(Minghui.org) Most Falun Dafa disciples who live outside of China are very busy with various projects, and those with good language skills rarely clarify the truth in person or make friends with people in mainstream society. For many years, our truth clarification has been limited to handing out fliers, putting up posters, or sending eblasts.

Many people are therefore still prejudiced against Falun Dafa and misunderstand it. With the advancement of the Fa-rectification, we should think about how to improve our social skills to better introduce Dafa, Shen Yun, movies, and other media platforms to the general public.

I started to practice Falun Dafa outside of China before the Chinese Communist Party began to persecute it in 1999. I majored in science and engineering and I was not good at socializing. My early truth-clarification efforts relied on handing out fliers, and I did not like to talk to people.

It was not until 2007 when our local area was slated to host Shen Yun that I realized that the effect of handing out fliers to sell tickets was limited. Most of the tickets were sold after our practitioners had a friendly chat with the customers about Shen Yun. In order to sell more tickets, I slowly learned how to talk to people.

At first, I was too enthusiastic and too long-winded, talking on and on about how great the show was. While most Westerners were patient enough to let me finish talking, the result was often not good. Looking back, it was Party culture that influenced me. I was eager to tell them what I knew and didn’t bother to think about how receptive they would be.

Because I sincerely wanted to sell tickets, I had to bite the bullet and improve my communication skills. After each conversation, I evaluated how well I did and where I could improve. I realized that being too pushy or impatient would scare people away and my show-off mentality and other attachments would affect the results, too. I knew that I had to work to eliminate the influence of the Party culture during the process.

Traditional Chinese culture values good manners and etiquette and so does Western civilization. A civilized person usually speaks politely, dresses for the occasion, minds details, keeps the proper boundaries, and respects others’ privacy. I learned a great deal as I socialized with people more and more.

In 2012, I spent four months attending various parties and networking events. I made a lot of friends, clarified the truth about Dafa, and got 20 people to purchase tickets to Shen Yun. I also improved my communication skills.

I would like to share what I’ve learned over the past ten years.

Making Friends at Different Gatherings

When Chinese people have a gathering, everyone sits together and usually one person talks while the others listen. But parties in the West are more relaxed, with guests selecting their own food and drinks and chatting with whomever they like. Strangers have plenty of opportunities to chat, since there is little pressure in this format, and one can bring up all kinds of topics depending on each other’s interests.

I go to most family gatherings, such as the birthdays for my children’s classmates and holiday gatherings with my colleagues. Some new friends invite me to their parties, too.

From Halloween to Thanksgiving, and from Christmas to New Year’s Eve, there are plenty of opportunities to gather in November and December. This is a prime time to promote Shen Yun.

Party Etiquette

Many gatherings are “potlucks.” Each person brings a dish, and one can buy ready-made dishes if they don’t know how to cook or don’t have time.

If the host provides all the food, guests bring small gifts, such as flowers or wine. Avoid expensive gifts, though, as it might put unnecessary pressure in the host.

Homemade goodies are valued in the West, so a good dish or snack you make yourself is usually crowd pleasing.

It is best to dress in line with the other guests. If you are not sure how formal the occasion is, ask the host in advance. Casual dress is generally acceptable for family gatherings.

I once wore a traditional Chinese outfit to a Halloween Party and added some seasonal decorations to my outfit for Christmas and New Year’s parties.

When people talk in twos and threes at a party, don’t talk for too long with the same person unless you are particularly well-connected. The other person must also have time to interact with other guests.

We have to learn how to bring up our key topic in a few minutes to impress and interest people, and later they will discover more information on their own.

How to Break the Ice with Strangers

First of all, smile. People from China usually do not like to smile, but Westerners regard smiling and making eye contact as a sign of sincerity. Once you get used to this, you can greet strangers naturally.

I first carefully observe the other person’s manner and speech. If the other person is a female, I compliment her on her taste in clothing.

