By Fayette Fox, Jaunty's Writer and Community Manager
"Before I felt bad about saying no to people," says Jaunty graduate Sinan Mouline. "Now I feel more comfortable doing it. Also I can ask for what I want. If the other person can do it, great. If not, okay."
Born and raised in Morocco, Sinan went to college in France. These days he's a software engineer in San Francisco.
Sinan was recently invited to a big annual dinner. But he already had plans that night. In the past he would have tried to change his existing plans for fear of offending his friends. Thanks to his Jaunty social intelligence skills and assertiveness training, he did something else instead.
"I simply said, 'Hey, thank you for the invite, but I have a prior commitment. Let's hang out soon." His friend said okay and it wasn't a big deal.
Sinan is big on self-improvement and after going to a number of Meetups, realized he never instigated conversations. In other aspects of life he rarely approached others.
"I didn't feel like interrupting people and asking something."
He wanted to have the choice, to be able to talk to people for business or socially if he wanted to.
Sinan heard about Jaunty through Meetup and hoped it might help. He enjoyed the free workshop. He took advantage of a discounted one-on-one session with Eric where they talked about the areas he wanted to work on, like networking and his social life.
Sinan says, Jaunty's six-week course was, "really helpful. Every class had a lot of content." He appreciated the homework and says "it kept us involved" outside of class. Some of his classmates met up to do homework together, approaching strangers and trying out different techniques. "It helped us stay motivated and reach our goals week after week." Now, about two months after the class ended, Sinan still meets up with some of them.
Professionally, things are going well for Sinan since he's been working on his assertiveness. "I remember Eric saying it was important to speak louder, look people in the eye, and not be afraid to say what we think. Since then I've been getting a lot more responsibilities."
These days he finds it much easier to go to networking events and actually talk to people. If he's interested in them, he can do a contact exchange. "It's all quite easy with the framework from Jaunty. You just follow the steps."
Sinan says, the class, "also helped me understand myself better. I know that as much as I like interacting with people and being social, I need to have time to myself to recharge. For example, I know it's hard for me to go from social gathering to social gathering, to social gathering. So now I just avoid it. Now I say to my friends, 'Hey I need to go home and recharge. I'll meet up with you later.' Otherwise I'm not mentally present with them." Before he'd just keep on going, even if he was too tired and drained. "Now I know my needs."
He's been thinking a lot about his current and past friendships. "I think [Jaunty's Social Trainer] Craig mentioned there are two types of friends: The friends you choose and the friends you just end up being friends with. Now I'm more careful about that. I don't feel as bad setting boundaries and trying to have more friends of choice, rather than friends of convenience. I'm not necessarily going to turn my back on my friends of convenience, but I'm spending more time with my friends of choice. That means I spend more time with people I genuinely like."
By Eric Waisman, Jaunty's Founder
These are the people in our neighborhood.
Summer camp was amazeballs. Camp Grounded, up in Mendocino, was four full days of campfires, workshops, jumping into rivers, ziplining, sneaking into camp crushes' camps, ropes courses, and deep conversations. At this summer camp for adults, we were unplugged for four days... yet fully connected to one another. What made it so powerful was no talk about work, no devices, no clocks, and only nicknames.
My personal revelation from camp was my emotional state. I've never gone from one end of the emotional spectrum to the other, and back again, all within a matter of hours. I went from getting choked up over a deep conversation or the love of people at camp, to laughing so hard I almost pissed my pants, to being scared out of my head 70 feet up in the air on a tightrope. (At Jaunty, we teach how to take people on this sort of emotional journey in our conversations to build a meaningful connection.) It was also great getting my hands dirty in the woods. At the end of the day, it's really about community. All I wanted to do was give. Give to others and myself, and to nature.
I believe amazing things can happen when we unplug and pay attention to our surroundings. Jason Bourne knew it took five steps to get to the fire escape, and Andy Warhol noticed the Campbell soup can on the counter.
Look around today. Right now. What do you see? How does it make you feel? Did you notice that person over there? They could be your future friend/colleague/lover, but only if you make the first move.
This month a few things have got me thinking about environmental awareness. I was in the gym locker room, after a workout, looking forward to relaxing in the steam room. It's my favorite part of working-out. I walked behind a guy who was headed the same way. He opened the steam room door just a crack, squeezed inside, and let the door close in front of me. Surprised, I grabbed the door and found a seat inside.
I asked myself: How often does someone in that situation a) notice others behind them b) understand how they can affect how others feel, and c) give a shit?
We're quick to only focus on C and judge them. But what if they really weren't aware of their surroundings or weren't thinking about it?
The other day, I saw a woman crying on the corner at a busy intersection on Market Street. Hundreds of people walked by and didn't notice her, or felt too uncomfortable to stop. She looked half homeless. Her friends were nearby waiting it out. I kneeled down and said hi, and asked her how I could help. She said she had just gotten her heart broken, and we spoke for a few minutes. Her friends came up to me and thanked me for supporting her. We are all in this together!
At camp, it was easy to see all those awesome people in the woods as my community. Out here in the big bad City, it can be harder to hold on to that mindset, but I think it's just as important. Let's pay attention to the people around us, give folks the benefit of the doubt if they lack awareness, and help where we can. I'd love for the Jaunty community to be a force for good in our larger community. Go get 'em!