Social Situation Diary 4: Premature

A couple different situations to tackle in this edition. First was a few weeks ago and involved a birthday:

D is a close family member. C is a sibling who was having a birthday. Overall I planned this situation poorly – I was trying to optimize for good food (available primarily in SF), easy transportation (most folks coming from South Bay, while I didn’t have a car) and being able to get a good cake/wine. As I mentioned in a previous post, D’s unwillingness to come up to SF (because it was not ideal transportation for him) caused extra hassle for me (as far as getting transportation) and concern that the food wouldn’t be as good.

In reality, the problem was poor communication – I had communicated that one solution was dinner in the South Bay. It turned out okay – we went to a new place that sucked (but now we know) and transportation was easier for C. However, I had to get a rental car to drive both out to the bakery and down to the South Bay. I was frustrated by the situation but I somehow realized that I probably shouldn’t have been. I realized, as I mentioned previously, is that I tend to see things purely from my point of view and be unwilling to sacrifice my personal position for the good of the group.

The second situation also involves a D, but this time a co-worker D. Basically D is a person I really enjoy talking to at work. A younger co-worker, I almost see D as a mentee of mine. That being said, some of his behavior was not up to snuff. I was asked about it by senior folks and I related his behavior honestly. I felt conflicted because I like the person and want him to improve, rather than simply tattling on him and taking his shortcomings as a given.

In that moment I appreciated the old Firm’s model and my roommate’s Christian group model of feedback as a positive thing: if you truly wish for the best for other people, you have to embrace other people’s mistakes rather than reporting them and trying to find ways for them to improve. That being said, giving feedback is an incredibly delicate and difficult thing as I’ve mentioned before. Probably best to wait and be patient until that person demonstrates inklings of the qualities you’re looking for and praise the heck out of them.

The third situation involves me and L, which I have actually been blogging about for the past few posts. I won’t rehash the situation but at least I’ll share a social intelligence takeaway that I knew but just totally lost in the emotions I was feeling. Basically it’s this – build the relationship through actions and not words, keep things light and fun, do a lot/think little, etc. In other words, don’t be lame and premature. Be patient and stoke the flames. Work hard.

You need to already know what the response is going to be by the time you ask the serious question or take the serious position. Ask the trial questions that you can back off of. For example, a salesperson will never ask early on “do you want to buy this?” because a “no” will commit the potential buyer. While this probably is not that useful right now, it will be once I’m in a relationship or getting into a relationship.

But rather “could you see this in your house?” as a trial balloon. In a word, flirt. As I mentioned before, flirting is actually a complex dance requiring high social intelligence. It exists so that parties can make overtures without risking social capital in the event of rejection. Use the person’s name. Ask them fun questions. Plan a bunch of stuff. I never really aspired to deploying this much intelligence towards social functions particularly girls (I always thought things would just work), rather than big picture stuff but I’m already here trying to get better with people so why not…

But also, handling things poorly gets you into a little bit of a pickle with people who you like. I’m on uncertain terms with L i.e., she’s not really feeling me that much. And I can’t tell whether we’ve gotten here because she just really doesn’t like me and there’s never been any shot or because I’ve handled it poorly. Now if she simply doesn’t like me, I could move on easily. But I like this girl so much that if she’s feeling uncertain because I’ve handled things poorly, then I might hang around. It’s hard to know.

And I want to just straight up discuss that… but asking that only complicates the situation… because she probably doesn’t know. She’s not going to be able to figure out the counterfactual “would you be responding more positively right now had I handled this better?” And you can’t just walk through these complicated plans and thoughts and feelings and social analysis with people. It’s not fun. It’s relationship-killing.

Which leads to another question of – if the girl doesn’t like you because you’ve displayed poor social intelligence, is it going to work in the first place? Most people I respect and look up to are telling me “no.” And I kind of agree. One of my mentors has been telling me “7 girls want to date 10s and 9s don’t care.” Anyway brought on C as my official consultant here.

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