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15 Easy Ways to Make Others Smile

15 Easy Ways to Make Others Smile

I love making people’s days better, and I know I’m not alone.

Although we are constantly worried about our own problems, bills, or the way people think of us, making someone else smile or improving their day through a simple act of kindness can completely turn your mood around, too. What’s better? These kind, positive actions aren’t that hard to do, nor do they take that much time from our busy, frantic lives.

Here are 15 super simple, fun ways to make other smile.

1. Crack a dad joke or terrible pun

Okay, I know not everyone is super witty or clever or quick on their feet enough to do this. But even a simple joke or witty commentary will do. Humor is one of the quickest and easiest ways to make someone smile (crazy, right?!).

Some people might find you corny or cheesy, but deep down inside their laughing too. Besides, your simple act of courageousness and your willingness to be vulnerable enough to tell a joke will win the reward of a smile, making others feel better.

2. Give a genuine compliment

Compliments are often mistaken as creepy come-ons for one reason: they aren’t sincere. If you truly like the way a girl’s hair looks or a guy’s smile looks, they’ll be able to tell immediately by the way you say it. If you truly mean it, this simple sentence, that took maybe 15 seconds to say, can make someone’s entire week.

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3. Reach out to someone you miss

Sadly, I see a lot of people use the excuse of, “Well, they haven’t talked to me in X years either and the phone works both ways dontchaknow?!”

What a sad thing to say. If you’re yearning to spend time with with a close friend or relative, reach out and see how they’re doing. Be the first to initiate contact. Again, genuine gestures go a long way here. Even just a Hey, I really miss you and hope you’re happy with life text will hit them right in the feels.

4. Food

Even people who are dieting or exercise a bunch love pizza and burritos, but not together. Or maybe…

*Bonus points: If you make something from scratch. Even if they’re burned cookies, it’s still really cool that you did that and the recipient will appreciate it (and probably laugh it off with you).

5. Send your mom or loved one “just because” flowers

This is fairly self-explanatory, but random gifts and treats are so much more appreciated when they’re given spontaneously.

Birthdays, Mothers Day’s, and every other Hallmark holidays can be spotted from a mile away with the expectation that a gift is coming. Although gift giving in any form is appreciated, random gifts are always the best.

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6. Tell someone you’re proud of them

These words are so heavy and meaningful, but some of that meaning is often lost because we’re only told that by our parents or family members. Telling a close friend or significant other that you’re proud of them after they accomplished something meaningful carries substantial validity.

In fact, try flipping the switch and tell your parents you’re proud of them for something they did. There comes a time in your life when you’ll finally realize that they’re not just superheroes, but actual people, too.

*Bonus points: Praise them publicly

7. Write and send a handwritten letter or note

I had a pen pal recently bring up a really good point about our current culture. In our highly communicative, fast-paced lives, we often have, like, six to ten conversations going at once.

Between social media, email, text messaging, and Tinder, the intimacy of letter writing has sadly diminished. In fact, disappeared. But, if you think about it, there aren’t many things on the planet that can be more complimentary. The fact that you sat down for 15-20 straight minutes to carefully craft a message to one person, and one person only, is like one hundred specific compliments wrapped in an envelope and stamped with love.

8. Listen fully

Again, there are a lot of distractions in the world around us, and some for good reason. Life is crazy beautiful! There are countless things to look at and see and do and experience. However, one of the kindest, most touching things you could do for someone is be fully attentive when they are talking. I can almost guarantee they will kindly return the favor when you want to talk, and they will never forget how much you care.

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9. Say “I’m sorry”

We’ve all done someone wrong, but it’s never, ever, ever too late to make it right. The ship rarely ever sails, but our egos make us thinks they did. It doesn’t matter if it’s been days, weeks, months, or even years since the incident happened, owning up to something you did that hurt another person will go a million miles in one heartbeat.

10. Give a huge tip

For some reason I’m unsure of, people seem think, and tip, like the check they pay at the end of the meal is what the waiter, waitress, or bartender pockets. Now, I’m not saying that all people tip poorly, or all service is super great, but giving a great tip, especially when the service warrants the pay, will make that persons shift endlessly better.

11. Say what’s up to the mailman

Dude, he brings your mail every day. It doesn’t matter if it’s in the sleet, in the snow, in the squelching hot sun, and any other inclement weather pattern in-between, he’s always there. That sort of reliability and timeliness deserves a proper introduction at least. Or, if nothing else, a head bob and a smile.

12. Realize when someone is bumming out and encourage them

The world is inherently negative, and it’s very difficult to pull ourselves out of funks alone. I can remember several times when friends recognized I was down and did something they knew would pull me out of it.

But it doesn’t have to just be with your friends. People can be read pretty easily. Older gentleman hanging his head on the bus? How hard is it to turn and say, “Hey, you okay?” Believe it or not, we’re all scared and worried and get depressed at times.

However, we’re all in this “mess” together. Kindness always comes full circle.

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13. Give thanks

It’s often said that successful people start their day by giving thanks for one thing or several things they have. Even when you’re striving for more, or trying to make a better life, it’s always good to stop and recognize the beauty that exists around you.

