Unless you’re a mountain hermit, your social presence is a key tool in forming relationships, be they romantic, platonic, or professional. And this concept doesn’t have to come from a manipulative or disingenuous mentality, but simply a practical mindset for making more meaningful social connections.
People talk about “finding yourself,” but what about creating yourself? With the American dream of “be anything you want to be” comes the necessity of self-growth. We can’t know more unless we learn more, and in the communication world, that means refining your speech and body language, even reshaping how your brain thinks, if necessary, in order to make actual steps toward social success.
Learn from the Experts
Celebrated authors like Dale Carnegie (How to Win Friends and Influence People) and Leil Lowndes (How to Talk to Anyone, 92 Little Tricks for Big Success in Relationships) and life coach Dani Johnson have devoted their professional lives to emphasizing the importance of leveling up your social skills.
Among his other works, Carnegie’s How to Win Friends and Influence People has remained a massive bestseller since it was first published in 1936 and is considered a self-improvement classic chockful of timeless principles. There is even a Dale Carnegie course available online for professional development training. Johnson is a well-known speaker, author, and life coach on business success and communication skills, and Lowndes is a published author of many works on communication tips and advice for social success. Let’s unpack what these experts have to say.
10 Tips To Make People Like You
Remember, these tips are not meant to suggest being manipulative or fake. Just as perfume makes you smell more attractive, polishing your social presence will make your demeanor shine and your energy more vibrant and appealing to others! Mastering your social presence will enable you to be more in control of yourself and the present situation, and your body language will communicate how you would like to be treated and how you will treat others.
You, my dear, are a social butterfly, a beautiful flower, a firefly who is ready to shine and attract! Why not try to give the best impression possible?
1. Hold a Self-Assured Posture
To quote Leil Lowndes in How to Talk to Anyone: “great posture, a heads-up look, a confident smile, and a direct gaze … the ideal image for somebody who’s a Somebody.”
Hold yourself like you mean it. Your attitude and posture dictate someone’s first impression of you and your character. Lowndes says, “Whenever people meet you, they take an instant mental snapshot. That image of you becomes the data they deal with for a very long time.”
What kind of picture are you giving people when they first set eyes on you? Is it flashy and tacky (we’re talking about attitude as well as attire), or is it classy and womanly? Think of the Thomas Rhett song “Look What God Gave Her,” when he says, “she walks in the room / the way that she moves.” Your body language is 55% of your communication – use it well.
We’re not talking about a Gaston swagger or an annoying “everybody, look at me!” strut that seeks all the attention but reeks of insecurity and desperation. A self-assured posture is one that is confident, quiet-toned, and strong, yet not loud or attention-seeking. Your attitude is not craving affirmation, but rather your personality holds something precious in mystery and you don’t need to show it right away to the first person you meet. This confidence should also show in your speech. Speak clearly and calmly without a million filler words or profanities.
Part of your posture is making good eye contact. Lowndes says, “Your eyes are personal grenades that have the power to detonate people’s emotions.” Don’t be shifty with your eyes, and no need for a staring contest, but keeping a steady and unhurried gaze tremendously boosts your physical outlook. And they do say that eyes are windows into the soul!
2. Show Genuine Interest in Others
“Become genuinely interested in other people,” recommends Dale Carnegie. Make the other person feel important – and do it sincerely. The next four points will help you to accomplish this.
3. Encourage Others To Talk About Themselves
“I always try to turn the spotlight on the other person. … The longer you keep it shining away from you, the more interesting he or she finds you.” Thank you, Leil Lowndes. There’s an art to making others feel valued by encouraging them to talk about themselves, to let them feel like they’re in a space where their thoughts and experiences are appreciated.
Ask open-ended questions that require more of a response than “yes,” “no,” “sometimes,” or “not really.” And give your full attention when the other person does actually start talking or takes time to answer a question. Remembering to attend to this detail of communication can help you to also genuinely care about the other person and empathize with them. With friends, especially female friendships, this element of “safe space” is crucial to building trust, and in romantic relationships, it is key for slowly opening your heart to the other person.
4. Connect on Shared Interests
Once you get the other person talking about themselves, you will learn about their interests and what you have in common. If you want to communicate with someone, then you have to speak in their language; give honest and sincere appreciation about what they have to say.
