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4 Proactive Strategies to Build a Social Life

4 Proactive Strategies to Build a Social Life

A lot of people believe that developing a social life is something that should just happen naturally, on it’s on, without you needing to do anything. I disagree.

I think that while this can happen for some folks, in certain stages of their life, it’s not always the case. Which is why many of us today lack a fulfilling social life. If you’re in college so you get to hang around lots of other people and you’re naturally a social person, your social circle will develop on its own. But if you’re an accountant working in cubicle all day who doesn’t go out much and is kind of shy, your social life may be seriously deficient.

In my view, building a social life requires the same active and strategic approach that making money or building a career requires. An approach based on setting goals and acting on them. Coming from this angle, I want to show you 4 proactive strategies to build a social life.

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1. Understand Your Type

A fulfilling social life looks differently for different people. Some of us need lots of friends and a large social circle. Some of us are more fond a having just a few friends, but who are very close to us. And some prefer a mix of the two. What is your preference? Do you know? Take some time to think about this and visualize what your ideal social circle would look like.

Another aspect to think about is what kind of people you want in your social circle. Do you prefer people who are artistic, or people who are tech-oriented? People who are outdoorsy or prefer to be indoors? Usually, you will get along best with individuals who are similar to you. So I advise you to consider your dominant traits and consciously decide which of these traits are important for you to find in others. If you know what kind of people you want in your life, you’re much more likely to find them,

2. Go Where the People Are

Once you know how many and what kind of friends you’re looking for, it’s time to take action in order to meet them. This may seem obvious, but it’s something many of us disregard: if you just wait for others to come to you, you’ll never build a social circle. You must have the initiative and go to them.

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My recommendation here is to think about activities where you are likely to meet people you’d enjoy interacting with, and get involved in a few of them. For instance, you may take a class on a topic you’re interested in. You may volunteer for a charity organization. Or join some sort of club. Even if you don’t have any friends whatsoever at this point, you can apply this strategy. You can get involved in such activities all by yourself, and you’ll meet others there.

In using this strategy, the Internet is your friend. You can discover all sorts of classes, social events, clubs and organizations near you online. But keep in mind that this is only the first step. Then you need to actually get out of the house, go there and participate.

3. Be Friendly First

So you attend a training program on, let’s say, urban photography. There are lots of other people there. What do you do? In general, the passive approach tends to prevail. Many of us just sit around doing nothing and expect others to come talk to us, ask us questions, and be chatty. And this may happen, or it may not. One thing I’m certain of though is that it’s not the best approach. You want to be friendly first. Be the one to break the ice.

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Walk up to other people and introduce yourself to them. Then start chatting with them. For example, ask them how they found out about the event, how long they’ve been interested in urban photography, segue from there into other topics, and if they seem to enjoy talking to you (which they almost always will), keep the conversation going.

Doing this may not be easy at first, especially if you’re not used to being this outgoing, but it’s something you get used to with practice. The trick is to not let hesitancy prevent you from being social. And I can tell from experience that if you are social and friendly with new people first, you’ll really stand you and they’ll love you for it.

4. Make New Friends through Current Friends

If you’re building a new social life from scratch, the beginning is always the hardest part. However, once you’ve met a few people, it gets a lot easier because you can then leverage them to meet even more people. You can then meet some of their friends and acquaintances, and expand your social circle further.

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Again, a proactive approach works miracles. Let your friends know that you’re interested in meeting new people and you’d love for them to introduce you to other people they know. If they indeed are your friends, they’ll love to help you out. They may invite you to come with them to parties they go to, they may call other people to join you when you go out, and they’ll introduce you to new people. But you have to let them know their help is desired.

The best part is that the bigger your social circle becomes, the easier it is to employ this strategy. Your social life will expand faster and faster, and you’ll find it progressively easier to find people you match well with.

Your social life is completely in your hands. You can have a social life as rich, connected and diverse as you want. All you need is to do a bit of smart planning in this area, and take massive action. There is certainly no shortage of possibilities to meet people and make friends. It’s up to you to capitalize on them. Good luck!

