How To Graciously Wait In Line

With social media crowding our field of vision, it’s easy to miss what is right in front of us at times: real human beings. We care so much about feeling connected to the world by constantly updating our status and commenting on others’ photos, yet we can often miss out on connecting to the actual person standing next to us. Checking our news feed is a normal part of our daily activity nowadays, but this action especially heightens when we don’t have a companion by our side in public places. When we’re alone, it’s easy to disengage from the physical world around us.

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With this in mind, the next time you’re waiting anywhere — whether in line at the grocery store or riding on a public transport commuter train — have the patience to refrain from looking down at your phone. Rather than browsing through someone’s online photo stream, strike up a conversation with the person next to you and try to make a real connection with someone, however brief it may be. You never know what may come of it.

Here are a few suggestions to help get you started.

Look Up
When you are looking down at your phone, you miss out on the world that’s right in front of you. Realize that your presence makes a difference; the attitude, perspective, and energy that you possess once you step into a room matters. When you immediately look down at your device, you tell everyone else around you that you’re not interested in conversing. You shut others out and remain in your own bubble. People will notice; all efforts someone might have had to chat with you might disappear and a connection may be lost. Look up from your phone, learn to coexist and be connected to the ones around you.

… the attitude, perspective, and energy that you possess once you step into a room matters.

Don’t Stay Lonely
When you’re in public by yourself, don’t resort to hiding behind your phone in fear of seeming alone. Don’t feel intimidated or be afraid of rejection; the reason for wanting to talk to the person beside you isn’t a form of weakness. It’s not because people need to feel welcomed or appreciated in the space they are in, but because we are thinking well beyond ourselves that we wish to focus our attention on another. Remove the fear of rejection that may come from engaging with someone new and be the first to initiate a conversation.

Start A Conversation
Skip the awkward and on-the surface topics of discussion once you do engage. Rather than talking about the weather or how bad the line that you’re waiting in is, compliment this person on something they are wearing, it may spark a story. Another good topic of discussion: whether you’re new in town or not. Asking someone where their favorite restaurant is could introduce you to new places or bond you both in your similarities. The art of good conversation deepens when information is being shared.

Keep The Relationship
If you run a business that will help the person you just spoke with, extending your contact information helps to build awareness of your brand and bring in a new, yet familiar, face. If you run a blog or a service, you might have just made a new lovely reader, contributor or client. If you are an expert in styling, traveling or just simply interested in a topic of the like that helped bond you with your new friend, exchanging cards helps continue the conversation even after you’re no longer waiting in line.

Being present in the world is easiest when you’re not buried in your phone. The next time you’re waiting in line for the latest iPhone upgrade, grabbing a cup of coffee, or waiting to get on a ride at Six Flags, be daring — talk to the person behind you.

How do you stay aware of others when out in public? Is it easy or hard for you to engage?

Image via Chelsie Autumn Photography

Mariya is fashioning a life built around courtesy. Her personal mission is to spread kindness and inspiration with the people around her as she continues to touch the lives of every gracious reader. Join the movement as she defines what it means to live graciously on her blog, The Gracious Lady.

1 COMMENT
  • ck. August 31, 2014

    My only argument against this is that just because you’re alone, it doesn’t mean that you’re lonely. Introverted people in particular are perfectly content living in their heads, and striking up random, small-talk conversations with people can be extremely tiresome to them.

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