Making friends is not easy, there are these bothersome tasks of small talk, awkward silences and lack of eye contact. Rather than face this horror, most of us stick to our group of friends and simply avoid making new acquaintances unless it’s totally necessary. Yet, making new friends is incredibly beneficial. Not only will it expand your social circle, it will also help you develop your interpersonal skills.
By continuously adding new people to your social sphere, you’ll develop stronger social skills and learn how to be more likable. And, while likability has a lot to do with the way you look, what’s really important is how people feel when they’re around you. Likable people are open, welcoming and friendly, signaling self-confidence, sincerity and trust.
The first things a new person will notice about you are your body, your eyes and the expression on your face, and it’s essential for all three of these elements to emit a feeling of openness. Your posture can be divided into two categories open and closed :
Open body language exposes your heart and body, signaling to others that you’re not only willing to communicate, but that you’re enthusiastic about it. As a result, when two people begin a conversation with their hearts facing one another, a powerful connection forms and trust becomes more likely to solidify.
On the other hand, closed body language protects the heart through gestures that express resistance, frustration, impatience and nervousness. Crossed arms are one of the most common instances of defensive body language, as crossed arms protect one’s heart and therefore one’s feelings.
However, turning your body sideways relative to your conversation partner can also evoke a similar feeling. And body language isn’t just about, well, your body. It’s also about your face and its expressions, which can be open or closed as well. For example, an open face smiles and makes eye contact, with a dynamic expression and raised eyebrows. On the other hand, a closed face is stern and avoids eye contact. So, if you want people to trust what you say, you need to be sure that your body is saying the same thing. In other words, what you say, how you say it and the signals your body sends while you say it all need to be aligned. If they’re not, the other person will feel the discomfort held in your body and both of you will feel unpleasant. Just think of a friend telling you that he’s fine while he looks away with crossed arms and a tapping foot. It’s not hard to tell that he certainly doesn’t seem fine. People tend to hire and even date people that look like themselves, as well as those that make them feel comfortable and safe. This makes sense since we usually feel good in the company of people whose behavior is in sync with, and influences, our own.
In fact, even if you don’t realize it, you’ve been synchronizing yourself with other people since the day you were born. A baby’s body rhythm is synchronized with that of her mother, and, later in life, this tendency continues. For instance, an adult’s taste in clothes will often be influenced by that of his partner. So, this synchronization is a major part of our lives and is especially important when it comes to building an immediate rapport. But what exactly is meant by synchronization in this context? Specifically, it refers to discreetly copying and subtly imitating the gestures of your conversation partner, as well as their body posture, facial expressions, breathing and voice. To do so, you can either match the person exactly or mirror them as if you were their reflection. Synchronizing with your conversation partner’s voice can be a particularly powerful tool, especially if they speak in a quiet voice and you tend to be quite loud.
Naturally, your partner will feel more at ease speaking with someone who shares their same gentle tone. In 1970, Richard Bandler and John Grinder, the founders of the approach to communication known as Neuro-Linguistic Programming, or NLP, realized that their clients could filter the world through one of three different senses: visual, auditory or kinesthetic. Naturally, all people use a mix of these three senses, but one always dominates, and knowing which is prevalent in your conversation partner can greatly affect your rapport. People who are predominantly visual care a lot about how things look. They generally tend to think in pictures, dress sharply and talk very fast. These people like to use expressions like “how do you see yourself? or “I see what you’re saying.” Auditory people love conversation, have fluid, melodic, expressive voices and enjoy words as well as sounds. As a result, they gravitate toward careers in broadcasting, teaching and the law. They tend to say things like, “sounds familiar”, “tell me more” and “I didn’t like the tone of his voice.”
Finally, kinesthetic-focused people like solid things that they can feel. They have lower voices, like textured clothing and tend to speak very slowly. Often, they’ll use expressions like “how do you feel about . . .?” and “I’ll get in touch with her”. By matching your responses to a person’s dominant sense, you can make them like you more in 90 seconds or less. Endearing yourself to a new acquaintance begins from the moment you meet one another. The way another person feels around you is key to making them like you, which makes it essential to adopt a genuinely open attitude and willingness to connect. Now go out their test and apply what you learnt today, start making friends, just watching and reading is not enough, the best way to remember something is to practice it.