Committing to changing habits or incorporating new ones can be draining and disappointing, but reaching out to others – even when not second nature – is essentially something we do in one form or another every day.
"Ramping up" by making it a mindful exercise allows us to offer comfort or support, reach for more experiences, broaden our circle of friends, re-acquaint with old friends, and connect with family members.
Mask-wearing has had a cocoon effect. Even self-identified extraverts report that that there’s been a holding off their gregariousness that seems to have accompanied over a year of wearing masks or not knowing whether to get engage with people they don’t know.
When we don’t introduce ourselves, we limit opportunities for future engagement. Making your introduction meaningful comes from intention, not from physical engagement. Even if you are avoiding shaking hands, your words, tone of voice, and eye contact will let someone know it is a pleasure to meet them.
With masks, we may fear that we aren’t making enough of a connection with someone. Without masks, we may tap into insecurities regarding self-presentation. After all, those masks have kept us somewhat hidden for over a year. Either way, our fear of imperfection can affect how we connect with others.
Consider reaching out to others not only for the benefits of human connection, but to challenge your vulnerable side. Employ self-forgiveness and kindness as an antidote. When you accept yourself as perfectly imperfect, you help other people accept you – and themselves – just as you are.
No one I know enjoys making a mistake, nor does anyone love giving an apology. Some are quick to point out that if you can’t learn from error you aren’t really learning. It can feel very tempting to hide behind the mask of scrutiny, but if a mistake has been made or a wrong action taken, an apology is called for.
Apology is the essence of forgiveness. Without it there can be no forgiveness. Making a meaningful apology as soon as possible helps a person embrace and experience their mistake and really feel what another person might feel. Recognizing faults as they manifest can be discouraging but is the best opportunity for growth.
Mindfully reaching out to other people has many benefits. Whether you begin making a point of introducing yourself, embracing vulnerabilities, or apologizing to reconnect through forgiveness, creating a habit of human connection will increase your social circle as well as your confidence.
Check in with yourself each day. Think of someone you’d like to contact, or a situation you can use to introduce yourself or have conversation with. At any moment, you can do a self-check with one question: “Am I reaching out to others today?”
Best wishes in 2022 to readers of the Etiquette Blog! I am grateful for your readership and great ideas that you send to me. Thank you!
“What we practice becomes stronger.” ~ Shauna Shapiro