By Eric Waisman
Does being around happy people make us happier? About half of our subjective happiness is influenced by circumstance and genetics. The other half is by behaviors and environment.
A huge part of your environment is the people that surround you. To someone who's just getting to know you, you probably look like a microcosm of the people in your life. Remember the old, "You are what you eat"? Well I think "You are who you hang out with" is even more true.
Since we're so affected by the people closest to use, it makes sense to choose our friends thoughtfully since they'll end up rubbing off on us! If you're around people who consistently prioritize work over everything else, then you may find yourself working longer hours and checking your work email at the weekend too. If you hang out with negative, cynical people then those aspects of your personality will probably become more pronounced.
At Jaunty we think a lot about consciously building a social circle that enlivens and nurtures us. Since we teach social intelligence skills to help people approach anyone and actively build the meaningful relationships they want, the sky is the limit for how you want your social life to look.
Besides becoming more like the people we spend a lot of time with, we learn so much from them too. We learn what to do in certain situations and what not to do. I'm a big fan of continuous education as a form of personal growth. My favorite thing to study is people. Right now I'm reading about Ida Eisenhower and Francis Perkins in David Brooks' inspiring book "The Road to Character". We also learn from people in the news. I was touched by how Kanye helped Kim accept her stepdad, Olympian Bruce Jenner coming out as transgender. We also learn from watching and learning from people's mistakes, including our own.
How would you respond if you were suddenly laid off from work? It's easy to imagine feeling scared, angry and frustrated. "How could they do this to me? After all I've done for the company, this is how they repay me?"
I've actually had two friends get laid off and it was wild to see how differently they responded. One friend reacted very emotionally. He got super angry at his boss and managers and totally burned that bridge. My other friend took it in stride. She reacted positively, feeling it wasn't a personal decision against her and seeing it as a great opportunity for bigger and better things. She ended up getting a great referral letter from her boss that helped her land her dream job.
She totally inspired me. And those two incidents helped teach me to put a wedge in my negative emotions and not respond habitually. Being more aware of the big picture and being thoughtful in our responses are an important part of emotional intelligence. My friend getting her dream job also taught me to be more patient in my own life. This has helped me with other relationships where I felt there was a strain, but realized that patience is king.
What's a social strategy you've learned from someone in your life?
By Fayette Fox, Jaunty's Writer and Community Manager
"I want to take my life to the next level," Daniel Evan Lee told Eric, after the free Jaunty workshop. "I feel like I'm plateauing." After college, he'd gotten a sales job at a start-up. Three years later he kept wondering if there was a better opportunity out there, somewhere that would be a better fit, where he could make more money.
Working in sales, he felt his social intelligence and relationship skills were directly related to the deals he could close. He thought, "If I can advance my awareness and interactions with others," then maybe he could up his whole game.
He signed up for Jaunty's six-week course with the intention of improving his business life and being ready when his big moment came.
"I'm glad I got to take a class with a range of people and not just business people." In college, Daniel pitched multiple business ideas that were all shot down by his peers and executives. He got comfortable with rejection and learning to manage social anxiety. At Jaunty, he says, "One of the bigger skills I've learned is how to make other people feel more comfortable when they're uncomfortable."
This past fall, six months after taking the course, Daniel was "killing it" at work. He felt confident and interviewed for jobs at three companies in different industries.
"There was this one I really wanted," Daniel says. "I put my all into it." He recalls the extreme disappointment when he wasn't hired.
Then, three weeks into the New Year, a direct competitor reached out to him. His big moment had come. He met up for a beer with the competitor's CEO.
"This guy made millions of dollars with his old company. He's very techie and aggressive. What I chose to wear that day was planned and precise. I've noticed when I wear a baseball hat people pre-judge me." So he wore his baseball hat. "He looks me up and down, kind of hesitant. I can feel it. I said, 'Dude, let's keep it transparent. Why did you reach out to me?'" They went right into the opportunity.
"I was that person they were looking for." Daniel didn't have to prove anything to them. "I felt like I was on fire. I was in the zone." Daniel kept a poker face and stayed focused on his moment even after the CEO offered him a job with a salary and commission that he couldn't refuse.
Thanks to Jaunty, Daniel says, "I noticed his body language, the speed of his delivery of words. It happened so fast but so slow. I vividly remember what's going on." Daniel feels all his social intelligence work went into that moment. Feeling high status and confident, he knew how to present himself.
Daniel really believes in his new company and feels supported in his new job.
"Twelve months ago I couldn't tell you that I'd be feeling this way about my life. That feeling of being excited and waking up before your alarm is amazing." He used to commute from the City to Berkeley every day and now that work is ten minutes away, he has an extra ten hours a week of free time. He enjoys going to the gym on his way home. He's looking forward to buying a house. "I can be my own true Jaunty and have fun with life."
"Jaunty has been incredible," Daniel says. "It gave me skills to lead a conversation, to guide the entire feeling of a conversation to where I'd like it to go. It's helped me slow down my life. I'm way quicker on my feet with jokes. We all have opportunities. Now I feel like I'm getting better and picking the best ones."
By Eric Waisman
This blog was originally published in Jaunty's June newsletter while Eric was living in New York City for a few months.
I'd like to share the trick I have been using to explode my social circle. In the first few weeks here, I have already been invited to countless rooftop parties, been asked to speak at two large events and was invited by the head of the air conditioning mafia to his mansion for a dinner party. Yep, that happened. Here's what I have been doing and you can do it too.
Using our Jaunty skills I have been meeting a ton of people through WeWork, my roommates' friends, at parks, bars, cafes, on the subway, and of course...on the street. At some point in the conversation I bring up that I am new to NYC.
