“How do I know when to apply a particular technique?”
One of my 1-on-1 Monthly Coaching students asked me this question last week.
And it’s not uncommon.
When someone first starts practicing social skills, they’re working on developing an awareness of social situations. They do this through testing out material and noting when something works and when something doesn’t.
If they’re repeatedly hitting the same sticking point, it is an indicator that with the technique was used incorrectly, the wrong technique was applied, or they were missing a technique for a place in the social interaction where there should be one.
These moments of realization where you learn that you could implement a technique (or several techniques) at a particular time is the purpose of practice.
You’ve discovered a window of opportunity: As in, there’s an opportunity to experiment with a technique.
Once you discover a window of opportunity, you can start to research and test out specific techniques that work in that space.
By practicing, you are cultivating an awareness of social situations and therefore, the ability to make more choices.
You can not gain this awareness through books or videos; you can only learn it through in-field practice.
As a coach, I can give you some signposts to help you spot the moment, but you will only be able to see them for yourself after significant practice.
This process takes time, but if you want to speed up the process: keep a journal.
When I first started studying social interactions, I managed to get my hands on a compilation of Neil Strauss (aka Style’s) field reports -there were so many- more than enough for several books.
Neil’s writing inspired me to take copious notes about each night of practice.
In fact, I’d keep a notebook for writing down lines from movies, books, and random conversations, in case I wanted to turn it into conversational material.
As I looked back at the notes, I found myself saying, “I bet I can use this technique here.” By keeping records of my practice, I could spot windows of opportunity for a story, recommendation, or some other interesting part of a conversation.
As soon as I spotted a window, I’d research what techniques could be applied there, and then repeatedly test them out.
Now, when I go into a social situation, I am immediately confronted with hundreds of choices to make and all the ways that the course of conversation would be affected by each choice.
With all these choices, you can begin to get creative with what techniques you want to apply; you can express yourself more effectively during your interactions, and take it from a skill to an art form.