This is a life lesson that I think should be fairly obvious, but wasn’t obvious to me. I’m not sure where I learned it, or what I experience that made me realize that it was a necessary thing, but it is. Confidence is something that I find extremely finicky; if you sound like you have it, people will treat you as if you have it, and if people treat you as if you have it, you start to have it. If you give off a lack of confidence, people treat you as such, you observe that in their response to you and it hits you hard, lowering your confidence further.
So what I wanted to say today was that when you say “hi”, do it with confidence. I’m not talking about with people who you’ve known for years, your family and friends, or your colleagues. These people you could probably nod at and get a favourable response. I’m referring to people that you don’t know, especially people you would like to know.
Two great examples of this:
The business / art / music idol you’re meeting for the first time: Being in the games industry, this is something that happens to me fairly often. I meet people who I consider leagues above me in terms of where their studio is at, how much they’ve accomplished, etc. In the end, they’re just normal people. That might be a whole lesson on its own, but for now I want to address addressing them (see what I did there?). When walking up to a group of three people, one of whom is the person you really want to meet, saying “hi” in a strong, confident voice makes all the difference. It shows that you’re at their level, it shows that you feel that you deserve to talk to them (which you do!), and it places you in the conversation (even if the others still hang out).
The cute girl / boy walking by at the hostel: Very different scenario, but also one I’ve been in quite a lot. I’ve done a fair bit of backpacking and hostel-travelling and I’ve found that the difference between a confident “hi” and a shy, mumbled “hi” can be the world. Well, not the world, but it can significantly affect your morale. A strong, confident “hi!” will get a strong response, or a confused look… which will then turn into the person thinking that they should have said hi back. The next time you see them, they’re likely to spark up a conversation. My example was, when travelling alone, saying hi to a couple of people in the hall, then going down to the lobby and finding them there, waving and immediately getting an invitation to go sit with them. This would not have happened had I been quiet and reserved.
I find that I catch myself sometimes not doing this, and it takes a toll. You might not have noticed your body language or the way in which you speak in these kinds of settings, but I urge you to do so the next time you’re there. It doesn’t even have to be an important setting; if you say hi to a random person on the street under your breath they’ll think you’re a creep, and if you say it confidently they’ll respond with equal enthusiasm, and probably with a smile.