Reactive Behavior

reaction photoQuiet people habitually let others take charge, they get so used to reacting to what everyone else is saying that they forget they can choose to be more assertive and to lead the conversation. This is an important skill to learn.

Never initiate gatherings

This is a classic habit of people who have an aversion to socializing, they rarely if ever arrange get together with friends, they don’t bring the party to their home and they don’t arrange a lot of group activities. They tend to go along with what has already been organized by their friends even if they’d prefer to do something different, they don’t speak up and suggest alternatives and instead passively follow along with everyone else. Then they get agitated or seem disinterested because they are in fact bored and don’t enjoy the gathering because it’s not what they really wanted to do.

Popular people on the other hand do the very opposite. They decide what they’d like to do and find some friends who would enjoy the same activity. This way the instigator knows he will have a good time and looks forward to the event, socializing becomes fun and he wants to do more of it not avoid it. The key is to sometimes be the one who takes charge and leads everyone else, by doing this you get to be the one who designs the day out or evening with friends, once you get the hang of this you’ll see socializing as the high point of the week not as a series of boring events you’d rather miss.

Do you tend to be reactive about meeting friends? Do you rarely organize social gatherings? Could you decide to be more proactive about driving your social life?

Rarely approach new people

Another classic reactive pattern is the tendency to rarely if ever approach people. DzOnly speak when spoken todz may or may not have sounded like a good motto when we were children but as adults if everyone does that no one would ever talk to anyone. This waiting and hoping someone else will take the initiative has a number of pitfalls. It means you can potentially get stuck in dull conversations with people you don’t really want to talk to simply because they approached you and you are unable, because of fear, to slide away to approach and talk to someone else.

When confident socializers look around a room they see possibility, they look for interesting and friendly people to talk to and they quickly move on over there to speak to that person that caught their eye. But you miss out on the best conversations when you play a passive role and hope someone else will take the lead. If you’re lucky you’ll end up talking to someone interesting, if you’re not, you’ll end up alone or stuck with people you don’t want to spend much time with. Bear in mind, conversation skills are secondary; who you talk to is more important when it comes to having a great conversation.

If you choose easy targets, people who appear happy and relaxed, it’s much easier than you think to meet new people. Avoid the clearly stern or difficult people and you’ll rarely have to deal with the nightmare scenarios you might sometimes worry about.

Do you rarely start conversations with people you don’t know? Are you interested inmeeting friendly people? Could you decide to selectively approach apparently happy people?

Always waiting for the right moment

Another common issue that arises with a passive approach to meeting people is that you spend your life waiting and hoping instead of doing what you’d really like to be doing. This is a very limited experience of life, you stop asking yourself what you want and simply wait to see what shows up.

There are many problems with this approach and typically it means you end up getting involved in social activities you don’t want to attend, you socialize with people you don’t want to meet and so you often feel bored and dissatisfied. You then start to avoid opportunities to socialize and arrive at the mistaken conclusion that you don’t enjoy meeting people at all when this is in fact incorrect.

The only problematic issue here is one of passivity. You need instead to decide what you want and go for it. Who do you want to spend time with and what activities would you enjoy? Would you like to meet new people with common interests and values? Where would this happen?

Not surprisingly, this is exactly what people with active social lives do, they focus on activities they enjoy with people they enjoy talking to. Clearly, taking charge is the key.

Reluctance to take control

One final drawback of the reactive approach to interacting with people is the tendency to not control and direct the conversation. Quiet people often let others take charge and end up talking about whatever everyone else wants to discuss, you then end up being pushed one way and then another based on the whims of whoever is driving the conversation.

As a quiet person you may often feel bored and unappreciated in conversation, you wonder why you bother to meet people and you feel dissatisfied and ready to go home to do something more enjoyable. This is completely understandable but the problem is one of attitude rather than just poor conversation technique.

When you are actively involved in a conversation you have a choice, let the other person take charge and react to whatever happens or decide to be proactive and drive the conversation. This is a slight shift in attitude but the consequences are significant. With this new outlook you can choose to introduce new topics, change the direction of the conversation and even end it if you prefer. When you are proactive you’ll be more energetic and more engaged in the conversation as an active participant rather than as a sounding board. You’ll get to choose topics of interest to you and you’ll have the satisfaction that comes from creating a mutually enjoyable conversation with your companion.

Do you habitually let other people take charge of the conversation? Would you like to talk more about what interests you? Could you make a point of being more proactive so all parties can enjoy a mutually satisfying interaction?