to interact with others and it opened a world of new knowledge. More than anything, he could see all the mistakes he had done when he was younger. For the first time, he realized that it wasn't bad luck that made him lonely, it was mistakes that he did.
If you want to know how to make more friends at school? or how to make more friends at work? this is a great episode for you.
Today's episode is a personal development episode, where Erik and Emil explore topics about how to grow as a person.
We are both personal development junkies and spend many hours every week sharing our ideas and reading about new things. This episode is great for you who want to learn about our latest perspective. We share lots of personal stories, talk about how it applies in our lives, and where we have learned it from.
This is another spontaneous and very vulnerable episode. We are diving into Erik's childhood and emotions. We are starting by getting an understanding of what Erik's life looked like as a 10-12-year-old, how it changed when he moved to another school as a teenager, and what he learned when he started learning about social skills.
"How to make more friends in school?" was one of the questions he tried to understand early and "How to make more friends at work?" is something he is now teaching. After years of diving deep into social skills and personal relationships, this is now one of his core interests and something he loves talking about and learning more about.
[00:00:49] What are some of the most common mistakes that we do in social situations? And if you are not having any friends. Is that your fault or is it just bad luck?
[00:01:09] These are two of the questions that we're gonna go into in today's episode.
[00:01:15] And that is all that we have planned so far. And the reason for that is not only because we are lazy, it's because today I'm going to explore some of Eric's experiences when he was younger. And for that to be a real conversation, it's important that I don't know things that he would say if we plan it. It's gonna take the magic a little bit out of it. So this would be a spontaneous and hopefully real dig into what Eric's challenges was with finding friends when he was younger and what he learned from it.
[00:01:52] And Eric mentioning is the founder of green dot com, Eric Berman, a serial entrepreneur. An Instagram mongul a tantric enthusiast. I've heard so many things. Thank you. How are you? I'm good. I'm excited mothers, young kids alike, are spontaneous episodes because they get very real. Yes, emotional and very deep. And I'm here with him in my emotional accountable, a buddy who I like to explore communication and humanity with. And he's the host of Coming Great dot com podcast. The first one joining me in. Great. How are you? I am feeling a bit relieved. We just did an episode where you focused on me and I had to be quite exposed. So now I'm happy to return the favor. I hope you're nervous, as nervous as you are suggesting this.
[00:02:51] What is this podcast? Oh, they're becoming great dot com podcasts. Yes. Yes. Is for anyone who wants to make the world or their own life to, for that matter, better.
[00:03:03] True entrepreneurship and personal development. Yes. Yes. So let's begin. One of the questions you opened with is if you don't have friends, it does. It's that kind of your fault. Is it bad luck or is that somehow a skill? So I'm wondering, were you struggling to find friends when you were younger?
[00:03:30] Yes, if we go back to nineteen ninety eight, it's Eric. Ten years old. I barely had any friends at all. I mean, I knew people in school and whatnot, but especially outside of school hours. I was very lonely. There was a silent phone. Did a ring. I was rarely invited to stuff and. Yeah, it's just I never really understood why you but yeah, I definitely struggled to find friends.
[00:04:06] So 10 years old. How did you deal with that? What were the conclusions you were drawing?
[00:04:14] So I'm I blamed it on bad luck at the time. I didn't understand what was going on. I know my brother had struggled with similar things. He was yeah, he definitely struggled. My older brother. So I named him to some extent, like he didn't have friends. And that's why I don't have friends, kind of. And I was also shamed of it. I don't think I was broke much about it as a problem. I didn't share much about it with my family. Like I didn't tell my parents I felt lonely. I. Yes. I don't think I had a way of dealing with it. I just was.
[00:04:58] I get anxious thinking about that to keep it all to yourself and having no one to talk with, you have.
[00:05:07] Ironically. Some of the most shameful things in the world are the things that we have very little control over like. If you are born with a handicap, it's definitely not your fault, but I can imagine it's something that's being very shameful. The first thing that pops into my head was the kids in my school there was this girl who was born with some kind of an intestine disease. So she had a I don't know what the word for is, but when you have a little bag on your stomach and you kind of pooping into a bag, which is never a fun thing, and especially not if you're like a 10, 11 year old girl. And that was something that everyone made fun of her for. And I'm just assuming that she sold a lot of guilt and shame towards this and nothing could have been less hurtful than that. And even if I wasn't at that extreme, I still felt a lot of shame for not being able to make friends. Being somewhat bullied even though it wasn't my fault.
[00:06:26] And I guess that creates some kind of self-fulfilling prophecy and downward spiral. Now you feel less confident and then it might be even harder to find friends.
