The Stuff of Life

The Stuff of Life
For those of us who find nature to be both aesthetically beautiful and life-sustaining.

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

PART I: You Can't Survive the End of the World As We Know It Without First Surviving the World As We Know it

Whether or not the end of the world as we know it (TEOTWAWKI) is in our near future, down the road or never comes to pass, the fact remains that if you are reading this, you currently live in the world AS we know it. The world as we know it is a social landscape. Everything we have built and everything we do is contingent on other people. We have all become the people we have become because our ancestors were survivors. Our ancestors were adept at creating and maintaining groups, tribes and societies. Because of their ability to function in a society or group, the people before us mastered the art of making clothing, tool making, fire, water collection and purification, container making, shelter building, hunting, foraging, fishing, trapping and agriculture. Ironically, all of these things are things that most of us today no longer know how to do on our own. If we face a catastrophic change in our current state of the world, these skills would once again mandate who lives and who doesn't.

But first, those ancestral survivors mastered and honed their social skills. They worked together toward a common mission of survival. In order for you to confidently move toward honing the abilities that they once had, you must first master the art of social survival. Even if your preference or your plan is to be a lone wolf, because you live in a social world, your odds are greatly increased if you have social skills to add to your basic-needs "survivor pack".

The following is a short list (PART I). This list is not all encompassing and will be added to in future follow-up posts, but here is a mini foundation of basic "social survival skills" for interacting, attracting, inspiring, motivating, and leading people:

1. Criticism is critical and because it is critical it cannot be constructive only destructive. People do what they do for a reason. We are all motivated for different purposes and reasons. Generally, we are seeking some type of emotional payoff or other outcome for our behaviors and our actions. This payoff can be positive or negative. People are more often motivated emotionally rather than logically. B.F. Skinner was able to show many years ago that even animals learn and retain information more productively when given positive reinforcements rather than negative reinforcements. Yet, we humans still seek to change people via complaints, forced conformity, criticisms and condemnations. It simply doesn't work. Keep your eye on your goal in interacting with people and know that being critical will never get your needs met.

2. Find people interesting and show and express a genuine interest in them. We are all drawn toward those that have the ability to make us feel good about ourselves. It's a simple thing about human nature. But, the important word in this one is "genuine." This sincerity of purpose may be difficult for many people. None of us want to be flattered by someone who isn't genuine or for someone to show an interest in our lives or what we have been doing that really doesn't care. Our hope is that other people are genuinely interested in us when they inquire as to how we are doing. If you ask that question, mean it. No one really wants the flat answer that we socially have grown trained to say: "fine, how are you?" Appreciate it if someone actually answers that question whether it was what you were hoping to hear or not. This is the cornerstone of a good leader, a good person, a good team player, a good friend or a good mate.

3. Let the other person's self-interest be the conversational guide. This one is vital because it plays off of the fact that people like it when you show an interest in them. If you visit with someone, even briefly, at the grocery store or wherever you go take a moment to visit with them about real things, their life, their family and things that they actually care about. You may find that people tell you their life story. This should tell you how desperate the person was for someone to show an interest in them or to care or to listen. You need to always remember that it is an honor when people show that kind of trust or comfort level with you to choose to share personal information with you. This is absolutely a necessary skill to being a good leader. People want to hear about what matters to them, people want to talk about what matters to them and how something will ultimately affect them. Show a genuine interest in other people and ask about them and the things that matter to them.

These three skills are the beginning of your "social survival kit. "There are many others that I will share with you to add to your kit. First, read and re-read these three life skills and begin to practice them everywhere you go and in everything you do. Social skills, like tool making and fire starting, must be learned and practiced. Master these and master your social landscape.

To Be Continued.

For Further Reading on B.F. Skinner, human behavior, operant conditioning, reinforcements and behavior modification, you can visit the following links:

B.F. Skinner Foundation 2014

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