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The Price of Success You Probably Aren’t Aware Of (Hint: Relationships)

The Price of Success You Probably Aren’t Aware Of (Hint: Relationships)

Everyone wants success. Obvious, right? But do most of us know that success has a price? Definitely not.

This is not about paying our way to success through means of efforts, plans, etc. It’s about the other side of success — the dark side experienced by most high achievers.

When we achieve something in life, we will build the belief that we are more successful than others. As we collect more and more successes, our strong self-confidence will seep into our egos and a dangerous problem will crop up — we’ll have an All-or-Nothing thinking.

In this article, we’ll explore the All-or-Nothing thinking caused by our successes, its negative effects towards our relationships with others, and how to avoid paying the full price to the cashier of the Success Restaurant so we can save our money…and the bonds we created with those who are important to us.

All-or-Nothing: I Hate You Very Much, I Like You Very Much

The All-or-Nothing thinking is related to how we perceive others. Imagine that we once had a friend and from our 10 years of befriending him, we didn’t spot any flaws in his characters and behaviours. One day, we found out that he made a mistake and because of that, we stopped being friends with him.

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That’s the All-or-Nothing thinking.

The All-or-Nothing thinking is also described by psychologist as “splitting” in which we split people into really good or really bad people. In the mind of an All-or-Nothing thinker, there’s no such thing as a person being in-between as in having both positive and negative qualities.

The Effect of Discounting the In-Betweens in Our Life

All humans are in-betweens. Yet, it’s easy to trick ourself into believing that we are on the high social strata after we collected substantial amount of shiny trophies and great successes. It’s human to sometimes have an inflated ego but when it affects our perception of others, then beware — we’ve paid too much.

Discounting the in-betweens means that we will stop interacting with most people and become too judgmental; we’ll also be inclined to say bad things to others, not giving thought to other people’s opinions and ideas, and being too picky about who’s allowed in our social circles.

These adverse effects can be detrimental to our life because having little interaction means that we will be less exposed to new opportunities, ideas, thoughts, and opinions which are needed to grow a balanced and healthy mind. To stop paying the full price of success, there are three things we can do — becoming more self-aware, focusing on growing with a purpose, and teach others what we know.

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Three Things We Can Do to Avoid the All-or-Nothing Thinking:

1. Develop greater self-awareness

Having good self-awareness can help us to spot whenever the All-or-Nothing thought patterns arise. To develop self-awareness, we need to learn how to evaluate our thoughts especially when we find ourself trying to judge others. The moment we spot the All-or-Nothing thought patterns, we need to immediately tell ourself to stop believing it and reframe the thought.

An example: We met someone who looked messy and our initial thought was “I can’t talk to this guy. He’s too much of a mess.” A possible reframe would be “Not dressing well doesn’t mean that he’s a mess. He might be smarter than me” or “Einstein’s hair was a mess but he had one of the greatest minds in history”

By practicing this whenever we are in conversation with others, we’ll find it easier to see others in a better light.

You can learn more about improving your self-awareness by reading this article by Ciara Conlon.

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2. Grow yourself but add purpose into the mix

“Growth for the sake of growth is the ideology of cancer cells”

Edward Abbey

Self-improvement is important. The problem with the society today is the search for rapid growth but without any purpose. Yeah, sometimes the purpose is told to us by so-and-so, but is it really a purpose? If it is, it’s a purpose that is probably hiding under another purpose — growth.

When we were little and growing up, we needed our parents to guide us. The same goes with any other growth. We need something to guide our growth, and that something is purpose.

Before seeking to grow or change our life, we need to find our purpose in life. Having a purpose means that we don’t depend on other people to define the way we want to grow. Our growth will revolve around the purpose we chose thus it would be meaningful to us and meaningful to others too.

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Lianna Martha Laroya wrote an interesting article on how to find our purpose in her Lifehack article “5 Steps to Find out Your Life Purpose”. You can read it here.

3. Teach what we know

Teaching can help us to be more generous on sharing our knowledge.

But there’s one thing about teaching that can bust our ego, and it’s the capability to elevate people’s status. When we teach others, we are extending our hand to pull others up to our level.

By continuing to teach others, we will change our mindset from thinking of ourself as being on a higher level to thinking of ourself as someone responsible to help others to be on the same level as us.

Conclusion

The price of success is the negative effects it can have towards our relationship. As explained above, we can avoid paying the full price by doing three things:

  1. Develop self-awareness by questioning our thoughts consistently
  2. Grow deliberately by finding our purpose of life before trying to improve ourself
  3. Teach others to help them improve themselves to the point where they are on our level

Lastly, there are no failure, no success, and no in-between. There is only human, and it’s our duty to help each other become the best version of ourselves.

Featured photo credit: Svilen.miev via Wikimedia Commons via commons.wikimedia.org

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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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