Methods and examples of highly developed social capital

What skills to learn, what tools to get
User avatar
Alphaville
Posts: 3621
Joined: Thu Oct 03, 2019 10:50 am
Location: Quarantined

Re: Methods and examples of highly developed social capital

Post by Alphaville »

jacob wrote:
Thu Jun 03, 2021 8:50 am
I'd be remiss if I didn't mention http://www.paulgraham.com/nerds.html again.
that was a good read that in more ways than one reminds me of freaks and geeks, which was such a great little tv show about the same time period, setting, and experiences as the author. highly recommended for everyone as, yes, good humor and anthropology and dramatic characterization (crazy to me that this show is 20 years old already, and still seems so current).

anyway the paul graham writeup was very good, and i also experienced high school as a boring prison experience, although in different settings (catholic boys school abroad).

nevertheless there is a point where i partially disagree with the guy, namely that nerds aren't popular because they choose not to. that reads like a bit of sour grapes or a defense mechanism. then again i don't personally know the guy so i can't say if i think he could or not.

but anyway, there are many cases of extremely smart people who are also popular and socially at ease, and i have met them (lol). so--not all brilliant people become socially outcast nerds. some sre in fact social geniuses.

but there are also cases where a smart person just can't be popular due to lacking a well-developed social brain or some other handicaps. and sure, they can compensate and study and practice and so forth, but it's never going to be their forte.

and that's just fine because the human gene pool needs variability anyway.

so, for those who have a hard time with social matters, and are looking for some science-based solutions, i'd like to recommend the recent work of psychologist ty tashiro.

i have not read his books, but i have listened to him in various podcasts. i like his approach and he makes a lot of sense. e,g this podcast is about the socially awkward. he ends with a very hopeful note:

https://www.verywellmind.com/ty-tashiro ... ast-510099

and this is about previous work he did on relationships. since this social skills subject tends to overlap with the "i need a date" topic, i though i'd link it here too:

"did you pick the right partner?"
https://omny.fm/shows/the-art-of-manlin ... ht-partner

the name of the website always makes me chuckle a little, but if you do too don't let that bias you, it's a really good interview and he breaks things down into simple principles (again, evidence-based, lol) and is solution-oriented.

anyway i might read the books some day, or simply recommend them to friends and ask for reviews lol.

tashiro himself was superawkward as a child but was fortunate to land in the right environment to support his neural difference. and so here is the product of his nature + upbringing.

https://tytashiro.com/

eta:
yes he wears a bow tie hahaha. good signaling.

--

edited for clarity so i hope that helps :mrgreen:
Last edited by Alphaville on Thu Jun 03, 2021 12:35 pm, edited 3 times in total.

AxelHeyst
Posts: 731
Joined: Thu Jan 09, 2020 4:55 pm
Location: The Mountains, USA

Re: Methods and examples of highly developed social capital

Post by AxelHeyst »

jacob wrote:
Thu Jun 03, 2021 8:50 am
I'd be remiss if I didn't mention http://www.paulgraham.com/nerds.html again.
I'm not qualified to cast aspersions on the US Public School system, but essays like that make me feel like I really dodged a bullet by being homeschooled k-12. I'm not sure if I would have been one of the D-table kids or one of the popularity contest kids, and I'm not sure which alternate past fills me with more horror (actually I do; it's the latter).

--

To attempt to integrate some things that have been said: the emotional wounds of isolation need to be addressed before one can have a healthy relationship with a policy of "give first, let go of getting", (if one chooses to adopt it), lest it become corrupted and turn into codependent covert contracts, which are poison. More broadly, it is going to be difficult (impossible?) to develop sophisticated social skills and capital if you have significant emotional/psychological self-work to do, because you are going to keep getting in your own way.

With that firmly acknowledged and +1'd, I'm more interested in discussion around strategy/tactics/mindset etc assuming the agent is at least baseline psychologically healthy. With that in mind, here's a contribution:

The skill of asking questions is huge, and imo is a foundational skill that can be used for a variety of goals (including no goal other than the joy of connecting with other humans). When I figured this one out my "positive social interaction ratio" shot up. I used to be bored and extremely averse to "small talk". For some reason my own conversational agency never occurred to me. "The person asking the questions is the person controlling the conversation." My attitude now is that if I'm bored with a conversation, it's almost certainly my fault unless the person is borderline fluent aphasic.

