I have noticed lately that people-- who I’ve known for very long spans of time -- are hesitant in approaching me about certain topics. These aren’t your typical touchy subjects like politics, religion, where to go to dinner on a Friday night, and etc.; these are very simple things like not wanting to ask me to go to the store or my thoughts on their outfit of the day.
So, when I voluntarily bring up the subject, their response is “Oh, I was going to ask you that but I thought you’d a.) think I was crazy b.) think I was being extra c.) say no.
So, I wonder, how often do I make people feel as though they’re crazy or extra? How often do I just flat-out say no to their requests?
Although I believe (and hopefully my close friends can vouch for this) that I’ve come a long way from my rude, nonchalant persona back in my high school and early college years, perhaps, I still have a ways to go.
What’s more, if I can be unapproachable to my friends, how do I expect to make business deals with individuals who are just meeting me for the first time, who have no idea about how “far I’ve come?”
Thus, in a self-analytical tone of sorts, here are a few things I will take better note of to make myself more amicable to friends and strangers alike during conversation for both personal and professional reasons:
1. Think before I speak
When someone says something a little outrageous or offbeat, the urge to respond with a short “What?” response, may be more damaging than one might realize. More over, a slightly more wordy “Are you serious?” response can be even more off-putting.
In general, knee-jerk responses go bad quick. Instead of just blurting out statements of confusion, saying things like “Oh Ok” followed by a question of more explanation to the other person may make them feel more open to moving forward in the conversation.
2. Avoid facial gestures
The raised eyebrow… the side-eye… the dramatic dropping of the head...These are all indicators of the “Are you serious?” response, without verbally communicating it. Non-verbal communication is one of the most telling forms of messaging.
At least for in-person conversations, taking note of how you exhibit these expressions may be helpful in allowing the person to feel more comfortable in continuing the conversation.
3. Cater my response to the person
In situations of personal familiarity with the individual you’re speaking to, it is wise to cater the conversation to their personality. Some people can handle constant joking and sarcasm and others are offended. Likewise, if you come across too serious with someone, they may feel intimidated.
In situations where you know the person, making the extra effort to effectively communicate in methods that will put them at ease is best. And when speaking to someone you do don’t know very well, mix it up a little when it comes to your responses. It won’t take long to figure out if they have time to joke or would rather just get down to business.
4. Don’t sound condescending
Even if you’re absolutely, positively certain that what you’re saying is the truth, it’s all a matter of how you say it. Often, when you’re confident about something and the person you’re talking to has no idea what you’re talking about, you can carry a snobbish tone. To avoid this, assume that the person already knows what you’re talking about, then go from there.
Now, I know I’m not the only person who desires to be a more approachable person. Let us all strive to be a little more open for the sake of creating and maintaining healthy relationships.
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