Basic Social Skills

Your interactions with other people can have a huge impact on how long it takes you to get from point A to point B at various junctures along your life’s journey. If you possess a degree of anxiety when interacting with other people regularly, it would behoove you to exercise your social muscles.

Strengthening your social muscles can be a little intimidating, at first and can be likened unto going to the gym. If you’ve never been to a gym, just getting yourself to go there in the first place can be a challenge. Once you step inside, you are greeted with a maze of equipment and people who are clearly more adept at using the equipment, especially considering you’re a complete novice. Nonetheless, you survey the landscape and select what you’ve determined to be the piece of equipment that might be the easiest for you to adapt to then as you build confidence, move onto other equipment. Before long, you’re engulfed in full circuit training.

Here are some tips to start exercising your social muscles while smiling (yes, by all means, smile.)


You may notice the first three steps in establishing rapport are commonly used by cashiers at the store. It is common practice for retail establishment to require their line staff to acknowledge their customers by greeting them with some form of “Hi,” following up with an inviting, “How are you?” and thanking them for their patronage.

You could start with any one of these first three interactions.

You could start by expressing gratitude. A simple, “Thank you,” will help to break the ice. It makes the person you’re directing it to feel appreciated (good) and your reward is receiving the sense that you can visually see and emotionally feel a change of countenance as his or her spirit is lifted, if even the only slightest bit. Good job.

Moving on, you can have a lot more fun with, “How are you?”
I find that most retail staff will say “how are you?” out of habit and generally do not expect a response. This is a great place to practice your social skills. A simple acknowledgement of your state of mind (which I prefer to keep positive) like, “I am having a great day.” Followed by, “How are you doing?” They are often surprised when someone asks them how they’re doing and may not have even noticed they asked you how you were doing first, because they do it out of habit in a kind of trance. Your showing an interest in them breaks them out of the trance. Its quid pro quo, they’ve asked you. You responded. Now, it’s implied that if you ask them, they must break state and think for a second in order to muster some kind of conscious response.

How much fun is that? You’ll be surprised at the responses that will be elicited, and if only for a moment, you not only exercised some social skill building for yourself, you have rescued someone from the doldrums of an otherwise unconscious/robotic state of mind.

Now, the third part – saying “Hi” to a perfect stranger – might be the hardest of the three initial components. Besides, weren’t we told since we were very young, not to talk to strangers? Well, you’re older now, and though I am encouraging you to speak to strangers, I still suggest that you not take candy from them or get in their cars, etc…

Some people are a natural at it, like my dad who greets everyone with a smile. He’s the best Wal-Mart greeter of all time because he’s so darned good at it. He has since retired and continues to hone his skills throughout the day, and enthusiastically at church.

Q: Why talk to strangers? A: Because you don’t know who they are.

If you’re on your path, going from point A to point B, the universe may be vectoring all kinds of assistance to expedite your journey, so they will begin appearing all around you. Since you may not know who these people are, they will likely be strangers.

If they were not intended to assist you – no problem – you may have made the world a better place, just by greeting a stranger. Your smile and brief interaction may have been at just the right time and place for that individual. It may save their life.

Want to kick it up a notch?

Use their name

In business environments, this is insisted upon for line staff in high-end environments. It is not uncommon for employers to send in undercover potential clients to look for these basic components. If an employee excludes one of the components, the employer may release him/her on-the-spot if they demand a high level of customer service from their employees.

Nothing is sweeter to a person’s ears than the sound of their own name. If you can obtain and use their name in even the briefest interactions, you will make the world a better place.

Okay, we’ve got your foot in the door of the gym. Keep on the lookout for more workout routines to come.

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