We live in a world where smartphones have saturated modern life. The reality is that we are transitioning from a world of physical interaction to that of a virtual one. Interpersonal interaction is slowly becoming redundant. Iphones, Ipads, laptops and the cloud have a brilliant way of linking people together from various parts of the world without them ever having to meet. This is every socially awkward person’s dream. People spend less time now having conversations and more time on updating their social media and trying to make an online presence a viable business that we are lose the essence of human interaction. As a person who loves studying people, this is an unsettling thought. The rise in anxiety people face now when they have to face people versus before has greatly increased. People are classified as socially awkward now than ever before. However people are socially awkward in person but online have such various personalities that you almost feel cat fished when you meet them in real life.
I found the inspiration to write this article because people are starting to avoid means of social interactions based on the fear of what people might think of them when they actually meet. I researched many articles on how to leave good impressions, watched YouTube videos on how to be charismatic and the importance of being authentic. Finally, I have found a few key strategies that even the most awkward person can use to feel confident after any interaction they have.
- Do not be a douche- BE authentic– People always think they have to model someone else’s behavior or act in a certain way in order for people to like them. If you try so hard to be so many different people how would you ever know who you are. Being authentic will be the easiest and most effortless way to get people to resonate with you. When you are authentic you are relatable. Remember you are human. I recommend time for introspection if you are not able to identify who you are down to the core. Find out what you are passionate about, what makes you tick. What ticks you off, what would you like to engage in conversation about? Let these be you guidelines when you are meeting someone new. Know who you are and what you stand for.
- Set an intention – Before you decide to engage in any form of interaction, whether it be a telephonic conversation of face-to-face interaction, always set an intention. If you have a positive, intention already in your mind you will be more inclined to engage in stimulating conversation. You are most likely to ask questions of a probing nature that prompt good conversation rather than thinking of something on the spot and allowing room for awkward silences.
- Listen – Practice listening effectively to understand rather than jumping in to speak so that you are understood. Have the mindset to learn about someone. Think about what you could gain from this conversation. We very seldom learn if all we are doing is talking. You will make a more memorable impression if you allow the other person to speak first or if you pose an open-ended question give them the time to answer entirely before you jump in. The more the other person talks, the better a conversation partner you are perceived to be.
- Ask thoughtful questions – Avoid asking when and where questions and focus on what and why questions. These prompt open ended questions and create very unique conversations. It does not have to be specific to anything, it can be as simple as you like,for example, what are you doing to pursue your passion in life? What are your passion driven projects? What inspires you to the point that you even lose sleep? Questions like these allow the person you are interacting with to engage in a more meaningful conversation with you. People always remember having an interesting, different conversation.
- Smile, use hand gestures and make eye contact– Smile when the opportunity allows in the conversation. Nobody expects you to smile about the current situation in Syria but you would be expected to smile when you are talking about your newborn baby. Smiling and making sincere eye contact shows that you are warm and interested in speaking to them. Use gentle hand gestures when explain something, according to psychologists, those gestures help you express your thoughts more effectively. Avoid holding eye contact for too long as that can just be creepy.
- Tell a story – Stories are the best way to create a metaphor of your life or a particular situation and it allows people to understand the type of thinker that you are. Use your experiences and tell them in a way that reflects what happened to you, what you have learnt and what you will do better going forward. This also shows that you are human and make mistakes but you are willing to use them as a learning curve and not misplace blame onto someone or something else.
- Be charismatic – Charismatic people are confident people. Charisma is what allows you to command a room, draw others to you, keep people engaged and convince them of your ideas. Charisma may seem like a mysterious quality but we all the ability to be charismatic. Its the ability to use your non-verbal behavior and verbal behavior concurrently to achieve a desired effect. Be completely present when you are somewhere. Be fully engaged in the conversation you are having. If you drift away this can be seen in your body language. Be mindful of your posture, your hand gestures and whether or not your body language is in accordance to what you are saying.
Always strive to leave a memorable impression on people when you meet them. Engaging in meaningful conversation shows how mentally/intellectually attractive you can be. Focus on the quality of your interaction rather than the quantity of how many people you can meet at an event. Remember people’s names and their stories. You have no idea how influential someone can be for the journey that you are on. The last things we see or hear when we depart from a person tend to hold the most powerful memories that come back to us when we encounter or think about that person again. You have one life to live, make it a legacy.
I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel-Maya Angelou