Perhaps the most basic factor that leads to a successful social interaction is whether the social interaction makes the people happy who are engaged in it. In the self help introduction I mention 3 core categories of painful thoughts that lead to unhappiness. These are low self concept, paranoia and pessimism. If a social interaction leads someone to feel better about himself, feel liked, or feel optimistic it is likely to bring happiness to that person and to be a successful social interaction.
How many of us keep that in mind when we interact with others? Consider dating for example. Many people on a first date focus on worrying how the other person will perceive them instead of on trying to make the other person happy. Some people on dates talk about the sorry state of the world and cause their date to feel pessimistic and depressed. Some criticize their date for her opinions or actions.
Before asking ourselves how we can make someone else happier we should consider whether we our making the other person unhappy. Are we attacking their self esteem, are we making them more pessimistic, are we expressing hostility toward them? Many people do this in relationships. Supposing Jack is Jill's boyfriend and Jill is upset that Jack is working Saturday night instead of spending the night with her. Jill might criticize Jack for working instead of being with her. She might tell him that he just does the work because he doesn't have the courage to stand up to his boss. By criticizing him she is attacking his self esteem. She might also try and get him to come to her by telling him that he doesn't care for her and making him feel guilty. That too is an attack on his self esteem. That is not good for relationships. If Jill would just tell Jack that she wished he was with her she would make her point and boost his self esteem. The moment she attacks his self esteem she is making him unhappy and jeopardizing her relationship with him.
In most relationships, especially romantic ones there are conflicts. Whether or not relationships survive depend on the ability of those involved in the relationship to resolve their conflicts. The most fundamental requirement of conflict resolution is that each side be willing to admit they are wrong when they are wrong. Approaches to conflict resolution are discussed further on the conflict resolution page of this web site.
In general if one tries to make the other people happier whether by making them feel good about themselves or making them laugh one is likely to be successful socially. One way to make people laugh is to tell jokes. Learning a joke a day you can build up a repertoire. For links to jokes click here. One way to make people happy is to be happy yourself.
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