How to win friends and influence soccer moms, the book?
September 23, 2008 8:29 AM   Subscribe

How to win friends and influence soccer moms, the book? Looking for a good reference to sharpen social skills.

Mrs. Anonymous is having troubles making and keeping friends. We have a 3 year old son and there are certainly social difficulties this causes (scheduling gatherings, split attention between the new possible friends and l’il Anonymous, etc.) However, she’s never been very socially apt. She’s shy and she misses social cues. People who do end up being friends say that she comes across as unfriendly on first meetings. Neither of her parents have any close, long-term friends and I suspect she’s just missing some important skills.

She recognizes the benefits of having a social group and her work requires lots of social interactions. (Side point, but she’s had problems with her work due to the coming across as unfriendly on first meetings and missing social cues.)

She’s expressed in interest in improving her skills and is looking for a book to read on the topic. She’s college educated and enjoys a good study design, so concepts-backed-up-with-studies trumps (but doesn’t rule out) pop psychology.

posted by anonymous to Human Relations (8 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Has she read How to Win Friends and Influence People? You make reference to it in your title, but I'm not sure if it was intended to be ironic, or to show that she's already read it. If not, I'd recommend it -- it's good, if not dated a bit, and with lots of good tips on improving social interactions.
posted by nitsuj at 8:38 AM on September 23, 2008

The wording of your question suggests some familiarity with Dale Carnegie's book. Has she read it? It's great. Its age is irrelevant; it is a timeless classic
posted by neuron at 8:39 AM on September 23, 2008

Agree on the Carnegie "How to win Friends and Influence People" recommendation. Dated, but a classic. It seems other human relations books I've read after Carnegie seem just slightly derivative of his ideas.
posted by PsuDab93 at 8:40 AM on September 23, 2008 [1 favorite]

She could try taking parent & child classes or going to parent-child drop-ins. She'd be meeting people who are a tad socially starved and who share a common interest (raising a happy, healthy child). They would get the scheduling around kids thing. And, with so many kinds of parents out there, she could probably find someone who shared other interests, outside the trauma of parenting. :) The great thing about meeting people this way is that you only get to speak one or two sentences at a time and no one is offended if the subject changes or you suddenly get distracted.
posted by acoutu at 9:12 AM on September 23, 2008

Suggesting the Carnegie book, also.
Another way she can improve her social skills--volunteer. When Anonymous Jr. begins school, and the school/PTA/Parent's Council asks for volunteers for the classroom or school event (fundraising events, school parties, whatever), raise your hand. She'll soon come into contact with a number of other parents outside of the "standing around the schoolyard waiting to pick up" crowd who will be more than happy to have her around. This might help the shyness/unfriendly take, as they will right away be happy to have her on board.
Same with soccer, or any other sport--volunteer to help out. It's amazing how volunteering can bring out those latent social skills you possess.
posted by BozoBurgerBonanza at 9:26 AM on September 23, 2008

You can download Dale Carnegie's book if you wish, for free. Go here, and then click the Download Here link in the text. It's a ZIP file, and the only thing in the file is the PDF of the book.
posted by Houstonian at 2:36 PM on September 23, 2008 [1 favorite]

concepts-backed-up-with-studies trumps

Concepts-backed-up-with-studies don't trump anything in the realm of making friends. I'm trying to imagine a study about how shy and prone-to-missing-social-cues women can make friends with other soccer moms and while it's a funny notion, I think that preference is more of a manifestation of the problem than a route to the solution.

Some practical advice:
When dealing with people at work, ask them questions. Ask "how are you" or "how's project x going" in a friendly voice and look them in the eye. If they start telling a story where something bad happens or they roll their eyes or they say they don't want to talk about it... say "oh NOOOOO! that's HOOOORIBLE!" while laughing. (For happy or successful stories - substitute "oh WOOOOW! that's GREAT!") Tell her to listen to other people at work - particularly other women. Small talk is, for some, excruciatingly boring and pointless - but that's how you get along with folks and getting along is the name of the game.

As for real friendships:
Start off the same as the above - then move *quickly* to making an actual plan. I imagine this is easier with kids, because she can invite the mom/parents of a kid your kid "befriends" to ALL come over saturday for lunch. Or whatever. A three year old is *perfect* because it's young enough for playgroups - find one! Being with other women plus little kids is great because she can engage in grown up chat, and if things get uncomfortable for her or she feels at loose ends - she can busy herself tending to the kid. Moms have an easy way into conversation - swap stories about kids, local pediatricians, whatever - and a regular playgroup (or the like) is nice because shy people usually need long, regular exposure to people in order to reveal how cool and fun and interesting they are. That's ok! Some kind of mom-club (and there are loads, everywhere) would provide a nice sloooow ramp up to being actual friends who get together to *not* talk about three year olds.
posted by moxiedoll at 5:17 PM on September 23, 2008

The problem might be the target friends- soccer moms are just the popular girl clique in a different venue. Same stupid drama.
posted by gjc at 7:57 PM on September 23, 2008

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