Have you ever found yourself in a situation where you recognize someone from across the room but for some reason you are hesitant to say hello? Perhaps they are just an acquaintance and you aren’t 100% certain of their name or maybe you just don’t feel like putting in the effort to walk across the room. There are a countless number of reasons why you may not want to be the one to initiate contact. The only thing you need to remember is the one reason you should want to be first to say hello: the alpha initiates contact.
What’s an alpha?
Remember being told as a child, “don’t speak unless spoken to”? This is a similar, albeit on an adult level. The alpha (often heard alpha male, though for our purposes gender certainly doesn’t matter) is one who confidently thinks of him or her self as a leader, as someone who is honest and direct, unafraid of embarrassment and not hesitant to take charge of a situation. In this case, the alpha is taking control of a simple, yet often botched situation where people who know each other from one place randomly see each other in another place.
I bet you’d be hard pressed to find anyone who has never found themselves in that awkward situation where you see a person you know from your downtown gym at a fancy restaurant in the suburbs. What should you do? Should you say hi? Are you sure of their name? Maybe they didn’t see you yet and you can just avoid them.
This is a time to be the alpha. Walk up to the person, make eye contact, extend your hand and offer a polite hello. Boom. That’s all it takes yet so many people are genuinely terrified of making this simple gesture a reality. The vast majority of people simply avoid their acquaintance and likely find themselves in an even more awkward situation when one of two things happens: either the acquaintance takes the alpha away and comes to you, doing exactly what you should have done, or the acquaintance brings up the “near meeting” the next time they are back in the gym. “Hey Bill, I thought I saw you at Hyde Park last Saturday?”
Neither of these situations are ideal. If the acquaintance comes to you, he has made you to be the beta, or lesser of the two. Haven’t you ever found yourself thinking, “I wish I’d have just said hello” after someone says hi to you first?! Even if the two of you don’t connect at the restaurant, you’ll still be put in an awkward spot when your acquaintance mentions seeing you. “Didn’t I see you at Hyde Park last weekend?!” What are you doing to do…lie?! Hell no! As we have learned, there are no such things as small lies. That only leaves one alternative: tell the truth. “Oh yeah, sorry, Frank, I did see you but I was too scared/beta to come say hi.” [PRO TIP: When I’m not certain of someone’s name, I’ll quickly look them up on social media to just to get a confirmation. This also can help refresh me on their job, spouse, children, etc.]
Alphas also take charge by introducing themselves to strangers. Sure, every once in a while you may introduce yourself to someone you’ve already met, but that’s OK! Simply be genuine and honest and offer a polite “that’s right, we did meet!” and then do your best not to forget that person again!
I witnessed a fantastic example of this just a few weeks ago at a local charity golf outing. I was sitting with 6 or 7 guys eating lunch before the scramble when another man set down his plate to join us. He knew everyone at the table save one person, who he instantly looked at and said, “Hi, I’m Walter Morgan” while extending his hand and looking directly at the unknown person. “It’s nice to meet you” was his reply after this person introduced himself back. Boom. Pretty simple stuff. Take it one more level by making a mental note of a person’s name whenever you meet someone new. I find connecting them to someone I know with the exact same first name (it can be a friend, relative, celebrity, etc.) makes it exponentially easier to instantly recall their name later on.
I was recently in a situation where my family met another family. People were offering their hellos and introducing themselves accordingly. I didn’t get to meet everyone at first but 15 minutes later I was able to meet the last few people. Using my alpha mentality, I went up to a woman I did not know and said “We didn’t get to meet back there, I’m Nick.” Her reply? “Nice to meet you.” A few seconds went by before I had to ask, “Well what’s your name?!”
She forgot to give me her name!
Be the alpha
Don’t half ass it. If someone beats you to an introduction or a hello, that’s ok, it’ll happen. But when it does, be sure to do as much as you can to take charge, give your name and remember theirs. While this way of seeking & approaching people may seem hard to do at first I promise it’s not. Each time you do it makes it easier on the next. Before you know it you’ll be inherently saying hello & introducing yourself to strangers without even thinking about it!