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Share Your Secrets to Be The Change

Share Your Secrets to Be The Change

    In any field with stuff worth learning, knowledge-hoarding is shamefully rampant. Have you ever asked someone you admired about how they made something you’re curious about, only to be rebuffed that “It’s a secret”? It’s happened to me 100s of times, and still, I press on to other sources.

    After all, there may be magic in mystery, but that doesn’t mean you need to be a congested artery when it comes to letting the knowledge flow.

    A rather peaceful dude, Gandhi, is famed for saying “We must be the change we wish to see in the world.”

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    And a man who changed the world and influenced its leaders, Alvin Toffler, said: “Change is not merely necessary to life, it is life.” He also said, “Knowledge is promiscuous. It mates and gives birth to more knowledge.”

    It sounds like a riddle, but knowledge has no bedfellows. Knowledge is a resource that becomes more plentiful as it’s used. Like oil or diamonds, there may be conflicts over knowledge, but unlike those materials, knowledge becomes more abundant as it’s applied.

    One of the greatest things is to be is a teacher, and I don’t just mean in school: I mean as a spreader of knowledge, a beacon of… enlightenment.

    If that sounds too vague, here are encouraging reasons which will work wonders for you:

    Sharing secrets creates an abundant culture

    To be clear, I’m not talking about revealing identities in the Witness Protection Program or doing anything that’d harm lives, but sharing healthy secrets that others can improve on.

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    Open source is a fine example when it comes to “abundant culture” in action: chances are even if you don’t know what it is and what it stands for, you’ve reaped some of the benefits. You may have never heard of Apache, but it’s the webserver technology that powers over 1/2 of the world’s websites. By sharing openly, proliferation, adoption, and usage of useful tools can be exponentially increased.

    On a related note, Creative Commons has allowed artists to enhance their artistry by sampling and remixing each others’ works without fear of being dampened by complex laws, becoming better creators in the process. Which relates to…

    Sharing secrets makes life simpler

    One of the reason why the Internet is so popular is because there’s so much sharing of secrets — and still, there are an infinite amount of unanswered questions! Whether it’s blogs or wikis, forums or social networking sites, people want to learn — even if they don’t say it.

    A resource I adore is The Straight Dope, which has grown a profuse web community out of a line of hit books. Their mission? To explore and expose plenty of life’s biggest question marks. Like hiccups.

    Even with paid staff on numerous sites, time and time again, we see that there are impressive amounts of volunteers who go out of their way to offer assistance and help solve secretive problems.

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    Great rule of thumb: if you battled your way through a problem and found an answer, you owe it to yourself and the world to share your solution. Spending some time to do this, likely at most a few hours, can create a rippleshock effect which ends up saving far more time than what you originally invested. I do this for a living and a hobby, and here’s a specific example. And since happiness often accompanies simplicity, you should know…

    Sharing secrets makes life happier

    We have enough problems and don’t need to invent more. You may’ve heard that the guilt of a weighty secret “eats you up”. I think that’s also true for stuff you want to share, but may be shy to. Perhaps there’s a nasty stigma associated with it.

    But realizing that simply talking about a problem can be incredibly empowering. Ever heard of Oprah Winfrey? The whole basis of her immensely successful talk show is personal confession and talking about life experiences. Oprah’s done drugs, had weight issues, suffered abusive relationships, and was raped… among many other aches. She’s talked about all these, and in the process, empowered herself and the many millions who can relate to her.

    Oprah didn’t begin with such an audience, but grew it over time, as more and more people came to adore her for being open, candid, and earnest. Eventually, some of her viewers would also go on to share their secrets, bettering more lives.

    Lift that weight off, and share a secret. It may not be clear who you’re helping yet, especially if you’ve decided to blog about it, but if sharing secrets helps you cope or deal with a pain, it’ll help someone else too.

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    People love “behind-the-scenes” insight

    Everyone knows the cinema is loaded with fictional movies. That doesn’t stop us from enjoying the DVD extras showing “the making of”: from interviews with cast and crew to commentary tracks to wireframe sketches (as Pixar is fond of doing), it doesn’t diminish the greatness of a polished work.

    Rather, showing what went into something helps you appreciate it even more. Brian Transeau aka BT, the versatile electronic musician, has given numerous at-length insights into his production techniques. That’s very unusual in snobby dance music scenes. What’s it done for him? Garnered many fans, encouraged other producers to try out (and thus be influenced by) his suggestions, and advanced the functionality of music-making programs. Furthermore, it’s challenged him to keep changing and growing.

    Coming up with new secrets then sharing them later is all part of the fun.

    Secret-sharers are heroes

    Conflict is inevitable in our existence. It’s no coincidence that if you share secrets that enlighten fellow humans, some tightminded folks will crawl out of the woodwork and bash you for letting the proverbial cat out of the bag. If it can happen to Bruce Lee opening up kung fu to the masses, it can happen to you. Don’t worry, your nemeses are just trying to cover up their sheer lack of progress while you blaze new trails.

    That’s why being a secret-sharer requires bravery. And who’s brave? A hero!

    You’ll be known as a generous person

    Everyone, with the exception of Scrooge, loves generosity. Your pockets may not be lined with bling, but if you get the word out about a useful secret that saves people time & trouble, whether it’s an overlooked discount code or an obscure Firefox add-on that makes their online life easier, you’ve contributed something positive.

    You’ll be remembered for that.

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    Last Updated on January 15, 2019

    How to Talk to Strangers Without Feeling Awkward

    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!

    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.[1] Cortisol is the hormone inside of us which produces stress responses.[2]
    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.

    Culturally Conditioned

    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.

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    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.

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    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.

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    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.

    6. Detach

    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.

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    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

    Featured photo credit: Priscilla Du Preez via unsplash.com

    Reference

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