By Alex De Carvalho, Jaunty Grad
When I heard about Jaunty, I thought: “Social intelligence? This is not for me, I don’t need this, I’m from France, it’s in my blood”. After all, I had never had any problems making new friends or getting dates wherever I lived (France, Spain, Portugal, the U.S.). I was extraverted and knew all about being social. Furthermore, professionally speaking, I had been very successful per our society’s definition as I had climbed the corporate ladder quite fast. I had directed teams and complex work with numerous prestigious Fortune 500 companies and provided business advisory to senior executives across the globe. I had also had gone to many presentations and corporate sales trainings that had talked about social intelligence to some degree. So, would you agree that I did not need any class on social intelligence skills? Well, on the contrary!
You see, despite all of this, I had reached a point in my life where I felt completely lost. I had recently moved from Minneapolis to San Francisco, and shortly after, lost my corporate job as being remote was not a long-term option for my employer. At that point, I felt like an outcast, like I did not fit as everything in SF was so tech-oriented and I had zero background or expertise in this field. I could not find another job and felt it was because my corporate background was not valued here. I thought that because I was not in tech, the tech world was rejecting me.
But the truth was that I did not know what to do next with my life anyway and was finding it very hard to connect with people for friendship or business. It’s like I had completely “lost” my social intelligence skills that had helped me be so successful my whole life. I’ll admit that at that moment, I had lost confidence in myself, in my abilities and got quite depressed. I did not recognize myself and was having probably what society would call a midlife crisis.
This is when I heard about Jaunty’s social intelligence class. After overcoming some initial cultural reluctance, I decided to sign up. And can I tell you something? It was one of the best decisions I’ve ever made.
I started to gain back confidence and assertiveness with the first crazy homework. I had to ask complete strangers (people I had never talked to): “What do you think about me?” As you can imagine, I got quite nervous at first. People were going to think that I was crazy, needed to be medicated and put in a straitjacket. Then, I got excited because I had never done this before. To my surprise, the answers I got (e.g. confident, driven, loves fashion) helped me realize that I was just creating and projecting fears and thoughts that were not real. It was all in my mind! After this exercise came the theory in class around frames (my frame/reality versus other’s people’s frame). It all made so much sense!
When I look retrospectively, I got so much more out of this class than what was written on paper. First, I met some truly unique and special people that I’m now honored to call friends (and yes, some are in tech!). Second, there is truly a Jaunty “alumni spirit” that made me feel part of a community of people from all walks of life. They all came to take this training because, like me, they struggled at some point with social anxiety or self-worth for various reasons. Third, I did recover my social intelligence skills through various simple and effective frameworks and tools that were taught during the class.
I recently went on my own to an important business networking event where I did not know anybody. At first, my inner gremlin voice came up. But I was able to shut it down through 1) replacement thoughts and 2) by applying some of Jaunty’s framework. The result? I’m currently working on projects with three people I met at the event.
And most importantly, Jaunty was a lot about personal development if you were open to widening your perspective and see the bigger scheme of things. It really helped me re-wire my brain and shift my mindset by tearing down limiting (self)-beliefs and barriers that I had created. My key learning from all of this? Possibilities are limitless in this life! Anything is truly possible as we individually are the creators of our own path. And social intelligence is one of the most powerful skills to help just do that. Who would not want this?
With many on-going life projects (such as writing a book, building my company), I now look ahead with strong confidence, self-belief and a re-ignited fire. No matter where I go or what I do, I now have a secret weapon in my back pocket to help me (and others) thrive along the way. Yes, you guessed it right: social intelligence!
By Eric Waisman, Jaunty's Founder
Maybe it’s that time of year, but more people seem stressed or nervous. There’s a word that keeps coming up in my social intelligence one-on-ones with folks, and that word is “jaded.” To me, jaded implies a certain cynicism, like you’ve done something so many times it doesn’t excite you anymore, or you think you know how something’s going to play out before it happens.
People tell me they want to make more friends, but they feel jaded and weary of small talk. They want to find love, but they’re exhausted of the cautious, predictable, getting-to-know-you dance of early dating.I think I have been feeling a bit jaded too, whether in relationships, work, travel, or exercise. (Shit, those are a lot of my favorite things!) I decided not to take any holiday vacations this year because going somewhere didn’t feel exciting.
First, I wanted to get rid of this feeling. What happened to my old enthusiasm? But as I read more and re-framed it, I saw it in another light. The best thing about feeling jaded is that you can think long-term. Your emotions can be more even-keeled and you’re not chasing the quick high of a new experience. In other words you won’t get temporarily fooled.
Let’s take romantic relationships for instance. Many mistakes happen in choosing a partner because of the high we get from that electric connection with a new person. Self-help author and blogger Mark Manson recently wrote about the difference between romantic love and true love. He says, “Romantic love is a trap designed to get two people to overlook each other’s faults long enough to get some babymaking done. It generally only lasts for a few years at most.” He sees true love on the other hand as a “deep, abiding love that is impervious to emotional whims or fancy” and “a choice.” Basically it’s the long-term commitment to someone regardless of the present circumstances and supporting each other emotionally for the long haul.
When the initial blaze of romantic love fade, and life challenges come up, a relationship is put to the test. A couple learns if their partnership is actually strong enough to weather the storm. If they were previously so intoxicated by romantic love that they were blind to each other’s personal challenges, they might be in for a shock.
