3 Tips for introverts on being friendly and staying true to themselves.
Friendliness is a communication event. If other people don’t perceive you as friendly, you aren’t friendly. – Tim Sanders; The Likeability Factor
I have to admit, I can be a little aloof. My default setting is to keep to myself and quietly do my work. I don’t need a lot of recognition, input or help from anyone else. I prefer to put my head down and “get ‘er done”.
One of the stock phrases that teachers use on report cards is; “plays well with others.” I never got that one, I always got, “prefers to work alone” and “needs encouragement to engage with fellow students.”
I have never considered myself “unfriendly” though just because I don’t feel I need a lot of friends. At any given time throughout my life I can honestly count on one hand the number of people I would go to for help and support in a time of crisis. As I write this I am hard pressed to come up with more than three names that come to mind. Does the fact that I don’t have a lot of people that I trust deeply mean that I’m not friendly? I don’t think so.
I do communicate a lot with other people. Communication is a big part of my life. I even track it to make sure I am hitting my targets and growing my business. I make over 200 individual client communications a week, be they phone calls, emails or good old fashioned letters (yes I still write letters). Does that make me friendly? Not exactly but it’s a better measure than the number of friends I have.
In his land mark book on communication, The Likeability Factor, Tim Sanders tells us that in order to be friendly you have to be perceived as friendly. It’s not about the number of friends you have, or the amount of time you spend alone. Friendliness does not come easier to extroverts than it does to introverts. Friendliness is found in the way we communicate not in the volume of our communication or the intensity and gregariousness of our personality.
So speaking as an introvert with few true friends here are my tips for being perceived as friendly even when I don’t want to make you my friend.
1 – Smile.
If you’re happy somebody should tell your face. People are naturally drawn to a happy face. Even without saying a word you will be perceived as an easy going and relaxed person. If you do most of your communicating on the phone smile anyway, your voice will sound different, and more upbeat if it comes from a smiling face. People on the other end of the phone can tell.
2 – Use short sentences full of positive imperatives.
Remain positive and succinct. Use words like “Do” “Go” and “Be” and stay aware from words like “Not” and all of its derivatives like “Don’t”, “Can’t” and “Won’t”. This works in the spoken word but it is even more important in writing, I do a lot of my communication in writing. While conveying deeper emotions is very difficult in the written word, staying positive is extremely important in order to avoid misunderstanding. Never try to be sarcastic in writing, unless you know your audience extremely well. Sarcasm is a minefield for misunderstanding.
3 – Retreat when you need to.
Keeping in mind the first two points, if you just aren’t in the mood to communicate with people, tell them. Honesty is powerful. There is a lot of power, and believe it or not friendliness in saying to someone, with a smile of course, “I would really like to stay and talk but I have a lot of other work to do right now, can we continue this conversation later?” You will not generally be perceived as unfriendly and aloof if you are just honest about your need for some quite time.
Remember, friendliness is key to effective communication. If you find it difficult that’s okay. Just remember these three tips and it should get easier.