Art of Charm Toolbox | Your Third Place (Episode 403)

Everyone needs a third place. On this Toolbox episode of The Art of Charm we’ll talk about why you need a third place, what to look for when choosing one, and how to become a regular after you’ve chosen yours.

“You can find these in every community.” -AJ Harbinger

The Cheat Sheet:

  • Why the third place is disappearing.
  • The four criteria to use when choosing a third place.
  • Why clubs are not a good option.
  • How TV has replaced the third place.
  • How to be welcome and become a “regular.”
  • And so much more…


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Have you noticed how nearly every sitcom has a hangout spot? Cheers’ spot was well, Cheers. Friends had Cafe Perk. Seinfeld had the corner restaurant. How I Met Your Mother had the downstairs pub.

But why don’t more Americans have this go-to spot — this third place in their neighborhood? On this Toolbox episode of The Art of Charm we’ll talk about why you need a third place, what to look for when choosing one, and how to become a regular after you’ve chosen yours.

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In life we should all have three main places we go regularly: home, work and our third place. The third place is anything from a cafe to a pub to a diner, so long as it’s close to your house and it fits certain criteria. Whether you’re new to your neighborhood or not, you still need a third place.

Here are the four things to look for when choosing it:

1. It’s a leveler.
Everyone is equal here no matter their background, socioeconomic status, etc. When someone is at this spot, they’re just a member of the community. In other words, if there’s bottle service available, it doesn’t fit the criteria — and this is why clubs aren’t really a third place.

2. You’re primarily there for conversation.
Your third place is where you to go to chat, interact, vent, tell stories, etc. The purpose of being there is to communicate with the people around you.

3. You can become a regular.
No matter what you know, you’ll see familiar faces when you go here. When you’re looking for your third place, be sure there are regulars who are a part of its community, people who, if they weren’t seen for a while, would be missed.

4. There’s no real structure to what’s happening.
Anything can happen and there’s an openness to the energy and environment of the place. People are just there to be there, not for any specific activity or agenda.

Also, your third place shouldn’t be sexy. It should be comfortable and a place to which you feel good going alone.

And that’s what you’re going to do once you’ve chosen your third place. To establish yourself as a regular there, go in on an off-peak night — some night of the week when it isn’t packed — and you can meet the staff and the regular patrons.

When you go there, be sure to introduce yourself to the bartender and/or manager, smile a lot, and make conversation with people around you. Let the staff know you’re new in town (if you are) and tell them you’ll be coming around often, then be sure to leave them a healthy tip. Continue to drop in during off-peak times, chat people up, and make the place better for having your presence. The bartenders will remember you and appreciate you.

Once you’ve set the foundation for your third place you can consider what friends to bring there and going in during a busy time. AJ and Johnny explain more about who to bring and when, as well as the vital role third places play in our communities. Check it out on this edition of The Art of Charm.


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AJ Harbinger - author of 1114 posts on The Art of Charm

AJ Harbinger is one of the world’s top relationship development experts. His company, The Art of Charm, is a leading training facility for top performers that want to overcome social anxiety, develop social capital and build relationships of the highest quality. Raised by a single father, AJ felt a strong desire to learn about relationships and the elements that make them successful. However, this interest went largely untapped for many years. Following the path set out for him by his family, AJ studied biology in college and went on to pursue a Ph.D. in Cancer Biology at the University of Michigan. It was at this time that he began to feel immense pressure from the cancer lab he worked in and began to explore other outlets for expression. It was at this point that The Art of Charm Podcast was born.

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