When I was in seventh grade, my parents switched me to a new school. As if middle school wasn’t hard enough, I had to start over with a whole new group of people. I was a 12-year-old introvert facing the worst thing that a 12-year-old introvert could ever face: finding friends. I was not, nor have I ever been, what you might call a “people person.” But I did my best and somehow miraculously survived those angst-filled years. Now, I’m much more social, but it’s still something I have to work hard on. Here are some of the things I do to help.
1. Remember names.
When I was younger, I was really good with names, but I always pretended that I’d forgotten someone’s name that I had just met, so as to not seem creepy. I now realize that that’s pretty dumb, but it seemed smart at the time. Now, I’m not as good with remembering names, but I use names when I can. People are usually impressed that you know their names, and it shows that you’re interested in them.
It’s surprising how effective smiling is. Just warming your face up a little bit when speaking to people really makes a lasting impression on them. You seem like a more genuinely happy and approachable person when you smile. It makes people feel good when you smile at them, so show off those pearly whites!
3. Be honest.
If someone asks what your hobbies are, don’t lie to them. Seriously, I’ve done that and it always leads to trouble. Once, in tenth grade, someone asked me if I played guitar, and I (stupidly) told them I did. In fact, I had never touched a guitar in my life, but I wanted to sound cool. Soon enough, that person wanted me to play with him sometime. I had to back out of that lie pretty quickly. Just be honest about yourself, and you’ll save everyone a lot of time and effort. People will like you for who you are.
4. Ask questions.
People like to feel like others are interested in them. It’s just natural. Make sure you show interest in whomever you’re talking to by asking questions and acting attentive to the answers.
5. Be complimentary.
“Your house/this food/this party/your cat is great!” Whatever applies to the situation, use it. Complimenting someone on even the smallest detail will make a lasting impression and might earn you some friends by the end of the night.
6. Stay positive.
Doing too much schmoozing can leave you feeling a little fake inside, and that’s totally normal. Just don’t overdo it on the elbow rubbing and keep positive thoughts going on in your head. You’ve got to genuinely enjoy socializing with the people you’re talking to, or there’s no point in talking to them at all. Keep a good thought.
People don’t just want to talk about themselves all the time (though, let’s face it, it’s fun)—they also want to hear about you! So put your two cents in every now and then. Being a people person involves giving and receiving, so don’t be afraid to let your personality come out.
8. Put the phone down.
You’re not going to seem very social if you’re glued to your phone all the time. Put it away and don’t let it distract you. Looking at your phone too much makes you seem disinterested in talking to the people right in front of you. It’s also often a safety net, so don’t let yourself use it. I know I’m guilty of messing around on my phone when I’m bored. Don’t do that!
9. Be genuine.
Yes, you want people to like you. No, don’t do whatever it takes to make that happen. You need to make sure you’re not being a pushover, or just acting like someone you think people would like. Act naturally, and you’re much more likely to be happy with yourself and those around you.
10. Just have fun!
Meeting new people, though sometimes stressful for us not-people-persons, can be really fun. Just get in the right frame of mind and you’re good to go.
Featured photo credit: Luc De Leeuw via flickr.com