But if you're a bit jaded, when you meet a new person, it’s easier to see how they may connect with you beyond the honeymoon phase. How aligned are your beliefs and life goals? How compatible are your communication styles? How strong is their emotional intelligence? Taking a step back and seeing something for what it really is, is a sobering process and might not be that fun. But it can lead to a happier and more fulfilling life. This can also work for scoping out new friends or even a job. (Would that job actually be a good fit for you? Or are you just super excited by the idea of working for that cool company?)
As Jaunty students know, there's a big high in meeting new people and it’s fun. Once you do it enough, you may get a bit jaded and learn to focus on things you are specifically looking for quicker. When you know you can strike up a conversation with anyone, you're coming from a place of abundance, and then can be more thoughtful about the kind of people you really want in your life. That’s why our goal at Jaunty is to get your people skills so second nature that you can concentrate on looking for what you really want long term.
As you look back at your 2016, ask yourself what short-term highs you may have chased versus what longer-term commitments you chose. Either is fine, but one is more fulfilling. Happy New Year.
By Fayette Fox, Jaunty's Writer and Community Manager
Originally published in Jaunty's September 2014 newsletter
"Let's check out that art thing over there with the spinning umbrellas and then go to the Hug Deli."
This was my second year at Burning Man and I know I'll keep going back for more. It's the sense of community I feel out there from 70,000 people coming together to build a temporary city in the desert. It's people's openness, emotional vulnerability and how present we are without the distractions of our phones. And it's the tremendous sense of social freedom I feel on the Playa.
The event has a reputation for being cool and it certainly is. But this is cool without attitude. It's the real cool of people doing whatever they like and following their joy. It's a nonjudgmental cool. If you want to play on the swings in a tutu, that's great. (If you're a dude then that's great too.) If your joy is to walk around naked or in shorts and a t-shirt, or check out workshops on geology or astrology or bondage, that's all cool too.
When I took Jaunty's six-week course last spring, I learned that no one really cares what we do anyway. When we're twisted up in knots with social anxiety, afraid of what other people will think of us, we're the ones doing the twisting.
Over the past few months I had become a bit complacent and stopped pushing myself to do as many cold approaches. Burning Man was the kick in the pants I needed to get my Jaunty on again. On the Playa, I struck up conversations with countless strangers every day. It felt effortless and fun.
Now, back in the "default world," I've cleaned the dust off my things, but I've kept that feeling of social freedom right here at my side. I feel more playful again, interacting with strangers and not worrying what other people think. To me, the Burning Man culture is a breath of fresh air and I feel energized to keep following my joy and building the community I want here in the Bay Area.
By Fayette Fox, Jaunty's Writer and Community Manager
I discovered Jaunty through a housemate. She was surprised I was interested. My mom was too. They both saw me as so social. But I had social anxiety just like everyone does to some degree. I guess I just did a decent job of hiding it.
I had moved to London after college. It was the early 2000s and global perception of the U.S. was pretty low. I felt ashamed of my Americanness and desperately wanted to fit in. Americans were loud and outgoing, so I made myself quieter and more reserved. I made friends through grad school, work and my book group, but rarely approached strangers. There were times I wanted to be more boldly social, but I held myself back because people were guarded and I was afraid of breaking some unspoken taboo.
When I moved back to the States nearly a decade later, I initially felt like a stranger in my own country. I didn't know what the rules were anymore.
After living in San Francisco for a year and a half, I had some friends I liked a lot, but hadn't cultivated the community I really wanted yet. I was a writer, working part-time as a nanny, which meant I was often either hanging out with a toddler, or alone, writing. I'd become good at connecting with people I had things in common with, but wasn't sure how to keep a conversation going with everyone else. Sometimes I felt friendly, outgoing and poised. But other times I felt awkward, speaking quickly and stumbling over my words.
Winter of 2014, I signed up for Jaunty's free workshop which was a total eye-opener. I carried on with the six-week course which transformed the way I interacted with others. I learned to speak slower, play with pauses and suddenly became aware of how much I fidgeted when I was uncomfortable. I practiced uncrossing my arms and became more at ease with stillness. It was hard, but I felt really good starting to hold myself in this new way.
Around week two, I realized for as much as I loved London, I'd picked up some bad habits out there. I'd internalized a laundry list of assumptions about how to behave -- don't interrupt (it's rude), don't approach strangers (they'll think you're a crazy American), etc. etc. These rules might have made sense for London, but in San Francisco they were holding me back from connecting with people.
Jaunty assigned homework and paired us with another student as an "accountability partner". Every day I pushed myself outside of my comfort zone, stopping strangers in the street, experimenting with different types of humor and getting people's phone numbers. I felt like I was discovering a totally new way of being in the world. I even learned how to connect with people I had very little in common with. Learning new people skills was exciting and I felt I was making real progress. A huge breakthrough came when I successfully befriended a woman on an elevator, something I never could have done pre-Jaunty.
Now more than a year since the course ended and I'm continuing to work on my Jaunty skills. I feel like I'm getting back to my original, authentic self. I'm more confident and realize if I give in to social anxiety, I'm only holding myself back. I feel like I'm starting to create the community I want. And thanks to Jaunty, I now know I can strike up a conversation with anyone and make friends everywhere I go.