Category Archives: Making Friends Skills

The Love and Connection Daily Practice

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For a long time I’ve been fascinated by people who effortlessly mix with new people, make great conversation and still manage to relax and enjoy the moment. If only we could all do this! Well, the good news is that we can be better, much better at connecting with people, we can be more comfortable expressing ourselves and we can make a great impression on other people once we become more accepting of ourselves and others.

It all comes down to taking charge of how you feel and think when you are socializing. If you feel happy, relaxed and positive then it’s much easier to talk freely and confidently without self doubt tripping you up. And that’s why I designed the Love and Connection Daily Practice, to give you a simple way to make steady progress in how you manage your emotional state while also allowing you to become more comfortable being yourself when you connect with other people. And yes, if you take a few minutes daily to follow this simple daily practice you’ll get better and better at connecting with people.

One word of warning. This daily practice goes deeper than a set of tried and tested conversation starters, it goes to the heart of what makes for great conversation skills, it’s the source that ignite friendships and relationships with the authentic energy that gets people talking and enjoying time together. Still, these fundamentals are not exotic, they’re not mysterious and they’re not complicated. For these reasons many people will miss the value of the daily practice. The magic is in practicing for a few minutes a day and enjoying the sure but steady progress that results in how you feel about yourself and others. It’s similar to how people might react when they see a movie star with the perfect body, they admire the end result but they don’t really want to see the simple fundamentals of daily exercise and diet that produced the magical results.

Be brave, take a few minutes a day for the next seven days to test this for yourself and you’ll notice you start to feel happier, more socially confident and more connected to the people in your life. And you may even notice that you’re happy before you interact and that you’re interacting to share that joy with others – that’s when the magic happens. It means you’ve started to acquire the warm glow that popular people take for granted, that attractive quality that draws people to you.

Let’s get started and discover the four elements of the Love and Connection Daily Practice.

1. Kindness

The first element of the daily practice is to perform one act of kindness for a stranger. This can be as simple as helping someone by opening a door, letting a busy mom with kids go before you at the checkout or smiling at a stressed out waitress and asking her how she is. It doesn’t matter how small or seemingly insignificant the gesture is. That’s not the point of this exercise, the point is to be on the look out to help just one person each day. And do it to give not to get. It doesn’t matter if the person you help ignores you or fails to even thank you. The reward comes in feeling you are connected to everyone you meet in your day and the knowledge that you can reach out and interact with anyone you choose to connect with.

When this becomes a daily habit you’ll notice you are like a superhero always on the look out to make a difference and you’ll also be amazed to see how many little opportunities pop up each day where you can make a difference for someone, you’ll ultimately stop seeing strangers as distant and removed but as people you’ve just not connected with yet. You’ll also gradually shift from being passive to being more proactive when you meet people, the mall will be a place where you can meet and talk to anyone, the city streets can become meeting places and anywhere you are an opportunity could present itself to show kindness for a stranger.

I guarantee you one thing. If you’ll help just one stranger a day with an act of kindness you’ll be happier and feel more connected to everyone. You’ll also notice that many people are craving for a smile, the chance to talk to someone or just to know that someone cares enough to notice them. When that realization hits you it becomes obvious that almost everyone else is just like you, stuck in that passive attitude of waiting for someone else to make the first move.

(Obviously only approach strangers in safe environments)

2. Gratitude

The second trait to develop is an attitude of gratitude. And specifically, gratitude for the people in your life. You already have people who care about you, want the best for you and appreciate you just for being yourself. Unfortunately we all seem to get caught up in fixating on what’s not working, who’s let us down and what annoys us about the people closest to us. This then becomes a festering mess of negativity that pollutes our relationships and friendships while making us reluctant to get to know more people – why take on even more aggravation?

To counteract that negative outlook we will work the gratitude muscle, we’ll choose to be grateful for ten people in our life. This is very simple, ask yourself – who am I grateful for? Count out ten people. And it’s ok to have some or even all the same people on your list each day. And even better, you don’t need a good reason or a carefully thought out justification to include someone. Any reason is acceptable. Did someone at work help you to get your project completed on time? Are you grateful you have a brother? Did your neighbor give you a birthday card? You can see what I mean, any reason will do, and in some cases, you may even be grateful someone is in your life without even needing a reason.

