Unfortunately, it took me decades to realize this
Let’s start with 3 social storylines gone wrong…
- Have you ever met someone you haven’t seen in a long time, and you were overjoyed, but they were less than enthusiastic?
- Have you ever had a crush on someone so much that you dressed up and seized the moment to introduce yourself to them, only for them to barely respond?
- Or maybe you just wanted to impress a well-known person you admire, so you went out of your way to meet them, gushing with admiration and praise. But they seemed slightly repulsed?
So what’s going on here? Why are there times when we most want to have an impact, where we are least likely to?
It’s not an introverted versus extroverted situation, it’s just what happens when one part gets too excited too fast.
The key phrase is “too fast” – because there is nothing wrong with being excited or feeling pure joy when meeting someone. Likewise, seeing someone bursting with enthusiasm upon meeting us can be great.
What is the problem?
The long answer: We must remember that human beings exist in a space-time paradigm. The paradigm of time locks us into a dimension where the chronology and duration of things matter. There are also levels of emotional intensity, which usually require a bit of acceleration before reaching the high state of pure joy.
The short answer: let people warm up before you drop your best stuff…
Good social interaction requires a boost. So let’s take the 3 examples cited at the beginning of this article…
- You bump into someone you haven’t seen in a long time. First, you stop with a slight smile like “Is it really you?“Then you pause and look gently into their eyes when you realize,”Yes!“Then you slowly take a step towards them, your smile widens and you greet them accordingly. After a few shares, you realize the vibe is still there. Now, you two are overflowing with joy.
- you love someone romantically, then you adorn yourself and take advantage of the moment to introduce yourself to them. However, you take care to approach them calmly with a touch of humility, not knowing how they will respond to you. This tricky behavior is much better than gushing over someone immediately. And who knows, after getting to know you, they might start gushing over you!
- You want to impress a famous person you admire, then you do all you can to meet them. However, you take care to give them “space” by slowly approaching them. With a modest smile, you might say, “Hello, I just wanted to say that I’ve always admired your work. Only someone not worth meeting would reject such an approach. In almost all cases, the person will be pleasantly engaged and you might make a friend.
Take-out: approach people gently and slowly at first, just like a nice on-ramp. You will have a better chance of bringing them to the next level in your relationship.
It took me a long time to remember this: it is not because we have strong emotions in us that others carry the same intensity.
A fellow writer, Sean Kernan, once wrote that he assumes his typical reader is bored and cynical. It helps him write in a careful way to slowly speed up the reader, gently winning over someone who is already cynical. What good advice.
The same is true when we meet people in the world. It can be helpful to assume that people are having a rough day because you’ll approach them with more care and attention.
Sometimes all it takes is a gentle on-ramp to a pleasant exchange to make your relationships more lasting and fruitful. 🙏