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Towards being a more entertaining guest

Global Nerdy | How to Work the Room

Joey's condenses some great tips on going from wallflower to party panda. Number one has always stood me in good stead:

"1. Be more of a host and less of a guest. Make introductions and make people more comfortable."

Totally. Not to get all Burning Man on you here, but any event will only be as good as the people who actively participate in it. People who arrive waiting to be entertained are dead weight, while those who do more than the minimum to make things happen can bring the place to life.

Good trick for house parties: deliberately leave off a few light party preparations so that early arrivers can hang out in the kitchen and help. Wouldn't you rather cut up carrots than stare at the clam dip feeling like a choad? Exactly.

Also, an old tradition at our house is to give gifts to the first 2 or 3 early arrivers. If you can go, "Hey! Here's a cheap bottle of wine and 'Travel Boggle!'" you make people feel more at ease. Then give 'em a knife, and put 'em to work.

cornell's picture

great tips! here are a few more

Great tips. Could have used them in my shy geek career.

Here are a few of my favorites for happy, stress-free socializing:

o Never arrive empty-handed. Even a small gift helps the host feel appreciated, and gives you something to do when arriving, rather than standing with finger in nose. Plus, if you bring something you like, you might get some later! My favorite: European-style drinking chocolate!

o Strive to be interestED, no interestING. It's harder to do the former (read: "turn off ego and agendas") but it gets you to the right attitude, which is:

o Always come curious! Genuine curiosity is extremely empowering, and is the best thing to help someone open up (esp. us geeks). This means you have to:

o Be a passion detective: Everyone has something they're excited about - gaming, chocolate, movies, or the latest innovations in wound care (hey - my wife's a nurse). Your job, Mr. Phelps, is to find that out. It may take work, and liberal application of great questions (plus maybe alcohol) but it's very satisfying to see someone light up. Bonuses: They WILL remember you, and you'll now have a terrific sense of what her interests, which means you can keep an eye out down the road for ways to help her [1] - essential to forming relationships, which is essential to getting your work spread in the world.

o Finally, have a stock set of interested questions that work with anyone, something like "What do you do?", "What do you like about your work?", and "What are you reading?" And make sure you THINK ABOUT THE ANSWER. Every job has interesting aspects.

[1] See "How to help people" (http://ideamatt.blogspot.com/2008/01/how-to-help-people.html) for the basic cycle:

  1. When meeting someone, come with an attitude of genuine curiosity.
  2. Maintain a steady, reliable, and valuable atom/bitstream
  3. When you come across something of potential value, share it



An Oblique Strategy:
Honor thy error as a hidden intention


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