This is so simple that many people will miss the whole point of this exercise. It’s only when you take a minute each day to consider ten people you are grateful for that you’ll see what this can do for you. You’ll feel closer to the people in your life and open to meeting more great people. In fact, anytime you want to put a little spring in your step, you can take a moment to ask yourself: who am I grateful for?

3. Love Yourself

This is a key element of the daily practice. The more you love and accept yourself the less you will need the approval and endorsement of those around you and when this happens you will be more relaxed, more present for others and less fearful about sharing your thoughts and feelings. The more you love yourself the more you will allow your true self to shine, you’ll be more expressive and your unique authentic personality will attract people to you.

For these reasons it’s very important to give ourselves love and approval and I recommend you take a moment each day to ask yourself: what do I love about myself? Keep going until you come up with ten responses and don’t worry about having ten profound reasons, any reason you love yourself is a good reason. You might find by doing this each day that many of the same reasons pop up and that’s fine too. What’s important is to train yourself to notice that you do care about yourself and to day by day love yourself a little more.

Here are some examples of what you can love about yourself:

- Hair

- Eyes

- Healthy body

- Enthusiasm for life

- Smile

- Positive outlook

- Willingness to support friends

- Commitment to ongoing self improvement

- Can do attitude

- Sense of justice

When you do love yourself more and more you’ll notice that people respond to you differently, it’s as if there is an energetic glow about you that makes people keen to get to know you better. Even if they can’t put a finger on it people will find you more attractive for some reason, they’ll take you more seriously and treat you better. You’ll also tend to associate more with other people who value themselves, when you love yourself more you won’t tolerate poor treatment from negative people, you’ll gravitate to happier people like yourself. Your happier self will now repel the difficult people who you endured in the past and draw happy, positive people to you.

Sounds too easy, doesn’t it? Yes, it is simple and it works so well because there is a multiplier effect when you practice each element of the daily practice. Test it yourself and you’ll see how powerful it can be maintaining a simple daily practice that causes you to feel great and connected to other people.

4. Forgiveness

Forgiveness is another essential quality to pay attention to because if we don’t old resentments and suppressed anger will over time create a wall between us and other people. Previous disappointments, failures and rejections can cause us to fear getting to know people and before we know it everyone is a potential source of pain, trouble and problems. Clearly, that’s a very poor formula for being at your best when you talk to people.

Like the other elements of the daily practice this only takes a minute or so each day. Simply ask yourself: who can I forgive today? Then, run through ten people you choose to forgive, for your benefit not theirs. There is no need to go into a lengthy analysis and a slow, difficult selection of who to forgive and why, simply pick ten, any ten, and run through them quickly. Your brain has all the memories stored away so, for example, if you decide to forgive Lisa, you know and your unconscious knows why, don’t bother diving into the repressed negative feelings from the past.

Do bear in mind that forgiveness is a selfish act, you forgive for your sake and being forgiving has nothing to do with helping or harming anyone else, it’s a gift you give yourself so you can be happier and more positive going forward and less cautious about meeting new people. The more you put the past behind you the less baggage and distortion you’ll bring to the present so you’ll be better able to see people as they are instead of cynically viewing people as potential problems if you don’t keep them at arms length.

After a few days of practicing forgiveness for a minute or so a day you’ll notice how much lighter and freer you feel as you forgive people who’ve wronged you in the past, this letting go is a great feeling. At this stage if you choose you can forgive people in the moment. Let’s say you get poor customer service instead of getting annoyed maybe you’ll choose to take a moment to silently forgive the person. Ironically, your resulting calmness makes you more effective at dealing with the situation since a calm mind produces better solutions than an angry one. When you live like this you’ll be a master of forgiveness and someone who quickly turns every annoying interaction into an opportunity to forgive and feel better in a matter of moments while still resolving issues that need to be dealt with.

And best of all, forgiveness allows the possibility of connecting with more agreeable people because you never shut down out of resentment and overwhelm after talking to difficult people. You are in charge of how you feel and how you interact so you can simply move on and meet friendlier people who appreciate and respect you.

Conclusion

In this post we’ve looked at four key elements which when developed together will make a dramatic difference to your ability to let your personality shine while also enabling you to connect much more easily with others. Kindness, gratitude, loving yourself and forgiveness provide the solid foundation you need to truly be at peace with yourself and others. A few minutes a day will make the world of difference if you follow this simple daily practice. Why? Because in time this practice cultivates new habits that form the basis of how you live and interact all day long.

