Has anyone ever said something to you that you just couldn’t get out of your head for the rest of the day?
A few weeks ago I was walking down the hallway of my fraternity house (which is where I live) on my way to class when I passed a room filled with people taking shots of Captain Morgan. Normally this wouldn’t be anything out of the ordinary, except for the fact that it was 9:45 AM.
I stepped inside the room to see what the special occasion was, but before I had a chance to ask, someone shoved a handle of Captain Morgan into my hands and shouted, “Stefanoooo, take a shot!!!”
I immediately responded, “Helllll no. I’m on my way to class right now.”
Then one of my good friends (we’ll call him “Jeff”) who was also in the room said something that really got to me. He said, “C’mon man. At least play with the idea.”
I laughed it off, repeated that I had to go to class, and went about my way. But for the rest of the day I couldn’t stop thinking about what he had said.
“At least play with the idea.”
Obviously I didn’t want to take a shot, but Jeff had a point. I hadn’t played with the idea at all. In fact, I did the exact opposite.
I had rejected it without even giving it a second thought.
My response made me sound, for lack of a better word, like a complete party pooper.
Now, let me just say that I love to party. I turned 21 in April and celebrated the best way you can celebrate a 21st birthday—in Las Vegas. It was one of the most fun weekends I’ve ever had.
But as much as I love to party, most people in my fraternity don’t see me as the biggest partier, and it’s never been my intention to have that reputation, because I also enjoy doing other things and I like to keep myself busy. Living in a frat house, this means that I have to say “no” to partying a lot more than I would like to. Saying no isn’t fun, but it’s necessary if you want to have time to do the things that are important to you.
That being said, no one wants to be a party pooper—whether you’re living in a frat house or not.
So after this morning shots incident, I started thinking about other ways I could’ve responded.
How could I have played with the idea, while still saying no?
I was struggling to think of what I could have said instead, so I asked myself what Jeff would have said if he had been in my situation. Jeff is one of the most social guys I know. He’s friends with everyone, he’s always got a big smile on his face, and the ladies love him. I’m sure you all know someone like him.
If Jeff had been in my situation, it probably would have gone something like this:
“Jeffffff, take a shot!!!”
“Shots? Duuude, I’d be super down if I didn’t have to go to class right now. Maybe after!”
Ultimately, he still would have been saying no, just like I had, but only after giving it some thought. It’s a much softer rejection, and it doesn’t make him sound like a complete party pooper. If we compare Jeff’s response to my response, there are several distinct differences.
- He doesn’t give an answer right away. The first thing he does is set the stage by using a common interview tactic in which you repeat the question (“Shots?”). At this point, we don’t know what he’s thinking. He could either accept or decline the offer—it’s still up in the air. But by repeating the question, he buys himself some time to think about what he will say next. Compare this to my response, where the first thing I said was “Hell no.”
- He says he would be down, if he didn’t have to go to class right now. The way this is phrased, it sounds like he actually wants to, but simply cannot because he has class. My response, on the other hand, made it sound like I really didn’t want to in the first place, and the fact that I have class is just an excuse.
- He offers an alternative solution. The last thing he says is “Maybe after!” This reaffirms that he actually wants to take a shot, but just can’t at the moment. He’s not actually committing to anything, but he’s at least attempting to make some sort of a compromise.
Don’t Be A Buzzkill
This example might be a little bit absurd, but I think the idea is very applicable to many situations we often find ourselves in. Whether we are being pressured into doing something that we don’t want to do or we simply disagree with someone’s opinion on something, the words we use can make all the difference in the way that people perceive us.
The reason why people love hanging out with and talking to Jeff is because he’s a master at playing with ideas. He can get along with anyone because he’s always open to new ideas. No matter what his own opinions are, he’s always willing to hear what other people have to say first. So even when he says no, it doesn’t really feel like he’s saying no, and even when he disagrees with someone, it doesn’t feel like a disagreement.
I’m not saying that you should try to please everyone by covering up your true intentions, or that you have to agree with everyone and do everything that everyone tells you to do. But I think it’s important to think about how what you say will be heard by those around you.
Understand where other people are coming from and acknowledge their ideas. You may disagree with them, but if you at least attempt to understand their side of the story first, your own opinions will be better received.
Respect other people’s ideas, and they will respect yours.
For example, I may have thought that it was crazy for people to be taking shots at 9:45 AM because I had to go to class. But they probably didn’t have class, so why shouldn’t they be taking shots? (Okay, maybe this wasn’t the best example, but you get the point.)
You don’t have to be the biggest party animal for people to view you as a fun person, as long as you’re able to play with ideas. Learn how to play with ideas, and people will love talking to you—especially girls. Flirting is all about playing with ideas.
4 Ways To Be More Fun
Here are four ways you can improve your ability to play with ideas and be a fun person to be around:
- Be open-minded. Don’t rush into judgments. You can still have your own opinions, but try to see where other people are coming from before you jump to conclusions.
- Match people’s levels of excitement. When I was offered the shot, the person who offered me the shot was at an excitement level of 10. I responded at an excitement level of 2. Don’t do that. It’s a huge buzzkill. If someone yells at you, yell back. If someone whispers to you, whisper back.
- Offer win-win solutions. When you find yourself in a situation that you have to say no, try to offer an alternative solution. Maybe you can’t do something right now, but you’d be happy to do it later. This is the skill of compromise. Don’t approach things from a “one way or the other” point of view. Why not both? Try to find solutions that make both parties happy.
- Be spontaneous and try new things. Being able to say no is important, but don’t be the person who never wants to do anything. If you always say no, eventually people will stop inviting you to do things. It’s great to have a schedule and keep your priorities in place, but every now and then you just have to live in the moment. Be open to new ideas everyone once in a while say and yes to something you wouldn’t normally do.
Looking for more ways to improve your social skills? Check out these articles:
- How to Approach Anyone with the 3 Second Rule
- 5 Ways to Improve Your Social Skills and Conquer Your Ego
Image Source: pixabay – quadinsan