Monday, April 23, 2012
How to Make Friends & Open Doors
Most people want to make new friends, and open doors of various sorts. Is it all that complicated? You’d think so, because there are seminars and books and counselors, all geared to making things happen for us.
While we learn in school that we must have a degree, and follow certain protocol, school rarely seems to teach us about how the real world operates.
Perhaps the single most important skill to develop is communications. Poor communications have ruined businesses and marriage, and led to war. Yet, the good communicator can open doors that sometimes even the schooled individual cannot.
Even Scientologists recognize this, for the first course that new students take is in communications. Communication is at the heart of what we are and what we do.
My mentor Revve Weisz recently told me about how he made so many friends back in junior high school, and how so many opportunities then became available to him.
He discovered the magic of taking an interest in other people. He took the time to remember their names, and he took the time to ask people how they were doing, and if they needed help in studies or sports. It turned out that Weisz was an “A” student in academics and excelled in sports. But the magic began when he took a genuine interest in others, with sincerity.
In his senior year, even though he wasn’t running for school president, there was an unprecedented write-in campaign to get him elected.
By contrast, how often have we had conversations with people who are barely listening, just waiting for us to stop talking so they can share their opinion or their story? Way too often! Even worse these days, how often have we talked with someone whose I was podded so bad that they could barely take their eyes away from their I-pod, I-pad, texting toy, or cell phone?
You’d think that with all these communications devices, we’d communicate better, but we don’t. Why? Because real communication means that we commune with another. Though a technological toy can help us do that, it can not replace our sincere intent to feel what another person is saying and experiencing. Just like Weisz learned, sometimes we should put our own personal interests asides – at least for the moment – when we are trying to commune and listen to another.
Yes, this requires slowing down. Yes, this requires work.
A good tool in developing these somewhat unused communication skills is to perfect our use of language, and to use language precisely. A good tool in this regard is the classic book by S.I. Hayakawa, “Language in Thought and Action.” If you’ve never read it, then fasten your seat belts!
But the flip side is that some folks who are highly skilled in language can use their words to deceive, beguile, and confuse. That’s where intent comes in. Language use is like any other skill – it is neutral. It is our use of intent for pure communication that makes our improved language skills a tool of our personal evolution.
And this is why you really can communicate well with someone who speaks another language, and by the use of your intent, you can speak heart-to-heart by use of facial expressions, pantomime, and perhaps a handy translator.
I have been practicing sign language for the deaf for some time, and occasionally get to use it. It is a simple and direct way to communicate and there seems to be less opportunity for deception. I find it to be a pure way to commune with someone, without any words at all! That’s right – we can communicate, and do so clearly and cleanly, without any words whatsoever!
Making friends and opening doors are intimately related. You can do both by taking a genuine interest in others and working at your communication skills.