Thursday, November 10, 2011

Social Survival Skills: Be a Social Ninja

Sometimes being social is something you need to do whether you like it or not.  In order to participate, get done what you need to get done, then make your escape, consider these rules:
  • Dress appropriately.  You don't want to dress to draw attention to yourself by either being too flashy or, on the flip side, dressing like someone who just woke up under a bridge.
  • Arrive at your event slightly late.  Again, you don't want to be the first one to arrive and you don't want to be the one who is always late in order to "make an entrance."  Arrive a few minutes late and blend in with the crowd.  For meetings, however, always be on time.
  • Make small talk.  If you don't know how, practice.  The good thing is that once you start the small talk, you will most likely not have to say much more as most people will continue to talk (and talk and talk) with little more encouragement from you than a couple of "uh huhs" and a couple shakes of your head.
  • Don't give out too much information.  You may have to be social but you don't want everyone knowing your business.  Make your work sound as uninteresting as possible and skip the part about you having just made your 500th jump or that your tan line was gleaned from a desert 6,576 miles away instead of down south on vacation with the family.
  • Mind your manners.  Even if you have the manners of a king, don't use them (too memorable).  On the other hand you don't want to have the manners of someone raised in San Quentin either.  If you are unsure of what to do, do what everyone else is doing.
  • Mind your presence.  Everyone has a presence.  The way you walk, the way you gesture, your facial expression when you aren't paying attention, the amount of eye contact you make...  You want your presence to be as milquetoast as a CPA on a Sunday.  If your presence screams "Special Forces" or "thug" that is...let's just say...not very ninja-like.
  • A bit of confidence, charm, and attitude will go a long way towards making you seem...very average. You don't want to be the most confident guy, the most charming guy, or the guy with the most attitude, you just want to be...average.
  • Hold your alcohol.  One drink is fine, eight drinks is stupid.  If your social events usually result in pictures you wouldn't want to show your boss or wife turning up on FaceBook then ninja up and chill out.
  • Avoid the cameras.  I'm not sure why everyone and their brother feels compelled to record every last minute of every last event on a social media site for posterity but I have a strict no photos policy. 
  • Listen and pay attention.  I find social gatherings a great place to both watch people and find out what is going on.  People who don't follow the above rules (ie: too much alcohol, too much bravado, too much posing for the camera, too much information) are generally the best people to listen to (you can glean everything from insider trading tips to who's getting fired next week to who's sleeping with who.  Valuable information if you know how to use it).
  • Leave.  When you have achieved your objective, make your escape.  Obviously if you achieve your objective only a few minutes after arrival, you may want to stick around a bit so as not to draw attention to yourself but you don't want to be the one they have to start flashing the lights at either.
That's all.  I usually find social events to be a necessary evil but by paying attention to these few rules, you can make them as painless as possible.


  1. These days being social is all done from the laptop in your bedroom. Do people even meet face to face any more? haha

  2. Love this post and timely for the holidaze. Will be forwarding this to my brother!
    I disagree with the idea of being so average you may be forgotten. I make it a point to ALWAYS be the first to arrive...totally easy as everyone is fashionably late. I am always there to help set up, greet everyone and set them at ease while the host/hostess is dressing.
    I win points from all and I get to leave early and not clean up the where you park for the fast get away!