Restructuring to Improve Your Social Circle

We’ve talked about social circles before. This time we want to look at filtering people who may not be a good fit for your life.

When it comes to restructuring your social circle, there are a few things to keep in mind. Number one: not everyone is worth your time. When we’re struggling with social anxiety and don’t really know how to put things together, we tend to sort of stick with people, even when it would be better to move on.

When we let one or two people into our life even though they treat us poorly and exhibit bad behavior, we tend to keep them around. When we don’t have a lot of social options, we put value on that person. That’s how we easily get mistreated.

Of course, we allow that to continue because we don’t have other options for company. So we let a lot of things slide, with no apparent boundaries. At the Bootcamp we have here in L.A., we ask our guys to do a friend audit. That means looking at the people in your life and seeing if you’re getting a return on your investment of time and energy.

You want to make sure you’re connecting with the right people, because ultimately, time is your greatest resource. If you’re wasting it on low-value people, you’re going to be pretty unhappy with your social life.

That said, let’s take a look at some indicators worth paying attention to as you choose who you’ll hold nearest and dearest:

Combative vs. Supplicative Behaviors

Combative behaviors go outward. Supplicative behaviors go inward. “Supplicative” is a foreign word to many, but it basically means to beg. If we define value as attention, approval, and acceptance, then you beg for attention, approval, and acceptance.

We see this a lot with people who tend to be a little shy and nervous. They tend to be inwardly focused and close themselves off, tending to withdraw from any interaction.

Examples of Supplicative Behaviors

Some examples of supplicative behaviors include:

  • Not taking up a lot of space, trying to become invisible, and closing themselves off.
  • Talking fast, mumbling, and speaking inaudibly.
  • Living with a victim mentality, as if the world is out to get them.
  • Fatalistic outlook, like they’ll never achieve what they want in life. Think Eeyore.

Sympathy is one way to get attention, approval, and acceptance, but it’s not a very strong play and it’s not the attention you really want. But it’s still attention, and for some people, that’s enough. That’s exactly what they’re looking for.

They’re All Out to Get Me!

You can look at your Facebook feed and see people who constantly post their new ailment of the day. It’s mind blowing. It’s just this constant stream of complaining.

I get it: life is difficult, and there are going to be challenges. But if you find someone who views every single day as a challenge, and every single day believes the world is conspiring against them, that’s a negative behavior you really don’t want to keep in your social circle.

If all they do is focus on the negative, what happens when you have an idea? How are they going to look at your idea? Negatively. Fight that negative energy off to achieve the goals and dreams you have.

Surround Yourself with Positive People

I live in Los Angeles, but my best friend still lives in Michigan. I don’t get to see him face-to-face very often, but I’m still investing time and energy in his life. We talk on the phone, we play video games, we chat online, and of course, his mindset rubs off on me. That’s exactly what we’re talking about here.

If you go to your friends and ask them for advice or for help, you’re going to get it through their lens, so we want to point out negative lenses. You really don’t want to have negativity present in the people around you, because you want a supportive network. Successful people often talk about being surrounded by positive people.

Examples of Combative Behaviors

We’ve already brought up the supplicative behaviors, like begging for attention, approval, and acceptance. Then there’s a more combative attitude. Rather than going inward, some people go outward and take it to an extreme.

They puff themselves up, getting louder so everyone can hear them. They’ll brag to everyone in the room so everyone can hear what a big shot they are. That outward behavior creates a lot of trouble. If you’re hanging around someone combative, you’ll quickly learn they tend to attract more combat.

If you’re just going around beating your chest all day, there are going to be people saying, “I can’t wait to take that guy down a few pegs!” You’re bringing unwanted attention and attracting negative mindsets.

The #&[email protected] Just Got Real

I learned this lesson when I was in Michigan. I had a friend who was a combative guy, always looking for a fight. I happened to be dating someone at the time, and she threw a house party. I invited him, so of course he showed up. Turned out, he invited one of his friends who was also combative.

The girls at the party didn’t really know either of these guys, so after a few drinks, they started ignoring them. The girls just weren’t paying them any attention at all. So what did my friend and his friend do? They got combative.

By the end of the night, a fist fight ended with my girlfriend’s manager suffering a broken arm. My girlfriend almost lost her job because of the people I was hanging out with. The only bright side was that I learned a valuable lesson. Be aware you will be labeled based on the company you keep. My reputation took a hit because of the friends I invited over that night.

If you see signs of a combative personality, then assume that how they do anything is how they do everything. You’ll see it again and again. When they get pushed or slighted, they’re going to want to knock someone out. They’re going to want to hurt somebody.

Beware the Pendulum Swing

Sometimes, there’s a switch. Maybe you’re coming from a supplicative place and you realize your behaviors have gotten you run over. Maybe not a lot of people want to hang out with you. You decide you don’t want to be a pushover, so you go to the other side.