How can a rose grow in the middle of New York City on it’s own? Astounding. This is also true for others. Someone holds the door for you? Thanks, m’am. The barista at the coffee shop you frequent buys your coffee on a Friday?Frick yeah! Thanks! Waitress fills your water glass without you having to ask for it? Well, you get it by now. It’s pretty easy to recognize moments of graciousness if you keep your eyes out for them.

14. Be available even if you don’t want to be

Okay, don’t ever tell someone that you don’t want to be there for them. That’s not only extremely disrespectful, but also very hurtful.

What I’m encouraging instead is to be willing to drop the things you want to do to be there for someone. This can be a text message convo, a phone convo, or a late night trip to Baskin Robbins after a bad breakup or a job firing. There will come a time when you’re called on to be there for someone when you have other stuff going on. Be there and light up their world.

15. Smile at everyone you see every single day

I intentionally saved this one for last for two reasons: 1.) It’s the easiest one to do and can be applied to everyone you pass during the day (I’m looking at you, city dwellers) and 2.) It’s so effortless. Actually, I want to challenge all of you. Next time you’re on your lunch break at work or walking around the busy mall on a Saturday, look up from your phone for 5 minutes, make eye contact with the person in passing, and give them a warmhearted smile. Again, sincerity, not creepiness, is the key here.

But if you make it from the heart, you’ll be truly amazed at what will happen.

Positivity is a lot like a stone being dropped in a calm lake. Once you drop it in (via a simple action), it will send ripples of kindness and happiness in every direction.

Featured photo credit: Young happy hipster woman looks through binoculars via shutterstock.com

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Last Updated on January 15, 2019

How to Talk to Strangers Without Feeling Awkward

How to Talk to Strangers Without Feeling Awkward

Many of us feel awkward talking to strangers. I’m a very outgoing person, even though I sometimes feel uncomfortable walking up to someone and asking a question or starting a conversation. I consider myself pretty high up on the extrovert meter. So what is it that makes us pause and become worried or anxious about talking to people we don’t know?

In this article, we will discuss why we feel this way as well as some tips on how to talk to strangers without feeling awkward.

Step right up, don’t be shy!

Why We Feel Awkward Talking to Strangers

The next time you feel uncomfortable talking to a stranger, tell yourself that’s completely normal. There are numerous reasons why it’s actually natural to feel awkward talking to strangers:

Our Stress Levels Rise Around Strangers

Numerous studies have show that our levels of cortisol go up when we are around strangers.[1] Cortisol is the hormone inside of us which produces stress responses.[2]
So there you go, right off the bat you can see part of your standard response to strangers is due to a chemical reaction!

A very interesting by product of increased cortisol is that it makes us less empathetic. More than likely this can be traced to our evolution. The increase in the cortisol and the corresponding decrease in empathy makes us want to stay away from strangers. We are biologically wired to feel concern around strangers.

Evolution Taught Us to Be Wary

Evolution has also taught us to be wary of strangers in general. Humans as a whole have spent a large chunk of their history banded together in small protective groups. We did this in order to help protect each other and maximize resources.

When you think about it in this context, outsiders to our small groups or strangers are considered potential threats. Fear of strangers is common across almost all human cultures.

Culturally Conditioned

We can also thank our society for helping us feel uncomfortable and sometimes afraid of strangers. The term “stranger danger” is something most of us can relate to either growing up or raising kids. Or both.

I remember hearing this from my parents, mostly about not getting in someone’s car I didn’t know. And as the father of 2 teenage girls, you can be sure I’ve talked to them about this very concept more times that they want to hear.

The thought that strangers can be dangerous is built into us as it is. Toss in the amplification of the media on strangers doing things such as kidnapping kids and it takes it to an even higher level.

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Now that we’ve reviewed some of the reasons why we are nervous, let’s look at why you should talk to strangers more.

Benefits of Getting over the Awkwardness

Let’s take a quick look at some of the advantages of how to talk to strangers without feeling awkward. These are some high level benefits of talking to strangers.

1. Broadens Your Network

After you talk to someone, you didn’t know previously they become someone you know at least a little bit. This alone helps broaden your network of people you know. This is helpful in many ways whether it is work related or socially related.

2. Improves Your Communication Skills

I am a huge proponent of the value of solid communication skills and have written about it often. The more you talk to people, especially people you don’t know, the better your communication skills become.

Interacting with a wider variety of people will bring the added benefit of improving your communication skills.

3. Continually Learning

So many of us don’t actively seek to learn new things. This is one of the primary keys to staying engaged in life and our own personal self fulfillment.

Almost every time I speak to someone I didn’t know previously, I’ve learned something new. When we speak to strangers, it pushes us out of our comfort zones and we tend to learn new things.

4. Increases Self Confidence

Every time we learn to do something we were previously anxious about, we feel better about ourselves.

Forcing ourselves to talk to strangers will lead to increased self confidence. As we get more and more comfortable doing something that previously made us feel awkward, our self confidence will go up and up.