Then I listen carefully to the other person. People like to talk about themselves, and we should listen attentively. That way, we make a good impression on them. We can learn about their interests and hobbies and then bring up our topic based on their preferences.

If someone likes history, we can talk about traditional Chinese culture and how Shen Yun revives the lost culture; for those who like politics, we can talk about U.S.-China relations, the infiltration of the CCP overseas, and human rights issues in China; and for those who like fitness, we can talk about traditional Chinese meditation and Falun Dafa. As long as we sincerely want to clarify the truth, we can always find good topics.

How to Stay in Touch

I do not ask for the other person’s contact information unless we’ve had a good conversation. Every time I meet someone who is worth keeping in touch with, that is my new friend.

I have an address book with contact information for more than a thousand friends I have made over the past ten years. Every time I return home from an event, I add my new friends’ information in my address book, including their emails, phone numbers, which day and which event I met them, and a little note about them, such as the name of their favorite dog, that their daughter is a photographer, or one likes Chinese culture.

I divide these friends into different groups so I can find them easily in the future: The parents of my children’s classmates, my alumni, Rotary Club members, etc.

I also use Facebook and LinkedIn to connect with these friends. My social media was set up for them. After adding them as friends, they automatically receive my regular truth-clarification messages posted on social media, which is easier than writing an email.

I also try not to add fellow practitioners to my social media, nor do I post cultivation-related issues on social media. It is not appropriate and easily causes misunderstanding.

Using My Connections to Clarify the Truth

I have made good use of my long-established contacts to promote truth-clarification movies. I often met club leaders at various gatherings, and when they found what I said interesting, they usually arranged for me to give a presentation at their club.

I met a retired teacher at my children’s elementary school and have been attending this teacher’s holiday family gatherings every year since then. The guests were his neighbors or classmates, all teachers or professionals.

One of the neighbors saw me wearing a Chinese costume on Halloween and thought it was beautiful. After chatting for a while, he thought that I understood Chinese culture well and explained it just right.

He later arranged for me to give two keynote speeches at his club. For the first time, I introduced Shen Yun and traditional Chinese culture. A few months later, I went back to introduce Falun Dafa and clarified the truth about the Chinese Communist Party’s persecution of the peaceful cultivation group.

After the club presentations, I also sometimes attend their meetups to meet more people or recommend fellow practitioners to keep in touch with them. For example, when some members wanted to learn Falun Dafa after hearing my presentation, I asked fellow practitioners to arrange a time to teach them the exercises.

There are often connections between clubs, so one club can quickly put me in touch with other ones in the area. After a member of a Rotary Club arranged for me to speak, I was invited to a holiday party of her group and later invited again to give a keynote speech to them after people felt good talking to me. I have since been connected with other groups in the area.

My two children have followed me to all kinds of parties since they were young, so they have good social skills, and often talk to their classmates and friends about Falun Dafa. My oldest daughter’s best friend in the third grade was a little girl whose father I met during school pick-up time. When my oldest daughter went to college, she was invited to speak at a local club about forced organ harvesting crimes committed by the Chinese communist regime.

I remembered the dad and found his email in my address book, but it was no longer active. He used to be the owner of a local company, so I thought someone like him would have a LinkedIn account, and I actually got in touch with him! Then I sent him the video of my daughter’s speech. He watched it and wrote me detailed feedback. It was a very good re-connection and also clarified the truth.

I have many such friends that I met by chance and only contact once every few years, but they will learn the truth and pass it on to their friends. This is not something that can be easily achieved by handing out fliers on the street.

Closing Remarks

I hope that these experiences will open up the minds of fellow practitioners and expand their horizons to better clarify the truth to mainstream Western society. Social skills need to be learned and honed, and presentation skills can always be improved.

Dafa disciples in China are risking their lives clarifying the truth face to face, and we should step out of our comfort zone in a free environment overseas. The process to get rid of Party culture and eliminate attachments is also a process of solid cultivation.

This is my understanding at my current level. I hope more fellow practitioners will share their experiences of this sort. Let us improve together.