“Take consolation that the brighter the individual, the more he or she detests small talk,” says Lowndes. Meeting someone new can be tricky because not everyone is an open book and sometimes it takes a while to click. When you have to make small talk, try to keep it interesting about topics most people enjoy (travel, favorite dog breed/music/hobby, bucket list items, etc.). An easy small talk question to open with is “What keeps you busy?” You’ll learn a lot from their response, and you’ll have direction about what questions to ask next.
5. Be a Good Listener
When others are talking, don’t interrupt or interject your opinion, even if you think you'll forget your response. Wait to speak until the other person has finished speaking (kinda basic, right?). Show empathy and understanding when you listen. It could feel fake and even belittling when you ask about something but make it seem only out of forced politeness, whereas if you show invested interest and let the other speak, then follow with an intentional response, the other person understands you’re being genuine.
“Grow more by listening than talking,” says Lowndes. Ever heard someone drone on and on as if they love the sound of their own voice? It probably left you feeling like they didn't care what you had to say at all. Assume you can learn something from every person you come in contact with. Be disciplined and genuinely listen rather than monopolizing the conversation or thinking up your response in your head while they talk.
How can we expect others to show interest in what we have to say if we don’t give our interest to them? Johnson also emphasizes the importance of active listening and says active listening is a way of honoring the other person. Listening is not giving advice or interrupting, but truly stopping to hear what they have to share.
6. Use Names Effectively
Using the other person’s name in conversation helps you remember it and makes them feel special. Carnegie says, “Remember that a person’s name is to that person the sweetest and most important sound in any language.” Just don’t use it excessively where it’s in every other sentence. Think of the other person’s name as a spice – use it well but wisely to hold a flavor.
Here’s Lowndes’s tip on the smile deal: “Don’t flash an immediate smile when you greet someone, as though anyone who walked into your line of sight would be the beneficiary. Instead, look at the other person’s face for a second. Pause. Soak in their persona. Then let a big, warm, responsive smile flood over your face and overflow into your eyes. It will engulf the recipient like a warm wave. The split-second delay convinces people your flooding smile is genuine and only for them.”
Smile with your eyes, and let it be warm and genuine, so it doesn’t look fake like you pasted on the expression just for show.
Ever seen someone who just instantly smiles big and gives off a pushy and phoney energy? There’s such a thing as being too nice. You don’t want to come across as either extreme – fake nice or not nice at all. So, let the other person meet you halfway before you smile – it helps draw in their attention, like they’ve earned that smile.
8. Keep a Healthy Reserve
Arouse in the other person an eager want. Think breadcrumbs. Don’t share everything about yourself immediately, otherwise there won’t be anything left to be interested in! Keeping a certain aura of mystery about yourself will remind the other person that they actually don’t know everything about you and that there’s more to uncover, piquing their interest.
9. Avoid Criticizing and Complaining
“Don’t criticize, condemn or complain,” says Carnegie. Stay positive; don’t be a Negative Nancy. Don’t tell someone, “You’re wrong.” Meeting someone new isn’t a presidential debate. Sure, you can stand your ground and stick to your beliefs on topics, but be tactful and let your words speak for themselves, instead of bluntly shoving them in someone’s face.
Everyone knows it’s annoying when that acquaintance or coworker only comes up to you in order to complain about something negative in the current setting or in their personal life. Or when they only try to engage in conversation in order to critique you. Once you build a friendship with a person, then there’s a time and place to voice concerns if necessary, but in social settings, your energy gives off either positive, stagnant, or negative vibes – which one do you want to give?
Admit mistakes and avoid arguments. No one likes a know-it-all. If you realize you misspoke, acknowledge it and move on! Johnson talks about the importance of realizing where we need growth in order to be successful and be the better version of ourselves.
10. Be a Cheerful Giver
“Be a good loser and a cheerful giver,” recommends Carnegie. Put effort into the interaction and show you’re not just a taker but willing to make the relationship a two-way street. No one likes someone who drains energy – be that person who fills the other up!
Why not learn some tips for handling people and making them like you? Odds are you’ll make the other people involved feel good about themselves in the process – it’s a win-win situation!
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