The Walk By – Do you do this?

This morning, as I was walking to class, I experienced an activity that I have witness nearly hundreds of times.  Engage your imagination for a second:

Imagine that you are walking along on the street at a steady pace, listening to music or just walking with the purpose of getting to your destination.  As you continue to walk, a guy/girl exits out of a building and starts walking in the same direction as you.  Even more startling: he/she begins to walk at the same pace as you.

In this situation, I have found that at least 90% of the time, one of the two walkers will change pace (faster or slower) to prevent walking side-by-side.  Furthermore, neither of the walkers will look at each other beyond a casual glance to make sure they do not recognize them.

Why is this?  Why don’t we just continue to walk at our normal casual pace, regardless of who walks beside us?

I Propose three explanations for this phenomenon.

  1. If you walk next to a person at relatively the same pace, you feel socially obligated to talk to them.  Otherwise, the two of you are in close proximity, and doing a similar task, but not communicating in any way.  This social pressure makes you feel awkward, especially if you are zoning out or just trying to get by.  For this reason, you might end the situation by trailing behind or pushing ahead.
  2. You feel threatened by the pressence of another walker who you do not know in close proximity to you.  After all, stranger danger is real, and even more real when they are readily available to and close enough to hurt you.
  3. People will think you guys know each other, simply because you are walking next to each other.  Generally, only friends or associates will walk next to each other in the street, and if you do not want to be tied to this person socially, then you need to break the connection and either fall behind or move ahead.

All of these explanations, although valid, strike me as ridiculous.  We’re all human, and we all know how to walk (mostly), why can’t we walk beside each other without the situation becoming complicated?

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Bugs in your brain will change how you feel

Toxoplasma gondii.  Have you heard of it?  Because chances are, it has already infected your brain.

Recent studies show that in some parts of the world, about 95% of people in a given area are infected with this parasite.  And the scariest part: when infected, the host body has no sense of illness or any symptoms.  However, this one small organism can actually change your behavior.

T gondii has dated back thousands of years.  In fact, some scientists estimate that T gondii has been around almost as long as mankind.  The effects of this microbe, studied through various animals, can actually change neurotransmitters in your brain.

T gondii contains genes that increase the production of dopamine, the happy neurotransmitter, in our brains.  In men, this can induce more extroverted, aggressive, jealous, and suspicious behaviors.  In women, this can induce warmheartedness and a sense of easygoing.  However, this parasite has been linked to women and suicide.  In fact, women infected with this microbe are significantly more likely to attempt or commit acts of self-harm.

Although this may sound scary and somewhat ridiculous, research on this microbe originated a decade or two ago.

If you’re thinking what I thought when I first got whiff of this information, you’re probably pretty afraid.  However, there is nothing to be concerned about what it comes to this parasite, because it has already ingrained itself into our society.  The number of cases of T gondii amount to an increasingly absurd amount of our population, and no direct harm has come from it.

However, if you desire more information, check out this psychology today article.

Try to tip your waiter – Become more socially intelligent

My dad taught me well.  He used to say “any time you get crappy service at a restaurant, leave the waiter a dime, nickel, penny, and a button.”  The reason: because 16 cents is useless, and the button is insulting.

However, I find that waiters can teach us a pretty fundamental principle of social intelligence, a lesson that never fails to escape me in everyday life.

A friend down at JustTapTheGlass call this a “fundamental attribution error,” or an error where we judge behaviors to be based upon disposition, or situational elements.

When we fail to objectively look upon other people’s behavior, we judge their personalities for how we see them in the moment.  An easy example to understand this is that of your best friend.  If you best friend, who you’ve known for years, comes up to you in a bitter and angry mood, you’ll probably explain it by blaming it on bad circumstance.  You’ll say something like “what happened dude, you’re usually not like this,” and later on, you’ll justify his actions by exclaiming “he’s normally a chill guy, he just had a bad day.”  However, how often do you find yourself saying this about your waiter?

If a waiter comes to a table, and he/she is acting aggressively or inappropriately, we assume that waiter to be an angry, aggressive person.  We do not rationalize it by explaining “well, I’m sure this waiter usually treats his customers with respect, but he/she is having a bad day.”  By failing to look at the person objectively, we falsely judge their personality based on the situation.

The reason why I brought this up: correcting fundamental attribution errors is the easiest way to boost your social intelligence.  By looking upon the actions of others objectively, and judging them as you would judge yourself, you will find yourself understanding more people and the decisions they choose to make.

We’re all human.  By recognizing that a stranger is just as human as you, you are giving yourself a social edge in any situation.

We can all be kind of lonely

A pet peeve of mine: when people don’t say high on the street.

I get it, people are in a rush, they’re doing their think walking along trying to get to where they need to be.  But still, if you see someone you know on the street, you should probably acknowledge him or her.

I do this somewhat compulsively.  I’m constantly searching around looking for friendly faces, even in places I don’t usual travel.  Maybe that’s weird.

But there’s something special about seeing someone on the street, and smiling at them or saying hi.  Too often we awkwardly stand there or sit there and just pretend that we are alone, even if we aren’t.  Why not talk to a stranger, or at least recognize that they exist and they are there?

Obviously there’s a difference between seeing a friend on the street and seeing a stranger, but the general lack of connection between people is not something to be proud of.  Occasionally, when I take the train, I mess with social norms and start talking to the person next to me or across from me.  It ends well at times.

all I’m saying is that we as a society have for some reason deemed ignoring each other acceptable.  And that’s not okay.

