This week’s focus is going to be interaction. Human contact. Connection. I’ve been thinking a lot lately social skills, or lack thereof. We seem so tuned into our cell phone or iPods that we forget we exist in a world much larger than the one we hold in our hand. I’ve been trying to make a conscious effort to socialize more. Now, I get it; Some folks are introverts and talking to a stranger is a daunting and frightful task. Introverts are excused this week. But, I do encourage you to step out of your comfort zone. Cheers.
- Get friendly with your neighbors. I’ve lived in my current apartment for a year and a half. It wasn’t until recently that I started introducing myself (mainly because I rarely ever saw my neighbors). Whenever I passed someone in the lobby, I blatantly would ask the stranger, “Do you live here?” I would introduce myself and we’d small chat for a minute. Since I made my first introduction, I would start seeing neighbors more often and shake hands with them as well. I am currently planning a “meet and great mixer” for the people who reside in my apartment unit.
- Introduce yourself to folks you see on a daily basis. If you work retail, get on a first name basis with your regulars. Exchange names with the post office clerk, bank teller and bartender at your favorite happy hour joint.
- Become a regular. Deem a coffee shop, cafe or pub worthy and visit once a week for a latte or one on one date night with a good book. Introduce yourself to other regulars. Get involved in monthly events hosted at the venue.
- Host a gathering for your co-workers. I’ve got a killer part time job and I am fortunate enough to work with some of my best friends. My co-workers and I have outstanding relationships, and we frequently socialize outside of the workplace. Your work may not consist of a close-knit batch of souls; Try to change that. Consider a BBQ in the park, karaoke night, or a dinner buffet at your home. Some companies have a budget for such events; See if it’s an option at your place of work. It is quite enjoyable to get to know coworkers outside the work environment.
- Take away your crutch (AKA cell phone). If you’re like me, you find yourself reaching for your phone when you are experiencing an awkward social setting. I refuse to believe I’m the only one who pretends to be checking out something really, really interesting on their phone to avoid eye contact with people on the bus. Right? Challenge yourself. Leave your phone in your bag (or be really brave and leave it at home). Conquer social settings without your armor.
- Attend a community event. Your neighborhood is buzzing with them. Pay mind to billboards at coffee shops, posters stapled to telephone poles and fliers that find their way under your windshield wipers. Pick up a copy of your local neighborhood weekly paper (In my case, Seattle Weekly or The Stranger).
- Start a conversation with a stranger. Refrain from being overbearing or intrusive, but reach out to someone you don’t know. Introduce yourself. Ask someone in the library for a book recommendation. Get a second opinion on a new shirt from your dressing room neighbor.
One flick of a match can ignite an entire house;
It’s hard telling where a spark between strangers will lead.
Won’t you find out?
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