I read a really cool phrase on reddit today, from user “BobbySynth.” It sounded like a quote from someone famous, but he wasn’t sure if it came from anyone in particular, so he asked that it be attributed to him until proven otherwise. With that, here we go!
You are a minor character in other people’s lives. Don’t be an extra, make a cameo.
-Rudolph Reinhardt, AKA “BobbySynth”
I love this phrase because it actually works in two directions.
Not to stereotype the “gamer” demographic too much, but we are, typically, rather introverted. I myself was a MASSIVE introvert for a long time, and a lot of the gamers I know feel kind of uncomfortable in social situations, especially when not interacting with our fellow nerds and geeks.
Now, a lot of people, especially introverted people, spend every day worried about what other people may think about them. Shy people want more than anything to not be publicly embarrassed, or put “on the spot.” Here’s the thing, though: look at the above quote. You are a minor character in someone else’s life. You will, most likely, make an appearance in someone’s life briefly, and unless you do something to really stand out, or make a concerted effort to connect with the person, you will probably be forgotten within a short time.
No one is watching your every move, waiting for you to mess up. Conversely, you’re probably not as important to the average person as you think you are.
While the first sentence can be comforting, the second one seems almost cruel. But honestly, it’s the truth! Most people do have a cadre of close friends, family, and acquaintances, and these people do value you, and find you important, but they are a staggeringly small percentage of the massive number of people you interact with in your day-to-day life.
Now, for some people, this is all well and good, but think about it. There are specific times that you want to stand out. Are you going to a job interview? Chances are, you want to stand out for the person you’re interviewing for. Going out on a first date? You probably want your lady or gentleman to remember you in a positive light, afterwards. Public speaking in some manner? You want people to walk away talking about you, and not because you’re the guy that dropped his notes and then stammered through his whole speech.
The thing is, we know, you don’t get good at things without practice. If you wait until that specific clutch moment to suddenly try to be a remarkable and memorable personality, you’re probably going to fail. So what do we do?
Let’s return to our original quote. In film sense, a “cameo” is attributed to a famous person who appears briefly, and rides on their own reputation and charisma, whereas an “extra” is the term for the tons of faceless, nameless people they hire for films to fill out the crowds. In gaming sense, think “Named NPC with Spoken Lines,” vs “Helmeted Grunt NPC #4.”
You want to be that cameo. Maybe not all the time, but you want to be able to make that impression on some people. So, you should work on getting better at it. Here’s some tips:
People don’t smile enough, today. Seriously, the majority of us walk around, eyes at the ground, or our cell phones, occasionally mumbling a “hey” or a “‘sup?” or a “How’s it goin?” as we pass someone too close to ignore them. Instead, next time you get close enough to someone in passing to consider interacting with them, try making eye contact, and giving them as genuine smile, as well as a “Hello” or something equally well articulated. This is a fast, easy, and relatively painless method of beginning to bolster your confidence in social situations.
Begin any required social interaction with this as well, like when you order at a restaurant, or maybe in the checkout line at the store. Some people may smile back, some may not, but in the end you’re not really sticking your neck out there too much, and smiles are fantastic things you can give away for free, all the time. Also, smiling at other people helps trigger chemicals that make you feel better as well.
Start a Conversation
Now, I’m not talking about a random conversation with a stranger. Rather, let’s go back to those forced social situations from before. Sometimes in life, you have to interact with people; at the store, at the bank, any kind of service counter… So as long as you’re there, why not make the best of it? You already know to start with a good smile and a nice hello, you can easily transition elsewhere if you give it a shot.
Pick something topical to talk about. The weather is a bit cliche, but it’s a good starter, and can segway into other things. For example:
You, “Man, it is gorgeous outside today.”
Cashier, “It sure is.”
You, “Would be a nice day to go for a hike!”
Now, the conversation may peter out there (after all, you’re probably not interacting with this person for too long), or maybe the person is a fellow hiking enthusiast, and it might spawn a further conversation about hiking. Either way, you’ve now said more to this person than the other fifty frowning customers they dealt with that day, and you’re probably a bit more memorable for it. Even better, you’ve chipped away a tiny bit at any social misgivings you may have about conversing with people. We’re taking tiny steps here, people!
Give a Genuine Compliment, or Do a Nice Thing
This may be one of the best things possible. People, naturally, like it when other people are nice to them, or do things for them. I’ll give you an example: When I was a cashier at a supermarket ten years ago (holy crap that made me feel old), I rang up several developmentally disabled adults and their caretaker from the local center. After we got everything through (it took a little bit longer than usual), the caretaker specifically went over to my manager and asked if she could fill out any kind of positive feedback form or comment card. They gave her one, and she made a point of filling out that card right then and there, and handing it in.
Filling out that card took maybe an extra thirty seconds of her time, and it got me a $5.00 gift card to spend in the store on my lunch break. Now, I’ll tell you, the money isn’t what made it memorable, it was the fact that she had done something completely out of the goodness of her heart, for me. It took maybe an extra minute of her time, and she managed it while continuing to assist the mentally handicapped charges she had with her. That minute means I still remember her, now, ten years later.
This doesn’t mean you have to do something quite so drastic for every person you meet, but people will notice if you go out of your way for them a bit. Now, this doesn’t mean saturate someone with compliments for their vanity (that will come off as pandering, and maybe a little creepy), but if you think someone did something well, it pays off to tell them so. Be genuine in your praise, and don’t expect things in return, and people will appreciate the attention.
The above are just three small ideas to get you started. Honestly though, they have done wonders for me. I love talking to the people I interact with every day, now. My wife actually gets a kick out of how I start fun conversations and joke around with the people I interact with. Also, as someone who’s been in the service industry for years, I can tell you people really appreciate interacting with “human beings” every day, instead of faceless robots more interested in their phones. You need to keep pushing your own boundaries, in order to be really successful at this.
Realize that you’re just a bit part in most other people’s lives, and even social mistakes will be forgotten, especially if you never see that person again. The world is a stage for you to practice on, with almost no real chance of retribution, especially if you’re practicing on people you won’t see again, or don’t see often. Push the envelope, and you’ll be amazed by what an impression you can leave.
That’s all for today. Tomorrow is a new character breakdown, and we will be going with our second character from the Assassin’s Creed series, Ratonhnhaké:ton “Connor” Kenway, as suggested by Be a Game Character fan “Sora Shadow”. I figure it’s been a long enough time since Ezio that we can cover someone else from the series. I hope you’ll check back and see all the cool stuff we’re going to do with him. Please don’t forget to like the blog on Facebook, and follow on Twitter and Tumblr. While you’re at it, if you enjoyed this post, please share/retweet it to your friends! We’ll see you on Sunday!. Until then, remember to live boldly, change the world, and continue to be awesome.
Dan “DaRatmastah” Wallace