Perhaps I’m dating myself, but do you remember Paul Simon’s 1975 classic song, “50 Ways to Leave Your Lover?” While there are lots of methods to sever a relationship, and many underlying reasons why bonds can be so easily broken, it seems much more challenging to win others’ hearts.
Yes, as a former school guidance counselor, I’m aware that it’s best not to be so outer-directed and even fret over what people think of us. It’s a sign of emotional health and stability to just be ourselves and relate to people in a natural and authentic way.
But reality check, most of us care, on some level, the perceptions other folks have of us. We’re almost programmed and conditioned to have some degree of concern as we’re taught in our formative years and beyond to please our parents, win the respect of our teachers, and live amicably with our neighbors.
Sure, some of us revel in our roles of black sheep of the family or social contrarian loner. But popularity can be ego-boosting and jettison us up the corporate ladder, or give us the inside track in becoming the ‘it girl’ or guy.
And it just feels so gratifying and pleasant to be surrounded by those who admire, respect, and like us. Friendships readily form, and others can enrich our lives, become our confidantes, and serve as our emotional oasis.
Conversely, when we feel isolated and disconnected from others, we may embrace a rather negative world view. People may be seen as threatening and unpredictable … to be avoided at all costs. Those who feel completely detached from their fellow man and woman may also blame themselves, believing there is something intrinsically wrong with them.
Operative questions may arise: Why aren’t people responding favorably to me? Is the wall that separates people from me set in stone, or can it ever come down?
The purpose of this article is to shake the pillars of that wall so it can be dismantled. It’s time to construct a bridge so that you can finally connect with others and increase your number on the likability scale.
The following are ways to enhance your ranking in those seemingly invisible social polls:
1) Like yourself first – An African proverb declares, “Nobody will think you’re somebody if you don’t think so yourself.” By becoming your own best friend, you can’t help but radiate confidence, self-assuredness, poise, inner strength, and a sense of unbridled joy and happiness – all attractive qualities to potential employers, possible significant others, and friends.
You’re sending verbal and non-verbal signals that you’re comfortable in your own skin. As you feel more relaxed and at ease, others will be more likely to perceive your welcoming mood and disposition, and drop their guard.
In addition, you begin to value yourself and enjoy your own company. You’re not desperate and needy where it is imperative to make attachments. When you’re really not so invested in acquiring alliances, it makes it easier to do so as you’re feeling less pressure.
As burgeoning self-confidence soars, you’re also much less likely to be ruled by negativity, self-doubt, depression and anxiety – qualities that may keep others at arm’s length.
2) Realize it’s not all about you – Like yourself, better yet … love yourself, but try to leave your ego at the door when you enter a room full of people. Self-aggrandizement and popularity are often mutually exclusive.
It’s easier to see a runaway, inflated ego when others manifest pompousness but much harder to recognize our own out-of-control ego when it surfaces, especially in the absence of introspection.
Have you ever put into play the practice of one-upmanship, even if it was done rather unintentionally? Have you mentioned one of your accomplishments after someone else has told you about one of their successes? Do you boast about how well your loved ones are doing when others’ may not have even asked you, or may be experiencing family issues.
It’s perfectly natural and acceptable to speak about your life, and share the ups and downs to acquaintances and friends, and to a lesser extent, strangers. But some go on an uninterrupted monologue about themselves, leaving others to gravitate away from the center of your universe (i.e., you).
An unrestrained, “It’s all about me” approach is a turn-off. This is particularly evident when someone shares a problem in their lives. If you don’t focus on that person and the issue at hand, you’re engendering their disillusionment , disappointment, and frustration, especially if you immediately switch gears and talk about your difficulties.
3) Take an interest in others’ lives – I once secured a client, 20 years my junior. We did not have much, if anything, in common save for the fact that he lived in close proximity. Although we strictly had a business relationship, he called me at least twice a month just to see how my family and I were doing. (Of course, I should have been the one to initiate contact as he was my client.)
Nevertheless, by consistently reaching out to me, and always inquiring about the latest developments in my life, a friendship came to fruition. Our rapport was further solidified as I shifted conversation to what was happening in his life.
It’s almost impossible not to like those who take a sincere interest in us. We want to feel what we do matters to other folks.
I understand, “How are you,” is more of a greeting than a question. But when this type of salutation leads to meaningful dialogue where you’re investing time and energy discussing the other person, you’re definitely due some popularity points.
4) Perform random acts of kindness – Simply being gracious, considerate, and thoughtful should win you some brownie points. But you can greatly enhance your sphere of influence with others when you do random acts of kindness.
Bring in a delicious dessert to the office, send a care package to an acquaintance, or come to someone’s emotional or physical rescue. There are countless ways to help others and foster happiness for all concerned.
