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5 Easiest Ways to Make Everyone Around You Comfortable

5 Easiest Ways to Make Everyone Around You Comfortable

Once upon a time, I was not-at-all comfortable in my own skin. I suffered from shyness so severe that meeting new people was a stressful ordeal that resulted in sweaty palms, stuttering, and self-conscious thoughts that made me wish I was invisible. As you can imagine, my behavior didn’t exactly make people me comfortable. I’m happy to say I finally dumped my baggage and now love to meet new people. There isn’t a secret to overcoming your shyness, but I can tell you that the best way to cure your fear is through consistent practice. If you would like to become a social butterfly capable of making new friends with ease, I invite you to apply these five easiest ways to make everyone around you comfortable. 

1. Pay Attention

Always remember: it’s not about you–it’s about them. People are more distracted than ever in the Information Age, so simply focusing on the other person without staring at your phone every ten seconds will show them that you care. Make eye contact while they speak (but don’t stare!). Don’t interrupt them until they are done (but do ask relevant follow-up questions!). Do everything in your power to show people how thoughtful and caring you are to put them at ease.

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2. Be Thoughtful

Did you meet a person wearing a beautiful skirt that is super cute? Did your friend get a stylish new purse that you adore? If so, tell them all about it! It’s amazing how a simple compliment can make a person’s day. If you are meeting a new person and are nervous, start the conversation with a specific (and genuine!) compliment. You’ll feel a lot less pressure when a big, goofy grin and flushed cheeks develop on their face.

3. Speak Clearly

Speaking clearly is something I’ve struggled with for most of my life, and it is still something I have to remind myself of even today. I live in Tennessee, a state in the U.S. where most people have southern accents and a slow rhythm to their speech. If the typical rate of speech in this area is like struggling to swim through a pit of jello, mine is more like a starving cheetah viciously pursuing its prey. If I’m not careful, I’ll find myself speaking faster than the other person can even begin to comprehend. It’s not difficult to see how this might make a person feel uncomfortable around you. Be aware of the speech pattern of every person you talk to and be prepared to increase your volume or decrease your rate of speech to make sure they can understand the words that are coming out of your mouth.

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4. Display Confidence

A firm handshake, genuine smile, and tall posture will give you the confident swagger you need to be the life of any party. When you meet a new person: lock eyes for a brief moment, smile, shake hands, and say something like, “Hi, it’s so nice to meet you! My name is Theodore. Theodore Roosevelt.” We all know it’s awfully easy to forget a person’s name as soon as you hear it, so stating it twice will increase the odds that you will be remembered. To show confidence in your posture: keep your head tall, gaze forward, chest high, and shoulders down and back. Try not to cover your face with your hands or cross your legs, but instead keep your body as open as possible to reflect a welcoming personality that will make people feel comfortable around you.

5. Tell Stories

Whether it’s a spooky ghost-story told around a camp fire, a Shakespearean tragedy performed in a dark theater, or a steamy romance printed in paperback form, everyone loves a good story! Pay attention to commercials the next time you’re on the curled up on the couch watching your favorite TV show, and you’ll find that even marketers understand the power of good storytelling. Use this power to your advantage the next time you’re at a social gathering by telling a relevant (and tasteful!) joke to the people you meet. You could even tell a personal story about an embarrassing moment in your life to show people you are lighthearted and unafraid to make fun of yourself. If you’d like to continue your learning, check out these 12 golden rules of great conversation.

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Final thoughts / what do you think?

I hope you’re able to apply the steps in this article to make everyone around you comfortable! Please drop a comment below if you have any other ideas that will help your readers increase their confidence in a social setting.

But before you run off and wow people with your social skills, I feel the need to express a final thought: the points in this article very intentionally cover factors that are totally unrelated to who you are on a human level. Phoniness can be detected from miles away, so please don’t try to change yourself to fit somebody else’s mold. You are amazing for who you are and don’t let anybody tell you otherwise.

