We interact with many people in a day.
For many of us, how meaningful or enjoyable we find these interactions is largely left to chance.
Sometimes we share deeply personal matters with those who are closest to us, sometimes we make small-talk with acquaintances and co-workers, and often we engage in simple transactions.
Some people are fueled by these daily interactions, while others dread them. But what reason is there to dread? Humans are social creatures—it is our innate nature to interact successfully.
The cumulative impression of our day’s interactions might be the difference between a good and a bad day. The cumulative tally of our good and bad days might be the difference between a happy and unhappy life.
Interacting successfully is therefore something that we should give priority to. Think of the classic saying: “Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle.”
We each hold a lot of power in our gestures. It’s noble and wise to develop social habits that spread positive feelings.
With conscious effort, these habits may quickly become unconscious ways for us to live more enjoyable lives and to share this enjoyment with everybody we come in contact with.
Here are five simple habits we can implement, to help make those around us happy:
1. Smile and use positive body language.
We are so dominated by body language. It is our first and most essential way of communicating with everybody we come in contact with. Open your body up to your interactions, and show signs of approval and enjoyment. If you make eye contact with somebody and smile, they will be more likely to trust you and feel comfortable. If they don’t immediately reciprocate, they are most likely socially uncomfortable—retracting your friendly body language will not help the situation. Be persistent in your self-comfort and others will come around.
2. Use good manners.
Sometimes good manners feel reduced to cliche—like they are so assumed, we need not actually use them. But don’t be lazy! Say “please” and “thank you” often—hold doors and say “thank you” to those who hold doors for you. Pick things up when people drop them. Tip well when rendered good service. Don’t use foul language around children. And if you aren’t in Western society where these particular customs apply, learn the customs of wherever you happen to be.
3. Don’t take awkwardness personally.
Some people aren’t good at small talk. Some people are simply uncomfortable in their own skin. If you sense awkwardness and react by being cold or awkward in return, it will only exacerbate the issue and force the other person to exit the interaction feeling dejected. Many people’s true personalities exist behind a very small but steady barrier at all times. While it is very unlikely for them to initiate interactions or warm up to strangers, they are pleasant and approachable if you take the initiative to approach them. Learning to be the one who quickly overcomes people’s barriers will add a magnetizing quality to your personality, making you an ambassador of self comfort who is capable of spreading limitless joy.
4. Ask questions and remember the answers.
A simple but difficult habit to form. Humans tend to enjoy talking about themselves, but we don’t expect people we’ve just met to care about our intimate life details. Asking everybody you meet a few questions, and following up appropriately, will show them that you acknowledge their existence and value your newly forming relationship. The real key to relationship building, and making people feel valued, is remembering their answers to your questions and using them to spark future conversations. Find out what somebody’s hobbies and interests are, if they have a boyfriend or girlfriend, and if they are working towards a certain life aspiration. Touch on emotional subjects that evoke a person’s passion, and you will allow them to open up to you with their true self—making them feel comfortable and appreciated.
5. Get in the habit of “boosting.”
Like a drained car battery, everybody needs a good boost. Boosting is positive reinforcement, and it’s the kind of feedback we should be giving 90 percent of the time. The reality is that both you and the recipient have more to gain if your feedback is supportive, instead of critical. People who succeed will remember and resent those who told them they would fail, whereas people who fail will never resent those who told them they could succeed.
Of course, I say 90 percent of the time, because there is a limit—if your friend says, “I want to jump off a building to see if I can fly,” please don’t respond with, “Yeah you should totally try that!”
However, if your friend says “I want to try to make it as a musician,” don’t be the one who confronts them with, “Do you know how hard it is to make it in the music industry?”
Unless you are saving somebody from causing imminent harm to themselves or others—turn off your inner-skeptic, and give them the friendly go-ahead to attempt whatever their heart’s desires. After all, confidence breeds capability, and you’re outward belief in somebody might just become a self fulfilling prophecy.
How do you make people happy? Leave a comment below.
Author: Patrick Wiltse
Editor: Yoli Ramazzina
Photo: Flickr/Satish Krishnamurthy