I’m sitting at a park with my 5-year-old and I find myself admiring her courage. But it’s not the kind of courage it takes to swing from the monkey bars without mom’s help, or to go down the scary tornado slide without mom catching you at the end.
It’s the courage to walk up to another child she doesn’t know and simply say, “Hi, my name is Katy, what’s your name?” I watch with fascination as the two begin to talk about where they live, who their moms are (pointing us out), and their favorite colors. Just like that – without a second thought – the two children are friends and begin playing together. She probably doesn’t see it as courage – to her, it’s just a matter of fact of life. To her, another child is just another friend she hasn’t met yet. So she meets them.
Shortly after, another child Katy knows comes along. Katy immediately introduces her new friend to the other child, and the three of them become friends and start playing.
Think about what we could learn from a 5-year-old. Many of us – even extroverts – find it intimidating to walk into a room full of people and strike up a conversation with someone we don’t know. Sometimes we think everyone else in the room is calm, comfortable, and casual – but at some point they had to use their own courage to say hello and introduce themselves to a stranger to make a new connection.
Have you ever noticed at an event that someone is standing alone at a table, or in a corner, just sipping their drink or eating their food? That person is probably experiencing the nervousness that I mentioned earlier. They may not know anyone, or perhaps they are simply shy.
What can we learn from a 5-year-old? Take the first step and introduce yourself and strike up a conversation. If you know other people at the event, introduce that person to others you know. This will not only help the person feel more comfortable with meeting new people, but it will help you build your network as well.
And you never know, that person may be a new friend for life.