Many clients of mine find social situations challenging. Some feel comfortable with only a few people and others feel better when it is a large crowd and they are anonymous. I had the opportunity to interview Jamie, a friend, whom I observed at a small party when he came alone and only knew the hosts.
For our modeling process we spoke over the phone and while I was typing on the keyboard, Jamie was taking his run around Central Park. His ability to do more than one thing is no surprise. Perhaps that will be something else to model in the future. Here are some his beliefs regarding this issue of being comfortable with small groups when you do not know most of the people.
For Jamie, this comfort with people is his normal status in most any situation. He sees it as an exciting opportunity to meet new people. “I don’t like to wait on the side,” he said, “so I generally jump in… I love meeting people and get energy from those interactions.” He thinks that in his boyhood he had to learn how to be more social because he identified early on as a mildly shy kid. But something changed as he grew older, and he started to believe that even when he doesn’t know anyone in a crowd, a connection will eventually happen. In addition he added that, “I live my life with unquenchable curiosity.”
He stated that he really enjoys socializing and gains energy from it in a mutually reinforcing system. The more energy he gives, the more he feels he gets back from the people around him. He perceives himself as an extrovert but he also recognizes that someone like him with a public persona often plays different roles.
He described his physiological awareness as maintaining an open demeanor whereupon he initiates a handshake, and has a feeling that he is never holding back and can only go forward. His inner voice is normal and he maintains eye contact. Everything feels “natural,” he has been in the public environment so much from running for Congress to speaking at entrepreneurial conferences that he feels that any size group is a “natural,” experience. He is particularly aware that he has to be careful to self-regulate on the rare occasions when he drinks coffee, because the caffeine gives him too much extra energy.
Some of his social skills he believes he learned consciously and unconsciously from his parents. “My father is more naturally shy and my mother more of an extrovert, my mother, like my maternal grandfather, are vociferous communicators. Because I sometimes can become a center of attention in some situations, I try to make sure that other people share the attention.”
Given his awareness of his physiology and capabilities I asked him what were his beliefs that help him feel so comfortable, he explained that he believes that all people have some story and it is nice to learn their stories. In addition knowing others and connecting makes the world bigger and make allies for life. He explained, “We are a web of community and the bigger the better.” I asked about whether there were ever times when he hasn’t been comfortable. He acknowledged that it is challenging if the values in the group are extremely different.
And then when asked who else are you or what is beyond this identity he said, “I -try to say yes to as many opportunities that I can join. He has a mantra that says, “To Do, To Come Forward, To Join.” When asked what is his greatest purpose he stated, “The greater purpose-it is a big question. What I am doing on the earth? I have a desire for connectivity, because we are a social species and we have opportunities to make the world a bigger, better place. “ He expanded on his desire for connectivity by describing how he stays in touch with others. He said, “Every time I go to see something, I share with others. I believe that when you are out there in the world, good things happen.”
Although Jamie had come to this particular party on his own he shared that he loves attending with his significant other and unfortunately that particular she couldn’t come. He enjoys being with her and others, it is his love for people and connection that keeps him happy.