Monday, May 23, 2011

How Social Media Helped Make Me Social IRL (In Real Life)

So, a few weeks ago I posted about the Top Ten Reasons I Royally Suck at Social Media. This post was really cool for me, because so many other people feel the same way! Here I thought I was some sort of alien, and I discovered that if I am, that means a large number of other people are, as well.

Cue sigh of relief. I hate being the weird one. (Haha! You're weird too!)

So the other day I was thinking about this post, and I realized something pretty interesting-- the changes I've been trying to make, to improve my social media-ness, have carried over into my real life. I've never been a truly social person-- usually preferring the company of my husband and my animals, or a handful of very close friends, to most social situations. But lately, something is . . . different.

Specifically, GOOD different. I knew things had changed when one of my co-workers (also new, hired for the same position as me) told me a couple weeks after we started that she had complained to her friend how it was unfair that I got along with everyone already. I wasn't hung up on the complaining about me, because two things struck me about what she said. First, someone was jealous of how SOCIAL I was. ME. What?! And secondly, she thought I got along with everyone! WHOA!

That was a wakeup call. By which I mean, I realized that yeah, I was a lot more social at work than I have been at other jobs in the past. So far, there's not a single person there that I don't get along with, or can't have a nice long conversation with. It is, frankly, awesome. But what's different? What changed?

Well, I like to think I changed. I mean, I kind of had to. But I think I've narrowed it down more than that. I think this is the difference:

1.) I say hi to EVERYONE, with a smile.

This may feel like cheating, but the thing is, I mean it! I'm just so happy to have my job that I am genuinely overcome with joy and friendliness when I'm there. But I wouldn't have had this habit if it weren't for blogs and Twitter teaching me that it's okay to start conversations with other people you don't know. And, more importantly, HOW to start those conversations.

2.) I am getting better at small talk.

You pick up small talk pretty quick when you only have 140 characters to say something! Also, I've learned how to pick up on little things to initiate conversations with people. Things I probably never would have noticed before, if it weren't for social media.

3.) I am not intimidated by anyone, even my supervisors.

In the past, intimidation/ awed respect for my managers has made it difficult for me to get close to them. Social media has COMPLETELY cured me of this by making it totally possible for me to tweet at Nathan Fillion, or Neil Gaiman, with nary the touch of a key. Now, I chat with the director of my department as easily as the people who just got hired with me. It's not that I don't have respect for them anymore, it's just that I'm not letting that respect keep me from talking to them. And I like to think they've noticed!

4.) I've learned to see the common ground I have with anyone.

Social media is pretty good at getting you to spot what you have in common with someone else. Aided by years of Facebook and blogging practice, I've branched out into the real world and now have seized on common things with pretty much everyone at work. The easiest one, for most, is our love of animals :) But it's helped me a LOT connecting with other people, and helping them remember/ know who I am.

So there. I'm sure there's more but this post is coming after a verrrrry long day of finals, so that's all I've got for now. But here's hoping that the lessons I'm applying will make the difference between this being a seasonal job, and one that I get to keep!


Adam Heine said...

I really like this post. Maybe I should pretend everyone is a profile avatar on Twitter.

Unknown said...

That is fantastic. I guess social media gives us a safer feeling enviorment to practice all that. Its taking a little longer on me though. haha. Me + small talk = fail

L. T. Host said...

Adam-- I like this plan. I would ask to subscribe to your newsletter but I already do!

Taryn-- WORD. LOTS OF WORD(S). I also fail at small talk-- notice I just said I was getting better at it, not that I'm good at it.