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10 Truths That Smart People Often Forget About

10 Truths That Smart People Often Forget About

As intelligent as many people are, there will always be moments when the most blatantly obvious concepts completely elude them. Here are a few basic truths that even the wisest folks out there can lose sight of on occasion.

1. It’s Okay to Make Mistakes

None of us are completely error-free, although we’d like to wish we were. Perfectionists in particular don’t like the idea of messing up, but screw-ups are inevitable; the key is to acknowledge them with grace, and move forward from them.

It’s also to remember your own mistakes when you feel frustration with someone else: that barista who accidentally made you a regular venti-mocha-frappa-whippy drink when you asked for a low-fat one might still be in training, so be patient and gracious, and don’t be a dick. There was once a time when you weren’t an expert at what you do, so give someone else a break, as others undoubtedly gave you in turn way back when.

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2. Showing Appreciation to Others is Important

Think about how happy you feel when someone tells you that they appreciate something that you’ve done for them, or even just that they cherish your friendship. It’s a pretty spectacular feeling, isn’t it? Now, consider that others feel the exact same way when you say such things to them in turn. It doesn’t take long to let another person know that you really appreciate X thing that they’ve said/done, and you can be certain that your words will be remembered forever.

3. No-one is an Island

We all need support on occasion, and that’s absolutely nothing to be embarrassed about. Grief, illness, and a myriad other issues will touch all of our lives, and it’s when these hardships arise that it’s vital to ask for—and accept—help. Whether you have a strong support network of friends and acquaintances, or if you’re very close to members of your family, it’s absolutely okay to lean on them when you need to. You wouldn’t begrudge help to someone you care about, right? Consider the fact that others feel the exact same way about you.

4. You Need to Take Care of Yourself Before You Can Take Care of Others

Many people seem to martyr themselves in their eagerness to care for others, but they generally end up feeling drained, sick, or otherwise utterly depleted as a result. As much as you want to be there for those you care about, remember that you’re no good to anyone if you’re a tired, weak, emotional wreck. Take time to rest and rejuvenate so you can have the strength and energy needed to help those you love.

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5. It’s Never Too Late to Learn Something New

You might think that it’s “too late” to embark on a new career path, learn a new language, or start watercolour painting, but do you have a good reason as to why that may be? Is it because you have the misconception that a pursuit is only valid if you’ve mastered it by a certain age? Consider the idea that the journey and the process are what’s important, rather than milestone achievements, and enjoy delving into a topic that intrigues you. Not only will it help you grow and evolve, but it’ll keep your mind active and healthy as well.

6. Health Isn’t Measured by a Clothing Size or Tape Measurement

It’s important to eat well, exercise regularly, and maintain a healthy lifestyle, but it’s also important to remember that every single body on earth is different, and your individual health can’t be measured by mean standards. Someone can be very thin and extremely unhealthy, or on the heavier side and in spectacular health (and this goes for people of all genders!). Determine what state is the healthiest and happiest for you, and strive to maintain it.

7. No-one is More or Less Important Than Anyone Else

We’ve all been in situations where some jerk has tried to make it known that they were terribly important, and their time was more valuable than that of others, etc., as they belittled those around them. Guess what? No-one on earth is any greater or lesser than anyone else; we’re all just different flavours of human, period.
Wealth, status, degrees, possessions—all are completely irrelevant, and everyone should be treated with equal respect, courtesy, and dignity. The bottom line here is that those who point out their inferiors don’t have any.

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8. Children and the Elderly Are Worth Listening To

It’s often easy to dismiss the thoughts and observations of the very young and very old alike because we assume they’re either too little to have any real insight, or already in their dotage, but this couldn’t be further from the truth. A child will have a unique perspective of the world because his/her observations haven’t yet been tainted by external influence, and an elder will have a lifetime of experience to draw upon. You don’t have to heed all of their advice or believe everything they say, but it’s important to listen anyway; you never know what you may learn.

9. You Cannot Change Others, Nor Should You Try to Do So

Living authentically, in a manner that feels right and true to yourself, is of rather high importance, right? Well, how would you feel if someone you cared about tried to change aspects about your lifestyle to better suit their own whims and preferences? You’d likely feel hurt, disrespected, and annoyed, and would probably start to feel as though you were doing something wrong, even if you were absolutely happy as you were. None of us have the right to try to change someone else to make them into what we deem to be “better” versions, so it’s important to learn to accept and care for people exactly as they are.

This is especially important to remember if you’re searching for a romantic partner: If you find yourself thinking that X person would be “perfect” for you if only they changed this and that, then they’re not perfect for you at all, and you’ll both end up feeling awful if you try to make them into something they’re not. They’ll get frustrated because you can’t accept them for who they are, you’ll be disappointed that they’re not willing to change themselves to make you happy, and it’ll spiral into greater ugliness down the line. If it’s your child whom you want to change, remember that this person is an individual with their own leanings, wants, and sense of self—they don’t exist so you can live vicariously through their experiences.

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10. “Success” and Money Don’t Equal Happiness

What is “success”, really? Achieving something that someone else expected of you? As for money, well… it can let you stuff your face with caviar and champagne now and then, but it can’t buy you emotional stability, spiritual fulfilment, or true friendship. Consider that the most beautiful experiences in life aren’t those that can be purchased, and determine for yourself what makes you truly happy. Pursue that which makes your soul shine, and never mind how much money others are making, or what labels they have on their business cards.

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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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