The methods for becoming popular are completely opposite to what you may have learned as a teenager. I know I had it turn around. But that period of our adolescence is so confusing in many ways, it’s no surprise that some (or most – I don’t know) approach this wrong.
I thought those who were the coolest, toughest, best looking, most confident, most outgoing, and most athletic were the most popular kids in school. That may have been somewhat true, but in the adult (mature at any age) world, it does not quite work that way.
Certainly, good-looking, confident, and outgoing people have an advantage, but they are not always popular in a positive way in the adult world. The values and rules are different.
Many people, including myself, carry the social position they had in school into their career, social life, and early adult years. You’ve probably heard adults of all ages say, “I’ve always been shy.” The truth is almost everyone was shy at some point and almost anyone can overcome it.
I was an extremely shy boy and young man. These three things conquered my shyness.
- Taking many public speaking courses (including Dale Carnegie), college classes, and corporate workshops. I also continued my development by being a member of Toastmasters for a number of years.
- Doing what I was afraid of socially in spite of my fear. It was scary and very awkward at first, but I eventually became quite skilled and posed.
- Learning to just always be my best, honest, and positive self and be dam with all other concerns and expectations.
Becoming popular is surprisingly easy. I’ve done it several times, usually when I came into a new community or group. I also did it recently in a more skilled and refined way. Although I applied many of the tips listed below early on, I did not set out to “become popular.” It just happened, much to my surprise. Here are the keys to becoming popular.
- Introduce yourself in a friendly way as opportunities arise. Any awkwardness will soon disappear. Remember, almost everyone is shy, even those who do not appear to be so.
- Commit to remembering people’s names. I record every person’s name I meet in a notebook with an identifying note next to it. The act of writing it down and the ability to review the list helps to easily learn and recall people’s names.
- Be yourself! Do not put on airs of confidence, status, wealth, or anything else. Don’t try to hide your lack of wealth, education, status, or confidence. Courageous shyness (doing it anyway in spite of fear) is attractive in most situations. Just let honesty be your guide.
- Be humble (unassuming, unpretentious), but confident.
- Make your boundaries clearly known as issues arise, but do so in a diplomatic way that aligns with the severity of the violation. If a serious violation is repeated, intensify your verbal delivery.
- Do not call attention to your job title, possessions, or accomplishments, but speak self-assuredly if asked.
- Do not dominate conversations. Concentrate on listening more than talking.
- Become genuinely interested in other people and their lives. Focus your attention on getting to know them with appropriate (not nosy) questions. You cannot fake being interested. Your heart must be in it. Learn to value the experience, knowledge, and background of others.
- Remember key points about your conversations with others and ask them about these things later with genuine interest. You cannot fake this either. Develop an emphatic and caring heart. Like that classic song by R.E.M, “Everybody Hurts.”
- Do not gossip, criticize, or complain about other people, places, or things.
- Do not be opinionated or argumentative. Stay away from topics like politics, religion, and unpleasant philosophically connected news of the day.
- Always handle people’s little mistakes with grace and class.
- Never lose your cool. If someone makes a big mistake, crosses the line ethically, or violates your boundaries, speak to them privately. Be direct but maintain the right balance between intensity and diplomacy.
- Be the eternal optimist. Start each day by reviewing the things in your life to be grateful about. Then go forward in your day with cheerfulness, smiles, and love — I mean it.
- Have a loving attitude for everyone and everything. It’s amazing how the world changes when you look at it through the lens of love. Everything thing looks brighter and people respond to you in a remarkably positive way. It may sound or feel corny, hippy, new age, or religious at first, but once you “feel” the vibe, you’ll understand and want more. (Loving is courageous. Hating is cowardice.)
- Have a positive, encouraging, or complimentary word for everyone you meet.
- Look for the good in other people’s actions, deeds, and performances and compliment them on it. Like all the above, your compliments must be sincere and come from your heart.
- Be respectful and courteous to everyone regardless of their appearance, position, or status even if you are showing these things first.
- Attend social functions and introduce yourself to as many people as you can in spite of your fears. Soon you’ll be a pro.
- Join a community service organization, a club that reflects your passions, or start one of your own.
- Help others when the opportunity presents itself. This includes little things like holding or opening doors, lifting or carrying heavy objects, or giving up your seat to someone who needs it more than you do. In appropriate situations, your help may require much more effort and time. Caveat: This does not mean that you sacrifice your own goals to help others by giving them vast amounts of your time and especially your money.
- Give your extra money and possessions to those near you who really need it like a person or family in your community or the homeless. BTW, don’t hesitate to give homeless people money because you are concerned about what they’ll do with it – like buy alcohol. It doesn’t matter. It’s your willingness to give with “heart” that brightens their dismal life in that moment and strengthens your character.
- Be a confident and unbending example and leader in your principles to those around you.
- Follow through on all agreements and commitments. Do what you say you will do.
- Maintain and protect your integrity at all times and in all situations.
- Be nice to people who do not align with your personality, principles, or lifestyle. But limit your contact with them as much as possible.
- Do not focus on “becoming popular.” Focus on being a fine, strong, and compassionate person.
- Do not try too hard, rush it, be aggressive, or pushy. Just relax, have fun, and let things develop naturally.
To become popular in a positive way, it must come from your heart, not your mind.