Having A Realistic Idea Of The Effects Of Improving Your Social Skills
Working on your people skills will undoubtedly make your life better if you're currently behind in that area, but it does only go so far:
You may never becoming a super-outgoing, confident, social butterfly
Why? Because you may just not be that motivated. You could be the kind of person who's perfectly happy with two close friends, a healthy romantic relationship, the odd interesting plan on the weekend, and relief from the unhappiness and low self-esteem your so-so interpersonal skills previously caused. Being the fun, charismatic party animal with 50 friends may not do it for you.
I believe if you worked at it for long enough you probably could become super-charming and confident, but your first priority should be getting good enough to get by; to be happy with yourself and your social life, and eliminate your most painful problem areas. Then, if you want, you can try to reach to that next level. There are undeniably benefits to it, but you may never want to get there. Maybe it'll forever remain as a 'should', something that would logically be nice to have, but which your innate personality isn't all that interested in attaining.
You'll never become socially flawless or impervious to harm
When you improve your people skills the social world will be easier to navigate, but you'll never become totally immune to its difficulties:
- You'll never totally avoid rejection, or not care about it.
- You'll never totally avoid bouts of poor self-confidence or pessimistic thinking.
- You'll still feel shy or inhibited at times.
- You'll never hit it off with everyone you meet, or get everyone to like you.
- You'll never have every conversation go perfectly.
- You'll never totally eliminate your nerves in situations most people find difficult, like dating or public speaking.
- You'll still make mistakes and say things you shouldn't.
Also, sometimes you'll know you should do x,y,z to act more socially adept, but you won't feel like it. This comes down to being human. No one is going to follow the advice they've learned all the time. You may go to a party and just decide you're not going to be talkative that night, and that you can accept the consequences. Or you might be in a bad mood and not do what you logically know is ideal. Everyone has days like this, in regards to socializing or other areas.
No matter how much you improve you may still occasionally backslide into your old ways
Even if you get to a point where you can handle most social situations without a problem, every so often you might do something like meet a new group of people and come off as awkward and withdrawn. Your thinking may digress into its old self-critical, unproductive tendencies. You may temporarily forget how to have a proper conversation. Your nerves may pop up and block you from doing something you're usually comfortable with. It's not a ball when this happens, but everyone has their off days. The good news is that you generally recover from these hiccups pretty quickly.
Improving your people skills won't make your life perfect
Say someone reads this site and makes more friends and gets better at chatting to people at parties. That's not magically going to prevent them from having struggles with, say, their career going off track, or their car breaking down, or a relative getting sick. Social skills are important and reach into many facets of your life, but there are other factors in play too.
And if you think about it for half a second, you can probably come up with someone with great social skills, but who still has plenty of problems. Being charming doesn't guarantee you'll act in a psychologically optimal manner in other personal areas either. You could be outwardly charismatic but still be self-destructive, flighty, unmotivated, prone to certain mental illnesses or addictions, pathologically jealous, and so on.
Some people unconsciously assume that if they get their social skills sorted out they'll somehow become this calm, centered self-help master overall. However, traits like impulse control, self-discipline, conscientiousness, and being organized have to be built up separately.
The causes of your social difficulties could be seen as a life-long manageable issue
Some of us just have a natural tendency to be anxious, or have trouble reading body language. Our personalities might veer toward being too uptight or negative. We can put in the effort to compensate for them, but I think these weak points will always be with us to some extent. It's frustrating, but everyone has some tasks that will always be trickier for them. For some of us, those difficulties are in social settings. Our shyness or awkwardness is occasionally going to well up and hinder us, or make us work harder to keep things on an even keel. Maybe on the outside we'll be indistinguishable from anyone else, but internally we'll be trying harder, and seemingly simple behaviors will always feel somewhat unnatural. Even if we have fulfilling social lives, we may never experience the interpersonal realm in the same way as someone who's been comfortable with it since they were five. But we'll bumble through well enough.
I think of it as just being born unlucky in that department. Everyone has their strengths and weaknesses. Maybe someone else is predisposed to being socially astute and confident, but they have a bad memory, anger problems, ADHD, dyslexia, vulnerability to alcoholism, or some other trait that makes parts of their life challenging.