In your life you’ll inevitably have to deal with people. In social circumstances you’ll notice how we put on different masks. The roles you play depend largely on your character, but it’s not completely out of your reach to control it.
Why is it important to be the one to start a conversation? Regardless if it’s a school corridor or a downtown cafe – dealing with people is your bread and butter.
As a member of Generation Z, you either already have or are going to enter the job market soon. You should know why reaching out is worth the effort.
As you may have noticed, it’s not an easy job. The ability to feel truly comfortable in a group takes practice. Confidence among people is not a piece of cake either. Being able to initiate a talk and keep it going will be advantageous to you not only during networking events. I bet you’d rather avoid the awkward silence during your Zoom conferences (we’ve all been there).
Besides, in the interconnected world, you must learn to be, well, interconnected.
Before you dive into countless tips on how to reach out, find out why it’s crucial.
Here’s a few reasons why it matters to be an initiator.
1. It boosts your confidence
The first milestone is always winning with yourself.
You may be shy, or even feel anxious among your friends (let alone new people). Overcoming your own insecurities is the first big step. Consider every social interaction as a challenge. Before or during a chat (be it in person or online) ask yourself questions:
Am I brave enough to be the one to begin?
Do I have the courage to start?
Can I even do it?
At first, the task may seem to be overwhelming. The more often you put your confidence to a test, though, the more you believe in yourself. You’ll notice that with each “How do you do?” you get better at it. The way it works is quite peculiar, and it might appear tough.
But hey, it’ll pay off.
Push your own fears aside and put a brave face on it. You’ll soon see that you become more confident and ready to action.
To this action, however, you’re going to need the help of others.
2. People like you more
Whether it’s a relationship or a small talk, there’s one thing the other person really wants, despite the fact that they may be unaware of it. William James, a 19th-century philosopher also known as the “Father of American Psychology” put it this way:
The deepest principle in human nature is the craving to be appreciated.
See, that’s the problem I had with my father, especially in the years after my parents’ divorce.
As a young teenager, I was in dire need of a role-model who would care for me. That’s the case for a lot of young people, girls and boys. The father is usually the one to take that place. Often when asked how was my day, I couldn’t just ramble on and speak my mind up. I’d be interrupted without finishing a sentence, and the subject would be quickly changed. I’m not saying it was always like that, but it’s those flawed conversations I remember now.
So I felt not listened to, and I needed attention. There’s nothing wrong in such a need. Each of us intrinsically desires it.
Attention isn’t about narcissism or pride.
Attention is the unconditional love that manifests itself through the ability to listen.
If you’re listened to, you feel loved, important to somebody else, significant.
Be the first one to ask your colleagues if they’re doing alright. Be genuinely interested in your classmates’ hobbies. Initiate a conversation and you’ll get but friendship in response.
3. You’ve got control
Yeah, yeah, it sounds bad. But don’t draw your conclusions just yet!
Let’s draw a border before we begin – a fine line between manipulation and control. Especially in social circumstances these two can easily be confused. That’s something you really want to avoid; it’s necessary to distinguish between the two. What’s the difference then?
Manipulation is clearly wrong – there’s no doubt about it. Tricking somebody by using sly strategies is a foul play you don’t want in your life. Period. It’s not lies you’re looking for; you’re pursuing truth.
To have control over a conversation basically means to ask questions and to show attention. Lead your interlocutor to a meaningful debate. Call it conversational management if you please.
Starting a conversation is the very first step. You show that you’re both ready and willing to converse.
Of course, you’ll have to say a thing or two as well. Keep it natural. Don’t let your words just flow out of your mouth, though. Control your social interactions, so that you feel comfortable with yourself and make others smile.
Actually, putting a smile on another person’s face should be your objective in most of your conversations. You just have to remember about it! Don’t let a conversation become but a random exchange of words devoid of any meaning whatsoever. Let it have value instead, so that you can actually learn something new (which is always fun!).
Be focused on the conversation so that you don’t daydream while talking. Initiate, take control, and make it worthwhile.
4. You come up with amazing things…
What happens when the awkward silence eventually emerges? When you just look at one another, exchange clumsy smiles and take a sip of your coffee?
The pressure rises, your body temperature goes up, you begin to sweat. That’s uncomfortable for both of you (or all of you, if the silence occurs in a bigger group).
Forget about the weather or weekend plans. That’s simply boring and you’ll put everyone to sleep.
You want to come up with a savvy question, say something about that movie you’ve recently seen, get the other person to speak. So you start thinking.
And when you do, it’s like exercise for your mind.
Think about it this way. When you go jogging, what you’re actually doing is pushing your body to its physical limits in special circumstances, so that it may function properly under regular conditions. You go for a run, and then you don’t sweat when you’re walking.
Even if you’re a professional athlete, you practice so that you can get better at doing something. That’s obvious, right?
In a stressful situation, when you desperately want to figure something out, your head is working on all cylinders. You do your best and think, think, think.
Until you come up with something great.
5. … and make them happen!
Yes, you do come up with something. By trying to get the conversation going, or even to start it, you make your brain cells more efficient. Through this exercise, you enhance your creative skills. Want it or not, you’ll improve at it. Subconsciously you’re beginning to notice: “Hey, I’m actually not as bad as I thought!”
And you’re absolutely right. If something is too heavy for you to lift, it doesn’t mean you’re not strong enough. It means you’re not strong enough yet.
Sure, the brain isn’t a muscle – we’ve all been through those biology coursebooks. Still, you can treat it like one. Stretch it, flex it, build it up. As an initiator, you’re doing your mind a great favor.
Something’s still unclear? Take a look at this quote:
A moment of pain is worth a lifetime of glory.
Now, you shouldn’t see conversations as painful, not at all.
Apart from that, when you do find the courage to say “hi” it doesn’t mean you’re glorious.
Keep in mind, though, that a momentary inconvenience leads to long-term results in the future.
So initiate, be the one to reach out. You’ll thank yourself later.
In a nutshell
Putting a smile on your face and beginning social interactions is an art that takes practice.
Take into account that whatever you do in your life, there probably will be people around. Taking the bull by its horns may seem scary, but you won’t regret it.
Through boosting your own confidence, you brighten people’s days up, make them even more friendly toward you. It may sound lofty, but love begets love. You become the person at the wheel, leading everyone else to meaningful conversations.
It’s a great mind-workout as well (but you don’t need yoga pants for that).
Long story short: You become a better person and make everybody around feel good.
So what are you waiting for? Reach out!