If I don't have any specific conversational goals, my default goal is to discover what's interesting about this person, with bonus points for digging up what makes them light up. They're often the same thing. The trick is to do this without coming off like I'm playing 20 questions. It's really just a matter of letting myself believe that there is at least one thing really cool about this person, and maybe it's something related to something I'm into myself, and we can share a bond over that, and that will feel good for both of us, so it's worth the effort. Better than listening to their dumb small talk, anyway. Some thoughts on this:
1. I think many people do "small talk" because they don't feel safe enough to be vulnerable about what they actually care about, particularly if you just met. They fear that if they share too much too fast, you'll go "OMG TMI WTF" and maybe gossip about them. So a way to make people understand they are safe with you is to share something slightly (slightly! easy does it!) vulnerable yourself, first. It could be a mildly self-deprecating observation, or a funny story about something you goofed up once, or sharing a small dream or goal you have and admitting that it's going to be hard and you're not sure if you'll be able to nail it. The goal is humility + honesty. Humble-bragging is a mistake.
2. Going right in and asking "so what do you love to do? what's your jam?" often doesn't work, particularly if you haven't done (1) yet. You have to meander there with most people, asking questions that seem pretty vanilla, but the point of them is to start painting a picture for yourself of this person that you can use to navigate to the juicy stuff.
3. Listening and actually paying attention is important. It's mindboggling how terrible people are at this. If often will say something like "hm, I think I got you, so it's like _____?" <--- I attempt to reframe what they said in my own words. This proves I "got it", and also demonstrates that I'm paying attention and actually care. Most people just want to feel heard.
4. I'm bad at this with people who are smarter than me and/or very introverted people. I think mostly because I'm pretty sure they'd rather be reading a book, and I doubt my ability to engage with them on an intellectual level that they'll find stimulating enough to be worth it. That self-doubt makes me anxious enough that I don't believe in my ability to run a conversation we'll both feel good about. I'd rather just give them the gift of having their own thoughts to themselves, rather than having to waste cycles on a pointless conversation.

white belt
Posts: 757
Joined: Sat May 21, 2011 12:15 am

Re: Methods and examples of highly developed social capital

Post by white belt »

How does one develop social capital in a new location? Due to my career, I’ve changed locations an average of once every year. I am now settled in a place that I should stay for 3 years, so I’m basically starting from square one because I have a prior friendship with exactly one person here.

I find this is the challenge of modern careerism with frequent moves. You also have transient neighborhoods full of people moving frequently which makes it hard to invest in relationships. Combine this with the middle class habit of paying for services rather than exchanging favors. What are some examples people have seen of those who can cultivate social capital in period of days or weeks rather than years?

I relate to @C40’s example about the expat. If I am trying to learn the language, I find that I am much more extroverted because every conversation means an opportunity to practice and improve. You also have the novelty effect of a foreigner speaking the language which is enough to get most people interested in talking to you. In American settings I think I tend to be more introverted unless there is a pretty girl involved.

User avatar
Ego
Posts: 5278
Joined: Wed Nov 23, 2011 12:42 am

Re: Methods and examples of highly developed social capital

Post by Ego »

white belt wrote:
Thu Jun 03, 2021 12:47 pm
I relate to @C40’s example about the expat.
+1. I liked how he explained connections... "Her grandson came to my English class".

I've found that the best way to make really deep, long lasting connections with people is by connecting them to others who have similar interests. People who know one another often don't know that they have a common interest. I ask a lot of questions and when I find them I try to connect them.

ertyu
Posts: 1822
Joined: Sun Nov 13, 2016 2:31 am

Re: Methods and examples of highly developed social capital

Post by ertyu »

Additional observations I have on asking questions (I'll aim for 10):

1. This is common knowledge for most people, but make your questions open-ended. Reduce the number of questions that can be answered by a simple yes/no unless you follow up. E.g. Did you end up going to (that thing you mentioned last time?). Yes/No. How was it?

