Monday, January 12, 2009

Being a Social Person

By: Joseph Norman

“At the end of the day, if we don’t stick together, we’ll die alone.” - Horatio Caine in CSI: Miami

Your success is in large part leveraged to your ability to be a stand up, social person. I’m not necessarily talking about networking or relationship maintenance, but rather making an impact on people in social settings without an attachment to a desired result.

For example, let’s take a look at a classic scenario which we probably experience at least once a day. How are you interacting with cashiers? Are you showering them with bad vibes because you’re having a tough day? Do you even answer when they ask you, “How are you today?”

My guess is this. You’re probably just polite enough to feel content with the interaction. In other words, you aren’t necessarily present in the conversation and odds are you really aren’t that concerned with how that cashier’s day is really going. Today I’m here to tell you that it’s okay to go out of your way to make people smile. This situation is an opportunity to test your ability to be a stand up, social person.

What does it mean to be a “stand up, social person?” I’m sure you already know the conventional definition of being social, so we don’t need to dig into that. But, it’s important to explore what it means to be a “stand up” person because that’s not discussed as often.

When I say “stand up,” I don’t mean picking fights with people if they give you a nasty look or have differing opinions from you. Instead, I’m talking about doing the right thing in a situation, even if it goes against the norm. That could be anything from helping someone pick up the papers they dropped or asking a cashier how her day is and meaning it. That means more to someone than you realize. Having the confidence to go against the grain because it is the right thing to do, is what being a stand up person is all about.

Recently, I’ve been having fun by giving cashiers high fives. It's a little silly, I know. But, I simply do it to break their routine and put a smile on their face. Find your own unique way of making an impact and be aware of your surroundings.

What this all comes back to is opening yourself up to other people. Some are more introverted than others, and less “social," which is okay. But the truth is that a key to our fulfillment as human beings is the ability to establish meaningful connections. Your efforts to be a stand up, social person are going to help you fill that need. So, smile at strangers, start conversations with people you don’t know, and enjoy and appreciate the human element of the world we live in. You’ll be a better person for it.