Winning friends

Winning friends

Question: I want to get along well with others and be liked, but often I don’t know where to begin. How can I build strong connections with people?

Answer: Here are some tips to get you started. The point is not to pretend to be something you’re not, but to make a conscious effort to cultivate qualities that will make people feel at ease and be happy to be around you.

Be polite and courteous. As St. Basil observed, “He who sows courtesy, reaps friendship, and he who plants kindness, gathers love.”

Smile. A sincere smile disarms the guarded, soothes the argumentative, calms the angry, and encourages the downhearted. It sets a positive tone.

Be optimistic. Everyone has enough problems already. People are drawn to upbeat, solution-oriented people.

Be sociable. If you’re shy or withdrawn, focusing on making the other person feel accepted and at ease will help you be less self-conscious.

Be respectful. It’s easy to respect people who you have a lot in common with, but respecting others’ right to think and be different is even more important, as well as more endearing.

Look for the good in others. Everyone has at least a few admirable qualities. Focus on finding those, not finding fault.

Be vocal about others’ good qualities. Everyone needs to know that his or her good qualities are noticed and appreciated. Be generous, sincere, and specific with your compliments.

Lighten up. A person with a good sense of humor is fun to be around. Just be sure your humor doesn’t come at someone else’s expense.

Keep an open mind. Everyone has a right to an opinion. Few arguments are worth winning at the cost of a friendship.

Be humble. Proud, self-promoting people are a pain to be around. Humility is winsome; pride is woeful.

Be a good listener. One of the best ways to show people you care about them is by taking an interest in what they have to say and making an effort to understand and empathize.

Be gracious when others make mistakes. Everybody messes up sometimes. Remember the Golden Rule.1 What goes around comes around.

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“Thanks for last time!”

In Iceland, “Takk fyrir siðast” is a common greeting. It means “Thank you for last time,” and people say it in the same breath as “Hello.” Even if there wasn’t a particularly meaningful exchange the last time the two met, saying this puts the current conversation within the larger framework of their long-term interactions and starts it on a positive note.—Samuel Keating

1. Matthew 7:12
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