My friends have this running joke that wherever I go, I’ll make at least five friends. (See: My Heart is an Idiot)
“It’s always you!”
“You’re so approachable!”
“You get along with all kinds of people!”
“You’re the kind of person I’d ask for directions!”
I never gave it much of a second thought; I just assumed I was somewhat friendly. This past weekend, however, I started to really become aware and noticed just how many strangers connect with me.
On Saturday, me and three of my friends went to Bass Jam at Skully’s. Skully’s is an energetic diner/club/bar with live music, DJs, dancing, and theme nights in the Short North Arts District.
We weren’t sure what to expect, as we have never gone before. The crowd was a bit older and the performing band wasn’t our particular type of music. We all paid a cover fee due to being under 21, and I know it was only five bucks, but I wanted to make the best of my time. In my own words, “I didn’t get dolled up for nothin’!”
So I maneuvered us through the crowd of free-spirited dancers and snagged us a spot near the front of the stage. Then, I let the unfamiliar punk rock beat take over my body. I am not a dancer by any means, but dancing makes me feel alive and in the moment. I lose all my inhibitions and strip away any fear of judgmental eyes.
My friend tapped me on the shoulder.
“I’m just waiting for that guy in front of us to ask you to dance.”
I rolled my eyes playfully.
“It’s going to happen! It always does.”
Lo and behold, he turned around. “You’re extremely cute.” Before I knew it, we were shaking hands, cracking jokes, and throwing our heads back with laughter. He was a handful of years older than me, but age didn’t prevent stranger from connecting with stranger.
It doesn’t stop there. By the end of the night, I had danced with four strangers, talked with nine, and was invited to be a live painter by an artist at the venue (making paintings inspired by the music by letting your brush dance along the canvas).
I’d like to think being a journalism major has influenced my ability to make friends wherever I go, but I don’t think that is the case. I think my personality is what has influenced the selection of my major. Whenever I go to a cafe, a show, a dance club, a restaurant, etc., and I have either an ephemeral or an enduring connection with someone, it only strengths my confidence in the selection of my career path. People are what I am passionate about; their stories and words and personal human experience are my fuel.
So, how am I so approachable? This is definitely not an a+b=c equation, nor a step-by-step formula. Essentially, it all begins with confidence. Here are a few tips to help you get there:
A warm, inviting smile can put anyone at ease, and it also makes you look like you’re having a great time. Smiling makes people want to be around you and get in on the fun.
If you’d rather not be left alone, live it and show it. Be curious about the people around you. Don’t be afraid to ask people questions and start conversations.
Be ready for conversation.
If someone starts a conversation with you, be receptive.
Use your eyes
Scan your environment with your eyes, and don’t be afraid to make eye contact with people.
Consider what your body is projecting
Hold yourself with a tall, open stance. Smile when you make eye contact with someone. Relax. Let yourself have fun.
If people aren’t approaching you, why not go to them? Nothing makes you look more outgoing and approachable than actively seeking out people and talking to them.
A lot of times the reason why we don’t approach anyone is because we’re being overly judgmental of our surroundings as a defense mechanism. Let yourself appreciate others and truly believe that you can have a great conversation with anyone.
Avoid your phone*
or listening to music with headphones. We all need to send a text once and while, but if you consistently check your phone no one will want to interfere with your busy self. To look approachable, you must be accessible.
But Laurie!!! What do I talk about?!?
Talk about whatever! Don’t worry about whether or not you’re saying the right things. You already have at least one thing in common with everyone in the room because you are in the same place! Give a compliment. Get to know the other person. Ask questions. Make comments. Let one thing lead to another. Remember: it doesn’t have to have a full, blown-out conversation to be significant.
Dear readers, strangers are not strangers; they are friends you haven’t met yet. This weekend, go out and make a new friend. I double dog dare you! 😛
*Quite rarely do I ever exchange phone number’s with the strangers I meet. Sometimes, the encounter of two people who may never see each other again is all I need.