If you’re shy, or have some type of social anxiety, then making people feel comfortable around you might seem like an insurmountable feat. Your more socially graceful friends have the ability to walk into a room, light it up, and put everyone at ease. But you? Well, you’re queen of the awkward joke and ruler of the downhill conversation.
While this is an adorably quirky trait in the right circles, it’s not exactly the most winning quality when trying to score new friends. But never fear: There are ways to turn yourself around socially, and become the type of person everyone gravitates towards.
The best place to start is with a quick look at how you carry yourself. “Facial expression and body language are big evaluation methods that help us decide who is receptive to our attempt to initiate connection,” says Dr. Michele Barton in an email to Bustle. “We innately want to be loved and comforted, therefore will approach a smiling face with open posture over a scowl face and crossed arms, any day.
If you remember anything, remember that body language is everything. Read on for some more ways to give off that comfy vibe, and be the most approachable person in the room.
Get Your Smile On
If you want to be incredibly approachable while also making people feel comfy in your presence, then pay attention to what your face looks like. “A smile is one of the clearest invitations you can send that you are receptive to interaction,” Barton says. Just be sure it’s natural, and not some plastered on grin — that’ll obviously come off as more creepy than inviting.
Give Off A Confident Vibe
Even if you’re secretly feeling nervous, projecting a confident vibe will help put others at ease. “A confident person is generally much easier to be around than someone who is uncomfortable in her own skin,” said etiquette expert Debbie Mayne, on Etiquette.About.com. “Be the person who has direction and the self-assuredness to be at ease in all settings.”
Dish Out The Compliments
Some people have the innate ability to slip compliments in over the course of a conversation, and it’s an incredibly likable trait. “Compliments delivered genuinely and with a smile are the universal ice breaker,” Barton says. So steal this tip and start peppering them into your daily interactions. You’ll notice a huge difference in how people act around you.
Slow Your Roll
If you’re the type who gets on a roll and starts talking faster and faster, it may be time to check yourself. “Fast talk, rapid instructions or questions, and quick movements can rattle or overwhelm others,” said Rick Hanson, Ph.D., on Psychology Today. If you want everyone to enjoy being around you, then make it a point to slow down.
Have Open Body Language
There’s a huge difference in how people feel around those who have closed off body language, versus those who are more open. People with open body language make good eye contact, turn towards whoever they’re talking to, and seem relaxed. Practice this at your next get together, and see if it doesn’t make a difference.
Show That You’re Actually Listening
Nothing feels worse than trying to chat with someone who is constantly glancing at their phone. If you do this — accidentally or otherwise — make it point to stop. “The person you are speaking to at any given time should feel as though he is the most important person in the room,” Mayne said. “Make eye contact, smile when appropriate, and nod to show that you are listening.”
Use The Mirroring Technique
Mirroring is a sneaky, subconscious way to make people feel at ease. “[It] starts by observing a person’s body posture and then subtly letting your body reflect his position,” said Carol Kinsey Goman on Forbes. If they are standing, so should you. And if they lean back, go ahead and copy them. They’ll suddenly feel comfy, without quite knowing why.
Make Them Feel At Home
Have guests over? Whatever you do, don’t get all in your head and forget to be a good host. Tell people to sit, relax, and make themselves at home. Bring them snacks, bring them drinks, and give off a positive vibe. Remember, if you feel comfy, they’ll feel comfy.
Be Your Hilarious Self
All the welcoming people of the world have one thing in common — a good sense of humor. So if you find yourself stiffening up, or not knowing what to say, a joke is always a good place to start. “It shows that you are a happy person, and that will pull people toward you,” Mayne explained. If you’re joking around, everyone else will follow suit.
Let The Honesty Fly
People can tell when you’re aren’t being truthful, or when you’re holding something back. And it doesn’t exactly make for the highest of comfort levels. That’s why dropping a little honesty is definitely a good idea. As Kristin Wong said on Lifehacker.com, “When you tell the truth, you have a better chance at building a meaningful relationship with that person.” And that’s your goal after all, right?
Remember To Be Nice
OK, so above anything else, remember to always be a nice person. As Mayne said, “The first step in putting others at ease is to be gracious and kind to everyone.” Not that it needs explaining, but saying thank you, sending sweet notes, or doing little favors will go a long way in making people feel good.
And that’s really the cornerstone of helping them feel more comfortable around you. Be nice, be kind, throw in some compliments, and you’ll be winning people over in no time.