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How To Win Socially
By Tom Hoobyar
Article Word Count 1416, average reading time 5.7 minutes
This article covers a simple technique that will work wonders for you. In fact, with this method you can improve in many kinds of activities, not just social.
First, an old story. A guy visiting New York City for the first time has tickets to a concert at Carnegie Hall. He gets off a bus downtown, but doesn’t know where to go. Then he sees a man with a violin case, and approaches him to ask directions to the concert hall.
“How do you get to Carnegie Hall?”, he asks.
The musician looks at him, smiles and says, “Practice, man, practice!”
This article is about a special kind of practice that will give you more confidence in social situations, because you’ll know that what you’re doing is better than what you used to do.
All performances benefit from rehearsal. Why? Because people get better with experience. We try different approaches and find out what works better, and then, with practice, we get good at it.
Now, I’m going to show you how to get tons of experience, without actually doing anything!
Let me give you an example:
Did you watch the Winter Olympics? If so, you may have witnessed this technique used by ice skaters. Know what it was?
During the daylight practice sessions, you may have noticed some odd behavior in the hallways before an individual skater took to the ice. What they were doing in the hallway while waiting for their turn was — doing their routines in their minds.
They might have actually been moving around the limited space in the halls, but what they were doing in their minds was seeing what they would see out on the skating rink, hearing the music in their minds, and feeling in their bodies what it would be like if they were actually skating their routines perfectly!
It was “practice”, or rehearsal. But, a very special kind of rehearsal. In the past this technique was used only by theater actors. In recent years it has been adopted by NASA Astronauts, Special Operations Commandos, and SWAT team cops. And others, like top athletes who want to perfect their skills BEFORE they put it all on the line.
Want to know their secret? Here it is. I’ll describe it first, then how it works, then I’ll teach you to do it. It’s easy.
Here’s what goes on in the mind of the person doing this kind of process. They imagine, in great detail, what they would see, hear and feel during a critical routine. Remember, these are people at the elite levels of their sport or profession. Peak performers.
For the Olympic athlete it may be decades of effort that is on the line, and for the Commando or SWAT Police office or Astronaut — they work in situations with lives at stake. These people must get it right. This isn’t some kind of new age fluff. This kind of mental rehearsal is used by people who need every edge they can get.
Remember discovering how your mind works? In pictures, sounds and feelings? Guess what memories are? Same thing. Don’t take my word for it — go inside and check. Call up a memory of a specific occasion, and check it out.
Generalities won’t do it. You’ll need to take 30 seconds and actually call up a specific time that you remember. If you’re like most people, you’re probably back in the situation. Notice what the memory is actually made up of.
Right! Mostly, they are pictures, sounds and feelings.
Guess what? When you think of the future, you are actually looking at a memory in advance! Right, when you think of a future event, you are actually creating the same set of impressions that make up memories — pictures, sounds and feelings.
There might be some smells and tastes associated with some memories, or even impressions of a future or imagined event. Try this — go to a movie theater (in your mind) and go up to the snack bar. Can you smell the popcorn? Make an imaginary purchase and walk into the theater. Grab a seat and sample what you bought. Can you taste it?
So, if you want to REALLY nail down this rehearsal process, and you know what smells or flavors are associated with an experience, it will definitely enrich the impact on your mind if you call them up as well.
The reason that this type of “Instant Inner Replay in Advance” works so well is that your brain is locked inside your skull — it’s not out in the real world. It’s a captive of your five senses.
It only knows the images, sounds and feelings that you feed it. And research has shown that the only difference between reality and imagining is the number and intensity of impressions you experience.
So go ahead. Work yourself into thinking as if you are actually IN the situation you want to rehearse. Try as hard as possible to create the pictures, sounds, feelings, etc. that would be in that situation.
Don’t worry about losing your grip — you will know the difference between fantasy and reality.
But if you can get the fantasy CLOSE to the reality, you’ll be doing what the superstars of personal performance do.
Here’s one way to use this new knowledge.
Create the social situation you want to rehearse — doesn’t matter if it’s meeting strangers at a party, asking someone for a date, or having a confrontation with someone who intimidates you.
Wait! Don’t get agitated — you’re not going to do anything scary. You’re not even going to be in your picture at first.
Okay. Create an imaginary movie theater in your mind. Just relax and watch a movie that we’re going to create. Make a model of the social situation you want to get better at, and then pick another person to take your place.
Choose someone you know that you think would be successful in that situation (or it could be an actor or a literary character or anyone else). The important thing is to pick someone that you think would act like you would like to act. Let them do “your” job, taking your place in the situation for now.
Watch the movie of your “hired actor” perform. Did it go okay? If not, change their behavior until you like what you see. If the first actor doesn’t work, “fire” them and choose another person to take the job in your imagination. Keep running these performances until you get one that you like. Study their behavior.
Got it? Okay, next step.
Now, put an image of yourself in that imaginary situation, only have that likeness of you acting like the successful model acted. Make changes to adapt it to your style if necessary, and keep running that imaginary situation with a substitute “you” in it until you like what you see and hear.
How’s that? Different, huh? Sometimes, just doing this is really useful for discovering new ways to handle things, but there’s another step to make this even stronger.
Now this time, in your imagination, really BE there. Imagine what you would see and hear if you were physically there in the situation you’ve been watching. Only now you’re acting in the new successful way you’ve learned from your model and rehearsed by watching the “substitute you” in the previous versions.
How does it feel? If it feels good you’re done.
If it feels awkward, make changes till it feels okay and is a way of behaving that you’d be comfortable trying. Now, having experienced a new and successful way of acting, you will do that the next time you’re in the situation you’ve rehearsed. You’ve just done what all the peak performers I talked about earlier have done.
Congratulations! You’ve just taken the first step in getting control of the most important person in your social life — YOU! I invite you to play with this method till you get so good at it that it’s second nature to rehearse any upcoming situation where you might want improvement.
Because this method of mental rehearsal is so good at giving us new and better ways to act, it’s called the “New Behavior Generator”.
Tip — Get yourself the book, “NLP: The New Technology of Achievement”
This best-selling NLP book was edited by the founder of NLP Comprehensive and our Director of Training, Steve Andreas and Charles Faulkner.
It contains some of the most useful “recipes for mind- change” in any book, and can be useful to you for years. I’ve been studying NLP for 12 years and have 130+ books and manuals on the subject in my personal library, and on this one I’m on my third copy.
If you owned only one book, this oughta be the one. Of course, I hope you will be so interested in what this field holds for you that you won’t stop there.
But it sure should be the first one you buy — or if it wasn’t the first, then make it the next one!
Tom Hoobyar is a Master Practitioner and an Executive Coach. He’s the founder of the NLP Cafe, the longest running free NLP workshop in the US. Go here to find out more and get your invitation: www.tomhoobyar.com