The Philosophies And Assumptions Behind This Site
This article will give you a good idea of where this site is coming from and what my worldview is.
Everything here is just my personal conclusions
I don't think anything on this site is the Word Of God. It's just a bunch of ideas that I arrived at through my own experiences and research. My education and career is focused on this topic, but I don't think having a counseling degree automatically makes everything I say correct. Based on what you've come across in your own life, you may not agree with some of the points I make.
This site is remedial and focused on helping people move from Socially Below-Average to Average
It doesn't try to be a resource on how to be the most magnetic, popular person in your city. It won't give you any high-end pointers on how to be ultra-charismatic. In fact, if your people skills are already decent, a lot of what I have to say will seem overly obvious and like common sense, or unnecessarily detailed. Some articles discuss issues a socialy savvy person may never have struggled with or even thought about, like having a tendency to self-sabotage their conversations.
My goal is to help people who are unhappily socially below-average become contentedly average. That means covering lots of basics and fundamentals. Typical people just absorbed a ton of social knowledge as they grew up without really thinking about it. More-awkward people can have the experience of finding themselves in their early 20's, or later, and realizing they're missing all of this info that everyone else seems to have acquired by the time they were fifteen. They normally then have to try to piece everything together themselves to play catch up. This site is trying to help them get where they want more quickly.
I think having above-average social skills is mainly about executing the basics better, not about having an exclusive bag of tricks
While this site isn't aimed at developing top-notch social skills, I think the concepts it covers can still help people get there. In my experience really socially savvy people don't have a special playbook of secret influence tactics. They're using everyday principles, but putting it all together more smoothly. Their listening skills are a bit more polished, their friendly body language is a little more inviting, they're a tad more skillful at putting a plan together, they're more comfortable with themselves, and so on.
This site isn't trying to turn everyone into the same boilerplate "socially successful" person. It knows everyone has their own social goals, and that one lifestyle or preference isn't better or worse than another
All I want to do is provide lots of useful information on social skills and mental health. I hope each reader will take what they need, so they have tools to build the kind of life they want for themselves. A tip on how to make friends is a neutral piece of advice. It's not implied someone should only apply it to work toward the one "right" goal.
If one reader wants to improve their conversation skills and self-confidence so they can make thirty casual friends and party with them every weekend, good for them. If someone else wants to learn how to make two deep, close friends, who they only go a hike with every other week, that's just as valid. It's also okay if someone knows they're not good at or comfortable with an aspect of socializing, like being able to hold their own in rowdy interruption-filled group conversations, and they don't care about addressing it.
This site distinguishes between having social problems because of true deficits vs. getting flak from people because you don't fit society's mold
Most of the articles here are on how to overcome legitimate social weaknesses, like excessive anxiety or underdeveloped conversation skills. However, some people are socially unhappy because they get a hard time for going against the grain. They get judged and criticized for preferring to spend time alone, not enjoying group conversations, having non-mainstream hobbies, or holding alternative political beliefs. Those aren't flaws that need to be corrected. A section of the site covers this.
The advice here is not about magic quick fixes or shortcuts
I think to improve your social skills or self-confidence you have to put in the time and effort. I don't think there's an effortless way to side step this process.
The advice here is on how to do better with people by being the real deal, not about manipulating others or 'beating the system'
I believe it's important to truly become more socially savvy, comfortable, and likable, even if it takes a while to get there. Some other writing I've seen on this topic is based on the attitude of, "Do this trick to make someone like you when they otherwise wouldn't", "Do X to subtly control the interaction", or "Do Y to outwit people at their own game." I'm not about that. Little tactics have their place at times, but overall it's better to genuinely get more going for, you and then let the natural rewards of that come your way.
This site can't help but reflect, and be limited by, my demographics and background
I started writing about people skills in my mid-twenties, and am now in my early 40's. I'm male. I live in North America. I'm white. I'm straight. I grew up middle class. I have a university education. I have personal experience with some mental health struggles, but not others. I'm able-bodied. I could go on.
I realize my personal background leaks into my writing in lots of subtle little ways. It influences which topics I choose to cover, and what I have to say about them. I think a lot of the social concepts I discuss are fairly universal, but I'm under no illusion that they apply equally well to everyone on the planet. When you read something decide for yourself how relevant it is to your circumstances.
At times this site is willing to say things you may not want to hear
Overall I don't use a lecturing 'tough love' approach, but at times I'll say things that may annoy readers with certain viewpoints. I think some socially awkward people carry around inaccurate and counterproductive beliefs about themselves, the world, and others. Some of the articles challenge those mindsets. On the whole, I'm not about telling people that everything is fine, they can do no wrong, and it's all someone's fault.
I don't expect anyone to follow every last thing that's written here, and at all times
I think it's pretty reasonable to expect that the people who read this site will pick and choose the pieces of advice that they want to try, and skip the stuff that doesn't resonate for them. Also, I realize that we're human, and that even when we've learned all kinds of information about how we're ideally supposed to behave, on any given day we'll probably choose not to act on half of it. We're not always 100% efficient or organized at school, or at our jobs, even if we know the techniques to do so. Similarly, we may know how we 'should' act in a certain social situation, but just not feel like doing it.
I don't think this site is the final word on anything. Check other resources too
I think there's some good advice on here, but I'm not perfect and there are dozens of other good sources for this kind of information as well. Take what you want from here, ignore what you don't agree with, and consult other books, articles, sites, and people.
This site is constantly evolving
I'm always working to refine this site into the best resource on people skills it can be. Besides the obvious step of adding new articles whenever I can, I also tweak the content I've already written. At times I'll add a new point or two to an old article. On occassion I've adjusted one of the site's underlying messages across dozens of pages. When someone new stumbles onto this website and wants to make changes in their social life, I want to have the most solid, tight, useful resource that I can manage at that moment waiting for them.