When I first started improving my social skills, my focus was mainly on not having a panic attack, just saying “Hello!”, and getting through a speech at college without stuttering and losing my place. It wasn’t exactly inspiring or fun for the first year or so. It was just about Surviving and not freaking out.
The fun in all this comes when you decide to start Thriving, instead of just Surviving.
No longer is it good enough to just show up. Your focus now becomes about the quality, depth, and fun of the social interactions you engage. Are you still just merely saying “Hello!” and doing very little else? Let me give you a leg up with that.
I’ve written about a very important principle that will inject more life, depth, and personality into your conversations – whether it’s with a client, your husband, or a cute girl on the bus – the second you start applying it.
Start With Humanity
This is the foundation for all memorable connections and conversations, as an old friend, business partner, lover, or newfound acquaintance at a cocktail party. It’s simple in concept and deceptively so in practice.
Stop for a moment and remember that you are speaking with a real, flesh-and-blood human being right now. It seems obvious to say so but what it really means is to acknowledge them for all of their greatness, all of their fuck-up’s, all of their great ideas, their boring tendencies, their annoying habits, the qualities that make you jealous, and the qualities that make you fall in love with them.
It’s easy to forget about the simple humanity of the people we encounter everyday. If you live in a mid-to-large sized city, you probably interact with at least 50 people a day and are surrounded by thousands of them. It’s easy to take people’s uniqueness for granted when you’re surrounded by so many of them.
It’s flat out easy to forget about them when you have your head buried in your mobile phone all day, texting people, playing games, and swiping right on Tinder.
Despite all of the impediments that prevent us from really interacting with someone, that doesn’t change our strong need to connect with others one iota.
Revere Their Awesomeness
You know better than anyone else that you have many layers of personality, you have contradictions, and you have secrets you keep. You’re fighting battles no one knows about. You hold onto untold greatness that you’ve never shown the world – because you’ve never allowed yourself.
And, so is everyone else.
In this fashion, your boss is no different from you, nor is the old fella on the bus, or your girlfriend. See beyond the obvious differences we all have into the core of what makes us human. We’re all fighting our own demons, going after our own goals, and we all hoped we could fly when we were 5 years old.
Keep this in mind as you meet new people.
A close friend turned me onto the poet Walt Whitman recently and this snippet from his “Song of Myself” sums it all up nicely:
Do I contradict myself?
Very well then I contradict myself,
(I am large, I contain multitudes.)
Just like you.
At the risk of sounding soft and super new age-y, learning to honest-to-goodness Love everyone is about 85% of the confidence battle right there. From this place of massive acceptance and love, you are genuinely interested in the person in front of you. That’s what we all really want: Someone who is willing to truly see us and listen to us. Love for Other is at the heart of charisma – everything else comes from this.
As you utter every word and make every charming overture, take a moment to quietly acknowledge their overwhelming complexity and simple greatness. Hell, while you’re at it, just flat out tell them why you think they’re incredible, what you love about them, and why you enjoy being around them.
There’s a sweet little secret in this corner of the Universe: Love begets Love, so just keep cranking it out and watch as the sparks fly.
Peace & Charisma,
Dalton K. Finney