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Social lubricants

Posted by Gia Lyons on April 14, 2008

Hey now. This is a family blog.

I have a cold. Last week, I drank some hot tea laced with whisky, which made me very, very, very relaxed. And, my throat stopped hurting (or, I didn’t care anymore, couldn’t tell).

Anyway, I was tweeting about how alcohol is one of many social lubricants, used to ease social anxiety and become more open with others (unless you’re a mean drunk). I asked my tweets what other items work as social lubricants, and here’s a sample of the responses:

  • food
  • shared adversity (Survivor!)
  • illicit drugs
  • music
  • movies
  • laughing out loud
  • coffee
  • gaming
  • linux (really? Geek, much?)
  • gadgets

And then I got to thinking about how we use these things to sell stuff to people. I know a sales rep who has brought to meetings yummy cookies with the customer’s logo in frosting. I routinely try to get my customers to laugh out loud during my presentations (I learned a long time ago that laughing makes you more attentive to what that person says next). And then there’s the standard behavior of browsing your customer’s work area to find something you have in common with them (“oh, I see you’re into street luge, too!”)

So, what other social lubricants can you think of, that are fit to share in this PG-rated forum?

Or, how have you seen sellers weave themselves into a customer’s social network more closely? Successful or otherwise?

4 Responses to “Social lubricants”

  1. More social lubricants:
    * smiling :)
    * social software

    By the way, your social lubricants (love the phrase!) are what Hugh MacLeod discusses as social objects.

    It’s important, but somehow odd, to need to call attention to social lubricants/objects. They are the natural conversation starters so key to human interaction, yet tend to be forgotten in the bustle to facilitate social networking through technology.

  2. Gia Lyons said

    And Greg, there are so many folks for which socializing is an alien, almost unnatural concept – makes me wonder how much I could charge for speaking engagements, teaching people how to become social.

    “Social Lubricants and YOU: How To Slide Your Way Into The Lives of Others… with Gia Lyons”

    Ewww. :)

  3. Gia Lyons said

    I should have said, “for whom”…

  4. bethryn said

    Kids.
    Pets.
    both of which so often lead to Shared Laughter.
    (and shared tears.)
    Provacative questions. (Well, not the kind YOU’RE thinking. I mean, ice breaker stuff like these conversation starters.

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