Whether you consider yourself a social butterfly or you're more of a home body, getting along with people is an important skill that can benefit everyone. For some, social interaction comes naturally, but for others, they need some tricks to help them get along with others. Most of us know to be polite and friendly, but there are a number of other less obvious ways to start really clicking with those around you, whether they be your friends, your coworkers, or even your family members.
Even if you think you're getting along just swimmingly with those around you, it can't hurt to continue to cultivate your existing relationships. "It’s important to check in and see how your relationships with others is, if you are striving for quality and connectedness in your relationships," says psychotherapist Kelley Kitley over email. "Often times, we take relationships for granted and we don’t nourish them in a way that fosters growth."
You're going to have to deal with people your whole life, so why not make the best of it? If you want to improve your relationships or expand your social circle, consider these 11 surprising tricks that can help you get along better with others.
1Spell Everything Out
Don't assume that people can read your mind. "If you want to get along better with others, you've got to be assertive and make sure that you're coming across as the real you," says psychotherapist Emily Roberts, MC, LPC over email. "Often we send a quick text or assume someone isn't responding because (insert insecurity or unhelpful thought here, eg: "They're mad at me or too busy for me), which isn't true and thus impacts the way you communicate with this person."
2Use People's Names
People respond well when you address them by their name. "When you hear your name, you automatically listen to the person talking," says Roberts. "'You know Jess, I really like that idea,' is much more powerful and increases connection compared to 'I like that idea.'"
3Avoid Words Like "Always" And "Never"
Even if it feels that way, someone isn't always late or never on time. "We are generalizing in an internal attempt to make them feel empathy for our frustration," says Roberts. "It may be true that they are rarely on time. However, use a word that doesn’t have as much heat to it. Try 'Often it feels like' or 'Recently, I have noticed.' They are not all or nothing; they are more subjective, effective terms."
4Use "And," Not "But"
Try to avoid using the word "but," as it often invalidates others and causes the other person to feel defensive. '“You did a great job on that project, but you should check your proof reading next time—' What a back-handed compliment," says Roberts. "The listener doesn’t even hear the praise now. They are focused on what they did wrong. Using the word "and" instead forces you to change the outcome of the statement: “You did a great job on that presentation, and try to spell check a bit more if you can. I know it can be a hassle sometimes.”
5Validate People's Feelings, Even If You Don't Agree
Validation doesn’t mean you have to agree with the person, but it can show you are attempting to understand where they are coming from. "I may not be able to understand what it feels like to have something happen, but I can be emphatic with my words," says Roberts. Something like, 'That must have been terrible. I’m sorry that happened,' shows I am listening to them.
6Make A List Of Your Social Priorities
It's easy to get caught up in the hustle and bustle of life and accidentally neglect those close to you. This can be resolved by making a list of your weekly priorities of people you want to spend time with. "We all have the excuse 'We are too busy,'" says Kitley. "A conscious effort needs to be made. Examples are: Set up a coffee date, a phone call, send someone a text you know you are thinking of them."
7Learn To Say "No"
Standing your ground or turning something down isn't always a negative. "Say no when you need or want to," says clinical psychologist Dr. Lyssa Menard over email. "Agreeing to everything asked of you is not good for anyone. You'll either wind up being resentful, which seeps out in passive aggressive behavior, or you'll fail to deliver."
8Express Your Gratitude
"Along with being positive, take the time to express your thanks to those who've done right by you or others, and take note of anything in your experience that's worthy of gratitude," says Menadrd. "If you're grateful that your plane took off on time and landed without incident, really take note of it — either verbally or even just internally. It will change your disposition and others will feel drawn to your perspective."
9Start Your Sentence With "I" Instead Of "You"
Instead of saying something like "You're always making a mess," say, "I feel anxious when the house is so cluttered" instead. "We are quick to tell people what they're doing wrong and that often puts people on the defensive," says Jennifer Weaver-Breitenbecher LMHC, CRC over email. "Instead, we should be telling people how we feel and allow them to respond to our feelings."
Of course you always want to respect someone's boundaries, but showing physical affection can help forge warm relationships. "Affection can go a long way in relationships," says Weaver-Breitenbecher. "It isn't the be all and end all, but physical touch from someone we love increases are endorphins and feel-good neurotransmitters."
11Give Them Your Undivided Attention
It's truly simple, but put your phone down and give someone the undivided attention they need. "Few people really get the interested, focused attention from others that we all need," says Menard. "That kind of interest makes people feel like they truly matter. It's such a gift that, when you give it, others will remember you fondly."