I think guys especially get the worst rap with this, because every guy wants to be perceived as this alpha male who doesn’t tolerate any funny business. So he goes to the other side of the pendulum. This brutish mindset is going to come through, and now he’s just setting up other hurdles, because all of this is going to come back to bite.

Surprise! There’s a Different Kind of Behavior!

Let’s talk about cooperative behavior. This is where, rather than looking for ways to gain attention, approval, and acceptance, we find ways to give attention, approval, and acceptance.

We’ll get back attention, approval, and acceptance by allowing others around us to feel good. When we feel good, high-value people will look to see how they can give that back. Low-value people just continue to suck up everything offered; we call them value vampires. They just continue to take and take and take.

The best part about this is, if you’re somebody who doesn’t mind giving that value, it only takes a little extra time and energy. But you’re giving everyone the opportunity to feel good so you can see what they do with it. Now you’re starting to see who’s really worth your time.

What Goes Around Comes Around

When we’re cooperative, we get a good sense of how other people treat others. Do they look for ways to help you out, to reciprocate? Do they try to help other people in your network?

One of the fun things we get to do here at the Art of Charm is a lot of podcast interviews. We have a lot of great guests. If I do an interview, I’ll ask the host, “Hey, are you interested in interviewing any other guests? I have a few people in mind.” They almost always say yes.

What’s so surprising is most people won’t take that little extra effort to make those introductions. But I do, and sure enough, these people have come back to me asking, “What can I do for you? How can I help you?” It was really such a small thing on my part to ask if I could make an introduction. We want to find these behaviors in the people we’re surrounding ourselves with.

How Do I Get Rid of Toxic People?

Simply stop giving them attention. Stop answering your phone. Stop giving them your time. It can be difficult at first, but tell them, “Hey, I’m getting busy. My business is taking off,” or, “Sorry, I don’t have time this weekend.” Eventually, they’ll get the hint and realize, “He’s working on himself; he’s changed.” If they’re quality people, they’ll know they need to change their behavior to get any of your time. What they were doing was not working.

Sometimes You Go Back to the Start

Once you’ve restructured and installed the right people, you’ll be amazed how easy life gets. Let’s say you have a business idea. You want the people around you to say, “That sounds amazing” or “How can I help you?” or “I can set up your WordPress” and other words of encouragement. You don’t need someone who’s going to think, “Ugh, who’s going to read that? Why waste your time?”

If this sounds intimidating right now and you’re looking at your phone thinking, “Well I only have four or five friends and they all have some pretty rotten behaviors. What should I do?” Well, first you can listen to or read the episode on building your social circle.

It’s going to be difficult to remove some of those barnacles on your boat — people who are hanging on. But you’re going to be moving on and over time, you’ll start attracting the right people who will support you in your mission.

It may be scary to think about cutting people out of your life. Remember that sometimes people wind up in our lives not because we judged them as high-quality individuals, but because of circumstance and nothing more. But the people around you have a strong impact on your life — on your mental well-being, your health, and your fitness. If you find you’re in a negative echo chamber, you need to cut some ties and find people who are more cooperative.

Smile and the World Smiles with You

One thing we talk about a lot here is smiling. Smiling is contagious. It allows you to feel good and makes you look good, and attractive people are happy people. Do your best to have a positive attitude about what’s going on and always try to frame things in a positive light.

You may be reading this and thinking, “I have some of these behaviors. Maybe my friends want to get rid of me.” If that’s the case, I encourage you to change it up and start being more positive. Start showing support. Give them that attention, approval, and acceptance that’s going to make them feel good.

Take a sincere interest in others and practice active listening. You’d be amazed how many people want to share their story. You just have to give them an opportunity.

Be honest about your wants and needs. That’s going to allow others around you to do so as well. Remember, high-value people look for opportunities to take responsibility. Taking responsibility, even in small amounts, says a lot about a person.

Pro Tip: You can lead from the seat you’re in. Nowhere does it say you have to be the head of something to take responsibility. You can take responsibility immediately, in your immediate surroundings.

Practice being a little more candid and honest. When we’re meeting new people, and especially when people have maybe been a little negative, we tend to be reluctant about putting ourselves out there.

I encourage you to put yourself out there one more time and gauge their response. If they continue to exhibit negative behaviors while you’re being honest and vulnerable, get rid of them. You don’t need them.

Johnny Dzubak - author of 56 posts on The Art of Charm

Johnny happened upon the field of Social Dynamics and dating coaching quite by accident. Having been a touring musician much of his life, he felt the need to contribute positively to the world and was interested in the power of personal transformation. Johnny began educating himself about Social Dynamics and incorporating the concepts he learned into his day-to-day life. Soon after, he began coaching for a small Social Dynamics company out of Washington, DC; it was then that he met AJ & Jordan.

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