Summary:

Usually, remote work involves plenty of communication and self-promotion with near strangers, but psychologists have good news for those who find this reality daunting – selling yourself to strangers is generally much more fun than we expect. And for reasons that will surprise you.

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Remote work, nearly everyone agrees, requires greater conscious effort from management and team members to keep the lines of communication open and build connections with colleagues. Nearly everyone agrees because it’s sensible advice, but this simple tip doesn’t take into account another equally simple truth – for many of us making virtual connections with people we don’t know very well can seem scary and exhausting.

For freelancers, this is even more of an issue as you need to not only maintain ties with key players you already work with, but also have to reach out and market yourself to new clients.

But there’s good news from psychologists for remote workers who stress out about reaching out, making connections and presenting themselves in the best light without a handy coffee machine or water cooler available to facilitate more natural (and regular) interaction. Here’s how PsyBlog summarized the relevant findings:

In their research Dunn et al. (2007) had participants in long-term relationships predict how pleasurable it would be to interact with: Their partner; an opposite sex stranger.

They then had a quick chat and rated how good they felt afterwards. What they found was that people enjoyed talking to their romantic partner less than they predicted. On the other hand they had more fun talking to a stranger than they had predicted.

So, don’t tell your significant other, but even though you’re probably looking forward to him or her returning home tonight, science suggests you’d actually get more of a kick out of connecting with a stranger. And the reason why is even more surprising:

The researchers found was that it comes down to whether or not you’re making an effort. Sometimes when we talk to our friends and partners we don’t make much of an effort to entertain them, show off or to present ourselves in the best light. But we do tend to make more of an effort with strangers.

In a follow-up study the researchers told participants to make an effort with their partners and then their enjoyment of the social interaction improved in line with their predictions.

So rather than dreading having to sell yourself or you latest initiative to strangers, take a heart from the findings of psychologists: make the effort and you’ll probably have way more fun promoting yourself to strangers than you expect.

Does this research mesh with your own experience – is self-promotion more fun in retrospect than when you’re dreading picking up the phone?

Image courtesy of Flickr user Raymond Abril III.

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