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How To Be Friendly Without Feeling Fake

how to be friendly

I used to think that I was being fake if I didn’t act hostile to someone I felt antagonistic towards. If I didn’t signal my dislike for them with every word or movement, then I wasn’t being real. For whatever reasons, I felt it was extremely important that people grasped my true feelings about them.

When you’re rude to someone just because you don’t want them to mistakenly think you like them; that’s not healthy behavior, and it can hurt you in the long run.

When I was in school, there was a girl who really annoyed me. She was a blond cheerleader type, very entitled, and full of herself. She probably didn’t like me as much as I didn’t like her, but she was always friendly to me. I wanted her to know that I disliked her, but I didn’t want to tell her outright, so I showed her in the way I acted. I gave her my best stink-eye, refused to smile around her, and almost everything out of my mouth was sarcastic. It took a lot of energy to keep it real but I felt as if I was being my authentic self.

The trouble was, she wasn’t aware of what I was doing at all. She probably just thought I had a terrible personality and wasn’t that much fun to be around. It became clear that I was only hurting myself by putting out all that negative energy.

I realized that when you’re talking to someone you don’t like, and you’re not being rude, you’re not fake; you’re acting kind, professional, and mature. After that, I was friendly as she was to me, and honestly, I don’t think she noticed a difference.

No one needs to be constantly updated on your bad feelings for them—they’re your feelings and ultimately, they’re about you. You never know when you might need a favor from someone you don’t really care for, or they from you. We’re all in this together, so let’s try to make it as amiable as possible.

10 Tips for How to be Friendly

  1. Face them head-on. Don’t avoid, dismiss, or ignore them. You don’t want to get into the habit of changing your life, so you don’t have to encounter them. It’s easier to just exchange a few pleasantries with them or talk about the work project and then go about your business.

  2. Center yourself and take a breath before engaging in conversation. You’ve got this. You can be real without rubbing everyone the wrong way. Sometimes we have co-workers that we don’t care for, but we still have to work with them. No one wants to work in a hostile environment—so don’t be the person making it one.

  3. Treat them as you would want to be treated. I don’t enjoy it when someone is randomly cold or harsh with me, so why should I impose that kind of hateful behavior on someone else. We, human-beings, are good, bad, and everything in between. The best way to treat people is with respect and kindness (even if you don’t believe they deserve it.)

  4. Get rid of your expectations. Sure, maybe you haven’t gotten along in the past, but people change—they grow up, and they grow wiser. Maybe that person you always considered an asshat realized they were being obnoxious and changed their ways, or perhaps you’re the one who has changed.

  5. Focus on what you have in common. If you’re at a party together, talk about how you know the hosts or if you’re co-workers, what you think about whatever big change is coming.

  6. Try to have a positive attitude. Don’t go into the talk thinking it’s going to be the most painful five minutes of your life. There are many worse things than making small talk. Look for something good about them and compliment on it.

  7. Have some empathy. If you can try to see things from their point of view, you may feel compassion for them instead of revulsion.

  8. Don’t take what they say personally. You have no idea where they’re coming from. They might feel competitive with you and want to build themselves up out of insecurity.

  9. Take care of yourself and voice your own needs. If they never let you get in a word edgewise, tell them (without using accusatory language) that you feel as if you’re being steamrolled. They might be surprised to know that they’re doing a monologue instead of having a conversation.

  10. Know that you’re not going to like everyone. However, that doesn’t mean you can’t get along with them.

You don’t lose a part of yourself or your integrity if you treat people with consideration and kindness. It’s much better to be pleasant, even if the other person isn’t--that just makes them look bad, and you the hero of the conversation.

I don’t think that I’m fake or phony when I’m being polite and kind to those I don’t really like. In some instances, I’ve learned that my dislike was based on a false idea of who they were and once I got to know them, I discovered I liked them a lot.

Being kind to others costs us nothing but the rewards are great.