“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:

  1. Introduce yourself to others at every possible opportunity – at parties, meetings, on airplanes, at work, everywhere.
  2. Be sure the other person gets your name right.
  3. Be sure you can pronounce the other person’s name the way he pronounces it.
  4. 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.
  5. 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.
  6. 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!

XO, Jorjia

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