This week we will begin the first of a series of Kids Cooperate Challenges! Participants will be challenged to take 10 steps toward greater social ease and success, and those that complete the challenge will win a prize (this is from a 10 day challenge on the Lift app, which is a great resource).
1. Give a friendly smile
Prime your interaction for success with a friendly, thoughtful smile. Smiles convey an interest in communicating, and there's one to fit almost any occasion. Choose one that feels comfortable to you. For inspiration, watch some classic Hollywood smiles in this three-minute video: http://youtu.be/63uMXHqA3xI
2. Greet someone
Hey, stranger! Today, say hello to someone whom you wouldn't normally greet. If greeting a stranger, make eye contact first. When the person returns eye contact, smile and follow through with a good morning, good afternoon, or friendly hello. Almost any greeting will do. One requirement: perfunctory greetings (the kind we give unthinkingly as part of business transactions) don't count.
3. Pay someone a compliment
"I can live for two months on a good compliment." — Mark Twain Today's your day to flatter someone. Make it sincere, respectful, and tailored to the recipient. Focus the compliment on things within the person's control and/or things that the person values. Got a complementary question or strategy for this step, or perhaps a complaint about bad puns? Please share!
4. Combine observation with an open-ended question
Today, make an observation and follow up with an open-ended question. This approach works well because it is expressive and receptive all at once; you initiate conversation while giving the recipient lots of latitude in his/her response. You can take this approach a step further and invite people to talk about themselves: "This is a great party. How do you know [the host]?" You can also build on the previous step, adding a question to a compliment: "You make an excellent apple pie, Matt. What's your secret?" You're halfway through this plan. What's worked well for you? What still needs practice?
5. Ask someone for advice
Today, start a conversation by asking someone for advice. Advice seeking is a specific type of open-ended question, and is particularly effective for facilitating exchange. It's also a great way to negotiate when you don't have a particularly strong hand, and can be much more effective than a direct ask (especially in potentially contentious situations). Unrelated: what should I eat for lunch today? A burrito, or a burrito?
6. Lead with a question about something positive
Today, start conversation with a question about something predictably positive. For example, frontload the Monday work meeting with a quick question about everyone's weekend, or ask someone about a known interest before transitioning to business or more general conversation. Satisfaction in one domain can boost overall satisfaction and mitigate displeasure; use this to support better conversation. Share questions and strategies in the discussion section.
7. Extend conversation with a relevant question
Relevant questions extend the conversation and demonstrate that you're listening. They also give you a chance to steer conversation toward areas of mutual interest. "You mentioned that you like burritos. What do you think makes a great burrito?"
8. Practice a positive conversation closer
All conversations end; end yours gracefully. When it's time to move on, let your partner(s) know that you've enjoyed the conversation. Make eye contact, smile, and use your partner's name (especially if it's someone you just met). If you'd like to connect again in the future, suggest how that might happen. "It was great hearing about how your Aztec Tomb illusion works, GOB. Hey, how can I get back in touch with you? ... Great! Thanks again and chat with you soon."