I have an easy challenge for you. Practice the daily practice for the next 7 days. Take a few minutes a day and simply notice what happens. It might surprise you that something so simple once applied can make such a big difference in your acceptance of yourself and others and in your growing ability to enjoy talking and connecting with the people in your day to day life.

Then, if you continue with the daily practice, after a few weeks this new outlook will become habitual, it’ll becomes the new normal for you. If someone is rude, you silently forgive them in the moment and let it go while still asserting yourself when it’s necessary. If you notice that someone needs a helping hand you step up to commit an act of kindness, if you feel beaten up by the difficulties of the day you pause and notice who you are grateful for and immediately you start to feel lighter and more at peace. If you feel lonely or in need of a good chat you reflect on what you love about yourself, you start to feel happier and you feel that warmth that can fuel a good connection with whoever you choose to reach out to.

The momentum that builds from a few key daily actions is truly impressive. It’s the brick upon brick progress that creates magnificent skyscrapers, it’s the one word after another momentum that writes literary classics and it’s the note by note to record songs that are loved by millions. A simple daily practice can transform your ability to connect with people, all you need to do is perform the simple daily actions and let momentum take care of the rest.

For your convenience here is a summary of the daily practice.

Love and Connection Daily Practice:

1. Perform one act of kindness for a stranger.

2. Who am I grateful for? List 10 people.

3. What do I love about myself? List 10 traits.

4. Who can I forgive today? List 10 people.

What Else Can You Do to Connect with People?

You can get my popular free communication confidence report. It shows you…

- How to start a great conversation with anyone you meet

- The best way to deal with awkward people and take the sting out of rejection

- How to exude a confidence & inner strength that makes people eager to listen to you

- A sure-fire way top keep any conversation moving along without deadly silences

- How to win the approval, admiration and deep appreciation of anyone you talk to

You can get this $27 value text and mp3 audio report at no cost today at my site:

http://www.howtotalkwithconfidence.com/report.htm

 

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What Angelina Jolie Can Teach You About Vulnerability and Friendship

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When Angelina Jolie announced to the world that she’d had a double mastectomy there was almost universal praise for her bravery and honesty in sharing her feelings. She explained how she feared she would die of breast cancer as her mother had and she wanted to make sure that would never happen and deprive her children of their mom.

The honesty and vulnerability Angelina displayed are very attractive qualities because they show people we are like them, it shows everyone we have fears, worries and self doubt just like everyone else, only we are one of those with the courage to admit it. When it comes to getting to know people better and to really connect with those we love it’s necessary to let them know who we really are. The more we accept ourselves the more we can share our true thoughts and feelings. And when we do we become more interesting, our true nature shines forth and we express what makes us unique. These are also the qualities that make us who we are and being honest about who we are differentiates us from everyone else. Over time we grow into who we really are and drop the pretence of being bland, always on top of things and just like everyone else.

Shy people often err on the side of sharing too little about what they really think and they worry that people will judge them or criticise them for being different when in fact unless you have some qualities that make you different it becomes very difficult for people to want to get to know you better. While some overly talkative people can be guilty of sharing too much information (TMI) those who lack social confidence often go to the other extreme and share too little information (TLI).

When you share too little information the conversation can become very one sided with the other person sharing their stories, thoughts and opinions while you shake your head, agree and listen attentively but without recognising that at some point you need to contribute your own personal stories and perspective if you are to give the other person a chance to get to know you better.

I used to make this mistake and then wonder why as I got to know people better they really didn’t understand me, they didn’t know what I really thought and for some reason the friendships remained polite and cordial but rarely grew to be deep life long friendships. One day I was talking to my friend Nicole and she said to me, “It’s as if you just turned up here from another planet with no past and fully formed as you are now.”

She was right. I never talked about my failures and successes in the past, I didn’t share my fears or worries and I rarely asked anyone for help when I had a problem. Why? Because I was afraid of criticism, rejection and being ridiculed. My fears were stopping me from connecting with people and the barriers I put up made it almost impossible for new people to get to know me.

