This is a skill that I work on every single day and situation.
I came across Gabrielle Reece’s advice of “going first” from a friend. Which, after some looking into, found out is also touched upon in Tim Ferriss’ Tools of Titans. So whats that, 4 degrees of separation?
Gabrielle explains it as… “I always say that I’ll go first…. That means if I’m checking out at the store, I’ll say hello first. If I’m coming across somebody and make eye contact, I’ll smile first. [I wish] people would experiment with that in their life a little bit: Be first, because — not all times, but most times — it comes in your favor.”
I almost make a game out of it. I try to make eye contact with strangers all the time. A simple smile and “Hi’. You can tell some people really appreciate it. And its absolutely not always easy. Some people simple don’t look approachable. That makes it more fun. Practicing with those awkward moments can help you in other aspects of life. Talking to customers, on a interview, even on a first date. It’s practicing working around the awkward social engagements of life.
Pretty smple right?
I think its even harder when you “kinda” know the person.
This happens often especially in this time. Everyone is “friends” with everyone on Facebook or any form of social media. You might engage there, but in person!? That might be awkward. Whatever. Say Hi.
You know that guy from the gym but you don’t want to acknowledge him for whatever alpha reason. Grow up. Say Hi.
Your in Wawa grabbing a hoagie and you see someone you haven’t seen since High School. Avoid eye contact so you don’t have to engage right? Wrong. Its awkward, I get it. Get over it. Are you really too busy to give someone 30 seconds just to give a smile and a “How are you?”.
When you really think about it, its so odd how often we ignore one another. Strangers or not. How awkward is it when your standing in the elevator and no one mutters a word. Or when your sitting in a classroom waiting for the teacher and everyone sits there in silence. Uhh, yea, I actually can’t think of many other times but I know they exist…
Contrary to the above. There are some particular niche groups that engage to strangers all the time. Ever hear of the Jeep wave? Fellow Jeep drivers have their own wave they give one another just because they drive the same car. Every time I go on a run a fellow runner or biker always waves to me. Seems we are more likely to engage when we have obvious similarities or interests.
But guess what? Were all people. So be first and smile and say Hi to a stranger once in a while. The results might shock you.
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