Are you looking for ways to broaden or deepen the positive relationships in your life? Consider the following best practices to find new ways to engage positively with others.

1. Understand who you aspire to be

The future version of you will be different. Design that future you deliberately with a zeal to become a stronger, more impactful, and more content human being. Decide which values, standards, interests, areas of expertise, and levels of independence will be new or more prominent within your future version of you. 

2. Actively manage first impressions

As they say, “You only get one chance to make a first impression,” so take a more deliberate approach to regularly making a stronger first impression. Attempt the following when engaging others for the first time: 

  • Smile.
  • Offer up personal energy at a level (at least) slightly higher than your audience. Exude confidence in the form of positive body language including that smile we mentioned, proper posture, and/or being comfortable taking up the existing space available (all regardless of how you might feel inside).
  • Execute safe touch or thoughtful gesture opportunities when possible and culturally appropriate. 
  • Elevate others by offering up positive, sincere observational compliments.
  • Be an encouraging listener. Recognize questions and compliment points made. 
  • When the opportunity arises, genuinely compliment others not present.
  • Have thoughtful and practiced answers to frequently asked questions by others.

3. Work on being more likable

Want others to like you? Then work hard at liking them. It takes real effort to dislike someone when he/she so clearly likes you. Be demonstrable in your like for the other by attempting the following:

  • Work hard to know people’s names and make additional effort to pronounce them correctly. 
  • Find an opportunity to tell people why they are important to you and others. 
  • Demonstrate an interest in others by asking questions…and then really listening to their answers. Ask follow-up and clarifying questions. Seek out shared areas of interest. 
  • Take advantage of friendly opportunities for safe touching (e.g., a handshake or pat on the shoulder).
  • When joking, stick to positive topics. Never joke about the negative personal attributes of others; you are not a roast master.
  • Use your manners. “Yes, ma’am,” “No, sir,” “Please,” “Thank you,” and “You are welcome” go a long, long way. And anyone you encounter who considers manners as either quaint or outdated is wrong and cynical. Avoid them.
  • Find opportunities to praise others present with specific, well-earned compliments, ideally in areas the other person(s) consider(s) important.
  • Talk positively about others not present.

4. Be careful making assumptions about other people’s words, behaviors, and actions

Take great caution when assessing people’s actions, words, or behaviors. These things are always about them, but not always about you. Often it is more about their feelings, judgments, fatigue levels, distractions… everything but you. So, be cautious when evaluating the intent or meaning of another’s words or actions.

If something is confusing, try “Sorry, did I do something wrong?” or “Did I understand you correctly?” Such questions can save you the heartache and perhaps extract the other out of a self-imposed funk.

5. Take charge of your response to others

Your emotions, verbal responses, and behavioral reactions are things in your complete control. Practice controlling them in pursuit of more constructive responses to others. Use a pause, a breath, a moment of reflection, and some occasional forgiveness to convert natural emotional reactions into constructive responses.

Remember: You can influence others, but you cannot control them. Let go of the latter and approach the former with some grace.

6. Treat others gently…especially when it is not important!

Very few things you encounter in daily life are profoundly important. If you have not learned this yet, wait a decade or two.

Most things are unworthy of endless debate or push-pull decision-making. Be willing to hand over the reins of decision-making when the stakes and risks are low. When a decision is made, choose to be an enthusiastic supporter.

7. Positively reinforce those behaviors demonstrated by others that you would like to have repeated

When someone in your world does some task or behaves in some way that you find positively impactful, then specify that act or behavior and reinforce it with praise and gratitude. If you like it and want more, say something nice about the thoughtful gesture or behavior. 

The message: You tend to get more of what you positively reinforce.

8. Refresh your world

With a thoughtful assessment of your life’s relationships in hand, adjust the scope and scale of the relationships in your daily life.

  • First: End unhelpful or toxic relationships. This can be difficult, but the benefits of doing so can be enormous, so persevere.
  • Second: Invest more in your most meaningful relationships.
  • Third: As needed, seek out and find new, potentially rewarding relationships to create a fuller, richer life. Do not hesitate.

When done carefully and deliberately, the actions above can optimize the cost, benefits, and personal satisfaction of daily interactions with your fellow human beings.

Take the next step in building a stronger you and creating a more meaningful existence—connect positively with the living world around you. With a bit of courage, a dash of humility, and a dose of caution, we encourage you to thoughtfully engage, understand, empathize, and learn to appreciate and respect the living world that surrounds you. The world awaits you; dive in.

Cover Image Credit: wavebreakmediamicro