While sorting files from the past twenty-five years, and throwing out what I can live without, I found a scrap of an old newspaper. I’d saved it because it contained an old old Dear Abby column telling her readers how to be popular—written fifty-eight years ago.
Her advice includes:
- Be kind
- Be honest
- Be tactful
- Be well-groomed and tastefully attired
- Be hardworking
- Be a good sport
- Be generous with kind words
- Be engaged in a passion: art, dance, instrumental music
- Have good posture
- Have a smile
- Have a clean mind and body
- Think for yourself, but respect rules
- Ask God for help
- Be grateful
What do you think? It seems to me her advice applies to us, no matter what our age. And maybe if written today, she’d most likely add, “Put your cell phone away when you are with someone— be present to them.”
Years ago, I put together a Toastmasters contest speech called, “Talking to Strangers.” Within the speech was an acronym—Y.O.G.A. Here is an excerpt from my award winning book Rock Solid Confidence: Presenting Yourself with Assurance, Poise and Power describing my take on people skills:
The Balance of Y.O.G.A.
Y.O.G.A. is a formula I created for a Toastmaster contest speech. I took this seven minute talk to the state level, but didn’t win the contest. I did win a lifelong way to look at balanced communication, and found that this can be used in informal networking situations as well as formal presentations. The letters stand for:
Y – be Yourself
O – focus of Others
G – be Gentle
A – Add your personality and zest!
The Y—Being Yourself is basic to confidence. We will only mention it here since Part 2 [of the book] explores this subject in great detail. However, I don’t think we can over-emphasize the importance of knowing who we are, establishing good boundaries and appreciating the many gifts and talents we possess. When we are self confident, we experience the freedom to be.
Now that we are ok with ourselves, the O—Focus on Others becomes important. Be sincerely interested in others before and after the presentation. Smile, lean forward, and look at each individual. Be curious about that person; ask questions and respond with interest by using your body and voice. It’s not a good idea to judge or use “yes, but…” statements.
The G—Be Gentle might seemed a bit un-assertive, but it does describe the tenderness we humans crave. One of my favorite dentists is gentle—and I appreciate that! In speaking, choose safe topics or at least present your controversial topic in a way that is respectful to the audience. Avoid being too personal, or negative. If you offend (and it only takes a second to discover this) sincerely say “I apologize” or “forgive me for…” Express your respect with sincerity.
In every aspect of life, A—Add Your Personality is the ultimate goal. It’s useful to share a personal experience for the purpose of making a point or building rapport. By showing your natural personality, you invite others to do the same. If you read and participate in activities that are out of your normal area of interest, you expand who you are as a person.
This last step brings us back to the beginning, so rather than being a straight line, Y.O.G.A is a never ending circle of relationship building.
I hope you find ways to bring these two perspectives to life! And, of course, the easiest way to be bring sunshine into anyone’s life is to SMILE! Practice at the mall, with strangers, with family. Notice the response you receive in return.
Perhaps being popular with THE SELF will bring our greatest satisfaction and level of happiness. In Sally Field’s famous words (modified): “I LIKE ME. I REALLY LIKE ME!”
Let me know your thoughts and your own strategies for making friends.
May your self-trust build confidence,
PS. If you need to present yourself confidently, but don’t have a copy of Rock Solid Confidence: Presenting Yourself with Assurance, Poise and Power, the book is available on Amazon in print or ebook versions. Or better yet, email me at email@example.com. I have a few books I’m selling for $5, with covers that are slightly imperfect. Join others who have benefited from this book based on twenty-five years of working with clients.