The road to success is lonely…
A few thoughts while you’re walking it:
- Most people are not successful, or at least not as successful as they could be.
- If you do what everybody else is doing, you’ll get what everybody else is getting.
- Groups don’t like stand-outs.
- The default setting for life is mediocre to terrible.
- If you want to be a hero… reach success… change your group, yourself, your world… you have to flip the lever from default to ON. You have to leave the comfort of group conformity, hack a new trail with your machete, and walk through a lot of creepy, snaky, mosquito-ridden jungle before you get to the glowing Hallelujah mountain-top of success.
- But once you’re there… you’ll look back and say, “Worth it.”
- And then, most likely, you’ll start eyeballing the next mountain. Cuz that’s how we roll.
How to cope while you feel alone
What’s a social person to do when walking the lone lonely loner road to success?
2 reasons you need some rules for social engagement:
REASON #1: You are walking the lonely road to success, separating from the group, owning your own dreams and identity, BRAVO. But: you can’t just pretend the group doesn’t exist and you still need support.
REASON #2: If you keep walking, you’ll get there. And when you get there, you’ll be a hero. The group(s) will love you. Too many friends can be as big a problem as too few. If you don’t have some structure you’ll be overwhelmed, overrun, bedazzled, and lose yourself (you’ve seen this happen with some of your own heroes, I bet).
Ok, so. What are the rules?
Well, that’s the tricky part.
I’ll share my rules and tell you why I have them. But they still might not be the best rules for you. A lot depends on your personality. Helpful, I know…
My 3 rules for successful social engagement
1. Be careful with your YESes.
to in verbal contract. Even casual, conversational politeness can be construed as you condoning and/or making a commitment when perhaps that’s not what you intend.
I have this rule because I like to make people happy, and saying YES seems like a quick, easy, no-harm-done way to make people happy.
But those quick-and-easy-and-harmless YESes have gotten me into situations that are long and tiring. They have pulled me into circumstances that are difficult, awkward, and uncomfortable, And they have resulted in hurt feelings and hurt relationships.
Of course this rule doesn’t mean that you should NEVEEERRRRR say Yes. It just means that you should not say yes flippantly. Be aware of its power to bind you, Be aware of its meaning, and don’t say it unless you do mean it.
2. Be kind and clear with your NOs.
A half-way, mumbled, uncertain No can be as harmful as a promiscuous Yes. When you know that the right answer for you to give is No, be better to yourself and to everyone else involved.
Make it clear that you mean No. Don’t say Maybe if you mean No. Don’t say I’ll consider it if you mean No. Don’t say Okay and then try to weasel out of it. Just say No.
I have this rule because (as I mentioned before) I like to make people happy. And though, when conflict arises I will charge at the opponent like a lion, if I can avoid it that’s what I prefer. (Avoiding it.)
And saying No? Seems like inviting conflict to me. Often times, that’s exactly what it is. Because people don’t always like hearing your No, or accepting it. Sometimes they’ll try to talk you out of it.
This is when the KIND part of it becomes important.
Be kind, so very very kind, so sweetly and gently and unmistakably kind. Let your tone of voice be gentle and mild like a lamb (if any of you are familiar with how mild a lamb’s voice is that suggestion might be helpful. I’ve not spent a lot of time around lambs…).
Choose words that are sweet and kind and easy to swallow, like “I’m sorry but…” and “I know you’ll understand…” and “You’ve been so kind that I hate to say No, but I must…” and “I appreciate this offer so much…”. Use those sweet, kind words, and follow them with your clear, firm No.
Then if the arguments starts, the reasons you should change your mind, the pushing, just keep repeating that sweet, firm little sentence in that sweet, firm voice.
It’ll sink in, eventually. And you’ll avoid arguing, which in 9 cases out of 10 is an exercise in futility and foolishness anyhow.
3. Respond to everyone with the same promptness and courtesy.
This shouldn’t need to be a “rule.” It should be a given, but it’s not.
‘Fess up. Do you answer all your texts and Facebook messages in the same amount of time, with the same enthusiasm and friendliness…? Or do you, I don’t know… maybe ignore some, let ‘em slide, intend to get back to them… And sometimes forget altogether…?
Obviously I’ve done those things and that’s why I have this rule. I don’t mean to ignore people, but when I read a message and think, “I’ll answer that later,” I tend to end up never getting to it later. So it becomes ignoring, which is not cool.
My solution is this rule. It helps me remember to respond to every message with the same courtesy and quickness. It reminds me not to play favorites, in other words.
This doesn’t mean, by the way, that I am accessible 24/7 and will answer any message sent me at any time by any person on any subject within 5 minutes. But setting limits is a topic for another day.
Do you have rules for social engagement? What are they? Or do you think the whole idea is absurd?