I’ve been introduced to the common social life, the one that is NOT online, several years ago. The most interesting part for me is that it involved interacting and dealing with people face to face which, for me, was something that I couldn’t really believe is important. However, it also involved a lot of other “factors” or “cases” that should be handled or taken care of before getting into a conversation with another person.
First of all, let me elaborate why I think online conversations are better than the offline, face to face, ones. For online conversations you can have your time, think throughly before replying and even check what your conversation partner was talking about if you were not actually paying attention unlike the offline conversations, you have to provide an instant reply, pay attention to the entire conversation that might be really long and boring and if you forgot something you accidently say “huh?” or “what?” causing the “partner” to comment that you’re not listening to them and that might cause some troubles. The disadvantage, that I discovered later on, is that in online conversations, you do not get to watch, and sometimes enjoy, the facial expressions of the people.
Years ago, not so many years just 5 or 6 years to be precise, I used to deal with people only through a computer and therefore, offline, I had no self confidence. I used to take a couple of IGCSE classes and always have left the class directly when it ended. Long story short, I didn’t have much friends to hang out with.
Then I started to stay and listen to what people say, silently. I only joined the conversations when there was something about computers is being said. These conversations led to another and I started to join more conversations and got to know some friends to chat with after the class but when someone that I don’t know joins the conversation with my friends, I shut up. (that sometimes happens now)
Below are some notes of what I’ve learned so far in dealing with people .. Written to clarify why, sometimes, I feel out of place (if you can read between the lines, you will get it .. really).
Shake hands, Smile and Nod
I used to leave a very bad first impression (yes, worse than now). People, that I don’t know who talk with my friends in my presence, caused me to stop talking and give a neutral face. That left an impression that I hate them but how do I hate somebody I don’t know?! That changed a little bit now. Now, When someone I don’t know joins, I shake hands and ask about what’s been going on, not really expecting an answer, keep a smile and maybe a confused face every now and then when there’s something serious, and keep on nodding to let them feel that they’re welcomed. It just works! and it somehow gives a very good first impression (even though my smile is a weired one). These, ummm, steps(?) I do when I am interested in knowing that new face .. Otherwise, the famous “get your mobile out, call someone random or check your email” thing is always there.
Stay in touch
Always ask about people. This is something that I can’t really handle very much right now because of my memory or stress due to lots of projects or studying but still I do my best. Facebook, twitter, SMSs, phone calls and emails. Just ask about people that you don’t see that much every now and then. Ask about life, studying or work. Just show them that they’re remembered as friends. This, I discovered, shows respect and encourage people to stay in touch with you as well. This stay in touch thing works with existing friends as well.
Although I used to leave a very bad first impression that, I believe, is not enough to judge me or my personality, I used first impressions to judge other people. A lot of my best and close friends now I did not really like at the beginning but we always hang out and we had a lot of memories together by now. First impression is never enough. I learned that the best way to judge people is to see them stressed or working, not by a couple of jokes said and a good sense of humor. Till now, I don’t get used to people till I’ve spent some time talking, online or offline, just share thoughts and discuss a couple of topics. Only then, I start to act normally in their presence. Some people get bored and ignore me when I do that, others just wait (or so it seems). Those who wait, will know me better than anybody and vice versa. Maybe I did not get to know someone who is good and great just because they left a NOT good first impression when I used it to judge people and I don’t know it yet But for the time being, I am glad that I’ve waited and got great and respectful friends.
One more thing about judging, don’t ever judge someone based on another’s opinion or point of view. This caused me a lot of troubles and was always proven wrong (the judgment).
Don’t fear rejection (The Who Cares thing)
At the very beginning, I used to fear rejection. That is, I wanted all people to like me and my personality. At some point I started to think, Why do I care? If someone didn’t like my presence or didn’t respect me then who cares? It’s their fault and their loss (I believe I am precious, in a good way though). Be yourself, do whatever you want but in a respectful manner that does not violate any of the society’s norms and values (7etta sociology). Just don’t judge, smile, shake hands and nod – Show your friendly side and you’re done. If s/he “rejected” your “proposal” – Who cares? I do believe that everyone, anyone, has a simple, yet very important, “key feature” that identifies his/her personality. Once you get, understand and respect it, you’re his/her friend. If you don’t then most probably you’re rejected (temporarily). And it works the other way around, Who am I to be loved by all people? Every great man, besides having a woman who bla bla bla, is not a friend with every single person he met. That idea just had to change!
Having lived with and without friends I have to admit that having friends is much better. Those 4 “key” factors that I’ve mentioned (explained?) above really helped me evolving and improving my social skills by getting to know more people, interacting with them and gaining experience in dealing with them.
In 4 years of college, I knew a lot of people. Some became friends others turned into colleagues. Not all of them will still be friends/colleagues after some time (say 10 yrs)? but the good thing is, I am their friend now.
Having said all that, it shows that social life isn’t as simple for me as everyone else and therefore I’ve named this post the Social Life Complexity.
Best Regards ..