Last night I attended a brief workshop-type class on social networking, as opposed to the computer networking that I usually study. 🙂
Being a typical IT guy, sometimes in social situations I can be a bit awkward, at best. Since I keep reading about most people find jobs through people they know, and since as a Trustee for the Friend’s of the Library I’ll be attending a lot more meetings and functions, I figured it was time to try and learn to handle social interaction a bit better. A couple of things stood out about this workshop that I wanted to share, since being awkward and shy seems to be a common trait among survivors.
At the beginning of class, the instructor had us go around and introduce ourselves and talk about why we were there. Most of that, as you can imagine, centered around people talking about being shy, uncomfortable, etc. He then told us all to stand up, and said in the next 3 minutes go around and introduce yourself to as many people as you can. At the end of three minutes he could hardly get everyone to sit down again. He then used that to show us that the problem isn’t our inability to be social, afterall people with true social inhibitions wouldn’t be at that class! Here, when we were forced to introduce ourselves and talk to each other, no one had any problem doing just that. What we needed to learn what how to overcome fears, and how to stop selling ourselves short.
Later he addressed the subject that so many of us dread, not having anything interesting to say. He began with a few stories he had read, or experienced himself, and then asked us to think back upon our day, and count the number of times we had someone’s undivided attention. Then think back upon the last week, last month. I know at times I have my wife’s undivided attention, and at times she has mine, but that’s about it. He then began to describe how, by giving someone our undivided attention, by really listening to them talk, we would make a lasting, good impression on them. By moving from “guest” to “host” behavior, where you are more concerned with making the other person feel comfortable and enjoying themselves, you worry less about having something witty to say. You pay more attention to the other person and what they have to say, and because it is so rare for someone to actually listen and care, you make a memorable impression without having to say much of anything.
Of course the trick is learning to care, if you don’t care about what other people are saying, you can’t fake it. People see through that.