In love, work, and friendship, people want to be remembered. But being remembered isn’t always easy. Okay, that’s not quite true. If you’re particularly obnoxious, rude, or cruel, people will remember you. But being remembered with a smile is harder. But it’s not impossible.
How do you set yourself apart?
Fear, Uncertainty, and Doubt – Get Over It
How often do you do things that make you uncomfortable? For most people, the answer is rarely. We are afraid of looking foolish. We’re not sure we’ll succeed. We question what others will think. And so we are boringly normal. We are boringly forgettable.
A few years ago I was at a speakers’ training in Nashville. One night two other women who were at the training decided to go out and listen to some live music (Anthony Gomes — worth checking out). When we got to the club, we found the show we wanted didn’t start for a couple of hours, but there was a bar across the alley. So we went.
It turned out it was a karaoke bar.
By the end of the evening, all three of us had sung at least one song. For two of us, it was our first time singing karaoke. I know I was nervous. Some of those singers were great. But I went up there and croaked out Somewhere Over the Rainbow. My knees were shaking and I sounded pretty awful, but I got up and did it.
One of the other women was even more reluctant than I was, but she got up just before it was time to go back to the club. She did it because she didn’t want to regret not doing it. And because she did, because we each got up and sang, we all remember each other in a way we wouldn’t if we’d stuck to just talking during lunch.
So don’t be the person who refuses to put themselves out there. Risk falling flat on your face. Risk failing. Risk. It’s memorable, and people appreciate it. And if you do fail (and you will, sometimes), laugh it off or be otherwise gracious. Failing well, being a good loser, is also memorable in a good way.
There are certain patterns that we tend to fall into again and again. Certain questions that are expected, and answers that are standard. Expectations that we tend to meet. You can turn these expectations on their sides.
For instance, one of the most common questions we ask when we meet people is, “What do you do?”
I very rarely ask this question. Instead, I ask folks, “What do you do with your free time?” or “What do you do for fun?”
It’s almost the same question, but it takes the conversation in a very different direction. You end up learning more about the person you’re talking to than you might otherwise, and they get to talk about something that they’re passionate about. A lot of folks aren’t passionate about their work.
Another question that gets asked a lot is, “How are you?”
When you get asked this question, avoid the standard, pat answers of “fine” or “great.” Give a slightly more descriptive answer that includes something good going on in your life.
It can be silly: “I’m feeling lucky. I just found a penny.”
It can be enthusiastic: “I’m doing fantastic. My best friend from high school is coming into town tonight!”
It can be whatever fits your mood and the moment: “It’s been a long week, but it’s Friday, so I’m doing great.”
While there are a lot of standard questions and answers, I’m going to assume that giving you just a couple of examples is enough to show you how you can apply this idea to any of them. If you have specific examples, I’d love to see them in the comments.