Some people are blessed with the ability to say the right thing at the right time- all the time. Uh, yeah right! Each time we flub a conversation or feel like we could have approached a situation differently, we slip into this false assumption.
Even the best of the best out there find themselves stuck in a moment that is awkward. The simple fact is that relationship development skills require practice.
I remember a time back in fourth grade. My family had just relocated from Houston, TX to Amarillo, TX. We had just moved into an upper middle-class neighborhood, which seemed like a foreign land compared to the lower middle-class suburb of Houston we came from. Almost from day 1 I felt like I did not fit. Instead of just being me, I tried to present myself as something else.
It was my first week and as the new guy I was invited to sit with the popular boys at their lunch table. Instead of just keeping my mouth shut and eating my lunch, I popped off and started just telling big fat whoppers- anything to pull myself up to their level. Needless to say they figured it out and I didn’t make it into the popular crowd.
A close friend of mine talks about the time that she walked into a networking event, at a local wine bar, and started mingling with the crowd. During one conversation one of the participants decided to share the latest deposition in his divorce proceedings. Given that this was the first time most of these people had met, his choice of topics was not fitting- much less flattering.
Relationship development skills are practiced and shaped through many interactions. You are going to get it wrong some of the time, and this is ok. What is more important is that you are mindful of each interaction you take part in. Be aware of how others are engaging with you, and more importantly, how they are responding to you.
In the next posting I will highlight 5 approaches to consider in your upcoming social engagements.
Until our paths cross again,