As a digital nomad, you are often on the move. One question I hear quite often is “So, how do you meet people?”
To be honest, the recipe for meeting people, making new friends, and generally becoming the life of your next party is relatively simple.
Every day, I practice being first.
The first to smile. The first to say hello and introduce myself. The first to initiate a conversation. The first to listen. The first to compliment someone else. The first to laugh at myself. The first to apologize. The first to ask someone a personal question. The first to admit when I am wrong. The first to admit a mistake.
99% of our world’s population is eerily similar. We all want the same things. To be loved. To feel important. To connect with others. This is magnified even more when you are traveling. Other nomads are as eager to connect with people and make new friends on the road as you are.
People, on the whole, are not bad. You simply need to give them a chance. Sometimes, you need to show your humanity in order for others to show you theirs.
When I was younger, my family had a dog named Sadie. To this day, she is the most popular animal I have ever been around. There was not a dog she could not get to play with her.
How did she do it?
Her strategy was simple. Every time she came in contact with a new dog, she would lay down on all four paws and completely submit herself to the other dog. She would let the other dog sniff and paw and growl until it became comfortable. Eventually, the other dog would realize she was friend, not foe, and they would run off to play.
We could all learn a little from ole’ Sadie. How often do we work to make sure other people feel comfortable? How often do you initiate the first interaction?
When you are shopping, do you smile at the person behind the check-out counter? When you are with friends, how quick are you to laugh at yourself or openly admit a mistake? When you are at a party, will you randomly introduce yourself to others or are you more concerned about how you might look? Do you actively listen and ask questions in a conversation, or are you always trying to get your two cents in?
If you extend yourself to others, what is the worst that can happen? Someone does not smile back or is quick to ridicule you? Not likely. People just aren’t that inherently mean. And if someone does respond this way, congratulations, you have found yourself an asshole. You no longer need to worry about what this person thinks or attempt to please them. Life is too short to be spent worrying about assholes.
This philosophy is not only something that should be used only with strangers. Try it with the those close to you. Suck it up and be the first to apologize to your spouse after a fight. Be the first at work to admit when you were wrong or when you made a mistake. Be the first to compliment your friends.
Again, the majority world is waiting for you to interact with it. People, in general, are yearning for human connection. A smile, a compliment or hug is a pleasant surprise from how the rest of the world moves briskly past.
So do yourself a favor and kindly step out of your own way.
Be first. Be open. You will be amazed at how people respond.