[00:06:36] Yeah, probably. You know, I never saw it that way. But, yeah, the the less friends you have, the less you probably like yourself and the harder it is to make friends.
[00:06:48] So fast forward, Lilibet, let's say Eric Cysteine, for example. How do you think the traumatic experience of loneliness then affected who you are when you were 15?
[00:07:01] So when we were when I was 13, 14 and 13, our family moved. So I started a new school.
[00:07:10] And somehow I don't really know how that happened. I've found myself with friends. I started a new class. Everyone started. So there was in Sweden when you moved from six to seven grade everyone's, which is schools. I just switched to a completely different school than all of the other people who went to my previous school. And somehow I got a lot of friends in that class and I don't really know how that happened that I know I felt a desperate need of fitting in because for the first time in my life, I had friends around me.
[00:07:42] So I was doing everything that I could think of to to sit in trying my best to be a part of everything I. I can see that I. I try to be funny on other people's expense. The type of lift myself up, I try to be show how smart I was to kind of show my own value. I spent all the money that I could get my hands off from my family cell phone like expensive clothes to kind of show that at least I could have these nice T-shirt tours stuff. See, all kinds of these things that I would add desperately to fit in.
[00:08:22] So if you imagine, then you're 13 to 15 or something and you're in school. What did it feel like being inside of your body when you were, you know, people just hanging out? What were you looking for? Like, how did you experience that?
[00:08:36] I think I felt pretty call the most of the time at that H.
[00:08:43] It was more that I felt. At least in school, in school, it felt pretty good outside of school, I always felt I had a sense of not really belonging. So there was a group of friends that had known each other for a very long time.
[00:08:59] And I always felt that I wanted to be a part of that group. And sometimes I was welcome and sometimes I wasn't. And I never really understood when or why or. It felt like sometimes when I'm calling there picking up and sometimes I just can't get hold of anyone in that group. Like it felt like. Kind of making fun of me behind my back. Or like deciding, oh, now Eric is calling, that's not pick up. Like, it felt like there was a. Peer pressure within that group not to accept me. So when I was on one on one with someone who felt like I had a belonging, but when I knew that they were together somewhere and I couldn't get hold of anyone, then I felt very lost, left out and confused. Hmm. Only.
[00:09:57] Yes, so many years now then, where you don't understand what is happening. Yeah. I really didn't understand. I just thought it was bad luck. Is there something that you wish would have been different?
[00:10:12] So the last couple of years have been focusing a lot of understanding, social skills and understanding social dynamics, why?
[00:10:21] Why some people? Like other people, why not? And looking back now, I can see that I did a lot of mistakes. I can see that I try to make myself funny on the expense of others. I tried to focus a lot on being interesting rather than being interests that which we have spoken about in a previous episode that I tried to build myself up instead of showing my genuine interest in others. And I can see that I did. So many of these things badly that I today can see why 10, 12 year old Eric was really struggling to make friends because he was a douche. I mean, he wasn't a good friend in himself. He was trying to to lift himself up. He was trying to get validation outside all the time. And if I could have changed something, I would have loved to sit down with with him and guide him through his social work. Life works because you don't get to learn that in school.
[00:11:27] And it's so unfair, I think, to that. Eric. I guess what he takes with him is that I am bad at this. I don't have friends. I don't know how to socialize. And in reality, this was you would have needed someone that you can see you now with your adult dies. That I would have needed someone to teach me this skill. Yeah, but you couldn't see it as a skill. You saw it as who you are at that point.
[00:11:55] So I think as a defense mechanism, I never saw myself as being bad at this. I had a narcissistic approach to this feeling that I was still superior. I always felt that I was good. I always felt that I was valuable. At least I imagined that I saw that in anything painful to imagine yourself not being valuable. Exactly as I saw myself as better than other people, even though I was lonely. And I can see how that was. My defense mechanism probably behind those feelings was a feeling of not being good enough. Not being loved. Not getting any validation from anywhere that I wasn't in contact with those emotions because I was stuck in thinking that I was better than anyone else.
[00:12:42] What do you think would have happened if you wrote, I've come in contact contact with that an.
[00:12:47] The first thing that pops into my head is that it would completely beat me down. It is. Is 12 year old Eric would have realized that he was really bad at something. I think he would feel very sad about that. And at the end of that, that might be I can see how that would be like ripping off a Band-Aid. And by not seeing that I was bad. I couldn't see that I could learn it. I'd say that to day when I've learned social skills. I didn't learn it because I felt that I was bad at it to start with. I learned because I kind of stumbled into it. And then I realized that I was bad at it and I didn't learn it from the feeling of a need of learning it. And it was first when I realized that I sucked at it. I wanted to be better at it. So I think if 12 year old Eric would have realized, you suck at this, you would probably feel really bad for a while. But then. He might have realized that this is a skill that you can learn and would be able to learn it.