Kindness has innate rewards, but reciprocity may readily develop, too. Others may want to go out of their way for you as you have done for them. And even if they’re not inclined to do you any specific favors, they’ll appreciate your effort and like you as a result.
5) Become a non-judgmental listener – When I was studying to become a school guidance counselor, my professors would always underscore the importance of active listening. People want to feel heard, understood, and validated. By authentically listening to concerns and feeding back what you hear, other folks will know that you’re trying to see the world from their perspective. This alone will elevate your standing in their eyes.
Now if you can listen without judgment and without expressing destructive criticism, a bond is more apt to form. This is not to say you should be a “Yes (wo)man,” and you’re entitled to express your genuine thoughts. It’s just that you have to be careful on how you construct and deliver those thoughts.
Declarations like, “What’s the matter with you,” “How many times did I tell you,” or “You’re always [fill in the negative blank] can put you in the proverbial doghouse.
You can exercise tact and diplomacy, like my grandmother used to do. When she disagreed with me, she would say, “That’s interesting, tell me why you think this way.” She would usually end the discussion amicably by saying, “That’s one way to look at it.”
The converse, by judging, criticizing, and uttering demeaning remarks, you’re creating a vast void between you and others.
6) Be gratuitous with compliments – We spend so much time finding fault with others but often turn a blind eye to individuals’ positive traits or noble acts. We simply miss them as we too readily embrace a “Me against the world” philosophy. We hold on to self-righteous anger, maintain grudges, and wallow in a sense of victimization.
One New Year’s resolution is to give up the mentality that “People suck.” Find the good within others and show generosity of spirit pointing that good out. I’m not advocating giving false compliments. But why not be effusive with praise when it’s warranted?
Today, my wife and I bumped into a waitress we know in a setting outside of the restaurant. She immediately recognized us and engaged us in a very friendly conversation for about 20 minutes. While we think highly of her, I could tell she truly embraced us as friends.
How did this happen? She is an excellent server who always goes out of her way to ensure an exemplary dining experience. We’ve complimented her many times but also spoke to the manager about her outstanding service. We even wrote a letter to the owner of the restaurant.
Our compliments and show of appreciation has cemented a bond between us. Kudos, raves, and sincere flattery has fostered rapport between all parties.
When you do notice others’ postive attributes or actions, tell them. It will elevate everyone’s mood, and you’ll be seen as the charming and sweet-natured person you really are.
7) Become a masterful non-verbal communicator – Do you remember the song from Annie, “You’re never fully dressed without a smile”? The title and lyrics of the song are great reminders that “it’s what you wear from ear to ear that really matters.”
Smiling may not only influence our own thoughts, turning a sour disposition into a happy one, but can also easily influence others’ thoughts. A winsome smile (not a fake one!) will make people feel that they’re valued, appreciated, and liked … which will often be returned via the Law of Reciprocity.
Pay closer attention to your body language. Are you communicating a welcoming and receptive message, or one that screams you’re non-approachable? Are you looking at people in a friendly, thoughtful way, or are your eyes and facial expressions revealing distrust, annoyance, or impatience?
Even subtle ways that we use our body can have either a positive or negative effect on people. For example, having a soft facial expression, speaking with open palms, facing up, gently touching someone on the shoulder (depending if the situation is appropriate), and a relaxed posture can transmit the right vibes.
Manifesting an emotionally-present facial expression, filled with interest, and utilizing a host of open body language signals, can draw people closer to you.
Of course, watch your tone of voice, too, as it should project warmth and cordiality. The rate of speech should not be too fast or slow as well.
The list of these 7 popularity boosters is far from an exhaustive one. There are many other “Getting to know you, getting to like you” devices to use. For instance, it’s beneficial to learn to become a great conversationalist who has a multitude of stories to tell. (Of course, as mentioned earlier, it’s still best to focus your attention on others’ stories.)
In your pursuit to get others to like you or like you better, realize the outcome is not nearly as important as the process. As you employ these techniques, you’ll soon become your own best friend – the most important lifelong relationship that you’ll establish.
There is certainly no guarantee that these methods will work … at least on everyone. But it’s almost a definite that you will expand and enhance your social circle if that is what you truly wish.
Still, never go to all lengths imaginable to win friends and influence people. Consider what former Preseident George Bush once said, “ One of my proudest moments is that I didn’t sell my soul for the sake of populairty.”
While you can show your best self to others, always remain true to yourself and your values. Without compromising your values, there must be at least 50 ways to make a friend.
Author: Andy Lax
Andy Lax is a blogger and freelance writer, and one of the primary authors of http://prominentoffers.com. Please visit http://prominentoffers.com/life-experts/ to contact any of the life coaches.