“I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.” ~Maya Angelou
We all want to be around people who make us feel lighter and happy. We love seeing and interacting with people who brighten our days.
So, why is it that so many of us spend our days with people who don’t lift us up, people who don’t inspire us, and in some cases, people who tear us down?
It’s tough to remove these kinds of people from our lives, especially if we see them every day.
These people may be your colleagues or bosses, which makes them tough (or nearly impossible) to avoid.
In some cases, these toxic people in our lives are, in fact, our own family members.
That’s makes it really hard to escape the negativity on a daily basis.
I’ve had negative people in my life ever since I can remember.
For example, my aunt—who played a major role in my childhood—would give me destructive criticism when I was young.
She’d say things like, “You look like you’ve gained some weight. Are you really going to eat that cookie?” And “You’re not smart enough to read that book. Why do you even try?” And even “Nobody likes you—you’ll never have friends.”
Those comments hurt me to the core. I felt like I didn’t measure up, like being myself wasn’t enough.
And when I began to think that way, I thought that I didn’t deserve to be loved—by my family, by friends, and by myself.
But then, one day I was watching a TV show. There was a guest on the show and the interviewer asked him, “What’s the key to your long-term success?”
His response was pure gold: He said, “I’m the average of the five people I’ve spent the most time with over the years. You want to know the secrets to my success? Go meet them.”
What I took away from that quote was this: I could control my own success and destiny by surrounding myself with the right kind of people. I was in control of my happiness and the way I felt.
I could eliminate all the negativity in my life by removing certain people and adding new, empowering people in their place.
This was really inspiring to me, but I underestimated how difficult it can be to meet new people.
Sometimes, we don’t know what to say to start a conversation, or we start a conversation and run out of things to say. These are roadblocks to forming great friendships.
After years of hard work and practice, I’ve mastered the art and science of meeting new people. And these are a couple of neat and fun ways you can do so.
The Compliment Game: The Easiest Way To Start a Conversation with Anyone
The Compliment Game is pretty self-explanatory.
You make it a goal to go up to someone and give them a genuine compliment, followed by a brief question.
For example, I might say, “I really like the color of that shirt. Where’d you get that?”
Or I might say, “Your hair looks fantastic! Did you do something different?”
Or even, “You have great taste in coffee. What do you recommend here?”
Key things to remember: The compliments should be genuine (meaning you actually think what you’re saying is true) and it’s a game, so it should be fun.
You don’t have worry about saying the perfect things or impressing anyone with your super-amazing attention to detail; just have fun with it.
Think about some of the things you’d like to be complimented on.
Maybe you have great taste in books, or are great at finding new music, or maybe you have skill for cooking amazing food. It can be anything, but shy away from flirty compliments; that can make people uncomfortable.
Give others the gift of compliments in the same caliber you’d like to receive.
This is a great way to start a conversation, because once they answer your question, you’ve opened the door for more discussion and potential friendship.
Here’s another game you might try:
The Sixty Second Introduction Game
Again, the name pretty much explains the game.
Make it a goal that within sixty seconds of entering a room, you will introduce yourself to at least one person.
You don’t have to say anything complicated; you can keep it simply with something like:
“Hi, how’s your morning going?”
“Good morning! How are you?”
“Hi, I don’t think we’ve met. I’m Rob.”
The key here is to be energetic and upbeat.
You’ll notice you get very different responses when you say things in different ways.
For example, saying any of the above introductions with a smile is going to go over much better than if you say it in a flat, monotone voice and with a straight face.
Play around with this, too. The more people you meet, the more likely you are to get to know empowering and inspiring people.
These games can be the first step toward surrounding yourself with five amazing friends or mentors.
Neither you nor I should have to put up with negativity and mediocrity in our relationships.
We owe it to ourselves to forge better friendships and a better future. Let’s not settle for less. Let’s have the relationships, the respect, and the love we desire and deserve.
Friends high-fifing image via Shutterstock
About Rob Allen
Rob Allen is a communications and influence coach who runs Kick Start Your Dream Life, a website dedicated to teaching ambitious young professionals how to be less socially awkward and have better conversations with everyone they meet — regardless of where they’re starting from! Currently, Rob is giving away his 30-page eBook, “The Ultimate Guide To Talking to Anyone.”