[00:13:51] And it's so hard for him to be able to take him. The idea that I might be bad at this, if you have no realistic. Chance or people around him to guide him to. How can I improve? Yes. Very few have that. Yeah. And no one told him as well that it's common to feel this way.
[00:14:13] Yeah, I think it's super common.
[00:14:15] I believe that pretty much everyone in their pre-teen and teenage years feels soquel socially awkward in various ways, feel a big need of changing who they are to sit in. And no one wants to talk about it because obviously everyone wants to fit in and no one else talks about it. So I believe there were probably at least five more people just in my class alone that spend most of their time feeling lonely. And if someone who had had talked about it, we could have been lonely together and no one would have been lonely. No one talks about it.
[00:14:51] Yeah, well, to even say to someone.
[00:15:01] So an idea that we are really try to convey here is that not only is social skills something that you can learn and it's not so hard to learn it, as you might think, but also that if you are someone that is struggling with social skills right now, you have a problem, much higher potential to be good at it than someone that is naturally OK, because this feeling of I'm not good at this, I want to change that is what can propel you towards a journey of improvement in this skill.
[00:15:39] Let's jump in, too. What can someone do then to find friends? Do you have some things so that you would like to teach maybe your older self? Yes, I think that.
[00:15:56] The first thing I would do is to read the book, How to Win Friends and Influence People by Dale Carnegie.
[00:16:00] Which is just filled with a lot of small tips and tricks that you can do. And I'm happy to touch on some of them. And I would also just put myself in a lot of social situations like.
[00:16:19] Create good interests and be around people with interests. And if you're in a football team and everyone else is playing football, you're immediately around a lot of people doing something they enjoy. If you start dancing, you're gonna be around people who are dancing or if you do theater class. All of these are tricky things to do and can be challenging. But you're meeting people who are doing something they enjoy doing.
[00:16:44] So one side of this is made sure to be in social situations, as if you're isolating yourself, thinking I suck at social skills, never getting anywhere. You could do this by going up to strangers in a nightclub and or you can do this by being in a theater at us. It doesn't really matter at least that you need to get to a certain point of interactions.
[00:17:13] Believe the key is what we touched upon with episode that we did previously with you and that I touched upon here, that it's so important to be interested that if there is one thing that you take away from this episode. Learn to be interested. Learn to ask questions. Looking to hear the answers. Listen more than you talk. Because that's a big mistake that I did. I talked five times as much as I listened 10 times more as much. And it's quite annoying to be around someone who just talks and never listens, because at the end of the day, we want to share our perspectives. And I want to the extent that I got the nickname radio and one time. That's just not a fun nickname to have because I was talking so much and putting myself in situations where I'm around people and learning how to listen and also how to ask questions. This, if you're not having many friends, you might end up being the very silent person. And that's just not a good thing to be either, because no one notices the silent person. You want to be engaging with questions. Genuinely interested. What are people caring about and look for? What they enjoy in life is not necessarily what are you working with, but what what makes you happy? What gives you energy? What are your genuine interests? What's your dog's name? People, things and people care about.
[00:18:43] So what if someone reacts when you say go to this class or go to these social gatherings and someone says, I don't like being in those places. I don't have fun socializing. I just want to go home.
[00:18:59] I think that it's a very common way to feel. And I think that goes with social awkwardness, that it's a skill to learn to be around people, to learn to find friends is a skill. And if you don't like being there simply for the fact that you really don't like theater or really don't like football or dance, then there's one thing if you don't want to be there because it's painful to be there, then I would consider staying anyway. Because you're learning. I think.
[00:19:37] Being in in pain or being in a state of frustration, I believe it's often that feeling of learning and the pain or the frustration is actually you learning something. It's new things happening in your brain, new things happening in your body. And they're painful. Your body wants to chill. You want to stay on the couch. It doesn't want to put you in awkward situation. That's scary. That's not what our bodies for. So we need to make an effort to do that. And if you find dancing football in theater boring, would you still want to make friends? Try other things. Try a chess club. Try. I don't know. Group Sudoku. Try. Public speaking. Pick up an instrument.
[00:20:19] Look for interests.
[00:20:21] Because if you don't enjoy anything that puts lives for I mean, got to enjoy something if you just try. Nothing is at rock climbing, motocross, Thai boxing.
[00:20:31] Just start do things until you find things that you enjoy and then be a person in that space that asks people questions and listen to the answers.
[00:20:43] I can imagine someone that finds social situations tricky, that they're often at least I was experiencing this, I was having a difficulty coming up with something to say, even having difficulties coming up with questions to ask. Do you have some questions that you think could be good openers to at least make the beginning of interactions?
