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Selfish Friends: 6 Ways to Spot Them Before You Get Hurt

Selfish Friends: 6 Ways to Spot Them Before You Get Hurt

If you like self-torture, then find and keep selfish friends around you. In fact, if you love wasting a ton of time, if you’re looking for the biggest source of social demotivation and remorse, then stick with selfish friends. Having them is like pouring love and emotional investment in a black hole and expecting it to love you back.

If you want to live a great social life, then stay away from these folks. The hardest thing about them is that they know how to hide themselves in nice and interesting personalities. This article is about to show you how to spot them before you invest yourself in friendships that will hurt and disappoint you. Here are the six signs you’re dealing with a take-all selfish friend…

Sign #1 – They Think They Deserve Special Treatment

The selfish friend, the one you don’t wanna get involved with, thinks he or she is special. They think that they deserve to be treated in a special way, and will ask for favors, big and small, even if you’re just starting to get to know them.

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Sign #2 – For Him, You’re A Detail

After you do him a favor, the selfish friend barely says thank you, and if he does, it doesn’t sound sincere. Try and ask him for a favor, though, and see him brush it off and never follow through with it. He or she can give you an evasive answer like “ok, I’ll call you later about this”, but it never happens. Sometimes, they just act like you never asked for anything.

Sign #3 – Shady Plans

The selfish person can cancel a meeting with you at the last minute, giving you fake excuses, and rarely saying “I’m sorry”, because he thinks he’s too special to apologies  When you suggest that you meet with him, he carefully thinks of all the other choices he has, and if he has nothing “better” to do, he’ll meet you. He usually calls when he’s bored and has no other plans.

The selfish person decides where he wants to go, then finds people to go with him. That’s fine, but, he’ll suggest it to many people, and it seems that it doesn’t matter to him who goes with him. In other words, he hangs out with you to avoid being alone, not because he likes you.

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Sign #4 – You Never Meet His Friends

The selfish person talks about his other friends but never introduces you to any of them and always comes alone. He gives you the impression of knowing lots of people, but when you listen to the stories he tells, you find out that it’s all superficial. He’s always hanging out with people he barely knows, and you rarely find him with close buddies, but you always hear him talk about the relationships he has with powerful people, it never ends.

If you want to laugh, ask him if he could introduce you to so and so: He’ll give you the stupidest excuses why that can’t happen “now”, but maybe a “little bit later.” It actually never happens, but it’s funny to see him try to evade your request.

Sign #5 – To Him, You’re Boring

He never takes the time to understand what’s special or interesting about you. To him, conversation is just a means of gaining more power. He sure looks like he’s listening, but in reality, he’s just waiting for you to shut up so he can take control of the conversation, again. For example, when you say stuff like “Oh! Hey, you know what I just read in USA Today,… etc,” he says stuff like “Yea, of course!”, or “I know that but, here’s what’s really interesting…” With sentences like that, he just downplays anything you say as banal, and common knowledge.

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This will even happen if you talk about a brand new science discovery. If you want to test them, tell them about a new scientific study, and give him the results in reverse. If he says “I know…”, then you’re dealing with a sucker.

Sign #6 – He Covers His “Black Hole” Personality

The selfish person knows that if he acts like himself right away, he would never make friends. Instead, he starts by acting like a very polite cordial person. At first, he’s interested in getting to know you, and listens carefully to you. Then, he gradually starts to withdraw, and only shows up when he needs something.

He usually brings lots of conversation to the table, and always has something to say. He does that to imply an open minded, interesting, and interested personality, but you can sense that he’s not really interested in any of those subjects; he just uses them as a cover for an empty take-everything-I-can personality. It’s like a black hole—you can’t expect to get love from a person who can only take.

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BONUS-TIP – The Most Dangerous Trick In His Bag

The most dangerous trick in the selfish person’s bag is the confusion he tries to create in your mind. He tries to get you to doubt your value as a friend. He wants you to think you’re not cool enough, and need to try harder. This is a pseudo-rejection that the selfish person gives you in small doses.

My advice to you is to never fall for this. As you start to detect the selfish signs, move on, and find a giving person; someone who is willing to invest some of their time to make new friends. Cut the suckers out—they do more harm than good.

Meet The Right Friends For You

If you want to learn how to meet great people, make conversation, and build friendships with them, I recommend you get on my Free Social Skills Newsletter.

