The best advice I ever received to improve my social life was simply this: say “hi” to people. This one habit has made me more friends, taken me on more dates and made me happier than just about any other skill I’ve worked towards. I’m often amazed at how much friendlier the world becomes once you start saying hello to people.
If This Sounds Ridiculously Simple, That’s Because It Is
Many people have a reactionary view towards life. As Earl Nightingale put it best, “They feel as if they would be nicer to other people, only if other people were nicer towards them. What they don’t realize is that it has to start with us.” Although it would be nice if everyone you wanted to meet came and introduced themselves to you, that isn’t how the world works.
If you commit to taking the pressure off of other people, they will often be grateful for it. I’ve made friends in buildings I’ve lived in by walking around, knocking on doors to meet the neighbors. While some people might be unfriendly or rude, those people aren’t worth meeting anyways, so there’s no loss if you don’t start a great conversation.
I’ve realized that as soon as I stop following this advice. As soon as I become too self-absorbed or self-important to say hello regularly, I start missing out on opportunities. My social connections wither and I have less fun.
What If You’re Shy?
Then start small and say hi in situations you’re comfortable with. You can even start by saying hello to acquaintances you would normally ignore. Whether you’re incredibly introverted or completely gregarious you can still improve.
Ways to Get Started
I’m not going to spin this into a long article, because doing so would be an insult to your intelligence. It isn’t difficult advice to understand, even if it’s advice we don’t often apply. Here are some ways you can get started:
- Introduce yourself through an email to someone you’ve always wanted to meet. What’s the worst that can happen, they won’t reply?
- Say hello next time your in an elevator, bus or waiting in line. They aren’t going to run away, and the only risk you have is that a conversation won’t follow (which wouldn’t have happened anyways if you didn’t speak up).
- Phone/message someone you haven’t talked to in awhile. What, were you waiting for them to talk to you?
- Introduce yourself at a group event. Go around and say hi to everyone.