I’ve noticed that sometimes lately upon walking into a store, when the sales person says “Hi,” I immediately just ask them for the product I want to buy.
It occurs to me now that this is a bit strange. Would I do this at a party? If someone I have never met said “Hi,” would I immediately ask, “Do you know where the food and drinks are?”
Of course not! This approach is no way to make an acquaintance, let alone begin a friendship.
So why when I walked into the office supply store just an hour ago and one of the people who worked there said “Hi,” did I immediately ask if the office chair I wanted was in stock?
For all I know, the worker (I don’t have the faintest idea what his name is) could have become a great friend. Instead, I began my exchange with this man in the same way I begin my exchanges with Google, by asking for what I wanted. If this is the type of exchange I have with Google (no offense Google), why am I having it with people?
I realize that I need to make an effort not to make my Face Time be like my Google Time. (Gosh, I never thought I would come to a point of writing about Face Time. I feel so twenty-first century and yet somewhat nauseous all at once.)
When a person we don’t know says “Hi”, it is an opportunity to start a conversation. (I know. Social interaction Pre-101, but I think I need a refresher.)
Conversations needn’t be long to be a conversation. I think one reason we are afraid of beginning a conversation is that we think it could or should go on and on.
A conversation can be short and still celebrate who someone is. For example in the office supply store, I could have started a short conversation by offering the person assisting me just a simple expression of appreciation. Something like, “Thanks so much for being here today. I really appreciate your assistance.”
Interestingly enough, I had just come from the grand opening of a dance studio. Now if some men have two left feet, I quite possibly have two left feet, to left hands and to two left elbows (can a person have two left elbows?) At least this is my assessment of my dancing talent in my mind.
Yet, I danced West Coast Swing and Tango. Was I dancing like a pro, a semi pro, or even an advanced beginner? No, I was dancing like an extreme beginner. AND having an advanced amount of fun!
It occurs to me that when we meet someone and only have time for a short conversation, we can dance into that conversation like an extreme beginner.
Will we ever know the perfect way to begin a short conversation with someone we don’t know? Probably not! When we meet anyone for the first time, we are learning to dance in conversation with him or her and they are learning to dance in conversation with us.
Each conversation we have with a person we have never met is a dance into an unknown.
Sometimes, we may feel like we have two left elbows, but when we dance in conversation with people we have just met even for only a minute, we are dancing, celebrating that we are human and they are human and the joy of being alive. And who knows what will happen. Great friendships and advanced fun can begin with a short conversation.
Game of the Day
Time to practice your dance moves. Begin a short conversation with at least three people who you would usually have only a transaction with (think people working at the places you shop and eat or people at your place of work who maybe you have never talked to.) Have advanced fun being an extreme beginner in these conversations.