Group Theory

Soft Skills of a Social Engineer: Humility and Motivation

The two soft skills of a social engineer I am going to discuss are humility and motivation.

Humility is defined as “the quality or condition of being humble; modest opinion or estimate of one’s own importance, rank, etc.” (Dictionary, n.d.). While it may seem to some that in social engineering one would always need to be assertive and aggressive in their conversations and interactions, a more subtle approach is often beneficial. Too often than not, scenarios might require a bit of grace in influencing your target. For example, if I deal with an older individual, I respect their typical opinion that they think they know more than me about a particular subject (in many cases, I am sure they do). In such a situation, I find withholding my knowledge about the subject and granting the individual a chance to teach me can procure a likeness to my character. Allowing a boomer (no offense intended) to share their thoughts on a subject can give them the satisfaction they require that they are, indeed, the superior generation.

After moving into my first house recently, I have been feeling quite stressed about the status of my yard. Within days of moving in, our sewage leaked in the basement, requiring an $8k job to replace the whole line (which tore up the entire front yard, some of the street, and even a portion of my front neighbor’s driveway). Needless to say, I have been working hard at growing new grass to cover up the ugliness. In one of my interactions with a neighbor who obviously was irritated with my progress, I asked them a few questions about tips for laying seed and watering; while I already knew the answers, at the end of the conversation, they were very positive towards me. Humility in many aspects of life can be very rewarding, as nobody likes a know-it-all.

For motivation, we need to explore the opposite of humility, so to speak, and take a look into what drives us to succeed. Motivation, as a social engineer, can come in many varieties, such as desiring to infiltrate an establishment, forward our careers, or merely convince our spouse’s to watch a certain show (please, no more Jersey Shore). Motivation is a vital aspect of a social engineer, and it can be beneficial for both the motivation of the engineer and their target. What motivates targets, you may ask? The principles of influence are crucial to getting people to have a false or real sense of motivation. For example, as I am writing this, my wife (being the amazing person she is) came to my basement-tech-lair to do laundry. I sparked up a conversation about being sore from the first time I have worked out since the lockdown due to COVID-19 and mentioned the leftover BBQ I was going to make shortly. Little did she know, but I had just motivated her to make it for me. The action truly succeeded when I praised her for the task and thanked her.

Hadnagy’s social engineer soft skills are honestly cheat codes for daily life, similar to the principles of influence; by following these teachings, a whole new world of possibilities opens up for you (such as delivered food)!


Hadnagy, C., & Wozniak, S. (2018). Social Engineering; The Science of Human Hacking (2nd ed.). Newark: John Wiley & Sons, Incorporated.

Dictionary. (n.d.). Humility. Retrieved May 12, 2020, from

Categories: Group Theory

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