How to Win Every Social Encounter

I love fights.
More than that, I really love winning.

Not that I’ve ever been in a real fist fight.
(Though I did take a mean punch to the face once for executing an ill-timed prank on some friends, but never hit the guy back because I deserved it.)

Nor am I particularly well-trained physically. I’d probably bench the bar plus a feather at the gym and don’t move any quicker than your neighborhood tortoise.

So I’ve found other ways to fight that I’m good at. 

I fight for people to think I’m funny, or smart.
I fight to be heard, to impress, to entertain.
I fight to win whatever situation I’m in.

I’m not sure exactly why I do it, but I’d imagine it has something to do with pride and wanting to look bigger and better than I actually am.

What I do know, however, is there are some people who don’t even give me a chance to step in the octagon. A sort of person that wins by default before I know what’s happening. A guaranteed one-hit KO, Muhammad Ali style.

People who are honest.

Honesty disarms people like me.

Most recently I experienced it when I began reading Scary Close by Donald Miller. 

Having never read anything by Don, I cracked open the hardcover ready to wrestle with whatever ideas he was going to present that I didn’t like. I sure wasn’t going to be fooled by profound sentences and elegantly worded advice from a guy I didn’t know. I wasn’t willing to change in any way he suggested that may be uncomfortable because I hate admitting I ever had it wrong.

I had nothing against Don, in fact I really love his blog.
But I was ready to fight with a guy I don’t know the first thing about.

Then he started his book with an honest look at his own shortcomings and what he’s learning about it. Not only did he start that way, he kept going with it the next chapter too. 

In fact, the whole book is a brutally honest narrative about decades he has spent struggling to genuinely connect with people, particularly his now-wife, Betsy.

There’s no way to fight with that.
What’s more, his honesty freed me from the chains of pride into an honest reflection of my own story.

When I come to an encounter ready to fight and someone is standing there without a shield, I realize it just won’t work. There’s no need to fight somebody who just wants to be your friend. 

At the same time, the pressure to be better than the next guy is quietly subdued, I have permission to actually be myself. To be real. 

Which is good because trying to connect with people who are clenching tightly to some sort of unfounded social aggression is useless. It won’t work. They’ll try to win the encounter at the expense of the other. Somebody will lose.

In this fight, both parties are meant to win.
They just have to both choose not to fight in the first place.

There’s freedom in being myself, dropping the boxing act, and being known. 

Don’t be afraid to disarm everyone else with your honesty.
They’ll probably thank you in the end. 

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