Tuesday, November 20, 2007

How do you meet people?

I am one of those terrible people who has very few friends outside of the Seventh-day Adventist church. In fact, right now, I'm not sure that I would be able to name you one person that I would consider a very good friend, who is not an Adventist - or, at least was not an Adventist at one point.

Living in a town that is 40 miles from my employment doesn't help, either. The only real interaction I have with people in my town is at the Post Office, where I have to pick up my mail since I live too close to it for them to deliver my mail to my door (that seems kind of backwards - I would have thought they would force me to pick it up at the Post Office if I lived too far away).

Thus, I am petitioning all of my faithful readers to give me ideas as to how to simply meet new people, and just get to know them. I don't necessarily want to have an agenda, where I have to baptize them in the next three months. While I am not opposed to ultimately bringing them to a saving experience with Christ (assuming they don't already have one), I don't necessarily think that my interactions will be the, "Are you saved?" variety.

One thing that has always made me timid as well, is striking up a conversation with females. I am extremely paranoid and self-conscious of the possibility of looking like I am trying to "hit" on a lady, especially ones that are around my age. This is a very delicate issue.

So, please share some ideas with me. I am open to anything. While I consider myself to be a fairly outgoing person, this is one area that I struggle with. How does a person go from the casual, "Hi! How are you?" stage of interaction, to a deeper, "Tell me about yourself" stage, especially when the only real interaction you may have with a person is walking past them as you exit the Post Office, or buying a stamp from them?

Here is a quick snapshot I just took this morning, by the way, of our first real snow fall of the year. It's a wonderful time to be in New England!


Anonymous said...

i agree, it's important to maintain and invest in non-church friends. down here in texas, we still give our neighbors gifts for the holidays (thanksgiving is perfect, you can start this week). what you do, bring over a half batch of pumpkin cookies or something and say, "Oh, we accidentally baked too much and can't eat the rest. we thought you'd like some." and introduce yourself, ask about them. be casual, friendly. you know the drill. in order to avoid girls from thinking you are hitting on them, bring your wife with you. :) or at least mention her a lot. after getting to know some neighbors through casual interactions, you could eventually invite some over for a meal. you can also be sure to have a conversation with them if you ever catch them outside. another good way to meet people is at your local gym, the library, or grocery store etc. pick someone who looks bored. nursing homes are full of bored people starved for attention. seriously, though, i think the key to making light conversation is to always have some kind of story right on the tip of your tongue, something that just happened to you this week that is interesting and funny. then if there's an awkward pause, ignore it, smile and tell the story. laughter is contagious, this is how we do things in texas. eye contact is good. i'm not sure the cold north is ready for true hospitality, though. but you can try. i want to hear a success story. and not every interaction will result in a new friend, but i'm sure it'll work eventually. - Heather May

Joelle said...

Something I've done in the past is keep a small tract or two in my wallet to give out to cashiers who look bored. I give it to them as they hand me my receipt, and tell them they can read it in their "spare" time, which gives a them a laugh. My dad has a favorite question he likes to ask people on a random basis. "So, what do you plan to do in 100 years?" Then he gets to share about the second coming and Heaven. (Maybe you already heard that in his class though.)

Shawn Brace said...

Heather and Joelle,

Thanks for your comments and advice. I think both of you have made some very good suggestions.

I realized tonight that there are a lot of hurting people in the world. I was just talking with a guy who works at a gas station. He's from North Carolina for a woman and has been living in New Hampshire for 8 years. It didn't work out with the woman, and now he's here with no family, though his son is in college a few hours away. I could tell he was hurting.

Unfortunately, he's not in my town. I'm at my aunt and uncle's house for Thanksgiving (about two hours away).

I think what it comes down to is just being intentional about interacting with people and being friendly.

Thanks, again, for your thoughts.

mom2twoboys said...

"being intentional about interacting with people." Exactly.

Eat breakfast at the diner semi-regularly. Strike up a conversation with the librarian. Talk to the gas-station attendant. Smile and talk to the cashier.

I personally never introduce spiritual things immediately. Unless you are a friend, people are not highly likely to want to listen. Show them you care. Find out about their families, and then ask questions about their kids, parents, etc. (if you have to take notes when you go home in order to remember, do it)

When people see you are actually seriously interested in them as a person, not as a number or a potential church member, they are more likely to open up and tell you what is on their heart (eventually).


klaralyn said...

dude.. you should join a club or something.. i don't mean a health club, i mean, like a biking club, a knitting club, a club that meets to decide where they should plant liles and where they should plant daisies... i dont know... its a way to get involved without people thinking you are TRYING to make friends with them... that can freak the hell out of folks sometimes.. HA! i think becoming a "regular" at a few places would help (i think someone mentioned that)... you said, you just want to meet people, right? you are not trying to convert them, cuz THAT will freak them out too.. OR you could run for office! kiss a few babies and put you face out and about.. hehe. just kidding! good luck... -k.gatz

jessica said...

klaralyn is funny.

i agree that the converting will freak people out. also, i agree that meeting females is near impossible unless you bring the wife with you. i mean, i would think you were hitting on me. :)

maybe you should work in a restaurant. i went from knowing no non-adventists to knowing about sixty.

also, i love how you got me here by promising no theology within this blog post. that stuff makes my head hurt.

HOW is there snow there? it's 75 degrees here. it's like you live in a whole 'nother country.

holamickey said...

be a volunteer firefighter. Get a dog and take it for a walk. Even better... have several kids...then take them for a walk. I once bought boxes of oranges from the school citrus program and then shared them... but part of that was I need to apologize to my neighbor for climbing on his truck... that's an idea... :)

Shawn Brace said...

Thank you for all of your comments, guys! They are valuable. Now I just have to get off my back-end and meet people, which isn't always easy when there are other church maintenance duties that vie for my attention.

Corey said...

I have two great ways to meet new people. The first is joining a group on Meetup.com. We belong to a meetup group for Italian Greyhound owners. We meet once a month at a park with our dogs. You can meet lot of people this way and you know you already have something in common. For example, I just went to meetup.com and put in photography and then your zip code and it looks like there is a group in Nashua that meets called "New England Photo Expedition." Of course, you could put in any hobby of your choice. Why not get a dog and join a group of Golden Retriever lovers? That way Camille could be part of it too. The second way to meet people you won't really be interested in knowing about yet...When you have a baby you go through lamaze classes, breastfeeding classes, etc. I have several new friends that I've met through this and we meet often to talk about our babies and other things. Voila!

Shawn Brace said...

What a great way to meet people, Corey. God bless the internet! It makes these things so easy.