[00:21:08] Ok. So one question that I like. I mean, the most common ones are like, what are you working with? What are you doing? Blah, blah. One question I really like is what makes you excited? What are you exciting and excited about in your life right now?
[00:21:26] And what's good with that question is that you immediately going for strong emotion. If I'm asking you, what are you excited about? It's going to put you in a place where you talk about what are you most excited about? Which is probably what is easiest for you to talk about. So if I asked you right now, what are you excited about knowing you? I'm pretty sure that you would either start talking about this podcast and the podcast. You do, and you would just go rambling on and talk forever.
[00:21:54] Or your dog, Oscar, and you would talk a lot. Or you would talk about Photoshop that you're learning right now.
[00:22:00] And it would turn the conversation. It would likely be fairly easy because I could just keep asking questions about. OK, what is it about your dog that makes you so happy? Or look for emotional positive words like excited, happy, things like that and can steer conversations around those.
[00:22:23] And I think two things are said now is so crucial. You said you can keep asking questions and you can steer the conversation. Yeah. Could you explain why that is important?
[00:22:33] Sure. So you keep asking questions. You keep showing interest. Yeah. And the opposite is also true. Yeah. So it's if you stop asking questions, basically if I'm asking you, what are you excited about?
[00:22:49] I'm really excited about Photoshop, not on camera tech in general.
[00:22:54] Yeah. I don't care about Photoshop, but I do have a cat. Even if I don't say that, even if I just ask another question, like, OK. So what did you do last weekend? Then I assume that you don't care about the thing I care about the most. Exactly. And then we're not friends. No, because I mean, I have nothing in common. Yeah. But if I keep as. OK, so what is it about Photoshop that you enjoy so much. Then I feel so seen and excited. And you don't have to be interested in Photoshop to be interested in why. I am interested in Photoshop. Exactly.
[00:23:23] And I can go for those emotional things. Because you feel the feeling of excitement. I feel the feeling of excitement. Both of them are the same in us. Yeah, I might get it from podcasting. You might get it on Photoshop to get the understanding. What is the creative thing about it. What's what is it that you enjoy about doing something or how will you use this in your career or whatever? There will always be ways to go there. And if someone is talking from a feeling excitement and you can keep that, you can use this in the other way as well as if you if we had a deeper connection and with maybe was in a different emotional state because what are you worried about right now? Because you might look concerned or what are you sad about or.
[00:24:15] One thing that.
[00:24:18] I think it's unimportant to concept if you are feeling nervous. You don't feel like you have something to say. What my approach was when I was feeling that way was to hide that as much as possible. My my hope was that no one would ever see that comfortable socially. And to this day, I imagined that the complete opposite is true. If you are nervous or on, people say, hey, I'm feeling nervous talking with you right now because I feel a little bit socially awkward. I think that's just gonna blow up so many conversations and blow out. Like open up. Philip.
[00:24:53] Yeah, because that can lead to a lot. I can imagine that's a very scary thing to say. Yeah. And I can still feel if someone said that to me, OK. So I'm just guessing here in in a lot of social interactions there to nervous people talking to each other. Yeah. And if one person says that they're nervous immediately, the other person is gonna be less nervous. Yeah. Is what I'm guessing. Yeah. And that way. Oh. Why are you nervous or. Well, it hasn't. I was also nervous. And you're feeling the same thing and that connection and feeling that same thing that is building a friendship like that. I've never tried it that I can say do try this at home like that. I've never said that. Yeah, I think that's really true.
[00:25:36] Go for the excitement and try to be real. Don't try to be something you're not.
[00:25:42] It's the more genuine jar, the less you're trying to fake, the easier things are. Yeah, because it's really hard when you start changing something or trying to hide something or lying because you need to keep track of everything. Yeah.
[00:25:55] Did you just you know, you just you know, if you were listening to this, you like this type of conversations, you like the way we speak about personal development and the things we want to share. And you maybe want to help us out a little bit. What you can do is that you can go into your podcast app and press subscribe. That really helps us out because we are tiny, tiny, tiny little podcast. But if you get into podcasts, top lists or not has to do with how many subscribers do you have in comparison to your viewers? So, dummies, we can still get into the podcast apps and then many more can hear these conversations. And wouldn't that be super duper cool?
[00:26:34] It is. And we want to do more congeries now. We want to do more research and more of our Exide humble and brilliant and super smart things. We say they are in humble and super smart. So things starting to do your next week. Yeah. And thank you for sharing things. I guess.
[00:26:55] It's vulnerable and takes energy to go back and retrieve for the benefit of me and anyone listening.
[00:27:00] So thank you. See you next week.
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