Believe it or not, despite having the ‘confidence’ to present a radio show, compere and perform burlesque, I’m an exceptionally shy person and have always struggled with socialising and meeting new people. Holding a conversation with those people, getting to know them and build relationships is even harder, but luckily I have an ace card up my sleeve, or apron – I can bake!
If you’re venturing into unknown social territory, be it a new office or club (probably not Weight Watchers!) you can’t beat a freshly baked cake to break the ice! Even if your baking skills suck, people will appreciate the gesture, and it’s a great way to get talking to people and make those first nerve-wracking introductions. Ok, you could go and buy some goodies from your local supermarket, something a lot of us do ahead of a team meeting, but taking the time to make something yourself makes people feel special and shows that you’ve made an effort – and let’s face it who doesn’t want to be friends with someone who can bake?!
If cake’s not everyone’s cup of tea, then focus on the tea part – or coffee, or smoothies. Try bringing in a blend not stocked in the work kitchen and leaving it in the cupboard with a friendly post-it on, or whip up a big batch of yummy smoothie for the more health conscious and pop it in the fridge with some funky cocktail straws to get people’s day off to a cheery start.
We’ve spent most of our working lives being warned of the evil of the written word – the best way to communicate with people is face to face or on the phone, but don’t underestimate the power of print – or post-its! You could leave some friendly notes in the office magazine stash or even brighten up a humble banana. Don’t be afraid to get suggestive either (not like that!) – why not leave a few key ingredients for a mug cake in the kitchen along with a recipe idea for anyone in the mood for a mid-afternoon sugar fix – you’ll have made someone’s day with cake and you won’t even have had to make it.
So next time you’re trying to make friends, try making their day first!
The Burly Baker x