“Man is a social animal” – you recall your teacher telling you years ago. You may wish in your mind it was not so… the most dreaded situation of your life is to be comfortable with and around people. You feel trapped being a part of this society as you can’t understand how to tackle people. If you find work, social functions and even family and children difficult to handle you probably lack the few people skills required to solve this problem. The good news… you can learn to love the fact that ‘man is a social animal’.
So how do you begin to be a great friend?
The more anxious you become about the interaction the more likely you are to make it an unpleasant one. This is because your anxiety can be perceived by the person you are interacting with and that makes them feel uncomfortable too. When your mind and body are relaxed you can feel more self assured and have a better conversation with people and they would tend to reciprocate to you better.
‘Maintain good eye contact’
People like to be looked at when being spoken to. If you look here and there while conversing with them they would either feel insulted or tune off from the conversation. When you do look at them they feel you are attending to them and their needs and are more likely to feel comfortable with you.
‘Talk less, listen more’
The myth most of us believe is that one needs to talk well to be able to socialize well. But then, if everyone talks, who listens? The art of making good conversation involves attentive and active listening. This can be shown by verbal and non-verbal cues like nodding, positive eye contact or rephrasing in your words the other person’s concerns or comments and so on and so forth. By doing so, the other person gets a feeling that you are genuinely concerned about them and therefore develops greater trust in you.
It is important that you are confident and straight in your conversation. People like others when they are frank and open about their thoughts and feelings. Avoid beating around the bush in conversations.
All of us love receiving compliments. Be generous in giving them! Also learn to accept them gracefully. The more you learn to use phrases like ‘thank-you’, ‘it was a pleasure’, ‘that was wonderful’ and so on and so forth the more you increase your chances of being liked and receive the same.
Open ended questions like ‘what do you think about…’ or ‘how do you manage…’ are good ways to encourage people to talk. The more you encourage opinions and self disclosure the more likely are the chances of winning over confidence of the other person.
Empathy means the ability to understand someone else’s feelings as if they were one’s own. It goes a long way in establishing a relationship of comfort with other people because they feel that you know them and can therefore relate to you easily.
Every building needs a strong foundation to take whatever is built on it. Similarly, practicing the above would give you a strong foundation to start with. However, just like every building has its own architecture, people have different personalities and dealing with them is an individualistic art. You would need to learn more principles about handling people in different spheres of your life to help you design your building the way you love it.