The idea for this post came when I started working at my recent office job. I quickly realized that my style of communication amongst friends was a little different than the ways coworkers at my office tend to communicate. I can be sociable but the hard part is always starting because, hey, talking to new people is scary.
Also, it might sound inherently obvious that things are and should be different online than in real life. You can’t go around using internet lingo like, “YAS GIRL!” when you agree with someone else. Nor is it appropriate to introduce yourself to others using photos instead of actual words. So, for someone who got used to communicating primarily through internet / social media (i.e. Instagram + My Blog) I had to up my social skills so that I didn’t seem like the girl who lived under a rock.
Here are some things that I discovered make for easier in-person communication:
Know who you are.
I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been asked what I do/did before working at my office. I disagree with defining oneself solely by jobs so feel free to throw in hobbies or activities that also describe a bit about you. (In such a situation, I might say, “Oh, well, after I graduated with my Psych degree in 2016 I’ve been doing some volunteering at local organizations but I’ve also used the time to explore my own interests, like cooking.”)
Ask people about 1) what they do or 2) themselves.
This tip will rarely fail you because people like talking about themselves. If someone lets on that they’re passionate about their work, go ahead and ask about it. This is especially useful within a work environment so that you can get an idea of people’s roles and the teamwork aspect. If outside of a workplace, try to AVOID asking about work. I know this sounds contradictory but there is a time and a place for everything. Unless your conversation partner brings it up, its best to stick with lighter topics because, surprise-surprise, not everyone likes what they do.
Common knowledge is only common knowledge amongst your peer or familial group.
It basically goes out the window when interacting with a mixed age group or even people of varying backgrounds/cultures. Someone else might not know the latest street slang, that ubiquitous Top 40 song, or even what you’d consider BASIC information in your field of interest.
For a personal example, I’m a foodie (definition: a person who enjoys all things food –there I go with the subculture reference :p ) and enjoy hearing about nutrition-related advancements and plant-based culture. Though, most people are not in my same boat and I can’t expect them to want to taste something green when that is unfamiliar to them. Some people are proud of themselves for having just given up drinking soda a few months back. Whenever I’ve heard this I used to think: what?! Who still drinks soda? Don’t you know how bad it is for you? Instead, I’ve become better at reframing my thinking to one of less judgment and of acceptance that everyone is at a different place in their life.
It is not ignorance to be unaware; rather, it is ignorance for those who don’t want to listen to what they hear.
To bounce off what I said in the last section, sometimes people aren’t going to be open to what you have to say or offer. Heck, they might never be ready but that’s okay, too. We are all individuals with our own free will. That is not to say that there is some elite group of people who are “more open”, either. We cannot possibly carry the worldly perspective on every subject because that only comes from experience and shared knowledge. It is likely that most all of us have blocks on our openness that just haven’t been pushed or explored yet. Which brings me to…
Listen to learn, listen to grow, listen to communicate and be a better you.
When developing a friendship, acquaintanceship, or any sort of relationship with another person, I value listening above all else. For myself, I get to hear about the other person and feel them out to see what we may have in common. I can also soak up stories about their unique experiences. My downfall is that I can listen to much, but that’s another story. Additionally, if someone extends that same courtesy to you, and is interested in hearing about you, then they’re a keeper. Personally, I feel like this is an indication of how much the other person cares or is invested in what the both of you talk about. People who are only interested in talking about themselves may have some interesting stories to tell but they aren’t going to consider you the way you deserve.
There are all sorts of people in this world and we can’t and won’t get to know them all. Though, I would like to think that the people that we cross paths with are valuable for that, in the very least. Maybe it is just a 5 minute conversation while waiting in line for your latte at the coffee shop. Or, maybe you hit it off with a coworker and something special develops between the two of you. Who knows? That’s how friends or relationships are made. That’s how you develop as an individual. It all starts somewhere. It starts with you putting yourself out there.
Thanks for being here! ♥
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