Being sympathetic is a change in the way we connect, not a change in who we are.
Of all the things most people want to accomplish, the common subconscious desire is to develop into someone who is more personable.
Whether it’s about ourselves, our loved ones, the people we still want to impress – most of the endeavours are linked somewhere to a supposed promise to be “loved”. It is human nature.
However, there is often a strange paradox in the world of self-development, and this is about whether it is more important to be true to yourself or the kind of person that others find more engaging.
The template advice is to always be yourself, but that often doesn’t include the convenience of having to censor yourself.
You cannot tell your boss that he is incompetent if you want to keep your job, you cannot go through life without paying attention to the needs and reactions of others and simply expecting everyone else to adapt. That’s not how it works in life.
But there is a middle ground. There are ways to consciously become a more personable person without ever sacrificing who you really are. There is a way to be self-conscious and authentic.
These two are not mutually exclusive as we think being sympathetic is a change in the way we connect, not a change in who we are.
So here are the basics of very personable people so that you too can consider adopting some socially more intelligent habits yourself.
1. They see other people’s feelings as valid, even if they disagree with them.
In other words, there is no reason to dismiss other people’s feelings. If someone says “You hurt me”, do not try to deny it, although they may not have realized that they did something wrong.
They don’t assume that they can tell people how to feel, or that logic (or group pressure) can change that fact. They accept and validate other people’s feelings as they are, thereby validating people as they are.
2. You ask important questions.
Curiosity, when it is based on real interest, makes people feel important and valued. However, it can easily turn into the opposite if you ask someone questions that they feel uncomfortable with.
That is why sympathetic people ask questions about things that are inherently important to others. They give others the opportunity to talk about what they love most. It is a tool for strengthening the bond, but it is also a way to show others that you care because you care about what is important to them.
3. They look into your eyes.
They have a firm handshake, speak to you by name and ensure that you feel good and not intimidated. Sympathetic people instill respect with how much respect they show to others.
4. You put your cell phone away.
When you are with them, they give you their full, total attention. The gesture of reacting to something else in the middle of the conversation communicates the thought that there is something more important than the person you are talking to.
Whether that’s the case or not, likeable people pay attention to how others feel with this small (but significant) act.
5. You are consistent.
The fact is that people don’t like change, and they particularly dislike having people change. This is unfortunate because change is the only real constant in life and the thought that people should not develop is dangerous in the worst case.
However, there is a subtle difference between being “changeable” and “consistent”, the latter having to do with having a comprehensive idea of who you are.
Sure, your attitudes may change, your opinions may change, but consistently showing your real, whole self makes you more likeable, simply because people are sure of what they get.
6. You are not trying to provoke emotional reactions in others.
They do not tell others about their promotion with the intention of awe and admiration. They are not looking for pity for their troubles.
You do not start a conversation with the expectation of a certain emotional reaction from the other (it is exhausting for the other person).
7. You don’t project.
When you see someone walking by on the street, they don’t estimate him or start making comparisons. They are aware that other people and places and events and problems exist without being involved in any way.
They are not so selfish to think that someone else’s success means that they are unsuccessful themselves, or that it makes them better when someone else has no love. They don’t project their affairs onto anything that comes under their noses.
8. You speak precisely.
They speak clearly and concisely simply because they do not try to edit or bloat what has been said. You communicate directly and well and this transparency reassures others immediately.
9. You are not trying to “convert” others.
They are so strong in their beliefs that those of other people are not a threat. In other words, they are not looking for opportunities to “inform” other people of how ignorant they are, or are turning every family dinner into a political debate.
They have enough self-knowledge to know that the desire for it arises from debilitating insecurity and that one does not have to follow this desire.
10. You focus on the big picture.
Being likeable is more than the way someone speaks to you – it’s also about body language (crossed arms or relaxed shoulders?), Personal style to communicate your identity, and so on.
People communicate who they are in many ways, and creating a more likeable identity goes hand in hand with creating a more genuine appearance and a relaxed attitude.
11. You make an effort to understand others, not to put yourself above them.
They see conversations as opportunities to learn about what they don’t know and not to let other people know what they don’t know.
12. You are working on yourself.
The most important quality of a personable person is the willingness to work on yourself. It’s the ability to be able to say, “I’m sorry I hurt you. I will work to be better. ”
It’s an openness to admit you’re wrong or to apologize, or at least not to become defensive when someone wants to alert you to unwanted behaviour.