Be mindful of giving others an opening, too. For instance, if they asked you whether you went to the thing and you didn't, don't just say no. Say, "no, but I did Y interesting thing/watched Z interesting movie." "nah, I ended up needing a quiet weekend to decompress, but I'm thinking about maybe trying X thing next Saturday." Doing this gives others something they can ask you about and is another way to influence the conversation. The person who asks the questions controls the conversation, but don't forget that if you are the "asked" person, you also have a lot of influence in it.

2. For people who have a tendency to monologue: limit yourself to 2-3 sentences. If convo partner is interested, they'll let you know by asking you to elaborate. Then you can talk more.

3. As someone who has lived many places and would have a lot to talk about-- one question I find hard despite that is, "how's America like?" or "What are people of X nationality like?" Um, it's a country with good parts and bad parts like everywhere else? X nationality people are human? I don't know what you are asking about. I find it easier when I am asked questions that are open-ended but still concrete. E.g. "what would you say is the biggest difference between X nation and our nation?" "how come do you think the US is a very developed country yet there are so many religious fundamentalists? Man I keep reading about the sorts of things that come out of their mouths on the internet and it flabbergasts me." "Have you had any Z nation colleagues? Are they easy to work with?"

4. When people answer your question, find places to compliment something concrete about them. "Oh wow" and "That's great" are nice, but "that must have taken a lot of will-power" is nicer and allows the other person to elaborate on whether it really took a lot of willpower or whether some other factor ended up being more important in accomplishing things.

5. Pursuant to 4, do ask people about how they managed to achieve their achievements. "Oh wow, you had a wife, two kids, a full-time job, and you finished school? Dude how". Ask people for details about what they did. You will learn things and you will get to know a lot about the person (what they attribute things to, how they see personal agency, how full of themselves they are). By asking people questions about their area of expertise and competence, you set them at ease because you give them a topic which they associate with competence and accomplishment.

6. Conversely, if asked about your area of competence, actually answer. Not answering comes across as condescending, like you think the other person isn't capable of understanding you (I'm looking at you Peter the Java developer). Either ELI5, or say something like, "I'd rather not talk about work on the weekend. How about this other topic I would actually want to talk about?"

7. Do think up topics you would like to talk about in advance, so you can propose them if you're the Java developer who'd rather not explain what scrum is.

8. Don't hesitate to nod and use conversation fillers, and to leave a comfortable silence for a couple of moments that the other person can use to expand on what they were saying or ask you about something. In general, a silence feels weird if you feel weird, so relax and control your desire to fill every breathing moment with words, or conversely, to shrink away and escape. You're not the only person responsible for how the conversation is going. Be mindful of not dropping the ball (supply extended answers other person can ask you about; ask them things), but at the same time, let them take initiative, too. Their ability to do so will often tell you who you do and don't want to work more on getting to know better.

9. If you know you are going to be at a place or event where you will be meeting many new people, think about general topics of conversation you might have in common. "How do you know [host]" is a classic, but also, depending on age group etc., "Did you watch the eurovision?" "What did you think about X's presentation?" "Are your kids also into Frozen?" etc.

10. Emphasize your similarities with the other person. Emphasize the parts where you agree. If you disagree with something and the person isn't a X-ist Y-phobe you have established you want nothing to do with, express agreement with the part of what they're saying that you agree with first before challenging them.
Last edited by ertyu on Thu Jun 03, 2021 1:16 pm, edited 2 times in total.

