Improve my social skills with points, levels, and prizes
November 30, 2012 12:00 PM   Subscribe

Do you have suggestions/recommendations for games and/or desensitization practices with the objective of improving social skills? Shyness and/or introversion filter.

My goal is to improve my social skills, ranging from introducing myself to people (business situations), small talk (probably all situations), and tackling most aspects associated with shyness and/or introversion.

I've come to the conclusion that although reading books can be step 1, I need to practice these things, too.

I can be competitive, love games, and so my current idea is to compete against a friend who is also introverted and we will have certain goals and or things to practice...I am hoping that this desensitizes me to the voice in my head that says run the opposite direction.

I am looking for suggestions for any books, websites, etc. that may helped you improve your social skills; if you have run across resources that have used a gaming approach that would be helpful.

If this approach worked for you, would you be willing to share what things did or did not work for you to improve?

Or if there are better approaches that helped you improve social skills, decrease shyness, and/or mitigate introversion, would you share these ideas and/or point to those resources?
posted by Dances with sock puppets to Human Relations (8 answers total) 9 users marked this as a favorite
Are you looking for passive resources (e.g., books and websites, etc.) that you can study on your own at your own pace, or are you just looking for any suggestions?

Many MeFites recommend groups like the Toastmasters to practice public speaking and that sort of thing. Improv classes can also be helpful; they're not just related to comedy. But given your examples, both of those sound like more active/interactive than what you're looking for.
posted by Madamina at 12:24 PM on November 30, 2012

A simple exercise: Go to a mall and walk into every store. In each store, find a sales clerk and ask a general, low-risk question. ("Do you have one of these in blue?" or "How do I get to the food court?" Things like that.) After you get the answer in a couple of stores, see if you can ask a follow-up, un-information-related question as well. ("Are things crazy here during the holiday season?" for instance.)

If you like gaming, give yourself points for each store you succeed in, and double points for engaging beyond the question.
posted by xingcat at 12:34 PM on November 30, 2012 [4 favorites]

Rejection Therapy is pretty much the exact thing you're looking for.
posted by baniak at 12:42 PM on November 30, 2012 [2 favorites]

I was coming in to suggest Toastmasters, too, as it has helped me improve all of the things you note as difficult for you. As for the competition element, my club gives out ribbons at every meeting for best speaker, best table topics (improvisational) answer, and best speech evaluator, and I was shocked at how compelling it was in making me want to improve quickly because dammit, I want to win that damn ribbon.
posted by anderjen at 12:58 PM on November 30, 2012 [1 favorite]

As for books, Dale Carnegie's ""How to Win Friends and Influence People" is a classic and instantly comes to mind.

Also, Susan Cain's "Quiet..." is a good resource for understanding introversion. I've read it myself and found it very helpful. It offers a good perspective on introversion that can help boost your confidence and social skills.
posted by WCF at 1:08 PM on November 30, 2012

Just a note about HTWF&IP -- yes, it was published in 1936, but my husband had to read it for a class a few years ago and found himself still bringing it up in conversation for several months. So yes, it's probably still worth looking at.
posted by Madamina at 1:11 PM on November 30, 2012

Can you practice your social skills in solitude or over the internet? I'd really think you need to interact with other people.

If you want "games", you can try Toastmasters -- they have different "levels" and you "earn badges" as you accomplish different tasks. Others have already mentioned this idea.

You can also do small mystery shopping assignments as discussed on websites like Volition. While earning a couple of dollars, you get a chance to interact with others and accomplish your "mission" by gathering enough information to write your report. It will also hone your ad-libbing skills and improve your ability to remember details from what was said.

You can volunteer at marathons or triathlons. Basically just scream encouragement in everyone's direction as you pass them a cup of water. You can make a game out of it by trying to fill the cups to the optimal level and handing it to them with no splash or drops. The interactions will be short but you will lose your inhibitions about approaching strangers. Try to be on the final stages of the course so the racers will be thinned out. You will probably get a free t-shirt and a meal out of the deal.

There are also some group exercise classes that involve vocalizations from its participants. I don't know how that works but there is one class that involves people making loud lion noises and screaming out certain phrases at different times. You can also make it competitive in the sense that people with a high attendance rate are given door prizes. Y(YMCA)MV!

These have been quick ideas.
posted by 99percentfake at 2:16 PM on November 30, 2012

A million years ago, I took a "growth training" (my employer paid for all educational courses, so I took advantage) not unlike est, but with potty breaks. One of the exercises was to talk to a certain number of total strangers and get their addresses or phone numbers. I was freaked at first, and then plunged in, and chatted up people in museums, galleries and book stores. Some of the people were weird, but most were nice. I would imagine that getting email addresses would be even easier. You and your pal might consider this a human scavenger hunt.
posted by Ideefixe at 5:35 PM on November 30, 2012 [1 favorite]

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