People need human contact. Babies die if they're not touched. But friendliness is a learned skill. When I was young, my father was so mean that people avoided him. He was the kind of guy whose jokes always had a sharp poke to them, under the surface. I watched him go from that, over the course of his life, to a man so relaxed and easy-going that he can talk with anyone and make them feel accepted and interesting.
I practice: nurturing skills, communication skills, assertiveness, self defense and negotiation. In addition:
(1) I listen when someone talks. I don't interrupt. I let them finish before I comment. "Me too; I feel that way too," isn't a friendly response. I ask questions, and draw them out. I'm interested in their story, without bringing my own story and feelings into it. I appreciate them.
(2) I empathise with them. I care about their story and feelings and opinions. But I do this without sympathizing, since sympathy doesn't feel good to the receiver. "Oh, you poor thing," is disempowering.
(3) I find common ground. Everyone has things to share: stories, viewpoints, surpises, insights, experiences, jokes, information. I enjoy and appreciate these.
(4) I'm playful. I enjoy our time together. I have fun with this person. We laugh together. Life is funny, so there's always something to laugh at.
(5) I'm open and available, vulnerable, self-revealing. When it's my turn to talk, I talk about what's real and important to me, rather than what's on the surface. I model the kind of interaction I want to have. If this winds up making me look like a fool, I laugh at myself. Aren't we all fools some of the time?
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