I’m going to let you in on a little secret. Actually, it’s two little things that if done combined, will make you instantly seem more friendly and approachable. That’s a big deal when your goal is to make friends and win people over. They are to smile and make eye contact. This seems very basic, but don’t let it deceive you.
Combined this is a very powerful tactic. It instantly shows the other person that you’re open to talk and interact. Let’s take a look at them individually and then I encourage you to use them in combination. It’s hard to resist someone who smiles genuinely at you and keeps eye contact. That’s where the real magic happens, even though each one individually is quite helpful as well.
Let’s Talk About the Smile
Something special happens when someone genuinely smiles at us, doesn’t it? I’m not talking about the polite smile you get as you pass people on your way to work. I’m talking about a real smile that lights up the person’ face. It really is a powerful thing. It is universal across all languages and cultures. It signals that all is well and safe. We are much more comfortable approaching and talking to a smiling person than a grumpy one. In fact, when we’re socializing, a smile can signal permission to approach. Think about the last time you were in a bar looking at a pretty girl. If she gives you a big smile, you’re much more comfortable walking over to talk to her.
The same holds true when you’re trying to reach out to new people and win them over to you. Start with a big, genuine smile and it will become much easier.
Getting Good at Eye Contact
Making and maintaining eye contact can be a little intimidating at first. If you’re an introvert, or simply not a very social person in general, this will seem hard, and possibly even scary. Your default reaction may be to avert your eyes and look down. That’s a hard habit to overcome, but it can be done.
Start with baby steps. Practice on people you meet as you run errands around town. The grocery store cashier is a great example. The next time you head to the store, make eye contact with your cashier for a few seconds. The next week, hold the eye contact for longer or make it multiple times. Keep practicing on people you meet as you go about your busy life and it will start to become easier.