We all know people who are beloved by everyone and seem able to make friends wherever they go.
Some regard them with admiration tinged with a bit of envy, then shrug their shoulders and figure those people are just born with that special “something”.
It might be surprising to learn that being popular is a skill that can be learned like any other.
Just as you wouldn’t expect to wake up one morning knowing how to play the piano, the key to success in making friends is setting goals and developing a game plan. Use these seven tips as the framework on which you build your skill set.
- Be interested, not interesting. A widespread misconception is that popular people are the ones talking about their latest promotion or exciting vacation they took or wild party they attended. Hearing the occasional interesting story is fine, but most people become bored or resentful listening to these blow-by-blow accounts. It’s far more effective to take a genuine interest in the lives of others and get them talking about themselves. And remember that no word sounds as magical as one’s own name. Addressing people by name makes them feel special.
- Be positive – but not too positive. Think about people you’ve known who expect the worst from everyone and everything and aren’t shy about speaking up. Not much fun to be around, are they? This doesn’t mean you have to be constantly spreading false rays of sunshine. That’s nearly as annoying as eternal pessimism. Have a clear-eyed and honest attitude and people will come to value your opinions as trustworthy.
- Be charitable to others. Gossiping about friends and co-workers may gain you an audience, but it’s superficial and temporary. Those who indulge their pettier instincts trashing others aren’t the ones you want in your circle. Eventually even those people will realize that you’re just as likely to be talking about them in the same way and they’ll steer clear. It also translates as weakness and insecurity, trying to build yourself up by tearing others down. Take the high road and you’ll be seen as fair-minded.
- Be helpful and dependable. If someone you know needs assistance that you’re able to provide with a minimum of inconvenience, offer it. The key term here is “minimum of inconvenience”. Doing favors for others that involve more time and trouble than they would for the person themselves comes across as desperation. Giving aid when you’re truly in a position to do so communicates a sincere interest in the welfare of others. As a side note, be sure to follow up on any commitments you make. The damage to your reputation is doubly harsh if people can’t count on your word.
- Be a “matchmaker”. If you’re heading to the movies with a friend, invite another film-loving pal to come along. Love sports? Assemble a group to attend the big game. Spearhead gatherings at your home or a fun venue such as a wine bar, inviting at least a few people who are new to the group. Keeping your social network interconnected has a circular effect where you’re perceived as having many friends, thereby gaining you even more. Don’t forget your manners during impromptu meetings, either. When out with a friend, many people make the mistake of failing to introduce them to others they may encounter. By doing so you run the risk of coming off as socially inept at best and rude or uncaring at worst.
- Be your (best) self. Yes, it’s a cliche you’ve heard a million and one times, but ideas become cliches by standing the test of time. Insincerity is a huge turn-off and no matter how great of an actor you are, the pretense will catch up with you. The most attractive people, both physically and mentally, are the ones who are clearly comfortable in their own skin. Accepting and embracing your own unique qualities radiates a healthy confidence that’s magnetic to others.
- Be self-aware. Periodically step outside yourself to evaluate how you come across to others. Don’t mistake this for being overly concerned with their opinions of you. Taking stock of the image you project shows a healthy respect for yourself as well as for them. Another factor to consider is your body language. You may not even realize that you’re wearing a perpetual frown or creating a stand-offish posture with crossed arms and lack of eye contact. It’s a simple concept, but it can make a big difference with how comfortable people feel around you.
As you work on developing your social skills, keep in mind that these tips center around the saying, “To have a friend, be a friend.” If you let that advice guide your actions, you’ll develop that charisma that makes people want to be around you while also staying true to your own values and principles.
Networking and meeting new people isn’t always easy. For more tips be sure to read these 5 Killer “Hacks” For Networking At Events.
|Written on 9/24/2013 by David Morin. David Morin runs SocialPro, an online resource for having more success in life trough mastering social principles most people don’t know about. Watch his free video course where he teaches social hacks.|
Photo Credit: Frederic Poirot