I used to try so hard. I would analyze everything I said. If only I said the right thing, THEN they would be interested in me. I could work myself up so much and get so nervous, I would often forget everything the other person said.
After the conversation, I would complicate things further by blaming myself for a botched pick up line or a job interview that didn’t go so well. Thus, the vicious cycle would continue. I would always blame myself for something I wasn’t doing.
The truth is, people are just people, just like you and I. However, people believe that they are so unique that if only they said the right thing, people would be interested in them. I certainly believed this to be true.
I used to compare myself to smooth talkers, cocky guys, and loud people. I thought to myself, “If only I could be like them, THEN people would be interested in me.”
The types of people I’m referring to actually do attract other people. We’ve all witnessed the cocky frat guy who has all kinds of women surrounding him. Or, the obnoxious woman who gets everyone’s attention. People are attracted to the alpha or the queen bee. But, are they always compelling, memorable, and does this attraction last?
Years ago, I started to really examine this in my own life. I started to realize that these types of people only temporarily got my attention. Even if I interacted with them, they rarely ever interested me after that moment. I typically did not think of them the next day. In fact, they were quite unremarkable because they only typically cared about themselves.
Then, I started thinking about people who I truly felt connected to and remembered – those who actually cared about other people. People who took the time to get to know other people in a genuine, authentic way. As an introvert, those are the people who I wanted to be like. The interesting thing is that I realized that I was already like that, but I was trying to be someone I wasn’t.
I simply started doing more of what I already had the ability to do – build honest, authentic connections with people I wanted to associate with.
The best way to instantly do this is to let someone know that you notice them. Before making any conversation, you can do one powerful thing to open up communication with someone and that is, to smile. If it sounds too simple or basic to you, consider the science and research to support it.
A recent study at Penn State University [http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0749597804000743] found that when we smile, not only do we appear to be more likeable to others, but also appear to be more competent. Yes, by smiling alone!
The best part about smiling is that anyone can do it and it just makes you feel better about yourself. There is even evidence [http://science.howstuffworks.com/life/smiling-happy1.htm] that smiling alone can actually make you happier.
I’ve read about and seen countless moments where someone has completely changed the mood of a situation just by smiling. There is a great story of a baby in a waiting room at a veterinary clinic. This particular waiting room was known to be depressing because many people in this waiting room came here to euthanize than animals. Nobody wanted to be there. One day a baby came in starting smiling at a man who was particularly sad. Despite this, the man still smiled at the baby and began talking with the baby. The man then began smiling and other people came over to see the cute baby. Other people got to smiling and before you know it, people were all talking and smiling with one another. One smile can completely change the mood of an otherwise depressing environment.
I have seen this in my own life. I’ve been in line at Starbucks and the cashier just looked exhausted and overwhelmed. As I approached the counter, I took a deep breath, smiled, and asked the cashier how her day was. Her body language changed completely. She smiled back and for that moment, no longer looked overwhelmed and stressed. That’s all it took.
I also walk a lot. Every day I pass other people walking along the bike path near where I live. I try and smile by every person I walk by. Sometimes I don’t or forget because I’m really into a Podcast I’m listening to. It’s amazing what you’ll discover when you smile more often. It’s as if you carry that energy on to the next person. The more I smile, the more people smile at me first or will smile back. Some of those same people may not have smiled if I hadn’t already been smiling. It really is contagious! Think of all the people you can instantly impact just by showing them a warm smile.
I’m sure you’ve seen this in your own life. So, why is this basic human emotion any different when you are seeking to get someone interested in you or pay attention to you? Of course, there are specific ways to make good conversation and build better relationships. However, when we neglect basic human connectors that all people can relate to, we do ourselves and others a disservice.
It’s a lot easier to use the tools we already have to get more of what we want. We can break down conversation and human connection at a basic level to remember what is really important in building better relationships. We don’t have to be someone we’re not to get the attention of other people. We simply just have to open up the door. Anyone can start to do this just by smiling.
Before you start analyzing what you should say or how you should say it, remember to start off with a smile. It will instantly connect you to another person.