9 Incredibly Helpful Social Skills That Will Boost Your Relationships


Producer’s note: Someone on Quora asked: What are useful social skills that can be picked up quickly? Here is one of the best answers that’s been pulled from the thread.

1. If someone is fishing for compliments – take the bait.

When someone is fishing for compliments they don’t want to hear the truth. They just want validation. It’s not about the words. It’s about making a friend feel good.

This is how you do it:

Friend: “I got 400 Likes on my new profile picture.”
You: “That’s sick! I’ve seen it, you look amazing in it.”

Another example:

Friend: “I am so tired from all that working out.”
You: “But it pays off. I wish I had abs like you have.”

I know, you feel the urge to respond “I am sick and tired of you talking about your damn workout. Now shut the f*ck up!” But remember, it’s not about being right. It is only about lifting a friend up. The favor will surely be returned one day. It’s a virtuous circle.

2. Make the other person an expert

This grabs people directly by their ego and is therefore extremely effective.

  • “Do you know why I always get this error message?”
  • “You know a lot about social marketing do you?”
  • “How can I shoot more accurately?”
  • “Is it true that mercury evaporates at room temperature?”
  • “Could you explain to me how layers work in Photoshop?”

These questions are not only positioning the other person as an expert, they are stroking the other person’s ego so much that you can learn a lot of stuff from them.

The other day a friend of mine started a conversation like this:

He: “Julian you are quite a Photoshop expert, aren’t you?”

I (happy on the inside): “Well, I know a thing or two.”
He: “I want to create this course map for a disc golf tournament. May I call you this week if I have a question?”
I: “Sure! I could also come over if you want and show you everything.”

It’s as easy as that, it’s a win-win, and it works 100% of the time.

3. Deliberate over-apologizing

You are late to a dinner with an old friend. “I am so sorry! It’s so rare that we meet and I waste our precious time by letting you wait for me.”

Can you see how this technique works? By apologizing more than is usually necessary, you instantly take away any hard feelings the other person might have. It’s not easy to do if you have a big ego however.

4. Heartfelt compliments

I am sure you have people in your life that you are grateful for. Like close friends, family or coworkers. Tell these people from time to time how much you appreciate them. It’s such a little thing but makes a huge impact.

You can’t imagine how good it feels to hear “Hey Julian, you are an amazing person” from a valued friend.

Some people can only say it when they are drunk. I think that’s fine as well, as long as you say it.

5. Not abandoning the person you came with

This one sounds obvious but trust me, it’s not!

The other day my girlfriend Kristina and I were riding the subway with our friend Sasha when she met an old friend. Even though Kristina and I would have totally been okay with her talking to her friend, we were positively surprised when Sasha said goodbye to her friend after two or three minutes and came back to us because she didn’t want to just leave us.

Afterwards my girlfriend and I talked for minutes about how nice that was of her.

I feel abandonment in social situations is one of the most important subjects to talk about because if you don’t do it right you will not only be perceived as impolite, you will actually hurt people deeply!

Abandonment is a form of rejection. What it implies is “Hey, I’d rather spend my time with someone else.”

In his book Emotional First Aid psychologist Guy Winch writes:

“Rejections elicit emotional pain so sharp it affects our thinking, floods us with anger , erodes our confidence and self-esteem, and destabilizes our fundamental feeling of belonging.”

So don’t take abandoning someone at a party or anywhere else lightly, even if the person says it’s okay.

Instead of just leaving, tell the person you came with “Hey, there is my friend Lara. You have got to meet her!” Then start a conversation that is interesting to everyone.

Loyalty has become rare in our times, but you wouldn’t believe how important it is.

6. Looking at everyone while talking

Situation: You are talking to a group of people. If you don’t want to alienate anyone from that group make sure you distribute your eye contact evenly. When someone seems to lose interest focus on that person or even ask them a question. It will bring the attention back instantly.

Make everyone feel like they are a part of the conversation and their attention will be yours.

7. Being open about your feelings

Acquaintance: “How are you?”
You: “To be honest, I feel like shit.”…

Being straightforward is rare and therefore interesting. Too many people hide their feelings behind routine sentences like “I’m fine, thanks. How are you?”

People who say what they feel are refreshingly different. So surmount yourself to saying what you feel and experience an instant boost in interest from others.

8. Noticing something positive about the other person

Paying attention to little things is extremely important – especially with women. If you notice a positive change point it out. Don’t remain silent!

  • “Have you dyed your hair? The new color suits you so well.”
  • “Do you work out? You look really strong.”
  • “Wow, you are glowing with joy.” – after a positive event like a wedding or graduation.

Word of caution: Stay away from lines like “Oh my god, you have lost so much weight!” Yes, you had good intentions, but you can’t win that battle. Just stay away from everything that involves weight, and the loss thereof.

9. Accepting compliments

It sounds stupid, but accepting compliments is challenging for many people. Especially for people with low self esteem. I know the feeling well, it was also hard for me for most of my life.

This is how people who can’t accept compliments react:

  • “Nah, you are just bullshitting with me.”
  • “Look at you, you look ten times better than me.”
  • “Are you kidding? I think that’s the worst thing about me.”
  • “It wasn’t me. It was all thanks to you.”

A better way to react:

  • “Thanks! Hearing that feels really good.”
  • “Thank you so much! So few people notice.”
  • “Thanks, I worked so hard for it and finally someone notices.”
  • “Thank you! What an amazing experience.”

This answer originally appeared at Quora: The best answer to any question. Ask a question, get a great answer. Learn from experts and get insider knowledge.