“Any intelligent fool can make things bigger, more complex, and more violent. It takes a touch of genius – and a lot of courage – to move in the opposite direction.” – E. F. Schumacker
In an age where we seem to pride ourselves in being intensely busy and remaining connected through technology 24/7, it is easy to forget that it’s the simple things in life that make us happy.
Sometimes we need to find ways to restore this simplicity in our lives. Here are 7 ways to make your life a lot simpler and happier.
1. Call the person, avoid texting
Texting has become a common form of communication, to the point where we have actually forgotten the original purpose of the phone: to actually call a person and speak to them directly. Yes, people, there is actually another person on the other side of that mobile device.
Through texting, It’s very easy for what you want to say to actually be lost in translation. It’s very easy for misunderstandings to happen. And it’s definitely a lot harder to sort out any relationship problems or business issue you may be having. Aside from being incredibly time consuming, the sense of emotion is removed and you can’t actually tell how the person is feeling.Advertising
Would it not be a lot easier if you just picked up the phone and called? One would think so. You could instantly let it be known how you feel. Nothing is lost in translation. The emotion is not removed. There are no misunderstandings. It’s quicker, less time consuming (as you won’t be dwelling on the problem through back and forth messages) and more importantly you will be happier in knowing that you are sorting out the problem.
2. Openly vent your emotions; don’t keep them bottled up
Are you the type of person who has the tendency to hide their emotions? You keep everything inside. When you are angry, you don’t let it be known that you are angry. When you are unhappy with someone, you don’t let that person know. When something someone does irritates you, you don’t tell them.
The problem with this is that it can cause huge stress in your life. It makes you unhappy. Eventually, all these emotions come out, all at once. It’s not pretty. It’s not healthy, both psychologically and physically.
Rather find ways to channel these emotions constructively. Chat with a friend. Find a safe place. e.g. your room where you can openly let these emotions out. Doing this will in the long run surely make you healthier and a lot happier as a person.
3. Create your own memories; avoid the comparison gameAdvertising
How often do you find yourself, scrolling through Facebook, reading post after post of people doing amazing things? You see people travelling the world. Going on hikes. Relaxing with friends. Going out to lunch in beautiful restaurants. Inside you feel a little jealous and you think to yourself. “Why am I not doing these amazing things.?”
Well exactly, why aren’t you? Go out and create your own memories, instead of spending your days reading what others are doing. Visit the places you wanted to visit. Read that book you wanted to read. Climb that mountain. Jump in the dam naked.
Do all those things you want to do and more importantly, stop comparing yourself to others. Avoid the comparison game at all cost. This will not make you happier. What will make you happier is creating your own memories.
4. Maintain open forms of communication; don’t assume
Have you ever guessed what your loved ones or the people you care about are thinking, and been totally wrong? Have you assumed they like something, when in fact this was not the case? Maybe you thought they liked going to a specific restaurant because you have always taken them there, but never actually asked if they enjoyed it?
Assuming and guessing what people think can create complications down the line. Through maintaining open forms of communication and simply asking your loved one’s questions directly, you avoid miscommunication and ensure a healthier and happier relationship.Advertising
5. Actions speak louder than words; don’t panic
We often find ourselves not comforting our loved ones in times of need because we feel we don’t know how to comfort them. We panic about what to do. And what makes it worse is that sometimes your loved ones don’t even want to talk. What do you do?
Sometimes all that is needed is for you to be there. As simple as that. They don’t need words. They don’t want to chat. They just want your touch. They just need a hug. Such a simple action can speak one thousand words.
6. Try something new, don’t hesitate
Do you find yourself hesitating over what to do next? Maybe you are scared of trying something new? Maybe you are scared of what people think? There’s an age old saying:
“It’s better to ask for forgiveness than to ask for permission.”
This means that it’s better to act decisively and apologise for it later than seek someone’s approval to act and possibly risk delay. So if you want to do something do it. Do what makes you happy. Don’t be scared to try something. Don’t be hesitant. You might just find that through trying that something, that you absolutely love it. That it made you a lot happier as a person.
And if it didn’t, well that’s fine. You will survive. Move on to the next thing, knowing that you have eliminated one other thing that doesn’t make you happy.
7. Actively work on your future; stop worrying
We often overcomplicate things, by worrying unnecessarily about the future, instead of actively working on it now. Rather spend time on those things you can control right now and stop worrying about the things you cannot control.
For example, if you want to start your own business, take simple small steps towards achieving that dream that will make you happier.