What I subsequently learned is that, like Angelina Jolie, when you share some of your vulnerability you become more likeable because people can now relate to you. Kind, decent people will listen to you, care for you and become friends you can count on. Will some people criticise you? Yes! Even Angelina in her hour of greatest honesty and humanity had people condemn her for her choice. You know what? Some people are negative, some people are critical and some people are just deeply unhappy. You can never please them so don’t even try. Instead identify who these people are in your life and just for them adopt a policy of not sharing much personal information.

How to Share More of Who You Are:

Here are some pointers you can use to be selective about who you share your true self with.

1. Work

At work it’s smart to be friendly with everyone but still realise that most work colleagues are not friends other than a few good friends you have in the workplace.

When it comes to colleagues err on the side of sharing too little of your true feelings. I remember one time years ago when I told a colleague I regarded as a friend that I really didn’t feel like flying to Amsterdam to represent the company at a trade fair. I went back to my office and within minutes she was talking to our boss about my lack of team spirit, five minutes later I was sitting across the desk from the boss explaining myself.

In any competitive work place it’s often hard to know who to trust, honesty and vulnerability can be used against you so it’s best to put on your work mask in those environments.

2. Gossip

Let’s face it some people like to gossip and they just can’t help themselves. A good friend of mine likes to gossip, he’ll always apologise later but that’s no consolation when he has already broadcasted your personal news to everyone that knows you.

When talking to a gossip filter what you share, only share personal stories that you would happily share with everyone in your social circle. Never expect a gossip to keep a secret because secrets make the best gossip!

3. Minor disclosure

When you want to get to know people better it’s time to share more of who you really are and it’s time to talk about what you really think. When you do this keep the conversation on a positive track and steer clear of dark fears and oppressive worries by sharing a minor disclosure. A minor disclosure could mean mentioning that you signed up for an art class because it’s something you always loved doing when you were younger, it could mean saying how proud you are of your brother who just got a promotion or it could mean saying that you are looking forward to a weekend away with your partner at the end of the month.

For me it could mean mentioning that I just released a new book on Amazon, I regard this as a minor disclosure because I have no fear of disapproval over it and the whole world can see the book listing anyway even if I don’t tell people.

It’s good to share a minor disclosure for two reasons. Firstly, because it’s low risk for us and we don’t have to worry so much about being criticised, and, secondly, we want to assess the response of our friend. Do we get a positive, supportive response or are we faced with a lack of interest?

If you get a positive response, you’ll often find the other person responds with a minor disclosure of their own and the conversation takes on a more intimate nature. On the other hand, if the person is disinterested or even aloof you can test a few more times with some more minor disclosure to see if he warms up. If he just isn’t interested it’s an indication to keep the conversation at a superficial level.

4. Major disclosure

A major disclosure is one I’d recommend you only make with someone you know likes and respects you. This is generally family and close friends. These important people in your life will get to know you better if you are more open, they’ll then start to like and appreciate you even more as they find more to relate to.

A major disclosure would be getting fired and phoning a close friend to announce the fact, it could be visiting a relative to let them know you are moving to a new area to build your first home or it could be announcing to a group of good friends that you just met the love of your life.

Reserved people can be slow and exclusive about who they share good and bad news with but remember those who care about you want to know how you are getting on, they want to share your success and they want to support you through the lean times. The more you keep them in the loop the warmer and better your relationships will be.

Little by little, starting with minor disclosure you’ll notice who your true friends are but from that point on it’s good to be selective and only share the major disclosures with your closest friends. Do this and you’ll build a close knit group of great friends who love and appreciate you.

You don’t need to reveal all your greatest fears and personal battles but you can learn a lot about vulnerability from Angelina Jolie. That courage and willingness to be true to yourself and to share who you really are will enrich all the friendships that matter most to you. You’ll be happier, more expressive and an interesting friend to spend time with.

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Why You’ll Never Have Perfect People Skills

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Would you like to have perfect people skills? Would that make you happy? Maybe you haven’t noticed but unconsciously you may have a goal of perfection in the back of your mind when it comes to dealing with people. This is not a good idea. Let me explain…

It was the summer of 1991 and I was feeding coins into a phone at Victoria Station in London, England. It was hot and smelly in the station and the dread of the ongoing recession made the humidity even harder to take. I dialled the number in the job advert and tried not to sweat so much, I tasted the mint of the gum I was chewing and my anxiety built with each second of anticipation. Tony answered and asked me a few questions before wanting to know why I was the right person for the job. My mouth was dry, my heart was pounding and I did my best to sound calm and in control. It didn’t work.