User avatar
Alphaville
Posts: 3621
Joined: Thu Oct 03, 2019 10:50 am
Location: Quarantined

Re: Methods and examples of highly developed social capital

Post by Alphaville »

white belt wrote:
Thu Jun 03, 2021 12:47 pm
What are some examples people have seen of those who can cultivate social capital in period of days or weeks rather than years?
[...]
In American settings I think I tend to be more introverted unless there is a pretty girl involved.
er... pretty girls tend to come with large social networks attached ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

lol, but generally, find some structure that already exists rather than build piecemeal. eg anything from your military base to the new gym you'll join to something else that's already there.

i find it very easy to make new acquaintances when one is new to a place by making a declaration of newness. people will go out of their way to share stuff about their town and show some hospitality.

ertyu
Posts: 1822
Joined: Sun Nov 13, 2016 2:31 am

Re: Methods and examples of highly developed social capital

Post by ertyu »

There are often expat events one can join. Hikes, runs, etc. If you're religious, hitting up the local church etc. is a good bet.

If you are new and going somewhere by yourself might be weird, you can team up with another person who is new and hit up a bar or another place where you can meet people.

Avoid staying in your bubble of newness. Going to a new restaurant with another new person = limited ability to meet even more people. Going with another new person on a group hike is better.

If meetup is active in your area, consider organizing said hike [or knitting club. or game night]. This one british family I knew during my time expatting, for instance, sacrificed a whole half suitcase of space to bring along all their board games. They then organized a weekly game night.

white belt
Posts: 757
Joined: Sat May 21, 2011 12:15 am

Re: Methods and examples of highly developed social capital

Post by white belt »

Alphaville wrote:
Thu Jun 03, 2021 1:14 pm
but generally, find some structure that already exists rather than build piecemeal. eg anything from your military base to the new gym you'll join.
I’ve had mixed results with finding friends from work or the gym. Now I’m to the point where my coworkers are generally older with families, so they don’t really socialize with others outside of their family circle. 40-50 hour work weeks mean their free time is taken up with kids soccer games and many of them live >30 min commute away. My career field also has the unique feature of a strict rank hierarchy which means I’m not legally allowed to hang out with at least half of my coworkers. I haven’t started my new position yet so maybe things will be different.

In modern gyms everyone has headphones in 90%+ of the time and commercial gyms especially have virtually no sense of community. My last gym had some sense of community but even so I like to focus on my workout not chit chatting with people (I know it’s a personal problem). Talking to attractive girls at the gym is a great way to become that creepy guy.

Anyhow, I’m realizing that I definitely need to put myself out there more at the new location and that so far my preferred hobbies/activities/web of goals doesn’t include enough socialization. This is not a unique challenge for careerist men my age as I’ve heard many of my friends lament the same challenges with meeting people (I have an extroverted friend who works 60 hour weeks which really puts a damper on his social life because he just doesn’t have much time or opportunity to meet new people).

7Wannabe5
Posts: 7407
Joined: Fri Oct 18, 2013 9:03 am

Re: Methods and examples of highly developed social capital

Post by 7Wannabe5 »

“Alphaville” wrote: that was a good read that in more ways than one reminds me of freaks and geeks, which was such a great little tv show about the same time period, setting, and experiences
“Freaks and Geeks” was exactly my milieu in high school. Since I chose to drop out and Nerd homeschool myself by reading through the library in alphabetical order (and hang out with Freak boys playing hooky) without seeking permission in 10th grade, I would suggest that the Nerd/Freak divide is somewhat analogous to the FI-ERE/Dirtbag ERE divide. Nerds find some use for the institutional structure, however prison or cave like, whereas Freaks just walk right off campus.

The most socially gifted human I know was one of the cool teachers on campus who smoked weed with the kids in the 70s and actually wrote his PhD thesis on topic of lunch table segregation of adolescents. I didn’t meet him until he was 69, but he was kind of a genius at doing the sort f social matchmaking that Ego describes. Also skilled enough to keep significantly younger me on his chain for a couple years :lol:
Last edited by 7Wannabe5 on Thu Jun 03, 2021 2:00 pm, edited 1 time in total.