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We have to dare to be ourselves, however frightening or strange that self may prove to be. ― May Sarton

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Daniel Wallen

Freelance Writer

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The Gentle Art of Saying No

The Gentle Art of Saying No

No!

It’s a simple fact that you can never be productive if you take on too many commitments — you simply spread yourself too thin and will not be able to get anything done, at least not well or on time.

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But requests for your time are coming in all the time — through phone, email, IM or in person. To stay productive, and minimize stress, you have to learn the Gentle Art of Saying No — an art that many people have problems with.

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What’s so hard about saying no? Well, to start with, it can hurt, anger or disappoint the person you’re saying “no” to, and that’s not usually a fun task. Second, if you hope to work with that person in the future, you’ll want to continue to have a good relationship with that person, and saying “no” in the wrong way can jeopardize that.

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But it doesn’t have to be difficult or hard on your relationship. Here are the Top 10 tips for learning the Gentle Art of Saying No:

  1. Value your time. Know your commitments, and how valuable your precious time is. Then, when someone asks you to dedicate some of your time to a new commitment, you’ll know that you simply cannot do it. And tell them that: “I just can’t right now … my plate is overloaded as it is.”
  2. Know your priorities. Even if you do have some extra time (which for many of us is rare), is this new commitment really the way you want to spend that time? For myself, I know that more commitments means less time with my wife and kids, who are more important to me than anything.
  3. Practice saying no. Practice makes perfect. Saying “no” as often as you can is a great way to get better at it and more comfortable with saying the word. And sometimes, repeating the word is the only way to get a message through to extremely persistent people. When they keep insisting, just keep saying no. Eventually, they’ll get the message.
  4. Don’t apologize. A common way to start out is “I’m sorry but …” as people think that it sounds more polite. While politeness is important, apologizing just makes it sound weaker. You need to be firm, and unapologetic about guarding your time.
  5. Stop being nice. Again, it’s important to be polite, but being nice by saying yes all the time only hurts you. When you make it easy for people to grab your time (or money), they will continue to do it. But if you erect a wall, they will look for easier targets. Show them that your time is well guarded by being firm and turning down as many requests (that are not on your top priority list) as possible.
  6. Say no to your boss. Sometimes we feel that we have to say yes to our boss — they’re our boss, right? And if we say “no” then we look like we can’t handle the work — at least, that’s the common reasoning. But in fact, it’s the opposite — explain to your boss that by taking on too many commitments, you are weakening your productivity and jeopardizing your existing commitments. If your boss insists that you take on the project, go over your project or task list and ask him/her to re-prioritize, explaining that there’s only so much you can take on at one time.
  7. Pre-empting. It’s often much easier to pre-empt requests than to say “no” to them after the request has been made. If you know that requests are likely to be made, perhaps in a meeting, just say to everyone as soon as you come into the meeting, “Look guys, just to let you know, my week is booked full with some urgent projects and I won’t be able to take on any new requests.”
  8. Get back to you. Instead of providing an answer then and there, it’s often better to tell the person you’ll give their request some thought and get back to them. This will allow you to give it some consideration, and check your commitments and priorities. Then, if you can’t take on the request, simply tell them: “After giving this some thought, and checking my commitments, I won’t be able to accommodate the request at this time.” At least you gave it some consideration.
  9. Maybe later. If this is an option that you’d like to keep open, instead of just shutting the door on the person, it’s often better to just say, “This sounds like an interesting opportunity, but I just don’t have the time at the moment. Perhaps you could check back with me in [give a time frame].” Next time, when they check back with you, you might have some free time on your hands.
  10. It’s not you, it’s me. This classic dating rejection can work in other situations. Don’t be insincere about it, though. Often the person or project is a good one, but it’s just not right for you, at least not at this time. Simply say so — you can compliment the idea, the project, the person, the organization … but say that it’s not the right fit, or it’s not what you’re looking for at this time. Only say this if it’s true — people can sense insincerity.

Featured photo credit: Pexels via pexels.com

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