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9 Secrets to Building Relationships Outside of the Office

9 Secrets to Building Relationships Outside of the Office
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    Today, I’m an election judge for the Maryland primary. Sure, you can say that I’m doing it because of my personal politics, but there is an added payoff: I’m going to meet hundreds of people that I’ve never seen before.

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    I work from home, so it can be hard for me to find ways to interact with real, live people — but I’d argue that many those of you with a commute have the same issue: outside of those people that you see every day, how often do you connect with anyone new? Online buddies don’t count, either. As valuable as an online connection may be, face-to-face conversations can be the fastest way to build a real relationship, whether you’re trying to sell something or get a date.

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    We get out of the habit of talking to new people fairly quickly, but it’s an important skill. New people bring innovation and possibilities to your attention. Even beyond the necessity of networking in order to help your career, making new friends can help keep you from stagnating, from sinking into the same routine day in and day out. There are a few actions you can take to improve your relationship-building skills.

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    1. Go to where the people are! Volunteer for a big event, attend a conference or join a club. While it’s possible to meet people hanging around the local coffee shop, it can be harder — your prospective contact may not be interested in interacting with anyone except the barista. However, at events and club activities, people show up ready to talk.
    2. Make eye contact. I ‘borrowed’ this technique from one of the Comfort Challenges in Tim Ferriss’ “The 4-Hour Workweek”: Ferriss suggests spending two days when you make eye contact with people you encounter, from those you already know to those you see on the street. Beyond becoming comfortable with new people, this activity gives you an opportunity to make conversation, even if it starts out on the “What are you looking at?” level.
    3. Prepare an elevator speech. An elevator speech is a 30 second pitch, a description of your project, which I know sounds like more of a marketing skill than a relationship-builder. But being able to boil down who you are and what you do can jumpstart a conversation — especially if your pitch piques interest. Some people rely on elevator speeches that showcase what they can do for their new contacts, while others rely on pitches that demonstrate what a contact can do for them. Either way, it’s worth thinking about why you want to make new contacts, and including that information in your elevator pitch.
    4. Don’t limit your options. I know most of my fellow election judges are much older than me (60 seems to be the average age, even with me bringing it down), which isn’t the age group I have the most in common with. Just because I don’t have much in common with them, however, doesn’t mean that I should ignore them. Personally, I think it means I should talk to them more — I can learn more from someone with very different experiences.
    5. Carry business cards, or some other method of providing your contact information. Business cards aren’t necessary, but they do make life easier, especially if you want to give other people an easy method of staying in touch. Even a simple card with just your name, phone number and email address is worthwhile — your goal may not be to make connections for your employer, so using their cards could be less than ideal.
    6. Avoid wasting time. I know that I hate people that drone on and on about something I have no interest in. I feel like they’re wasting my time. I try to avoid doing it to anyone else, either. Instead, I make a point of holding a conversation — you know, that thing where all parties get a chance to talk — with a topic that is (hopefully) interesting to everyone concerned. A further caveat: I also always try to be genuine. It isn’t too hard to tell if someone isn’t and that can feel like just as much of a waste of time as a droner.
    7. Write down details. I forget names, dates and details regularly, so I make an effort to write things down. I find business cards are great for this sort of thing: if I have a person’s business card, I write on the back when and where I met them and why, along with relevant details. I also add this sort of information to the ‘notes’ field that most electronic address books offer.
    8. Follow up on your new connections. If you get a business card, a phone number or even a website, make a point of following up. Without any sort of follow up, that great connection that you just made will never see you again, which doesn’t make for a very effective relationship. And, if you said you were going to do something (pass along a name to a friend, email a link, etc.), just do it!
    9. Don’t stress. It’s okay if a few fishies get away. You don’t absolutely have to make every contact possible, and you certainly don’t have to maintain ongoing relationships with every person you meet. It’s not worth worrying about. Instead, try to focus on making the most of a small number of contacts, Even one new connection can be worthwhile, if you’re willing to devote some time to furthering the relationship.

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    Last Updated on October 5, 2020

    How to Quit Your Boring Life and Start Living an Interesting One

    How to Quit Your Boring Life and Start Living an Interesting One

    We are given life with many opportunities to make it everything we want it to be and more. If you find that you’ve slipped into living a boring life, it’s time to take a hard look at what you’ve been doing and what you can start doing now to make it more interesting.

    Maybe you’ve been doing the same thing and living the same life for too long, or maybe your daily routine is limiting your growth and happiness. Whatever your reason is, the following list can definitely make any day or life more interesting. Some of them are silly, while some are more meaningful, so hopefully just reading the list makes your life less boring and sparks your creativity.

    Let’s dive in the list to quit your boring life and start living an interesting (and meaningful) one!

    1. Channel Your 7-Year-Old Self

    Imagine being a young child. Life was never boring, was it? That’s because children harness every ounce of creativity they have in order to try new things.

    What would your 7-year-old self want to do in this moment? Maybe they’d pick up a paintbrush and try to paint the landscape around them. May they would go outside and build something with random materials around the yard. Maybe they would raid the fridge and put together a dish they’ve never seen before.

    Just because you’re a grown-up doesn’t mean any of this stuff will be less enjoyable than you remember it. Give yourself permission to play and use your creativity to its fullest.

    2. Go Play With Kids

    Speaking of little kids, if you have your own (or a niece or nephew), go play with them!

