I have no doubt that I’ve become even more introverted as I have aged.
As I write this, my 41st birthday is in a few days. Birthdays have a way of reminding me that I’m getting older.
At this age, I’ve had 24 years as a working adult and I have about 24 years left as a working adult assuming I retire at 65.
So I have to ask myself: Will the second half of my working life be different than the first half, and do I want it to be different?
Like I said, I think that over those 24 years, I’ve become even more introverted, and if I choose to continue down that path, I’m afraid I’ll end up working from home and communicating with the outside world only through my blog and Slack messages!
I’m determined to change that.
My real estate team is helping me with it too. We’ve become very intentional about becoming a relationship based company rather than a transaction based company like we’ve been in the past.
Don’t get me wrong. We’ve always provided a high level of customer service and we’ve taken very good care of our clients. But once the transaction was over, we figured there really wasn’t anything else a buyer or seller needed from us.
I believe that assumption has held us back.
I believe that people are hungry for human connection.
We’ve decided that we’re going to be very purposeful about maintaining a relationship with our clients. Just because they don’t buy or sell a home every year doesn’t mean they aren’t still our clients.
So we’re treating our clients like we would our own family and friends. We’re getting together with them on occasion. We’re making plans with them and simply calling them up to find out how they’re doing.
Our last event was a happy hour at an up-and-coming bar in our area. My job was to check people in and give them a name tag. I liked this job because it meant I had a purpose for the conversation I initiated. Once they had their name tag and drink tickets, they went upstairs to the party.
A little over halfway into the event, I was encouraged by a couple of team members to join the party. I have to admit that I was reluctant. Besides my own team members, I really didn’t know anyone else.
These negative thoughts are the same thoughts that have held me back from engaging and connecting with people over the years:
- What if I say something stupid?
- No one is interested in what I do for a living.
- Why would I want to get to know any of these people?
- I just want to go home.
- It’s too noisy here. I hate having to ask people to repeat themselves because I can’t hear them.
- This is going to suck.
- I don’t know what to talk about.
Here’s what actually happened:
I spotted someone I knew standing at a table talking to one other person. I simply stood at the table with my drink and listened in on the conversation. I didn’t have anything to contribute and they were having such a good conversation that I felt it would be rude to insert myself by asking a question or two, so I didn’t. I just smiled and nodded.
A short while later, my mega’s son came over and stood next to me. All it took from me was a simple, “Hey man. How’s it going?” and he took over the conversation from there. What a relief. We had a very nice exchange and I actually enjoyed the conversation.
After that, someone new joined the table and contributed to our conversation. It was actually easy. I didn’t say anything stupid, and no one looked at me like I was crazy and walked away.
I have to admit that I had a good time.
A few days later, my husband came across this Reddit thread: “What are some good weird questions to ask someone to get to know them better?”
From the comments, these were some of the top up-voted:
- What are you proud of, but never have an excuse to talk about?
- What’s your favorite smell?
- What’s one super power you would NOT want?
Then someone linked to “The 36 Questions That Lead to Love”. Though I’m not looking for love, I thought the questions would evoke some good conversation.
My plan for our next company event is to have a few of these questions in my back pocket so I can remember to ask them. I think if I can ask engaging questions, then I can let the other person talk and then I’m not the center of someone’s attention.
Perhaps in the second half of my working life, I’ll slowly become better at engaging people in conversation. I could get to the point where I go into a party thinking I’m about to hear some amazing stories and be completely entertained and fascinated by people instead of thinking so negatively about them.
Could I could actually pull off the trick of going from uncomfortable to comfortable when it comes to socializing? I believe I can!