Almost everyone agrees that friendliness is a great asset in life. Although there are rare, highly-focused exceptions, the vast majority of successful, influential people are friendly. They are likable. They are popular among their peers, and people actually enjoy being around them. If you want to have friends, the Bible says that you must be a friendly person, (Prov. 18:24), not to mention that being friendly is simply the kind, Christ-like thing to do. So how do we work on being a genuinely friendly, likable person? Here are some practical suggestions which may help:
1. Smile. As obvious as it sounds, this is the one most people overlook. For some reason, many people shy away from greeting others with a warm, toothy smile! Yet, studies show again and again that a broad smile breaks down barriers better than anything. When you smile at someone, you show interest and approachability. A smile communicates warmth and emotion—as opposed to apathy or unfriendliness. It isn’t any trouble just to S-M-I-L-E. If ever you’re in trouble, it will vanish like a bubble if you’ll only take the trouble just to S-M-I-L-E. Smiling (like failing to smile) is a habit we develop, and it pays big dividends!
2. Avoid the “Three C’s.” Don’t criticize, condemn or complain. This is another habit we can easily fall into, if we are not careful. Think about what you are going to say before you speak. Is it positive or negative? If you are considering saying something negative, think about how you can rephrase to put a more positive spin on it. For every problem, there are any number of solutions. Think more about solutions and less about the problems! People get weary very quickly of hearing a complainer. Don’t let that become you!
3. Develop genuine interest in other people. This is called unselfishness, and it too comes with practice. You will be amazed at what is happening in the lives of people around you if you give yourself a chance to discover it. And, as a rule, the more we learn about others, the more interested we become. If we are feeling bored with other people, it’s probably because we don’t really know what’s going on in their lives.
4. Voice sincere appreciation to others. As we learn more about the lives of others, we will discover much to admire and appreciate. But it is important to voice that appreciation, and articulate how much we admire them. We may think that others already know how we feel, but remember it is important to orally reinforce our support and encouragement of others.
5. Talk about their interests, and be a good listener. People enjoy talking about things which interest them. It is doubly enjoyable when the person they are talking to shows interest in the same thing. It makes them want to prolong the conversation and expand it into additional areas. No one enjoys talking to someone who appears to be disinterested. One technique of friendly people is the ability to turn the conversation to things of interest to others.
6. Remember their name. It is difficult to over emphasize the importance of this. Get the name early, and use it often. If you did not catch it at first, take the time to stop and clarify it, which shows that you are interested. Practice it silently. Nothing warms up people like calling them by name, and by the same token, nothing is more impersonal than failing to use their name. A person’s name is deeply personal and important to them, so master it and make it a regular part of your conversation.
7. Sincerely make the other person feel important. By investing time with them, and talking about things of interest to them, you are actually making them feel good about themself. You are showing through your actions that they are important. But it must be sincere, springing from true motives of concern and kindness for other people.
These suggestions all go together, and they overlap. Each of them requires practice until it becomes second nature. Each can be developed and improved with consistent effort.
Jesus was a friendly person! He loved others and saw them as priceless souls. With practice and determination, we can be friendly too! And friendly people are the people who are influencing others in this world for good. They are the real “movers and shakers” in life. Let’s all work on being friendly!