I remember once posting something called 5 big tips for obtaining badboy communication skills in a foreign language, where I started the post by describing a scene sitting upon an Italian hill and making a whole bunch of Italians laugh with my crappy Italian. Well now almost a year down the line, I’d say it’s been pretty common place to find myself at the centre of attention of a room of people and be having a merry old time in some other language. I’m not trying to brag here and say it’s because I’m great (but I am), the attention is just part of the territory of being an English guy abroad, especially in a place like Japan. However at the same time there are a bunch of things I’ve noticed that have made people always take a great shining to me, some traits that I am fortunate to possess, and that I was feeling grateful for at a really enjoyable dinner last night.
Handling Spicy Food
A lot of bonding happens over dinner tables, and over the last year I’ve found this has often been where I’ve met new friends and acquaintances. Sitting at a cafe, I then get warned that something is spicy and they pass it over saying watch out. But then I just slap some more chilli oil on it and eat that biznitch. Sure eating chillies is not going to automatically give you new friends, but it’s just about not being a little wuss and manning up to the task at hand. People respect that.
Being on Your Own
Being on your own shows the world you have balls. Big chilli eating balls. If you travel on your own people take an immediate shining to you, and after a bit of thought about it, I think I know why. Someone who travels on their own trusts themselves. Not only trusts themselves, but likes themselves, as is happy enough just to be out there on their own. It’s like people say ‘how you can expect anyone to love you, if you don’t love yourself?’. If you are travelling on your own, you love yourself (maybe too much), and then people want to find out what makes you so great that you show yourself all this love.
This goes with the spice territory, but you see the sake on the table and you drink it. No questions. They refill your glass and you do it again. You cheers and then down a beer. If you can eat really spicy food and drink a lot of alcohol you will make friends at every dinner table you go to in the world.
Smoking/Having given up smoking
People always offer me cigarettes in Japan as everyone smokes and you can smoke indoors, but I refuse because I gave up. Smokers have mad respect for people who have given up smoking because they know it’s the most difficult shiz in the world. Especially when you are only 24 years old. But smokers also like people who smoke, and after a relapse last night, I know that either smoking or having given up smoking will get you props from all the other smokers at the bar. The only thing that won’t get you props is just never having smoked, because that’s boring. So if that’s the case, go buy a pack now, smoke it all and then give up.
You can’t really control this one, but people respect you for being young and out and about, and in turn give you a lot of free stuff.
I’m not talking about being Stephen Hawkins, but just showing that you have a brain. I think being young, smart and on your own all together creates a lot of intrigue. People can see that there are a good sack of thoughts in your head, and I think they’re impressed by the curiosity that they know must exist if your out here sitting in some strange cafe in a suburb of Yokohama. People know you are not just mindlessly walking through your life, but that you have some kind of purpose or at least looking for something, and they want to know about it.
This is the most important I think. Mainly because I think showing that you are smart is actually the most important, and there’s no better way to do it than to be able to speak the language of the country you are in. The quicker you can learn, the better, so always be making that effort. You want the world to be curious about you? Then you need to be curious about the world. The better you speak a language, the more you show your desire to get to grips with your surroundings, and the more your surroundings will make efforts to get to grips with you.
Calm is cool. Be a chameleon. The world is your house now, so that means even other people’s houses are your house. Everywhere you go you feel at home, no situation or place can surprise you. You just slip into every zone as if you’ve been there your whole life. I remember some people once livin’ da Sam life with me for a bit, and we got invited into some house for the night or something, and the whole time they were like ‘oh my god this is so crazy’ and were saying thank you a million times for everything, and it was like ‘bitchez chill aiiight’. I know this may sounds rude, but you don’t need to say thank you a million times when people stretch out their hand, you can still show that you are grateful nonetheless. Don’t make a big deal out of stuff, it’s boring, move on beyond talking about the situation you are in and use the situation to talk about and explore more interesting things.