I have said this before but this is a good time to say this again. I am a real person. I have faults and flaws but also, I have chemistry. You have chemistry. And sometimes, our chemistry doesn’t mix, which is fine. I cannot say whether I am the most liked or the most hated. Neither can you. But I can say that some people are often an acquired taste. In which case this could be me or you. Or better yet, maybe this is all of us.
I have always been amazed by the person who walks in the room and somehow, everyone seems to notice them. I have always wondered why some people have social talents that exceed the norm. There are people who can literally take over a room. They can walk into the office or the boardroom and somehow, the room becomes about them. They have a natural presence. People listen. This is amazing to me.
I have always been interested in the social pecking order. I find the flocks and the social cliques to be an interesting phenomenon. Who’s hot? Who’s not?
Who’s so “Last year” and who’s the up and coming talent?
I never knew who it was that made the rules and decided the standards of how to be cool. I have never been too sure who picks the people that sit at the popular table in the high school cafeteria. Where does the attraction of beauty come from and why do we give into the social or commercialized value of this?
Is this only based on looks and athleticism? Is this a personality contest? Is it money? Or wait, is there some natural form of selection that places people on the top rung of the popularity chain?
We tend to prioritize people this way; the cool and the popular. We compartmentalize each other and offer a standard of who is important and who isn’t. Don’t believe me?
Look at a common worker that enters the office. Perhaps there are a few greetings and “Good mornings.” Now, think of a leader or business owner that comes through the door. All heads turn. Everyone says hello. Still don’t agree? Whose emails are returned first, the bosses or some low-level entry worker who’s still looking to find the bathroom?
This is the real lesson that we learn in school. I will offer that history, math and English are all valid and necessary but no course is more valid or necessary than us and human science. Who gets along with whom and who meshes, who doesn’t click, who does, and more importantly; the riddles of how to interact with people are the most valuable lessons we will ever learn.
We go to school to learn. Yes, I agree. But more, we learn how to act, how to ask, how to walk, talk or how to interact, and how to carry ourselves with a sense of social understanding.
Somewhere in the science of our nature is the law of attraction. Somewhere on the playground are the lessons of socialization. And this is important. Trust me on this one.
No one talks about this but this is part of our ability to safely navigate through both social and professional settings. As we grow, the playground becomes a schoolyard. As we age we go from lockers in the hallway to college vestibules. Or, perhaps there is no college and rather than schooling, we find ourselves working at a store or in a shop or with a skilled trade. Meanwhile, there will always be people and there will always be a pecking order. There will always be chemistry and of course, there will always be the lack thereof.
When I was struggling as a salesman, I was told there were three types of people in my industry. I was told there are people who will buy from me, no matter what. I was told there are people who may or may not buy from me. But lastly, I was told there are people who will never buy from me, no matter what the price or what I offer.
It was suggested to me that I learn to understand the so-called “Tells” of my clients and nurture the first two in this category. I was told that not everyone gets along. Not everything is personal. I was told to keep plugging and keep dialing the phone because each time I heard the word “No,” this would bring me one step closer to the word “Yes”.
I like this word, “Yes”.
This means to express affirmation or to give an affirmative reply; to accept or be accepted as if to be fitting, appropriate or acceptable.
In my analogy of the high school cafeteria, I recognize the different stations of the room. There is a spot where the athletes sit. There is a spot where the cool kids sit. Let’s say the right side of the school’s cafeteria is where the fashionably desirables sit. Meanwhile, on the left is where the troublemakers sit. They have their own look and their own clique; but above all, there is an understandable status. However, in the middle are the faceless and the unnoticed. These are not the good looking or the ugly, but more; the middle section is the unmemorable. Not good or bad but invisibly in-between.
I offer this here because there is a commonality. There is a need to be noticed and accepted. There is a need to learn how to interact or co-exist with the different echelons of popularity. Meanwhile, we grow from this. We learn from our training and it is this training that prepares us to interact in the working world.
I can say that as someone who grew up with social anxieties and the ever uncomfortable sense of awkwardness, I simply assumed that people saw me the way I saw myself. Therefore, if I saw myself as awkward; I assumed others saw me the same way.
I offer this because part of my current life is giving lectures in schools. I explain that I struggle with panic and social anxiety. I am uncomfortable in crowds and uncomfortable speaking. But yet, I am up there at the front of the classroom. And I’m speaking.
My point of explaining this is because I want to emphasize that personal disorders or social challenges are not impossibilities. In both my private and business life, I have had to learn how to overcome and endure. I have had to learn new ways to compete.
As I move closer to the half-century mark of my life; I see that childishness, bullying and the same games as grade school still exist in this world. I see that the sales lesson is true. There are people who will accept us. There are people who may or may not approve. And, of course, there are people who will not like or accept us. The best plan is to nurture the first two.
I say again; I am a real person.
So are you.
Not everything will match. Not every game is won. We might miss more than we hit. We might see our surroundings and compare this to magnets that repulse one another. And not every relationship will be magnetic. But this is fine. This is just life giving us a hint that there is a better place for us. This is life letting us know the puzzle pieces we’ve been pushing together do not fit.
So don’t force it!
Otherwise, we might crush the edges of the piece and hurt the final picture.