Win the popularity contest every time with these simple steps
Ever find yourself not quite tuned in when a friend wants a chat? ‘The main barrier to listening is stress; says Dr Gary Wood, social psychologist and life coach (drgarywood.co.uk). ‘It makes you preoccupied with your own thoughts, rather than being emotionally available for others.’ Relax and your mind opens up, making you better able to respond to people – the key to being considerate and a good friend. ‘A couple of times a day, take just five minutes out – to do some deep breathing or visualise a calm and happy scene to break the stress cycle; suggests chartered psychologist and coach Kim Stephenson (stephenson-consulting.co.uk).
Of course there are times when it’s appropriate to have a good moan, but if it’s becoming the norm, it’ll turn people off seeing you. Both Gary and Kim recommend this exercise to feel happier with your life (which will make your friends happier, too): every night, think of three things that happened that day to be grateful for – for example, a compliment or the fact you made it to Zumba. ‘It means you can go to bed feeling positive about your day, which can improve your sleep – and your mood in the morning; says Kim. Want to take it a step further? Deploy the’pay it forward’ principle by doing something nice for three people. A word of encouragement, giving up your seat on the bus or a call to your mum, for example.
A constant need for reassurance is no fun for anyone, so if your friends are bored by your lack of self-esteem, it’s time to change your ways. ‘There’s a phenomenon called Imposter Syndrome, which plays havoc with your confidence; says Kim. If you find it hard to accept compliments or worry someone’s going to ‘find out’ you’re not the fabulous person you seem, you should make an effort to tap into the things you feel positive about. Ignore the ringing phone and spend a few minutes doing this to break that achieve-stress cycle:
And, smile more! It’s the easiest booster of all – for you and those around you. ‘It’s such a small gesture, but by smiling at someone, you’re showing you’ve noticed them and that’s enough to give someone a lift.’Knowing you’ve done that builds your confidence, too: