Tool #1: Before you leave the house, anticipate connection
This is a tiny step in your day, and yet it has huge benefits to get you into the proper headspace for bonding with new people as well as people you already know and love.
Before you leave the house, as you’re brushing your teeth or putting on your shoes, fondly remember recent social rituals you’ve witnessed around you. Then, look forward to more of those that you’ll be sharing with people throughout your day or evening.
Allow yourself to look forward to those little connection moments—even unspoken ones like acknowledging eye contact or a warm smile.
Tool #2: Notice rituals happening around you
As you go about your day-to-day life, notice little social rituals happening around you with heightened awareness and appreciation. Notice as you’re in line at the grocery store the sweet smile the customer in front of you shares with the cashier as they bond over how delicious the cherries are right now. As you head into work, notice your colleague opening the door for a woman who then looks up from her phone and smiles at him appreciatively.
These little moments of connection are happening around you all the time. When you notice and appreciate them more and more, you feel full and happy and connected with people. It’s the same phenomenon you experience when you look to buy a certain car and start seeing its make and model everywhere. When you’re looking for social rituals in your everyday, you’ll see them!
Tool #3: Use the environment to begin the dance gently
When you’re out and about, like at a cocktail party or heading out of a yoga class, feel free to begin the social ritual dance gently.
If you’d like to connect more with someone who seems pleasant and open, bring up the weather or something about the environment or venue you’re in: the beautiful decor or an intense vinyasa pose.
Making a comment about the environment on a large scale (weather) or small scale (the immediate surroundings) is a great, natural way to ease into the social ritual space with a new person. From there, be gently inquisitive about their experience. Social ritual doesn’t work if you’re not asking questions and seeking others’ thoughts and opinions. That’s the whole fun of it and precisely what distinguishes it from meaningless small talk!
So, make sure you remember they are dynamic and interesting individuals, and treat your interaction as a small treasure hunt to find out new things about them even if it’s only the simplest of things. Learning things about them doesn’t always have to be through words. You can notice a quality of theirs by the way they’re standing or by a piece of jewelry they’re wearing.
Tool #4: Be patient with others
When someone is talking your ear off without seemingly paying any attention to YOU, remember they’re trying to participate in the social ritual the best way they know how.
Perhaps it’s also a social ritual to be patient and understanding when others might be a bit awkward and flustered in the moment. By slowing down and relaxing yourself, you’ll be gently inviting them to do the same with you.
Tool #5: Enjoy the process
When you view the experience of a light-hearted conversation with your new frame of social ritual, you are free to genuinely enjoy whatever conversation you find yourself in.
This connection frame suits you. You are an introvert, after all. Deep connections are your specialty, friend. Assuming that connection exists upon seeing someone new, even before saying hello, makes for a rich modus operandi and becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy. Before you know it, the stress and pressure of making small talk on the spot melts into a curious and open-minded exploration of how to simply and genuinely connect human to human.