In it, I’ll show you the best techniques and strategies for meeting and making friends. I’ll also share with you new tips for having amazing conversations, that instantly make people want to get to know you.

See you there.
– Paul Sanders

More by this author

Paul Sanders

A communication expert who tries to help people improve their social skills and make friends anywhere.

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Last Updated on January 15, 2019

How to Talk to Strangers Without Feeling Awkward

How to Talk to Strangers Without Feeling Awkward

Many of us feel awkward talking to strangers. I’m a very outgoing person, even though I sometimes feel uncomfortable walking up to someone and asking a question or starting a conversation. I consider myself pretty high up on the extrovert meter. So what is it that makes us pause and become worried or anxious about talking to people we don’t know?

In this article, we will discuss why we feel this way as well as some tips on how to talk to strangers without feeling awkward.

Step right up, don’t be shy!

Why We Feel Awkward Talking to Strangers

The next time you feel uncomfortable talking to a stranger, tell yourself that’s completely normal. There are numerous reasons why it’s actually natural to feel awkward talking to strangers:

Our Stress Levels Rise Around Strangers

Numerous studies have show that our levels of cortisol go up when we are around strangers.[1] Cortisol is the hormone inside of us which produces stress responses.[2]
So there you go, right off the bat you can see part of your standard response to strangers is due to a chemical reaction!

A very interesting by product of increased cortisol is that it makes us less empathetic. More than likely this can be traced to our evolution. The increase in the cortisol and the corresponding decrease in empathy makes us want to stay away from strangers. We are biologically wired to feel concern around strangers.

Evolution Taught Us to Be Wary

Evolution has also taught us to be wary of strangers in general. Humans as a whole have spent a large chunk of their history banded together in small protective groups. We did this in order to help protect each other and maximize resources.

When you think about it in this context, outsiders to our small groups or strangers are considered potential threats. Fear of strangers is common across almost all human cultures.

Culturally Conditioned

We can also thank our society for helping us feel uncomfortable and sometimes afraid of strangers. The term “stranger danger” is something most of us can relate to either growing up or raising kids. Or both.

I remember hearing this from my parents, mostly about not getting in someone’s car I didn’t know. And as the father of 2 teenage girls, you can be sure I’ve talked to them about this very concept more times that they want to hear.

The thought that strangers can be dangerous is built into us as it is. Toss in the amplification of the media on strangers doing things such as kidnapping kids and it takes it to an even higher level.

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Now that we’ve reviewed some of the reasons why we are nervous, let’s look at why you should talk to strangers more.

Benefits of Getting over the Awkwardness

Let’s take a quick look at some of the advantages of how to talk to strangers without feeling awkward. These are some high level benefits of talking to strangers.

1. Broadens Your Network

After you talk to someone, you didn’t know previously they become someone you know at least a little bit. This alone helps broaden your network of people you know. This is helpful in many ways whether it is work related or socially related.

2. Improves Your Communication Skills

I am a huge proponent of the value of solid communication skills and have written about it often. The more you talk to people, especially people you don’t know, the better your communication skills become.

Interacting with a wider variety of people will bring the added benefit of improving your communication skills.

3. Continually Learning

So many of us don’t actively seek to learn new things. This is one of the primary keys to staying engaged in life and our own personal self fulfillment.

Almost every time I speak to someone I didn’t know previously, I’ve learned something new. When we speak to strangers, it pushes us out of our comfort zones and we tend to learn new things.

4. Increases Self Confidence

Every time we learn to do something we were previously anxious about, we feel better about ourselves.

Forcing ourselves to talk to strangers will lead to increased self confidence. As we get more and more comfortable doing something that previously made us feel awkward, our self confidence will go up and up.

So, how to talk to strangers to reap these benefits?

How to Talk to Strangers

Here are some tips to on how to talk to strangers without feeling awkward.

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1. Say Hello

Putting “say hello” first may seem a bit obvious but let’s take a deeper look. Much of the social awkwardness when speaking to strangers is simply breaking the ice. The first words that will engage someone.

Most people will respond when someone says hello or hi to them. And those that don’t, you probably don’t want to talk to anyway.

Practice being the person that opens the door to a conversation. Say hello.

2. Ask About Them

Something that I have noticed over the years is that people love to talk about themselves. Even fairly private people tend to open up when asked about events in their lives.

You can ask leading questions that get people to talk about themselves and recent events. Things like recent movies watched or the summer vacation are great to get someone talking.

