|Two of the friendliest gals I've ever met - Rachelle and Carrie|
I want people to like me. There I said it. I didn't say I'm a suck up or a people pleaser. If you know me outside this blog at all, you know I'm not. I have just a tad too much take-me-or-leave-me in me to be a people pleaser.
But I do enjoy having friends. Friends are good.
Not only that, but I enjoy connecting with people. I like to have conversations where we get beyond "Hi" and "How are you?" to the real and authentic stuff of life. I love it when something I say resonates with you or when you make a comment and I'm jumping up and down inside screaming, "Me too!"
And I love it when I get into a deep and meaningful conversation with someone and the time flies by faster than the free skate song at the local roller rink. And I absolutely thrill at those times when we find out we have little, itsy, bitsy, kinda miniscule things in common that we had no idea we shared...the kind of things that sound insignificant and small to others, but to the people who share them they are like little dots of crazy glue, drawing them together in a bond that can't be broken.
The older I get the more I realize I want to move my relationships even more quickly through the polite conversation stage and onto the meaningful and treasured moments of deep friendship. Especially when I meet other Christians. After all, these are the folks I'll spend eternity with. I want to be well past the small talk stage by the time we take up residence within the pearly gates.
And I desire a broader base of friendships, too. I don't want friendships made of people just like me. I want a little variety. I want friends from other countries, professions, skin colors, languages, and backgrounds. Yes, I even want friends of other faiths. I just, of course, want to share my faith with them. I'm just keeping it real.
So that gets me to thinking about how to be the kind of person with whom others want to be friends. You know Jesus was a winsome guy. I love that word, winsome. We don't use it very often. I guess it just sounds a little old-fashioned. But to be winsome simply means that you have the ability to very naturally and easily win some friends!
Or something like that.
Any who... Jesus drew people to Himself...with what appeared to be little effort. In other words, He wasn't on some sort of popularity quest. He wasn't trying to have more "Friends" on Facebook than anyone else or have more people repin His pins or retweet His tweets. Good grief. He just drew crowds with relatively little "effort."
That says to me that it wasn't any great ploys on His part that drew people in, but it was His very nature. Up until the point where He would call for a wholehearted commitment from people, He really didn't push Himself on people. He just was.
Of course, He was....God. He was love and joy and peace and patience and kindness and goodness and gentleness and faithfulness, oh my! And forget self-control. He just was in control.
And people were just drawn to this God-man. Thousands at a time. And they wanted Him to touch them and touch their children. And they wanted to hear every word He said.
Now I don't have those aspirations. I am under no false assumptions about people hanging on my every word and I don't want anyone hanging on my every shirt sleeve. I just want to know how to win some. How to be winsome enough to strike up a conversation and keep it going long enough to have the opportunity to eventually share the hope I have in Jesus Christ.
And I happen to think that being likeable would be a likely first step.
So how can we be more winsome? Here are 10 brief suggestions.
- Smile. With your eyes, too. Work on having the kind of smile that starts in your belly and works it way up to your mouth and shines out your eyes and eventually breaks out into at least a friendly chuckle. Some people really need to just stop right here and go work on this one for a while.
- Ask questions. Not the nosy or bothersome kind, but the genuine and non-threatening curiosity type.
- Listen. With your eyes and your ears and your heart and your sweet little nodding head.
- Follow up. I'm amazed at how many people are amazed when you come back around and ask about their dog that was sick or their flowers they planted Thursday or their trip to Niagara Falls. People like to know you remembered.
- Give a little. You don't have to give gifts you bought at the store, but think of how many ways you can give something, say, to a new acquaintance at church. Offer to refill their coffee, help them take their children to the nursery, have them over for dinner, let them share your Bible if they forgot to bring one, or just give them your card with an invitation to call you if they ever need anything.
- Suggest a future. I love it when a new acquaintance makes me feel like they see a future with me in it, when they say something like, "Next week you should sit with me," or "Some time soon we'll have to go to lunch and talk about our college kids."
- Show some enthusiasm. I know not everyone is naturally enthusiastic. There are some personality types who look the same whether their pie won first place at the State Fair or their dog died. But, come on. If you want that new friend to become a good friend, you're going to have to look like you truly enjoyed meeting them.
- Steer clear of controversy. I'm not suggesting you keep your relationships shallow and never progress to the point where you get down to the serious stuff in life. But there's a time and place for everything. It's a real turn-off to me when a new acquaintance wants to battle me on a controversial subject right out of the gate.
- Hold your tongue. Boy, I can really monopolize a discussion if I'm not careful. I like to talk. But I've learned that if I want to have friends I better learn to keep my mouth shut a fair amount of the time and let someone else fill the vacuum every now and then.
Well, those are my tips. Do you have any to add? What do you think makes a person likeable, winsome?
- Do it again. Building relationships takes time and consistency. I met a neat woman at a baby shower one time that I had a lot in common with. I thought we could be good friends and I should definitely follow up with her. But I never did. Four years later our paths crossed again and I didn't make the same mistake twice. We're Facebook friends now and I plan to invite her to lunch in the fall. Friendly people pursue friends, I'm learning.
Labels: friendship, new, relationships, sharing your faith