Welcome to the second episode of our series “A Better New Years Resolution!” Last week’s episode encouraged becoming gentler people. As you may have guessed, we’re not focusing on the typical weight loss resolutions that we find at the turn of the year.
Instead, we are more interested in internal changes that last. These changes can change us from the inside out AND can impact our health!
Friendliness: Your Smile May Be The Only Smile Someone Sees Today
Today’s topic is about being friendly and how that can impact your life and make a better you and better relationships, too. Audrey Hepburn said, “Happy girls are the prettiest.” We put a kind of energy out there. People are attracted to that energy, that happiness. People want a part of that. Audrey Hepburn was an introvert, but also a humanitarian with a great big heart. Marilyn Monroe said, “The best makeup a woman can wear is a smile.” This just reiterates that we can be at our best when we smile.
If you want to be friendly, you need to smile. Make a habit of it. Smile at yourself in the morning. Smile to your spouse, dog, your kids, your co-workers, to others you pass on the street.
How Do I Become More Friendly?
1. Acknowledge Others’ Presence
This could be as small as giving someone a smile when you walk past them. Looking down, averting your eyes, is alienating to others and can be a subtle way of putting them down.
Of course, we only suggest this at your discretion in safe situations.
2. Ask Questions
If you are seated in a safe place, such as a waiting room or church, and you are waiting, ask them questions about themselves. In “How To Win Friends and Influence People,” Dale Carnegie points out that people love to talk about themselves.
You are engaging someone when you ask them questions. Don’t discount the importance of small talk. Often people who are good at making small talk are also good at making friends. If you’re not available to develop the skills of making small talk and greeting and speaking to others, you will probably struggle with the deeper talk.
An even greater skill is empathy. Showing someone that you understand them goes far in developing relationships. Be sure to check out last week’s episode on gentleness to get some pointers on becoming more empathic.
An example of using empathy would be this: You’ve run into a friend while you’re out shopping and you ask them how they have been. They say they had the flu last week. You respond with, “That’s rough. I know that would be difficult with having three kids at home and a job.”
This empathic because you have connected what they have said with their life. They feel heard and understood.
3. Initiate Conversations
Being able to initiate conversations is a valuable tool. Social anxiety sufferers struggle with making this step in conversation, but it is a very good exercise to practice.
Laura calls anxiety “the monster in your head.” You can feed the monster by not doing what you need to do—in this instance avoiding conversations or initiating conversations continues to feed the monster.
Unfortunately, technology has encouraged social anxiety as we have an easy out by staring at our phone instead of engaging people in face-to-face conversations. Don’t be mislead into thinking you have a lot of friends because you have a lot of followers on social media. These, for the most part, aren’t true relationships.
4. Give Compliments
We are not suggesting being a flatterer or disingenuous, but if you honestly like someone’s jacket, TELL THEM!
Compliments don’t have to be about someone’s appearance, they can also be comments such as “I really like how you helped Sally, that was so helpful, so thoughtful.” Compliments can be about a person’s character.
5. Include Others
Invite others into conversation or to sit with you. It is not unusual to show up early to church or a meeting at work our school and find people scattered about—as if they are intentionally sitting to themselves. They are not mingling.
Rather than waiting for someone else to be the initiator, do it yourself. Try to get people together—especially if you see someone new.
Some schools have implemented “the buddy bench” as a way for kids to be inclusive. There are designated benches that if someone is sitting on them, it means that they would like someone to sit with them.
There is also an app that will pair people together in the lunch room at school if you’re feeling lonely and want to sit with someone.
6. Sit Next to Someone
To reiterate today’s message, if you see someone who is alone, and you’re in a safe place, such as at the church covered dish, sit with them. This is a great way to help new people feel included.
William Shakespeare: “I’m wealthy in my friends.”
Yiddish Proverb: “Make new friends, but don’t forget the old ones.”
Robert Louis Stevenson: “A friend is a gift you give yourself.”
We hope today’s episode encourages you to seek out people and to start new conversations. If you feel unsure of implementing some of these, just pick one and start out small.
This may mean smiling at a passer-by in the grocery store. If you’ve never done that before, it’s a great start! Join us next week as we talk about how to be more cheerful.