So, how to talk to strangers to reap these benefits?

How to Talk to Strangers

Here are some tips to on how to talk to strangers without feeling awkward.

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1. Say Hello

Putting “say hello” first may seem a bit obvious but let’s take a deeper look. Much of the social awkwardness when speaking to strangers is simply breaking the ice. The first words that will engage someone.

Most people will respond when someone says hello or hi to them. And those that don’t, you probably don’t want to talk to anyway.

Practice being the person that opens the door to a conversation. Say hello.

2. Ask About Them

Something that I have noticed over the years is that people love to talk about themselves. Even fairly private people tend to open up when asked about events in their lives.

You can ask leading questions that get people to talk about themselves and recent events. Things like recent movies watched or the summer vacation are great to get someone talking.

As a father, I also know that people love to talk about their kids. Asking about kids is a fairly easy topic to bring up and in general, most people will expound upon all the great things their kids do or are involved with.

3. Just Do It

One of the biggest reasons we don’t do things we want to or know we should is because we overthink it. Quit thinking about it so much and just do it.

When you give yourself the time to analyze every little angle about a situation, you also give plenty of time to talk yourself out of it. You’ll wind up thinking what if this happens or what if that happens.

Try to force yourself to jump right in without thinking about it too much. Whenever I have done this, I always feel great about it afterwards, no matter how it turned out.

4. Don’t Take It Personal

One of the greatest lessons in life I ever learned was don’t take anything personally. We all go through life with our own sets of experiences and see things through our own lens. The way people react to different situations has almost nothing to do with us. It has to do with previous experiences and the way people feel about things other than us.

When someone’s reaction isn’t what you’d hoped or expected, chances are it has nothing to do with you. Remember that and keep it in context.

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5. Get a Chuckle If Possible

I used the word chuckle purposely because it makes me laugh. In my opinion, it’s one of those funny words. We all like to laugh because it makes us feel good. And when someone makes us laugh, we typically remember those people in a positive light.

One of the best ways to make a conversation easy and free flowing is to get some laughter going. It doesn’t mean you have to be the master joke teller or anything. See if you can work in a way to make the person you are talking to get a smile or some laughter in. In fact, laughing at yourself maybe a nice try.

6. Detach

A great feeling is when you don’t mind which way something turns out, that you will be fine no matter what happens. Kind of like when I watch my two favorite football teams play against each other. I don’t really care who wins, I just want a fun game.

Treat talking to strangers the same way. You don’t really care how the conversation goes because you are detaching from the outcome. Make it a fun time with yourself and if the conversation goes well, awesome! If not then no big deal, move on.

7. Share Your Stories

Well, all like to feel connected to other people. And many times we wind up hanging out with people that we have things in common with. No surprise here.

To help with how to talk to strangers without feeling awkward, tell stories that have commonalities with the person you are talking to. Kids are an easy one. I have a daughter who was a competitive cheerleader and now plays club volleyball. I have instant connection and stories with strangers I speak with who have kids that play sports. It’s easy to relate to.

So when you are speaking to a stranger and you have a story or mutual connection point, bring it up.

8. Give a Compliment

Almost everyone likes hearing a compliment, whether they admit to it or not. As a general rule, we don’t give out enough compliments. It’s amazing how one small remark someone tosses your way about how good you look can literally make your entire day.

When you are speaking with someone you don’t know, see if you can work a compliment in. Nothing creepy here. Not a good idea to tell someone you just met that they are the prettiest or handsomest person you ever met. However, if you can share how you like their tattoo or shoes or something like that, it will help put the conversation into an easy going, smiling place.

9. Relax Your Body Language

If you go into a situation all worried and nervous, it shows on your body. Your shoulders are tensed up, there’s a look of consternation on your face, things like that.

When you engage a stranger in conversation, make it a point to relax your body language. Take a deep breath before you engage the person, let your body relax, and put a smile on your face. This will help relax you and it has the added benefit of putting the other person more at ease.

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If they see that you are relaxed, it helps them relax. Plus having open, engaging body language is very conducive to inviting someone to open up into a conversation with you.

10. Practice, Practice, Practice

Like everything else in life, talking to strangers gets easier with practice. The more you do it, the easier it becomes.

Make it a point to talk to several strangers each week and it will definitely help you relax as you do it more and more.

After a while, it will become something you don’t even think about, you just do it. And that takes all of the awkwardness out of being in these type situations.

The Bottom Line

As we have seen, it is perfectly natural to feel awkward talking to strangers. We are biologically built that way and we have our own society constantly warning us how dangerous it is. It’s no wonder we feel awkward talking to strangers!

There are numerous benefits to learning to be more comfortable talking to strangers. See if you can employ some of the techniques mentioned to learn how to talk to strangers without feeling awkward.

Once you start practicing speaking with strangers more often and utilizing some of the tips, you will become more comfortable doing so. This in turn will lead to a learned new skill and increased self confidence.

Remember, everyone you know was a stranger at one time. Now get out there and make some new friends.

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Featured photo credit: Priscilla Du Preez via unsplash.com

Reference

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