Life and Soul

Do you look at them with just a twinge of envy? Those people who seem to be the center of everyone's attention, seemingly surrounded at all times by others who hang on their every word? Of course you do, because you long to be them, or at least to be as popular as they are, but you're naturally shy.

Wanting to be liked is a natural human condition, and the science of popularity is fascinating. We all need groups of people around us, for protection, power, affection, sex or money, but many people find it hard to interact. Studies show that popular people have less incidence of mental ill health, enjoy better lifestyles, live longer and have a better 'quality' of life.

It's a medical fact that popular people are healthier, with stronger immune systems and less likelihood of minor illness. Popularity could easily be seen, in real terms, as a matter of life and death, and it isn't hard to see that this really isn't something to be left to chance. You can be likeable, believe me. All you need to do is work at it.

Just think about the modern world that we all share. Today's society is very different from those of fifty years ago. Increasingly, people mate for a short time, not for life, and people tend to have fewer or no children. We are more mobile and independent now than we've ever been, but this tends to push us away from others, instead of closer.
If you want to be someone that strangers want to know, then you need to sit back and think about the way you are with them. We all long for 'quality' relationships and proper connection with others, but we insulate ourselves against them, for fear of rejection. It's a vicious, lonely circle, but it can be broken.

There isn't any real mystery to being likable. They say that the eyes are the 'windows to the soul', and many people shy away from direct eye contact, even though this is the most important aspect of meeting someone for the first time. Don't flash a big, insincere grin whilst looking away, that's fatal. Look into their eyes, then let your smile build slowly.

That lets them know that you are genuinely pleased to meet them, and you can reinforce the feeling with a gentle touch - maybe on their arm - for a couple of seconds. Look at their non-verbal body language too, and copy it. Nothing will help you develop a relationship quicker. If they stand, hand on hip, you do it too, and pick up on the way they speak. If they use colorful language, you do the same, because people relax much more with others they believe similar to themselves. You will create a feeling of 'instant intimacy', and they'll be happy to spend time in your company.

Don't ever be anything but fascinated in the things they have to say however you might feel about it underneath. If you seem really interested in their viewpoint, and pay enough attention, you'll give responses, which demonstrate that interest, and they'll relax even more.

It pays to compliment them, too, not only on their looks, but on small things that don't usually get mentioned. If you find, for instance, that they are keen on charity work, let them know how much you admire such generosity of spirit. People really start to feel valued when you compliment them on the things they love about themselves.

There is actually a branch of psychology called 'cognitive consistency' which means a lot in getting close to other people. If your body and speech show behave in a particular way toward someone, your mind will show the same thing. It follows that if you act as if you like someone, before long you'll really start to feel that way, and their 'radar' will pick up on those signals.

They'll begin to like you too, and as your confidence increases, your image of self will improve. Being the life and soul of a party doesn't mean being the focus of attention, but being the person who has the most to offer. If you are light-hearted and positive, you transmit this to others, and they'll love you for it.

Another winning asset in the search for social recognition is the ability to talk about your self without complaining, when it seems the other person gets more curious. Slip little snippets about your own likes and dislikes into the conversation, but not all at once. A gradual 'baring of the soul' works wonders for a continually improving relationship.

If you really want to make friends, then you have to be a friend yourself, and seen in that way by those you meet. Always have something to give to them, be it knowledge, contacts, empathy or support, and always be ready to listen. Don't judge them for their shortcomings, or make fun of them. Be ready to bring them down to earth if they need it, and be genuinely warm.

It's been said, many times, that you need to be true to yourself if you're ever to be true to others, and there's no doubt that you'll be a much more likable person if you actually like yourself. What's the difference if you don't have film star looks or a model figure? It isn't the wrapping that matters, but what you find inside.

Check it out the next time you go to a place where one person seems to attract a lot of attention. You can bet that they are simply doing the things I've talked about here, while everyone else is wondering how on earth they manage it. Don't sit in the corner and sulk, but dive right into the crowd and let them know that you too are someone they should get to know. Before long, you could be person that everyone else feels envious of. What have you got to lose?


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