“When you make a pleasant remark to a stranger, you make him feel one degree better. This makes you feel better and helps you relax.” David J. Schwartz
I was going to visit a friend in the hospital. I was in the elevator and a woman got into the elevator behind me. The doors shut, and my mind started racing. “Should I say something? Should I start a conversation? What should I say? How are you? No. That’s too simple. How’s your day going? No. We are at the hospital, that’s a stupid question.” Ding – we reach our floor and the doors open, never having said a word to each other. Most awkward 90 seconds of my life! Then, I feel guilty – because earlier that morning I had been reading The Magic of Thinking Big. In chapter 9 where he had talked about this exact situation! Dr. Schwartz lists 6 ways to win friends by exercising a little initiative:
- Introduce yourself to others at every possible opportunity – at parties, meetings, on airplanes, at work, everywhere.
- Be sure the other person gets your name right.
- Be sure you can pronounce the other person’s name the way he pronounces it.
- Write down the other person’s name and be mighty sure you have spelled it correctly; people have a fetish about the correct spelling of their own names! If possible, get his address and phone number, also.
- Drop a personal note or make a call to the new friends you want to know better. This is an important point. Most successful people follow through on new friends with a letter or phone call.
- And last but not least, say pleasant things to strangers. It warms you up and gets you ready for the task ahead.
So, I made a resolution to not make the same mistake twice in one day. On the elevator ride down, I smiled a big genuine smile at the man and woman who were on the elevator with me and I asked them how they were. We exchanged a few kind words on the ride down and I wished them a good day when I got off the elevator. Now, that wasn’t so hard, was it? No. Not at all. Actually, It was much more enjoyable than the awkward ride up.
I enjoy being able to read and apply things in my life. I don’t know that I would always go to the lengths that Dr. Schwartz listed above – sometimes it is nice to just have a short pleasant conversation with a stranger. But I do know from experience that it always helps to make me feel less awkward if I can just get myself to smile and say hello to the stranger I come into contact with. Especially if we are stuck in an elevator together!
Here’s to making new friends out of strangers!