Improving my Social Interactions

I wouldn’t say I’m anti-social. Once upon a time I was surely rather awkward, and I’ve always been a little edgy in crowds.

Nonetheless, aging a bit and making an effort to improve have resulted in a more happy, outgoing Brock. That’s only the beginning, really. I don’t want to be simply not-obnoxious. I want to function well in social settings. To that end, based partially on Never Eat Alone, I have come up with the following general procedure when meeting new people. I brainstormed it some time ago, and had a to-do (or NA for you GTDers) to clean it up and memorize it.

I figured I might as well post it as long as I’m cleaning it up. And here it is:

  • Introduce yourself with your full name early on. Preferably immediately.
  • Use the other person’s name whenever you address them. Eye contact or “uh, hey” don’t count.
  • If you forget their name (are you trying to get their eye contact instead? Hmm?) just ask. Then write it down. Apologize for being bad with names if you get a strange look.
  • When you write their name down, take some notes on their general appearance or something that will help you remember them.
  • Get their photo. If it’s someone you already know, and you have a phone with a camera, ask to add their picture to your address book. This doesn’t work well in dark restaurants and bars.
  • Follow up by phone (at a time when you’re likely to get voicemail), email, or in writing within a week of meeting them, if you care to build any kind of relationship.
  • Figure out whether you have any mutual acquaintances
  • Pay attention to what people are looking for. Do they need to hire someone for something? Are they looking to add another player to their weekly poker game? Do you know anyone that could help them?
  • Always be honest if you have to go. Don’t make excuses. In particular, if the conversation dies and you’ve exhausted all that you both have to discuss, excuse yourself in a polite and straightforward way.

This is a long and difficult list to habitualize. However, I’ve added some of these things to my habits over time and have seen benefits even from one. It’s not necessary to do them all at once. They should eventually become a natural part of your personality.