If you are not new to your city you can say, "I'm looking to get out and meet new people", or that you are always looking out for a new adventure.
Then I say I would love for them to let me know about all of the great events they know of in the city. I frame it as though they are connected to insider stuff, (which everyone is to a certain extent,) and that they have status by having such cool resources. So I straight out ask them to invite me to everything! If you are using your conversational agility skills as we teach at Jaunty, a good percentage of the people will start inviting you to stuff.
Now here is where the magic comes in. Let's say I met 20 people and asked them all to invite me to their fun events and let's say five start inviting me to things. I will invite everyone (all 20 minus the person who invited me) to all of the events from the five (unless it's a private house party). So even for all of the other 15 people that have not invited me to anything, now I am, out of the blue, inviting them to a bunch of cool stuff. That makes them start inviting me to things too.
Plus, I am now showing up to the events with a bunch of people I know and I can start introducing people to each other. This has been a crucial piece of my building my social circle here. My new and old friends here are calling it "Eric's Posse."
This is the power of showing vulnerability up front. You ask people to take you under their wing, and turn it around and take them under your wing. Getting invites feel great and being able to invite people you've just met to events feels awesome. Try it out and let me know how it goes.
By Miguel Soria, Jaunty graduate
Going into college, I was convinced that to be successful studying medicine, I had to sit in my room or the library and study. The social aspect of college was a waste of time since nothing can be gained by simply being social. Or so I thought.
The summer before my sophomore year, I started working at Starbucks which was a complete 180 from what I was used to. Coworkers talked like old high school friends catching up on each other's lives. They even talked to our customers like they were new classmates they were trying to get to know. But because I had sheltered myself from these social environments, I had trouble talking to my coworkers or even taking orders. I went to work with social anxiety everyday.
Around this time, I discovered YouTube channels that explored social situations and pushed what was possible socially. I tried some of these experiments and slowly started developing my social skills. But I had no real sense of direction and my anxiety kept getting the better of me, forcing me to stop again and again.
One day, I was having lunch with my friend Craig who told me that he was a social trainer for Jaunty and explained what Jaunty is all about. From that conversation, I was hooked. I attended a workshop, did a one-on-one with Eric and took the six-week course. The course gave me the direction I was lacking to build up my social skills. I think the greatest part of taking the course is knowing that the other people in the room are trying to accomplish the same goals as you.
With the course coming to an end, I still struggled with how other people would perceive me talking to strangers. I feared other people would judge me for being social. I thought they would think I was weird to approach someone at a store, in the street, or in some cafe just because I felt like talking to them. Once Eric made me aware that nothing bad was going to happen, I took on new and daring challenges to fight off my "approach" anxiety.
When I heard musician Damon Albarn paint a picture of modern society being "everyday robots" I realized that nobody really cares what you do on a daily basis. Now I love talking to strangers for no reason other than to talk to them. Interacting with customers became a fun way to get to know someone even if it was just for a couple of minutes. Sometimes you just have to break somebody's robotic routine and give them a special experience that's become rarer in the digital age: a conversation with a stranger.
By Fayette Fox, Jaunty's Writer and Community Manager
A swarm of anxious people surrounded the woman with the clipboard in the darkened bedroom. She handed out applications and people hunched outside on the stairs, filling them out. What were the "right answers"? Who would be chosen? An audition for an amateur porno might be less uncomfortable.
When my partner Tyler and I decided to get our first apartment together, the search took over our lives. Indeed, apartment hunting in the Bay Area, like job hunting, are practically part-time jobs. I'd argue looking for housing can be the more demoralizing search, because at open houses you're actually face-to-face with your "competition". And they're just other folks desperately looking for somewhere to live.
It's stressful stuff, not least because we both had to be out of our current places by the end of the month. So we tried to have fun, connecting with people we met along the way. After one depressing viewing, I struck up a conversation with the baristas at a little local café and they shared stories about their favorite East Bay neighborhoods. At an open house, we chatted with a man in his fifties, who joked he would probably end up in Walnut Creek where there was less competition.
When I connect with people socially, I feel happier and more at ease. I believe I brighten their day as well. These connections made apartment hunting a little more pleasant and I enjoyed getting the scoop on the finer points of Adam's Point and Temescal.
Besides being fun, it occurred to me that making a personal connection with the landlord or property agent was our best chance at actually getting a place. Because let's face it, someone is always going to make a bit more money than you or have a slightly better credit score. Landlords are people and if you're able to create a connection with them, at the end of the day that's probably worth more than a few points on your credit score.
So Tyler and I did our best to Jaunty the landlords. We used high status body language, made good eye contact and used humor. I threaded and used touch. But some property managers seemed very uncomfortable or were all business, and clearly didn't want to talk. That was hard, especially when we really loved their apartment. But I knew from Jaunty not to take it personally and wrote a nice note on the back of my rental application for these folks.
One day, after viewing a stunning Berkeley apartment with an especially socially anxious property manager, Tyler and I went to yet another neighborhood café to regroup. I struck up a conversation with the man at the table next to us who turned out to be...a landlord! Okay so he didn't have any properties for rent, but when I asked what he looks for in a tenant, he shared some very valuable information with us. When he put an apartment up for rent, a young family impressed him with a "renters' resume" – basically a formal document listing everything from employment and rental history, to references, a screenshot of their credit score and a smiling group photo. This showed them to be super organized, reliable tenants with their act together. They got the apartment.
That night Tyler and I created our own renters' resume which in connection to creating a personal connection with our future landlord, was how we found our new apartment. This journey has been a great reminder to keep our social skills sharp and ready to go.
We've been living in our sweet one-bedroom apartment on the Oakland/Berkeley border for several months now and are so happy about where we ended up.