It’s amazing how many adults suck at being social. We are typically terrified of intimate social conversations, anticipating that a judgmental and bloated egoist awaits us.
Want to be better? Talk to a six year old.
I was walking my dogs today when a school bus unloaded a pack of elementary school kids. They were giddy about petting my dogs and the prospects for the Friday launch of their spring break.
While my dogs are a natural conversation starter, these kids needed no help to jump-start a conversation. They escorted me down the street with their smiles and school backpacks. Their adoring parents were there to greet them. Along the way, they remarked about the size of my dogs and the dogs they loved and owned.
“I have a boxer mix,” one girl proclaimed. “I have a golden retriever,” said a boy. “But German Shepherds are my favorite breed. But I still love my dog.” The girl retorted. “Well, I like your dogs, but I love my dog best.”
I said that it was good to know so many great dogs were loved by so many kids.
It reminded me that little kids are born wired to be social leaders and models. They speak from their hearts. They hone in on the honest and most immediate connection to the next human being. They don’t edit. They live in the moment. They explore. They are driven by curiosity. They assume that by reaching out on a shared — love in this case, dogs — something good will happen. Kids naturally seek ways to connect with people.
We teach our kids at an early age to be wary of talking to strangers for good cause. We must protect our kids. But we can also learn from their natural beauty and instincts to share and connect with people from the heart and in the moment. Don’t overthink being social. Engage.