    Kids are absolutely hilarious, so it’s simply impossible to be bored when you’re around them. They also keep things so simple, and we can really stand to be reminded of this and stop allowing ourselves to get bogged down in boring details.

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    3. Play Cell Phone Roulette

    You’ll need at least one buddy for this, but this is a great way to avoid a boring life. Scroll through the contacts in your phone, stop on a random one, and (if it feels right) call the person.

    You could spark an incredible catch-up session or, at the very least, remind someone that you’re thinking of them. Neither are boring.

    4. Fill out a Pack of Thank-You Cards

    This is a great part of a gratitude practice. We often forget to thank the people who do things for us, especially if we have come to expect those things. For example, have you ever thought about thanking your mom for that weekly phone call? Or thanking your sister for always sending you a homemade gift on your birthday?

    Take time to think of at least 5 people you would like to say thank you to and write out a card. You could even write them out for random people in your neighborhood, like the local librarian, a teacher at your child’s school, or the accountant at your bank.

    Anyone and everyone appreciates being thanked for their efforts.

    5. Sign up for a Class

    Nowadays, there are classes for everything. To make it as interesting as possible, try finding one that you wouldn’t normally consider doing, like salsa lessons, improv, or boxing.

    Otherwise, try to find a course on something you’ve always wanted to learn, like pottery, photography, or a foreign language course.

    What’s good about joining an interest class is that you will also meet new people, which will add even more interest to your life!

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    6. Talk to Your Grandparents About Their Lives

    We often underestimate how interesting the elderly are. You can rest assured that any elderly person you talk to will not have had a boring life! Take some time to talk to them and hear their interesting stories. You may even find that this motivates you to go out and find your own interesting experiences.

    7. Get up on Stage at an Open Mic Night

    Whether you’re funny or not, get up on stage. If you’re not into comedy, find an open mic that focuses on reading poetry or short stories and bring your own. These groups tend to be incredibly supportive for anyone who is willing to be brave enough to get up and try.

    8. Do Something for Someone Else

    Showing kindness automatically makes you feel good, but doing these small acts will also help to ensure that you don’t have a boring life. Try doing one or two things each week that are outside your normal routine.

    For example, you could make a batch of cookies for the mailperson or help your elderly neighbor organize one of their rooms. There are a million ways to show kindness to those around you. Tap into your creativity and find your own or use some of the ideas from the image below[1].

    Do random acts of kindness to avoid living a boring life.

      9. Start a DIY Project in Your Home

      If you have your own place, there is always a project that needs to get done. Many people simply pay for someone else to do it in order to avoid the hassle, but taking on a DIY project can make a boring life much more interesting.

      It doesn’t have to be super complicated. Maybe you repaint an old vase or build a spice shelf out of used pallets.

      If you need ideas, you can also check out these 30 Awesome DIY Projects that You’ve Never Heard of.

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      10. Plan a Weekend Trip or an All-Out Vacation

      This will give you something to look forward to. One study actually found that most travelers are happiest before a vacation[2]. Therefore, simply planning a trip will boost your mood, even if you can’t actually take the vacation right now.

      Even if you don’t have the time or money to go on a vacation, plan for a staycation, which is also fun and relaxing!

      11. Go People Watching

      Find a bench in a crowded area (centers of transportation like airports, bus stops, and train stations are great for this!) and just observe[3].

      People are infinitely interesting. Try to imagine what their lives are like, what they’re thinking, or where they’re going. You’ll never know if you’re right, but it will give you something to focus on and also help you practice empathy.

      12. Eat Something You’ve Never Eaten Before

      You can try that new Moroccan restaurant down the street and pick the most interesting dish on the menu. Or, you can raid your own fridge and throw together a dish you’ve never made before.

      If you’re up for a trip to the grocery store, try picking up a new fruit or veggie from the produce section. You may find a new food that you love!

      13. Dance

      You can get your friends together for a night on the town or just pull up a video on YouTube and bust a move from your own living room.

      If you’re feeling extra brave, you can even dance in public or join a flash mob.

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      14. Pick up a Book and Start Reading

      Reading a good book can keep you occupied for hours. It will also transport you to a life that isn’t your own, and one that likely will be the opposite of a boring life. You’ll be amazed by what you can learn from those pages.

      Pick on of these inspirational books to start reading: 10 Best Inspirational Books That Can Change Your Life

      15. Spend Some Time With People You Care About

      Facebook stalking doesn’t count as real social interaction. Call up a friend you haven’t seen in a while, or bring a coffee over to your parent’s place and catch up. They’ll appreciate the gesture, and you’ll avoid boredom.

      16. Check out a Museum You’ve Never Been to

      Some people are bored by museums, so if that’s you, skip to the next one. However, if you love art, history, or culture, this one is for you!

      17. Write a List of Things You Desire and Truly Want

      This is a great way to help you figure out the real reason why you’re feeling bored about your life. Maybe you haven’t really done things that you truly enjoy? Maybe what you’ve wanted to do all the time has been left behind?

      Think about the list of things you really want to do, and ask yourself why you aren’t doing these things (yet). Then, start taking your first step to make it happen.

      Now, go make your life interesting and live your dream life!

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      Featured photo credit: Alex Alvarez via unsplash.com

      Reference

      [1] FECAVA: Random Acts of Kindness
      [2] Applied Research in Quality of Life: Vacationers Happier, but Most not Happier After a Holiday
      [3] Psychology Today: The Expert’s Guide to People Watching

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