#Weekly experiments / Wise

Gabby Reece: Practice “going first”

“If you run into an asshole in the morning, you ran into an asshole. If you run into assholes all day, you’re the asshole. (from TV series Justified)”

I’ve already tested the advice by Gabby Reece in my previous post – she recommended that we should look at “sacrifice” in a more personalized way to better appreciate and understand what other people do. This week’s experiment is going to test another of her recommendations – Practice going first.

“Say hello first. Make eye contact first. Smile first. Most times it comes in your favor. The response is pretty amazing. People are ready to respond in kind, but you have to go first, because now we’re trained in this world [to opt out] – nobody’s going first anymore.”

Of course there are big differences in terms of approaching the stranger across different countries and cultures. Simple example is what you do when you share the elevator with a stranger – it ranges from a light conversation in US, through saying ‘good morning’ in Europe, to looking different direction and not saying anything here in Singapore.

Don’t get me wrong, people are mostly very polite here. But they’re not very warm to strangers, or even acquaintances. Most of my colleagues don’t even say ‘good morning’ when they come to the office. It’s how it works here, so it sounds like fun to disrupt it for a week and see where it leads.

Then there’s the part on my side. I’m socially awkward. I don’t mind greeting and smiling at people, but mostly I don’t go beyond that. This is something I’d like to improve on anyway, so let’s do this.

To “practice going first” I will

  • Greet people in elevators and in our office (yes even those who don’t greet back)
  • Smile at a stranger in the metro at least once every morning
  • Create opportunity to chat with colleague I’m not friendly with yet (or strangers), at least 1x day

In local context, I’ll probably be the creepy weirdo for a week 🙂

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