I myself do not have the gift of gab, but I like practising making others feel welcome and comfortable around me. Life is too short to not get to know people. As everything else, being social is practice. This is my trick. You do not have to change personality, you just be yourself and learn to express it in the right way. Stay until the end or this will not make sense.
Remember you do not always have to make the closest of friends with absolutely everyone you meet, but you want to at least open the door for acquaintances. For the possibility.
If you are talking about something someone has not heard of before, kindly explain it to them by comparing it to something they might be familiar with without being condescending. Make them feel included.
I have had acquaintances who have stuck around for eleven years, and realised they must be decent people. I genuinely get along with them. Then, open up a relationship deeper as friends. Not everything will be right away, and that is perfectly fine.
You also never know whom you might meet, so it is better to start off the relationship with something positive. For instance, if you accidentally introduce your best friend to their new favourite hair stylist, lifetime dentist, or husband – that is all because of you. You never know whose life you are going to change.
Something to remember is to never alienate people. If you make individuals feel like an outsider, they will feel distance and not want to talk with you. This is why people avoid mentioning politics, religion, money, divorce, and children.
Sometimes people do adumbrate on these topics, because they are a part of life. Not necessarily everyone’s life. It can easily go awry, and chances are you can have the exact same life experiences as someone else, but they still have an entirely different view.
Instead, find things to relate to others with. Even if you are talking to someone who is from the other side of the world, there is always something to laugh about together. Put yourself in their shoes. Think like them when they make a remark, and also think like them hearing you when you make yours.
Say, your interlocutor, or person you are having dialogue with, hears you mention Facebook. They ask, ‘What’s facebook?’
Don’t say: ‘Have you been living under a rock?’ That is alienating people. And being very condescending. Avoid being that, because nobody likes that person. That person is a bully. People will definitely talk about that person behind their back and not invite them anywhere. Even if you are immune to gossip, it usually happens even in the lightest of approaches.
Instead say: ‘I remember seeing you on Instagram. It’s this app just like Instagram, but you can also type status out in written format as opposed to only posting photos and videos.’
Do it kindly, gently, and communicate how you would want someone to explain it to you if you are hearing it for the first time.
Another scenario I bump into a lot is a different variety of superciliousness or condescension.
Theoretically, someone is going on about parking being unfavourable in the city.
Don’t say: ‘In my nicer, more expensive part of the city, we have wide driveways and curbs with tons of space to park and no cops giving tickets.’
No one talks like this, but I genuinely cannot think of something to say that is annoying with derision.
Someone would really say something along the lines of: ‘I don’t have that problem. In our city, there’s tons of space and free parking.’
You are implying the first thing I said. This is how people would hear you. You are also brushing off people’s ideas. If you want an easier, smoother life where people treat you well, be truly kind to people.
When you indirectly challenge what someone else says, it makes them feel small for no reason. Aside from booting your own ego even if you do not mean to, and then nobody likes you or invites you anywhere.
The way to mention parking in your city being free is by inviting this person to see you so they have an easier time finding space without worrying about a citation.
You can say: ‘I’m having a small get together with a couple friends on Saturday. We are having a movie night. You have to come. You can park in my driveway, and you do not have to worry about parking metres.’
That sometimes stops people from going out in big cities. If you make things easier and friendlier to their situation, you will be a beacon of light in the darkness of the ocean.
What I like to do is agree with them and add to their point: ‘I know! Parking is a pain in the neck on Santa Monica Boulevard. I saw three people getting pulled over on my way here. Did you see them too?’
They might say: ‘I didn’t see them. I came from this street, but saw someone else getting pulled over.’ It gets the conversation going, and they see you are listening.
When someone says something they might be having trouble with, always give feedback being on a similar level. It could be one sentence of commenting showing that they are being heard. This makes others feel understood and like they can easily connect with you.
Then, ask them a new question. It is actually really rude to pile on question after question. This is not an interrogation.
I see a lot of journalists doing this without commenting, and it shows their lack of social skills and ability to make an interview feel like a flowing conversation. The best interviews are the ones where you do not feel like it is one. You do not want to make people feel like you’re plying them for information.
Do not dumb yourself down or be too self deprecating. Just be authentic on the things you find relatable. If you cannot relate to someone at all, find things you veritably like about them and compliment them. It shows your appreciation.
I have a dear friend I grew up with who always makes everyone smile, because he always says what everyone is thinking, but in the most positive fashion. Sometimes, you do not have to make a comment. You can simply laugh and lighten the mood, because people take themselves too seriously. This always changes the mood in the room. It is good to smile and laugh at simple things, because life can be hard, so do not add to it.
- Do not alienate people.
- Be kind.
- Avoid being condescending.
- Do not challenge people – even if it is indirect.
- Do not interrogate people.
- Be authentically relatable.
- Lighten the mood by laughing.
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