User avatar
Alphaville
Posts: 3621
Joined: Thu Oct 03, 2019 10:50 am
Location: Quarantined

Re: Methods and examples of highly developed social capital

Post by Alphaville »

white belt wrote:
Thu Jun 03, 2021 1:27 pm
damn, that's just one thing after another. yeah, you need to find an outlet and cultivate it.

best setting for a single guy is someplace with a hopping city life. going to the burbs to live among the breeders (lmao) will tend to cramp your style, much like your age problems at work.

but yeah, in a city setting you can... become a regular at a coffee shop, bar, whatever it is you're into. once people know your face they treat you differently. you can also pick your gym not by price but by some other features. i mean, there are so many outlets... they dont necessarily need to be group activities, you just have to be around people.
ñand

developing the art of casual entertaining chitchat is a big plus. nothing too heavy and mingle mingle.

also, coming on too strong can spook people. i remember some time ago my wife and i met a couple who after a 5 minute conversation were inviting us to stay in their house when we visited their town, etc. well that's a bit too friendly for my radar. we're not swingers :lol:

whereas with a new acquaintance i recently made doing business we had fun talking and just said we'll meet up for a beer in a couple of weeks--that's nice.

start with coffee. coffee is safe and invites a nice chat.

ertyu
Posts: 1822
Joined: Sun Nov 13, 2016 2:31 am

Re: Methods and examples of highly developed social capital

Post by ertyu »

white belt wrote:
Thu Jun 03, 2021 1:27 pm

In modern gyms everyone has headphones in 90%+ of the time and commercial gyms especially have virtually no sense of community. My last gym had some sense of community but even so I like to focus on my workout not chit chatting with people (I know it’s a personal problem). Talking to attractive girls at the gym is a great way to become that creepy guy.
Correct. I think most people want to do their workout and not be bothered, women particularly so. Your best bet is to do something like with your favorite coffeeshop: become that regular and after a while you'll start recognizing the three other hardcore regulars and the long-term familiarity will bring trust that will make friendship possible: e.g. sitting nearby and starting to exchange the occasional line or two.

User avatar
Alphaville
Posts: 3621
Joined: Thu Oct 03, 2019 10:50 am
Location: Quarantined

Re: Methods and examples of highly developed social capital

Post by Alphaville »

7Wannabe5 wrote:
Thu Jun 03, 2021 1:51 pm
“Freaks and Geeks” was exactly my milieu in high school. Since I chose to drop out and Nerd homeschool myself by reading through the library in alphabetical order (and hang out with Freak boys playing hooky) without seeking permission in 10th grade, I would suggest that the Nerd/Freak divide is somewhat analogous to the FI-ERE/Dirtbag ERE divide. Nerds find some use for the institutional structure, however prison or cave like, whereas Freaks just walk right off campus.
lmao yes. did you know paul feig in high school? and were you also a mathlete? (i suspect maybe) :D

anyway the essay @jacob linked actually talks about links between freaks and geeks/nerds.

adolescence is weird.

7Wannabe5
Posts: 7407
Joined: Fri Oct 18, 2013 9:03 am

Re: Methods and examples of highly developed social capital

Post by 7Wannabe5 »

@ white belt:

The practice of permaculture in an urban setting will also likely lead to social connections. For instance, mapping your site relative to watershed might lead to hiking along creek which might lead to meeting other people fishing or other people engaged in cleaning up that environment. I actually met my last permaculture partner because we both included permaculture as unusual key word in dating app, and I became involved in a larger community group led by one of his friends.

I actually found a 60 year old polyamorous climate scientist on my new dating app, but he didn’t like me back!?!? However, I will be attending zoom meeting of garden advocacy group in my new city next week. I also found a free beach 3.5 miles from my house to serve in lieu of water aerobics class and I will meet all the kids in the neighborhood when I start teaching again in the fall.

7Wannabe5
Posts: 7407
Joined: Fri Oct 18, 2013 9:03 am

Re: Methods and examples of highly developed social capital

Post by 7Wannabe5 »

@Alphaville:

I didn’t attend the exact same school as Feig, but it was extremely similar, and I have actually taught there. I may be misremembering, but I think there was one episode based on news worthy events that actually occurred at my high school rather than his involving a full out war day between the Jocks and the Freaks.

It was a terrible place to be a teenager. Subdivisions full of slightly bigger or smaller earliest version McMansions. Your rank as a female among other females exactly defined by the designer on your jeans label. Freak boys had no clue about this, but would snag you by the back pocket and start singing G-L-O-R-I-A...

