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Project: Friendly

Every year at the New Year I set myself some goal for the coming year. Not quite a resolution, which never lasts, but more than just a vague idea - it's almost always something I manage to do. For instance, a few years ago I resolved not to fight or argue with anyone for the entire year. For the most part it worked, too - I mean, I got in some arguments but caught myself, and backed off...and for the most part has a much less angsty year and learned some habits that I still practice, to my own betterment.

So this year, I'm going to be more friendly. I don't think of myself as an unfriendly person, mind you - but a combination of a little East Coast reserve and a retreat from my youthful (nigh psychotic) outgoingness has left me a bit uncomfortable in some common social situations. I also have the same "neutral expression" as my grandfather, which apparently looks sort of scowly or intense...when in reality I'm probably thinking about whether the dog ate my shoes while I was at work, or whether bacon or carnitas are better. So I project a little more proud and aloof than I consider myself. Plus, I have the counter-example of my boss at my first job here in LA, who was incredibly friendly and had an amazing talent for putting anyone at ease. He'd talk to people in the elevator and chat with them like they were old friends he'd just seen again...but when I asked later how he knew them, he'd say "Huh? Never met the guy, until just now!" It's a skill like any other, that kind of easy fellow-feeling, and something I can learn rather than be lazy and look at my iPhone as if something important were happening there.

So I'm making a point of chit-chatting whenever possible, with whomever possible. That's the start of the project...but if there's some formal "how to make friends and influence people" type training, I will certainly consider it. For now, I just sort of...put on a character who's more friendly than me when confronted with a stranger with whom I have the opportunity to chat. And naturally, questions about themselves and what they do are the way to go in terms of making friends. So that part is easy, it's really just summoning not quite the courage, but rather the energy, to just put it out there and ..chat. It's harder than it seems!

I'm not quite up to a cocktail party yet, that's going to be after I level up a few times...but I intend to keep at it. By the end of the year, hopefully, it'll be more like a habit than an effort. And if I fail, it's obviously the fault of all you rocks-with-lips out there, who JUST WON'T OPEN UP TO ME, dammit!


( 4 comments — Leave a comment )
Jan. 5th, 2010 11:35 pm (UTC)
This reminds me of a conversation we once had...
...And I quote, "Oh, you know me- drop me naked in the middle of the desert and within 45 minutes I'll have a martini and a new best friend!"
Jan. 5th, 2010 11:38 pm (UTC)
Re: This reminds me of a conversation we once had...
That was five years ago! Also, I'm trying to draw a difference between outgoing (naked martini and friend-finding) and friendly - establishing a good fellow-feeling with both newly met people and long time friends and acquaintances.
Jan. 7th, 2010 10:18 pm (UTC)
Being friendly is EASY.

It's all about being approachable and maintaining the appearance of a relaxed state, even when you are not feeling it.

If I can do this, anyone can.
Jan. 7th, 2010 10:20 pm (UTC)
You are a role-model, in that regard. But it's also one of the great things about Southern culture - the easy familiarity and good fellow-feeling. Spend enough hot, sultry nights down South, and slowing down to jaw a little comes easy.

But us Northerners? We have to make an effort. Too much to do! No time to slow down! Work calls!
( 4 comments — Leave a comment )


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