You don’t have to be an expert at something to impress. Broadening your skill set will help you stand out in any social circle. To that end, here’s how you can start exploring some untapped aspects of your personality. All you need to do is nail these initial steps, because let’s be real: No one is going to ever ask a grown man to play a full sonata.
Find Your Musical Bone
Learn at least one song on guitar or piano. Those two instruments are mainstream enough that there’s usually one lying around someone’s attic or living room during social gatherings. Now, you don’t need to become a virtuoso (nobody at a party wants to hear you show off). The basics of a tune will suffice.
First, pick a song that isn’t cheesy but also not incredibly obscure. Then, check the tabs. Make sure you stick to three or four chords (a common occurrence in pop-rock songs) and learn them. Practice privately, and then play for a friend who’ll honestly tell you if you suck. Repeat until the friend approves.
Learn To Cut Your Own Hair
There’s something empowering about taking clippers into your own hands. You pick the time and can do it in the comfort of your home. Don’t try a complicated statement haircut, though. Stick to something straightforward, especially if this is your first DIY session. And look for cuts that suit your face shape. Most importantly, get a pair of clippers with a powerful motor, self-sharpening blades and a variety of guide combs. Secondly, you’ll need a comb, scissors, and a spray bottle filled with water. Start with longer guide combs than you think you’ll need, since you can always cut shorter, and remember to cut against the grain. Click here for thorough explanations of a few easy-to-master cuts.
Become A Negotiation Master
Whether you’re asking for a raise or buying a car, you need clever negotiation skills. First, feel out your “opponent’s” pace. Don’t blow all your ammunition by attacking too fast, too quickly. Throughout the conversation, casually prove that you’ve done your homework. Whether it’s knowing how a competing company is paying its employees or mentioning that you’ve considered getting the car somewhere else, context is currency. When pitching your own number, a range will make you seem more flexible. And no matter what, remember that once you establish a bottom line, there’s no turning back.
Wow Your Friends With Your Cooking Skills
This is not about becoming the next gourmet chef in your state. Instead, it’s about creating a signature dish. First, think of ingredients that are easily attainable (skip the expensive truffle salts or vegetables that only grow in one part of the world). Plan a dish that can be prepped in advance. You should also consider dietary habits, and stay away from extreme spices or heavy fried foods. And don’t forget: It’s called signature dish because it should reflect your tastes and personality, so utilize those things when brainstorming. As a bonus, gain some badass, multipurpose kitchen skills to amp your culinary reputation: Make every type of egg, fillet a fish, carve a turkey, and cook pancakes from scratch.
Up Your Conversation Game
Ironically, the first step to a good conversation is shutting your mouth. Listen. Once you have a feel for someone’s interests, ask a question that goes beyond the superficial. For example: If the person’s into a television series, don’t just talk about the series. Instead, mention the country where the series was shot and ask if they’ve visited. And remember: Bad conversations usually involve an uncomfortable silence. Don’t panic if the exchange runs dry. Instead, involve someone else, or suggest you both grab a drink. Bringing in a new person or activity to the situation will trigger fresh dialogue. The key is to be yourself. Odds are that if you’re trying too hard, it’ll show.
Calm A Crying Baby
While a screaming infant can be terrifying, there is a solve. First, don’t freak out or be embarrassed. Use your hands to cradle, hug, or carry the baby. Or try this miracle hold, devised by a doctor in California. Turn the baby so their back is facing you. Fold the baby’s arms onto their chest, gently hold them there with your hand, and put your other hand under the baby’s bottom. Tilt the baby forward at a 45 degree angle and very gently rock him up and down. If that doesn’t work, check the basic human stuff like gas, dirty diaper, hunger, thirst, body temperature, or lack of sleep. Last resort: Release your inner crooner with a lullaby.
Speak In Tongues
Knowing a second language will help you understand a country’s idiosyncrasies, and let you show off a little at restaurants or on vacation. To others, it proves that you’ve traveled and can see beyond your own navel. Pick a language from a culture that genuinely interests you (be it because of a movie, sports, or a video game). Make sure you have an open mind and a sense of humor. You’ll probably feel like an idiot at first, but that’s part of the process. Then, set a realistic goal. Don’t expect to be fluent in a month. Take an actual class or hire a personal teacher. While more expensive, it’s money well-invested (language apps are better for practicing). And ideally, spend some time in the country where the language is from.
No matter which skill you start with, we’re rooting for you. But giving yourself a haircut seems like a natural beginning. Step one: Get the right Wahl Clippers.
Astrid Harders is a senior writer for Studio@Gizmodo.