My Great Uncle Don, my father's namesake, passed away at 84 last week, and dammit did he live a life. He and his twin brother Dick were Priests who later on met some hot-to-trot nuns that they ended up marrying. Uncle Don was a well educated man with 3 or 4 masters degrees under his belt. He cared about people, he protested with Dr. King, and he, like most Heidkamps, had the GIft Of Gab.
For those that don't know, the GIft Of Gab means that the person who has it can strike up a meaningful convo with basically anyone. The coolness of someone's shoes is enough topic for someone with the Gift Of Gab to get a good conversation going.
This is essentially why I am the way I am. Obviously there is more at play, but I think it is fair to say that the Gift Of Gab plays a big part of it. Like my Great Uncle Don or my Grandpa Emil I can start a conversation easily and even get deep with someone fairly quickly.
The day before I found out about Uncle Don, as he was known amongst the family, I recieved a letter from a friend. He had recently posted on Facebook that I had changed his life, to which I responded via Facebook Messenger, "how the heck did I change your life?" He said he couldn't answer that via messenger and would need to write a letter.
And write a letter he did! Hand written. Five pages long. And he has tidy handwriting!
I am going to grossly paraphrase what he said, but essentially he described my Gift Of Gab. That, like I said before, I quickly cut the bull shit and get to the core of a matter, that I can engage anyone, that I am a great encourager. And that statements I made in person and on Facebook helped him make some significant decisions that has helped him and his family. Needless to say, I was in tears while reading the letter.
Ok, so with all that setup done, here is the point. I have the Gift Of Gab and so can you. Here are some tips!
Acknowledge Dopeness - If someone made you a killer Mocha, or someone is rocking an awesome outfit, tell them. It will make their day, and heck it will make yours. Simple compliments can open up conversations. As an example the Coffee Shop at the hospital is actually pretty darn good for a hospital. So I told them that, and then we started talking about good mochas and good food in Minneapolis and Chicago. All based on the fact that I told them that they ran a good shop.
Answer Honestly - If someone asks how you are doing don't give a Facebook answer, tell them both the good and the bad. People that take the time to ask that question usually want to know both. Your honesty may help them either open up to you or open up to someone else. Sometimes the Gift Of Gab helps encourage others to open up to other people, not always you.
Make Instant Friends - So this is a bit harder to do, but I believe in you. And this often follows the"Acknowledge Dopeness" step. Also, this friendship may last only 5 minutes, but can have a lasting effect for you and your 5 minute friend. I am reminded of my Grandfather who once at a pizza place struck up a conversation with a random family because their youngest daughter was being super cute looking at the giant fish bowl. Everyone was just smiling because he was willing to be cute with this little girl and chat it up with her family. You couldn't help but feel good. My Grandpa was a badass.
Stop Being Minnesotan - This is largely for the Minnesotan contingent who reads this blog, but also for those who have a hard time being open with their feelings. When reading the letter that my friend wrote me the theme that I kept wanting to respond with is, "yeah, I am not Minnesotan, I am from Chicago and I am Irish." I wear my emotions on my sleeves, and have no filter which is not Minnesotan at all. So if you clam up when people ask you how you are doing, and if you find it hard to open up in general STOP IT!
Ok, that last one is easier said than done, but it is worth working on. And I think working on the first three will help with the last item. And I am going to make this claim, that working on the Gift Of Gab not only benefits others that you are interacting with, but also benefits you. There are few things that feel better than making someone's day with a simple compliment.
So here is the final thought. Even if you up your Gift Of Gab by 10% you can help others feel better about themselves, and can even make your day better. Simple openness and honesty, which I admit can be difficult to practice, can affect others and ourselves is such great ways. The more we practice this, and up our game, the more we can connect with others, build deeper relationships, and make new friends.