There is no guarantee as to exactly how the future will turn out, but through focusing on those small things we can control right now, we are on the right track towards a future that will surely be a lot brighter and happier.Advertising
Last Updated on January 15, 2019
How to Talk to Strangers Without Feeling Awkward
Many of us feel awkward talking to strangers. I’m a very outgoing person, even though I sometimes feel uncomfortable walking up to someone and asking a question or starting a conversation. I consider myself pretty high up on the extrovert meter. So what is it that makes us pause and become worried or anxious about talking to people we don’t know?
In this article, we will discuss why we feel this way as well as some tips on how to talk to strangers without feeling awkward.
Step right up, don’t be shy!
Table of Contents
Why We Feel Awkward Talking to Strangers
The next time you feel uncomfortable talking to a stranger, tell yourself that’s completely normal. There are numerous reasons why it’s actually natural to feel awkward talking to strangers:
Our Stress Levels Rise Around Strangers
Numerous studies have show that our levels of cortisol go up when we are around strangers. Cortisol is the hormone inside of us which produces stress responses.
So there you go, right off the bat you can see part of your standard response to strangers is due to a chemical reaction!
A very interesting by product of increased cortisol is that it makes us less empathetic. More than likely this can be traced to our evolution. The increase in the cortisol and the corresponding decrease in empathy makes us want to stay away from strangers. We are biologically wired to feel concern around strangers.
Evolution Taught Us to Be Wary
Evolution has also taught us to be wary of strangers in general. Humans as a whole have spent a large chunk of their history banded together in small protective groups. We did this in order to help protect each other and maximize resources.
When you think about it in this context, outsiders to our small groups or strangers are considered potential threats. Fear of strangers is common across almost all human cultures.
We can also thank our society for helping us feel uncomfortable and sometimes afraid of strangers. The term “stranger danger” is something most of us can relate to either growing up or raising kids. Or both.
I remember hearing this from my parents, mostly about not getting in someone’s car I didn’t know. And as the father of 2 teenage girls, you can be sure I’ve talked to them about this very concept more times that they want to hear.
The thought that strangers can be dangerous is built into us as it is. Toss in the amplification of the media on strangers doing things such as kidnapping kids and it takes it to an even higher level.
Now that we’ve reviewed some of the reasons why we are nervous, let’s look at why you should talk to strangers more.
Benefits of Getting over the Awkwardness
Let’s take a quick look at some of the advantages of how to talk to strangers without feeling awkward. These are some high level benefits of talking to strangers.
1. Broadens Your Network
After you talk to someone, you didn’t know previously they become someone you know at least a little bit. This alone helps broaden your network of people you know. This is helpful in many ways whether it is work related or socially related.
2. Improves Your Communication Skills
I am a huge proponent of the value of solid communication skills and have written about it often. The more you talk to people, especially people you don’t know, the better your communication skills become.
Interacting with a wider variety of people will bring the added benefit of improving your communication skills.
3. Continually Learning
So many of us don’t actively seek to learn new things. This is one of the primary keys to staying engaged in life and our own personal self fulfillment.
Almost every time I speak to someone I didn’t know previously, I’ve learned something new. When we speak to strangers, it pushes us out of our comfort zones and we tend to learn new things.
4. Increases Self Confidence
Every time we learn to do something we were previously anxious about, we feel better about ourselves.
Forcing ourselves to talk to strangers will lead to increased self confidence. As we get more and more comfortable doing something that previously made us feel awkward, our self confidence will go up and up.
So, how to talk to strangers to reap these benefits?
How to Talk to Strangers
Here are some tips to on how to talk to strangers without feeling awkward.
1. Say Hello
Putting “say hello” first may seem a bit obvious but let’s take a deeper look. Much of the social awkwardness when speaking to strangers is simply breaking the ice. The first words that will engage someone.
Most people will respond when someone says hello or hi to them. And those that don’t, you probably don’t want to talk to anyway.
Practice being the person that opens the door to a conversation. Say hello.
2. Ask About Them
Something that I have noticed over the years is that people love to talk about themselves. Even fairly private people tend to open up when asked about events in their lives.
You can ask leading questions that get people to talk about themselves and recent events. Things like recent movies watched or the summer vacation are great to get someone talking.
As a father, I also know that people love to talk about their kids. Asking about kids is a fairly easy topic to bring up and in general, most people will expound upon all the great things their kids do or are involved with.
3. Just Do It
One of the biggest reasons we don’t do things we want to or know we should is because we overthink it. Quit thinking about it so much and just do it.
When you give yourself the time to analyze every little angle about a situation, you also give plenty of time to talk yourself out of it. You’ll wind up thinking what if this happens or what if that happens.