I still like to date the grown up version once in a while.

User avatar
Alphaville
Posts: 3621
Joined: Thu Oct 03, 2019 10:50 am
Location: Quarantined

Re: Methods and examples of highly developed social capital

Post by Alphaville »

7Wannabe5 wrote:
Thu Jun 03, 2021 2:31 pm
I didn’t attend the exact same school as Feig, but it was extremely similar, and I have actually taught there. I may be misremembering, but I think there was one episode based on news worthy events that actually occurred at my high school rather than his involving a full out war day between the Jocks and the Freaks.

It was a terrible place to be a teenager.
haha yeah there's a basketball game, and the freaks who usually don't care about sports get tribalized by enemy team aggression. very funny episode.

and yeah, i believe it... in fact the show really jives with a lot of what paul graham says.

but that show, seriously... just great.

e.g., this glorious scene
Last edited by Alphaville on Thu Jun 03, 2021 3:04 pm, edited 1 time in total.

jacob
Site Admin
Posts: 13322
Joined: Fri Jun 28, 2013 8:38 pm
Location: USA, Zone 5b, Koppen Dfa, Elev. 620ft, Walkscore 73
Contact:

Re: Methods and examples of highly developed social capital

Post by jacob »

Okay, killing the memes.

User avatar
Alphaville
Posts: 3621
Joined: Thu Oct 03, 2019 10:50 am
Location: Quarantined

Re: Methods and examples of highly developed social capital

Post by Alphaville »

jacob wrote:
Thu Jun 03, 2021 3:02 pm
Okay, killing the memes.
it wasn't a meme! it was part of the show that relates to the paul graham essay. in fact, that kids sits on the "d" table.

but ok, i get that you don't enjoy the literature of our times :D

i'll relink without picture

Qazwer
Posts: 217
Joined: Thu May 16, 2019 6:51 pm

Re: Methods and examples of highly developed social capital

Post by Qazwer »

‘ become a regular at a coffee shop, bar, ’
All I can think of is Cliff Claven
and a large group shouting ‘Norm’

User avatar
Alphaville
Posts: 3621
Joined: Thu Oct 03, 2019 10:50 am
Location: Quarantined

Re: Methods and examples of highly developed social capital

Post by Alphaville »

Qazwer wrote:
Thu Jun 03, 2021 4:45 pm
‘ become a regular at a coffee shop, bar, ’
All I can think of is Cliff Claven
and a large group shouting ‘Norm’
ew

lol but yeah i guess everyone knew his name or something? horrible horrible song...

--

back when i lived in a proper city i met a bunch of people at various used book stores, record stores, and video stores i'd frequent. some are friends to this day, even in spite of the distance.

and of course, coffee shops. i had my coffee shops, would meet girls there. at a bar you meet mostly... barflies :lol:

but no, some bars had live music. that was a good scene too. mmmmm, good live music, i miss you so.

--

eta: libraries were also good to my dating game :lol:
(i was a regular at the library)

--

eta, 2, this is for @white belt, i've also made friends and the hippie store (and could have dated i guess). there im also "a regular". generally nice people shop & work there. make a little chitchat with the cashier, the vitamin people, the produce folks, etc.

User avatar
Ego
Posts: 5278
Joined: Wed Nov 23, 2011 12:42 am

Re: Methods and examples of highly developed social capital

Post by Ego »

Alphaville wrote:
Mon Jun 07, 2021 9:52 am
yeah, that's what parties are for.
I respectfully disagree with this. Parties can be challenging, even for someone like me.

I know an extremely old guy who has so many people helping him he has to keep a schedule of their visits. Different people visit and deliver food to him on different days of the week. He gets so much he cannot eat it all so he leaves it out for others to take for free because he enjoys interacting with the people and doesn't want the various friends to know he has others helping. The person who shops at Whole Foods comes on Tuesdays. The Costco person on Fridays. Ask me how I know.

For his entire career he was an elevator operator. He is incredibly skilled at short conversations that are meaningful. He becomes silent in larger groups.

Post Reply