Emotions guide us in many different ways. We are given opportunities to establish with new people every single day. The question then becomes what do we do with the interactions we are given? How many times have you gone to get a cup of coffee and not paid attention to the people who were in the establishment? Maybe you were in a rush because you were late for a meeting, and you had to quickly get to work in order to make sure that you could meet your deadline? What about dealing with people at your occupation? Do you work with the public where the faces consistently change? Do you try to get to know any of those folks or are you preoccupied? I can guarantee you that every person around you has skill-sets and you are probably not aware of what those skills are.
As a society, we are conditioned to get to know those who can propel us forward. We don’t like to discuss the network of folks that we know who are struggling. In fact, those conversations are brought up when awareness is brought to the forefront of issues. There is an old saying that “You are known by the company you keep.” In spite of so many cultural changes, there is a core element that still rings true. Most of us gravitate to those who we feel the most comfortable around. It’s difficult for many of us to step out of our comfort zone and get to know others who may look or speak differently.
This morning I went to a local WalMart to do my shop-kicking. For those who are not aware of what that is, it’s an app on my phone that lets me get points to scan the products it tells me to and those points can eventually be redeemed for gift cards. I met an Islamic woman who asked me where an item was. She was fully covered in traditional dress with the only thing showing was her eyes. In today’s world, she still deals with heavy criticism. She was an African American woman who was quite lovely. I have no idea of her age but what I do know is we hit it off immediately because we were both looking for ways to save money and we compared the different apps we knew of that would help us to achieve this goal. As we conversed, I discovered that not only does she face cruelty from others in words and deeds for her religion, but that her own community of African American women were some of her harshest critics. My respect for her grew immensely because she wasn’t afraid to say that hatred had spewed out of folks that she never would have expected. In fact, she was stunned that as a white woman, I wasn’t treating her any differently than I would anyone else. People are people. We all deserve to be treated with respect and dignity. There are always going to be people who try your patience but they still deserve to be treated with respect.
As we both finished up our conversation, we both felt good about our interaction. Not only did I meet someone who enjoys doing the same kinds of money saving programs, but I was allowed to view her world for just a glimpse and it provided me with a sense of gratitude and understanding. In my position at work, I am limited to dealing with phone calls and folks who come in my door. I have to remember that every single one of them needs to be treated with respect. I’ve had a couple of folks who came in that made me want to go grab a drink after work but that hasn’t been often. What do you do though, when you don’t have a way to meet people at your job? One way is to volunteer. Find something that you are passionate about. There is an organization in Greensboro, NC called the Volunteer Center. They help people who are looking for volunteers find a good fit for both the organization and the individual. Some of those volunteers actually find work while they are unemployed or underemployed. This is just one type of organization that helps people but you get the idea.
I have started going to a local Planet Fitness after work and I watch as the men and women around me make workouts look so easy. I can attest to the fact that they aren’t and most people don’t like to talk while they work out. But I have found that even in passing, people will engage in small talk. In those few minutes that you garner someone’s attention, you have the potential to make a new contact. Contacts are critical to the future.
Another way that you can meet more folks is to host an event. One of my friends has done Pampered Chef parties and Tupperware parties for a long time. This is a great venue to meet different folks in. Society may change but the need for interaction with people is a very real emotion.
Get together with friends and encourage each other to mingle and meet new people. I’ve found that a bulk of my friends are not shy. If they see someone they want to speak with, they make it happen and when I’ve been too shy to talk to someone, they have put me in some awkward positions but I’m grateful that they did because it has forced me to get out in the world and keep expanding myself.
Another thing to consider is get on social media. There’s a lot of folks out there who play games on the internet, do things like Pinterest and Facebook along with many other types of social media outlets that you haven’t met. Blogging like this is a really cool way to meet people. I’m always amazed at the stories I read from many of you and the helpful hacks that I find in many of your blogs. It’s a fantastic resource and I highly recommend giving it a try.
You never know what kind of connections you are making in your every day life. But if you are open to meeting new people, you might learn about how cool and interesting people are. Plus, it never hurts to broaden your horizons. I know some of the folks I encounter are people that I once stereotyped as rebels and now, I learn more from them in the world of art, technology, food, and culture than I ever dreamed possible. Every day is an opportunity and everyone around you is an incredible network. Be open to the possibilities that those around you have to offer. You might be surprised at what they help you accomplish later on.