Try to force yourself to jump right in without thinking about it too much. Whenever I have done this, I always feel great about it afterwards, no matter how it turned out.
4. Don’t Take It Personal
One of the greatest lessons in life I ever learned was don’t take anything personally. We all go through life with our own sets of experiences and see things through our own lens. The way people react to different situations has almost nothing to do with us. It has to do with previous experiences and the way people feel about things other than us.
When someone’s reaction isn’t what you’d hoped or expected, chances are it has nothing to do with you. Remember that and keep it in context.
5. Get a Chuckle If Possible
I used the word chuckle purposely because it makes me laugh. In my opinion, it’s one of those funny words. We all like to laugh because it makes us feel good. And when someone makes us laugh, we typically remember those people in a positive light.
One of the best ways to make a conversation easy and free flowing is to get some laughter going. It doesn’t mean you have to be the master joke teller or anything. See if you can work in a way to make the person you are talking to get a smile or some laughter in. In fact, laughing at yourself maybe a nice try.
A great feeling is when you don’t mind which way something turns out, that you will be fine no matter what happens. Kind of like when I watch my two favorite football teams play against each other. I don’t really care who wins, I just want a fun game.
Treat talking to strangers the same way. You don’t really care how the conversation goes because you are detaching from the outcome. Make it a fun time with yourself and if the conversation goes well, awesome! If not then no big deal, move on.
7. Share Your Stories
Well, all like to feel connected to other people. And many times we wind up hanging out with people that we have things in common with. No surprise here.
To help with how to talk to strangers without feeling awkward, tell stories that have commonalities with the person you are talking to. Kids are an easy one. I have a daughter who was a competitive cheerleader and now plays club volleyball. I have instant connection and stories with strangers I speak with who have kids that play sports. It’s easy to relate to.
So when you are speaking to a stranger and you have a story or mutual connection point, bring it up.
8. Give a Compliment
Almost everyone likes hearing a compliment, whether they admit to it or not. As a general rule, we don’t give out enough compliments. It’s amazing how one small remark someone tosses your way about how good you look can literally make your entire day.
When you are speaking with someone you don’t know, see if you can work a compliment in. Nothing creepy here. Not a good idea to tell someone you just met that they are the prettiest or handsomest person you ever met. However, if you can share how you like their tattoo or shoes or something like that, it will help put the conversation into an easy going, smiling place.
9. Relax Your Body Language
If you go into a situation all worried and nervous, it shows on your body. Your shoulders are tensed up, there’s a look of consternation on your face, things like that.
When you engage a stranger in conversation, make it a point to relax your body language. Take a deep breath before you engage the person, let your body relax, and put a smile on your face. This will help relax you and it has the added benefit of putting the other person more at ease.
If they see that you are relaxed, it helps them relax. Plus having open, engaging body language is very conducive to inviting someone to open up into a conversation with you.
10. Practice, Practice, Practice
Like everything else in life, talking to strangers gets easier with practice. The more you do it, the easier it becomes.
Make it a point to talk to several strangers each week and it will definitely help you relax as you do it more and more.
After a while, it will become something you don’t even think about, you just do it. And that takes all of the awkwardness out of being in these type situations.
The Bottom Line
As we have seen, it is perfectly natural to feel awkward talking to strangers. We are biologically built that way and we have our own society constantly warning us how dangerous it is. It’s no wonder we feel awkward talking to strangers!
There are numerous benefits to learning to be more comfortable talking to strangers. See if you can employ some of the techniques mentioned to learn how to talk to strangers without feeling awkward.
Once you start practicing speaking with strangers more often and utilizing some of the tips, you will become more comfortable doing so. This in turn will lead to a learned new skill and increased self confidence.
Remember, everyone you know was a stranger at one time. Now get out there and make some new friends.
More Resources About Strengthening Communication Skills
- How to Master Effective Communication Skills at Work and Home
- 12 Tactics to Negotiate Better and Not Be a Pushover
- 7 Most Important Communication Techniques to Master in the Workplace
- How to Be Assertive and Stand up for Yourself the Smart Way
- How to Handle Rejection and Overcome the Fear of Being Rejected
- 13 Best Communication Books for Stronger Social Skills & Relationships
Featured photo credit: Priscilla Du Preez via unsplash.com
|||^||Dev Psychobiol.: Adrenocortical responses to strangers in preschoolers: relations with parenting, temperament, and psychopathology.|
|||^||Psychology Today: Cortisol: Why the “Stress Hormone” Is Public Enemy No. 1|