Those of us who are awkward salute you, Vanessa Van Edwards, as our new queen. We have needed this book so much, but we never knew it. Ours is the tribe that openly claims to “lack social skills.” Why didn’t anyone tell us that this stuff could be learned? Captivate is the “missing manual” to that legacy of frustrating, disappointing, awkward, and humiliating social failures. That sounds awful. Let me start over. Captivate is a fun, entertaining guide to behavior hacking that can help anyone figure out how to actually enjoy social interactions.
I had the pleasure of hearing Vanessa speak at World Domination Summit this year. She is tremendous. It’s really hard to believe that she ever felt awkward, because she is so beautiful and funny and polished and engaging. Then she reveals that she owes it all to Spanx. Ugh, it’s not fair. How can she be all that and be so likable?
There’s this saying that “if you’re so smart, why aren’t you rich?” We have to take it on faith that Vanessa Van Edwards really was ever anywhere near as awkward as she claims. If that’s true, then her public persona and success at teaching people skills are proof that this stuff works. We can ask ourselves, “If it worked for her, will it work for me? Maybe even 1%?”
I think Captivate would even work for my autistic friends, because it includes extremely specific details, photographs, diagrams, and explanations of why people react the way they do. It has sample scripts of things to say in conversation. This is stuff that can be studied and memorized and tested.
I’m on the opposite end of the spectrum, as an empath. I always struggled with something that I never knew had a name. People would make microexpressions, which I find clearly visible, and then quickly, deliberately obscure those instantaneous reactions with something else. Part of my awkwardness was in wanting to talk openly about things that other people wanted to avoid. I didn’t understand why there needed to be this secret, hidden layer to people’s reactions and interactions. Too personal, too intimate, too quickly. Especially when I was young, I had to have social dynamics painstakingly explained to me. What a magical gift this book would have been for a weird little kid like me!
Something really struck me while reading this book, and it was the section on primary values. Everyone is in search of a primary value in every interaction. That’s going to be either love, service, status, money, goods, or information. My primary value is information, with a secondary value of service, while my husband says his is love followed by service. Aha. Can you tell me more about this need to feel accepted and liked by others? Because I’d really like to know! What struck me about this was that Goods are on the list right up there with Love and Status. THIS IS SO TRUE. This explains every last little thing that I wasn’t yet understanding about my work with hoarders! They actually think that Goods matter for some reason! Ahem. I mean. They have this trait in common with artists, museum curators, and archaeologists? *whistles, puts hands in pockets*
I was captivated by Captivate, and also captivated by Vanessa Van Edwards herself. This is a truly, truly remarkable book. For myself, I don’t even feel like one reading was enough; it feels like the more time I spend studying it, the easier my life will be. The same will probably be true for you.
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I've been working with chronic disorganization, squalor, and hoarding for over 20 years. I'm also a marathon runner who was diagnosed with fibromyalgia and thyroid disease 17 years ago.