As a father, I also know that people love to talk about their kids. Asking about kids is a fairly easy topic to bring up and in general, most people will expound upon all the great things their kids do or are involved with.

3. Just Do It

One of the biggest reasons we don’t do things we want to or know we should is because we overthink it. Quit thinking about it so much and just do it.

When you give yourself the time to analyze every little angle about a situation, you also give plenty of time to talk yourself out of it. You’ll wind up thinking what if this happens or what if that happens.

Try to force yourself to jump right in without thinking about it too much. Whenever I have done this, I always feel great about it afterwards, no matter how it turned out.

4. Don’t Take It Personal

One of the greatest lessons in life I ever learned was don’t take anything personally. We all go through life with our own sets of experiences and see things through our own lens. The way people react to different situations has almost nothing to do with us. It has to do with previous experiences and the way people feel about things other than us.

When someone’s reaction isn’t what you’d hoped or expected, chances are it has nothing to do with you. Remember that and keep it in context.

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5. Get a Chuckle If Possible

I used the word chuckle purposely because it makes me laugh. In my opinion, it’s one of those funny words. We all like to laugh because it makes us feel good. And when someone makes us laugh, we typically remember those people in a positive light.

One of the best ways to make a conversation easy and free flowing is to get some laughter going. It doesn’t mean you have to be the master joke teller or anything. See if you can work in a way to make the person you are talking to get a smile or some laughter in. In fact, laughing at yourself maybe a nice try.

6. Detach

A great feeling is when you don’t mind which way something turns out, that you will be fine no matter what happens. Kind of like when I watch my two favorite football teams play against each other. I don’t really care who wins, I just want a fun game.

Treat talking to strangers the same way. You don’t really care how the conversation goes because you are detaching from the outcome. Make it a fun time with yourself and if the conversation goes well, awesome! If not then no big deal, move on.

7. Share Your Stories

Well, all like to feel connected to other people. And many times we wind up hanging out with people that we have things in common with. No surprise here.

To help with how to talk to strangers without feeling awkward, tell stories that have commonalities with the person you are talking to. Kids are an easy one. I have a daughter who was a competitive cheerleader and now plays club volleyball. I have instant connection and stories with strangers I speak with who have kids that play sports. It’s easy to relate to.

So when you are speaking to a stranger and you have a story or mutual connection point, bring it up.

8. Give a Compliment

Almost everyone likes hearing a compliment, whether they admit to it or not. As a general rule, we don’t give out enough compliments. It’s amazing how one small remark someone tosses your way about how good you look can literally make your entire day.

When you are speaking with someone you don’t know, see if you can work a compliment in. Nothing creepy here. Not a good idea to tell someone you just met that they are the prettiest or handsomest person you ever met. However, if you can share how you like their tattoo or shoes or something like that, it will help put the conversation into an easy going, smiling place.

9. Relax Your Body Language

If you go into a situation all worried and nervous, it shows on your body. Your shoulders are tensed up, there’s a look of consternation on your face, things like that.

When you engage a stranger in conversation, make it a point to relax your body language. Take a deep breath before you engage the person, let your body relax, and put a smile on your face. This will help relax you and it has the added benefit of putting the other person more at ease.

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If they see that you are relaxed, it helps them relax. Plus having open, engaging body language is very conducive to inviting someone to open up into a conversation with you.

10. Practice, Practice, Practice

Like everything else in life, talking to strangers gets easier with practice. The more you do it, the easier it becomes.

Make it a point to talk to several strangers each week and it will definitely help you relax as you do it more and more.

After a while, it will become something you don’t even think about, you just do it. And that takes all of the awkwardness out of being in these type situations.

The Bottom Line

As we have seen, it is perfectly natural to feel awkward talking to strangers. We are biologically built that way and we have our own society constantly warning us how dangerous it is. It’s no wonder we feel awkward talking to strangers!

There are numerous benefits to learning to be more comfortable talking to strangers. See if you can employ some of the techniques mentioned to learn how to talk to strangers without feeling awkward.

Once you start practicing speaking with strangers more often and utilizing some of the tips, you will become more comfortable doing so. This in turn will lead to a learned new skill and increased self confidence.

Remember, everyone you know was a stranger at one time. Now get out there and make some new friends.

More Resources About Strengthening Communication Skills

Featured photo credit: Priscilla Du Preez via unsplash.com

Reference

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