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The Gentle Art of Saying No

The Gentle Art of Saying No

No!

It’s a simple fact that you can never be productive if you take on too many commitments — you simply spread yourself too thin and will not be able to get anything done, at least not well or on time.

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But requests for your time are coming in all the time — through phone, email, IM or in person. To stay productive, and minimize stress, you have to learn the Gentle Art of Saying No — an art that many people have problems with.

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What’s so hard about saying no? Well, to start with, it can hurt, anger or disappoint the person you’re saying “no” to, and that’s not usually a fun task. Second, if you hope to work with that person in the future, you’ll want to continue to have a good relationship with that person, and saying “no” in the wrong way can jeopardize that.

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But it doesn’t have to be difficult or hard on your relationship. Here are the Top 10 tips for learning the Gentle Art of Saying No:

  1. Value your time. Know your commitments, and how valuable your precious time is. Then, when someone asks you to dedicate some of your time to a new commitment, you’ll know that you simply cannot do it. And tell them that: “I just can’t right now … my plate is overloaded as it is.”
  2. Know your priorities. Even if you do have some extra time (which for many of us is rare), is this new commitment really the way you want to spend that time? For myself, I know that more commitments means less time with my wife and kids, who are more important to me than anything.
  3. Practice saying no. Practice makes perfect. Saying “no” as often as you can is a great way to get better at it and more comfortable with saying the word. And sometimes, repeating the word is the only way to get a message through to extremely persistent people. When they keep insisting, just keep saying no. Eventually, they’ll get the message.
  4. Don’t apologize. A common way to start out is “I’m sorry but …” as people think that it sounds more polite. While politeness is important, apologizing just makes it sound weaker. You need to be firm, and unapologetic about guarding your time.
  5. Stop being nice. Again, it’s important to be polite, but being nice by saying yes all the time only hurts you. When you make it easy for people to grab your time (or money), they will continue to do it. But if you erect a wall, they will look for easier targets. Show them that your time is well guarded by being firm and turning down as many requests (that are not on your top priority list) as possible.
  6. Say no to your boss. Sometimes we feel that we have to say yes to our boss — they’re our boss, right? And if we say “no” then we look like we can’t handle the work — at least, that’s the common reasoning. But in fact, it’s the opposite — explain to your boss that by taking on too many commitments, you are weakening your productivity and jeopardizing your existing commitments. If your boss insists that you take on the project, go over your project or task list and ask him/her to re-prioritize, explaining that there’s only so much you can take on at one time.
  7. Pre-empting. It’s often much easier to pre-empt requests than to say “no” to them after the request has been made. If you know that requests are likely to be made, perhaps in a meeting, just say to everyone as soon as you come into the meeting, “Look guys, just to let you know, my week is booked full with some urgent projects and I won’t be able to take on any new requests.”
  8. Get back to you. Instead of providing an answer then and there, it’s often better to tell the person you’ll give their request some thought and get back to them. This will allow you to give it some consideration, and check your commitments and priorities. Then, if you can’t take on the request, simply tell them: “After giving this some thought, and checking my commitments, I won’t be able to accommodate the request at this time.” At least you gave it some consideration.
  9. Maybe later. If this is an option that you’d like to keep open, instead of just shutting the door on the person, it’s often better to just say, “This sounds like an interesting opportunity, but I just don’t have the time at the moment. Perhaps you could check back with me in [give a time frame].” Next time, when they check back with you, you might have some free time on your hands.
  10. It’s not you, it’s me. This classic dating rejection can work in other situations. Don’t be insincere about it, though. Often the person or project is a good one, but it’s just not right for you, at least not at this time. Simply say so — you can compliment the idea, the project, the person, the organization … but say that it’s not the right fit, or it’s not what you’re looking for at this time. Only say this if it’s true — people can sense insincerity.

Featured photo credit: Pexels via pexels.com

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