“Are you chewing gum?” Tony barked down the phone.

“No, of course not!” I stuttered as I moved the gum to the side of my mouth. “It’s really hot today and my mouth is dry, that’s all.”

The phone interview went from bad to worse as I stumbled over my words, tried and failed to make a good impression and chewed gum every time nerves dried my mouth. Tony asked me one more time, “Are you sure you’re not chewing gum?” at which point I couldn’t take anymore and I hung up. I counted the change left in my sweaty palm, tasted the minty gum and decided not to phone about any more jobs until the next day.

The Cost of Demanding Perfection

How did I manage to do so badly? I can sum it up in one phrase – I demanded perfection. I needed a job, I was running out of money, I had been out of work for months and the future looked bleak. Because of all these pressures it wasn’t just a phone call, in my mind I had built it up to be the single most important conversation I would ever have. And for that reason I wanted it to be perfect, I wanted it to be the perfect job for me and I wanted to speak clearly, elegantly and so persuasively that Tony would be blown away by my brilliance.

Expecting, hoping for or demanding perfection kills self-confidence, sets you up for failure and makes you over think so much that it’s impossible to be natural and free flowing. In my case chasing perfection made me tense, afraid to make a mistake and unable to think straight in the moment. Aiming for perfection is the enemy of anyone looking to improve their communication skills.

On the other hand, setting high standards and aiming to gradually and consistently improve over time is a great approach. As long as you give yourself freedom to learn from your mistakes you can learn, grow and have fun without too much extra self imposed pressure.

The Numbers Game

Life is a numbers game and this applies in business, in our social lives and even in the fields of sport and entertainment. As I write this Novak Djokovic is the number one tennis player in the world. Think about that for a moment, of all the millions of people around the world who play tennis for fun and of all the thousands of professional players he is the best. Now, listen to this, as I write this, his career win rate is almost 80%. In other words the very best tennis player in the world, for every 100 matches played, has won 80 and lost 20 of all the professional matches he has played. He’s not even close to perfection yet he’s the best player in the world right now.

One more example. Take a look at the movie industry. Hollywood releases new movies every week and despite the huge multimillion dollar budgets, the big name actors and the crews of talented production people Hollywood can still not guarantee a winner. In fact of the hundreds of big budget movies released each year only a handful will be smash hits. Again, Hollywood doesn’t even get close to perfection.

The point I’m making is that if the brightest and best in the world can’t attain perfection and know it’s a pipe dream then you need to take the pressure off and instead have high standards, do your best, learn from your successes and failures and get better over time. Know that life is a numbers game but not a game where someone can hit 100% all the time.

When it comes to being at your very best with people here a few useful guidelines:

1. Remember What Works

Notice how you are handling social situations today, this week and recently. Are you better or worse than you used to be? Are you enjoying being with people more than in the past? If you’re improving it’s good to be aware of that so that you can decide to do more of what works.

On the other hand if you’re disimproving, be objective about it. What are you not doing that worked for you in the past? Decide to start doing it again. Often it’s simply a matter of becoming aware of your habitual patterns, get conscious of what you’re doing or not doing and you are back in the drivers seat.

2. Make Enjoyment a Priority

Pay attention to the long term trend. Over the last few months, are you having more or less enjoyment socialising? Are you becoming more or less relaxed mingling with people? Do you have a good balance between enjoying alone time and time with people you care about?

Again, it’s good to pause and evaluate your habits before deciding if you want more or less of what you’ve been doing.

3. Focus on Specifics not Generalities

One major pitfall we can fall into when it comes to perfectionist thinking is over generalising. We want everything to be perfect all the time. We go to a party and we want everyone we meet to love, appreciate and admire us and if this doesn’t happen we feel like we failed a little. Forget about having unrealistic and unattainable objectives that can only produce one outcome with certainty – stress, worry and beating yourself up.

Instead get highly specific about what you want that you can control. Take the example of a party, aim to find good matches, people you have something in common with who you can relate to. Then go and search for those people. That cloud of hopelessness and despair that follows perfection around will then float way into the distance.

To sum up, chasing perfect people skills is a sure fire recipe for failure, unhappiness and disappointment. You’ll enjoy yourself much more if you treat life as a numbers game and aim to gradually improve over time without postponing happiness until you hit 100%.

 

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