What makes a guy attractive?

 

Popular belief this day is that you need to look like this to talk to girls:

Okay, maybe like this too:

The reality: most guys (and quite a few girls) don’t know what makes a guy attractive and what does not.  In fact, the sheer quantity of douche-bags on college campuses these days reflects the twisted perception people have on male attractiveness.

 Studies show that looks, although somewhat important, are not the determinant factor in female attraction.  Female attraction and male attraction are quite different, due to varying evolution and hormones.

However, there are certain traits that surveys show ALWAYS attract the opposite sex. In fact, polls taken from popular news sources, online databases, and self-assessment blogs point towards a set of characteristics that women find universally attractive.

Confidence

It may not come as a surprise, but confidence is a universally attractive trait (for both males and females).  However, do not misconstrue confidence to mean cockiness or narcissism.  Confidence means an assurance of one’s actions and one’s value.  It means security, and self-esteem in abundance.  Confident people believe in themselves and their ability to overcome obstacles, no matter how difficult.  In nature, confident men hunted for food, and protected their tribe from any potential dangers.  Today, confident men achieve things.  Confident men are not afraid to take risks for the things that they want, even if they do not always succeed.  Women cannot get enough of it.  The best part: confidence is a learned trait.  You can develop it and foster it within others over time.  Learn to be confident in everything you do and everyone you do it with.

Passion

Way too many people in this world satiate themselves on simple existence.  How many of your friends just go about their day, with little regard for anything but working, sleeping, eating, drinking, or playing video games?  Passionate people have something to live for, something to achieve on a day to day basis.  Passionate people are dedicated.  They love what they do and they don’t care what people have to say about it.  There is a level of intensity within passionate people that attracts women.  What are you passionate about?  What do you wake up for every day?  If you can’t think of something, then you’re not living life to its fullest.  

Humor

People who can make you laugh can build rapport (connection) with people extremely quickly.  Laughing makes people live longer, and people who can make people laugh without making them feel awkward or uncomfortable have great power in this world.  Humor points towards social inteligence, or an understanding of how things work.  Funny people “get it”, whether it be social stigmas, society, or interactions. You have to know how the system works before you can make fun of it.  Also, funny people are awesome to be around.  They make you feel comfortable and engaged in what they’re saying.  Women love funny men, and vise-versa.

Health and Cleanliness

Regular hygiene and maintenance of health is the simplest way to increase the amount of women who are interested in you.  Think about it: clean and healthy people have a significantly higher chance of surviving in the world today.  Clean people are taken seriously in the business world.  Healthy people live longer and have greater physical ability than others.  In nature, clean and healthy men survived longer and were more useful to the tribe that they lived in.  It makes sense that women would be attracted to these type of men.  So start regularly going to the gym, checking up with doctors, showering, and flossing every day.

For another interesting article on males and attraction, check out Doctor Nerd Love.

Sex: what part of the body matters most?

Most people have a somewhat misguided view of men and sex.  Almost all people (men and women alike) assume that breasts and butts make a man respond during sex.  Furthermore, no one seems to know what men actually look for in a sexual partner.

Time and time again, scientists and psychologists have found that men respond to a woman’s face more than any other part of the body. Specifically, they look at the expressions made on the face during intercourse and other sexual activities.

It has been proven that men and women alike focus on the eyes of a person more than any other part of their body.  This makes sense because as I have explained before, all emotions are expressed in the eyes.

During sex, men will almost constantly look at the face of their partner to get emotional clues to whether or not they are enjoying the activity.  In fact, men become aroused more by a woman’s face than by they breasts or by the behinds.  When a women expresses arousal through her face, men quickly mirror that response.

Surprise surprise.

How to shake hands like Bill Clinton

Bill Clinton, considered one of the greatest extroverts of all time, had a certain way with people.  The connections he made gave him power and influence that he used to support his agenda.  One of the staples of a man like this is his hand shake.

As most of us know a hand shake can open doors, literally.  Businessmen and women will judge you almost immediately if your shake isn’t up to par with their professional standard.  In an interview, your hand shake is your first impression.

However, how exactly can we imitate a hand shake so unique and profoundly effective at building instantaneous rapport?  The method for shaking like Bill Clinton is described below.

  1. Establish and hold eye contact with the other party.  This demonstrates confidence and trustworthiness.  If you approach someone for a hand shake, but you aren’t staring into their eyes, it alerts the person immediately that you either have something to hide or aren’t as genuine or confident as you need to be to talk to others.  Also, eye contact provides the foundation for accurate communication.  Emotions are first expressed in the eyes, way before they are expressed in the body or the voice.
  2. Be dominant.  As you go for the shake, make sure your palm is facing down and your hand is definitively on top of the other party’s.  This expresses dominance, and makes the other party more likely to agree with/follow/believe you.  Furthermore, the firmer the shake the better.  Having a firm grip demonstrates strength and assurance.  The worst thing you can do is give someone a squid (a limp hand that has barely enough strength to make contact with the other hand).
  3. Maximize surface contact.  Psychological studies have proven time and time again that touching others is the lifeblood of building healthy emotional relationships.  However, studies have also shown that the more you appropriately touch someone within the first few minutes of meeting them, the more likely they are to respond positively to what you have to say.  There are multiple ways of going about maximizing contact, however the most common is using your non-dominant hand to cover up the other party’s hand.  However, there are two other ways of adding surface contact which are also quite effective.

Utilizing these tips, you will never look like a chump in the eyes of an interviewer or other business professional.