Ever decide to say no to a social invitation or not speak up in a meeting, simply because you were afraid of being a downer?
That's exactly what one of my students brought up recently in a session, and it inspired me to share the pro-active tips what we talked about in our session with you!
Now let's be clear. This post is not just about how to get people to like you.
Dale Carnegie wrote an excellent book about that in 1936. (Winning others over has much to do with making them feel special and important. Just check out the summary points below!)
Not following Dale Carnegie's time-old advice might make you less likable, but it probably won't make you a downer.
Here are the 10 most common ways you are being a downer, personally and professionally, and how to flip that and be someone people are itching to spend time with instead!
1. You're stuck in negative thinking.
Negative thoughts create negative emotions.
When you're feeling less than your best, that feeling will naturally be felt by those who you are around.
We're empathetic beings.
Everyone has negative thoughts and moods every now and then. So how do you still participate in that conversation without being a downer?
I recommend doing anything you can to get out of your head, and back into your body!
Work out, engage in body-based mindfulness exercises or just get up and move around, shaking your limbs for awhile. Go do it in the restroom if you feel like a weirdo!
You can even simply focus on one anchor point of sensation in your body-- somewhere that feels pleasurable or good, like a tingly warmth in your hands, for example.
When all of your attention is set on a happy place or feeling in the body, it naturally steers you towards more happy thoughts as well.
2. You're complaining about what's bothering you.
There is a massive difference between complaining and venting (or sharing genuinely).
Complaining is a quick way to dissipate the negative feelings without taking personal responsibility for your part in it.
Venting is about sharing authentically while still owning your experience.
Here's an example of this in action to show you exactly what I mean.
If I were to complain about my co-worker, I might say, "Sally is so frustrating. She always has a problem with the way I do things."
Do you hear the blame there?
Now venting might sound like, "I had a tough day today. I was really challenged with Sally again. She had another problem with my approach today."
Do you feel a little more empathy here for me?
If someone cares about you, they will be keen to listen to your experiences, even if they were negative, as long as they are shared in a vent, rather than a complaint.
3. Zero kindness in your direction.
Simple caring, warmth and consideration go a long way.
If someone is trying to open up and share their unique experience with you, and you dismiss it or don't show them any care in return, that can be a major downer to them.
Just make sure you acknowledge people's contribution with care and courtesy, even if you don't agree (or even if they're being a downer).
"Thanks for sharing," can go a long way.
4. You reject kindness when it comes your way.
If someone goes out of their way to show courtesy, support or love to you, do you dismiss it by delivering a counter-statement?
Do you avoid or deflect compliments?
That's a huge downer!
Try to remember what that feels like on the giving end when someone rejects your compliment.
It's like giving someone a big juicy gift and then they just drop it on the ground.
JUST SAY THANK YOU.
5. You're talking about people, not ideas.
6. You're not keeping the connection.
Imagine if two salsa dancers were trying to dance together, but they kept letting go of each other's hands and dropping eye contact.
That would be pretty damn impossible to make that work.
This happens all the time in conversation.
We're so focused on our agenda, what we want to say, that we're not keeping the natural thread and responding to what is happening right before us.
This point goes way beyond just being a good listener.
It's about feeling what is between you and another, spoken and unspoken, and staying relevant to that.
Needless to say, this takes practice! Something I can help with...
7. You've got a passive approach to relating.
Only an active approach creates value-- at work, at home, at the pub.
Sure it can be nice to just relax with people you care about and not do anything sometimes.
But that doesn't add anything extra and sparkly to your relationship.
You know where the sparkles come from: humor, a kind gesture, a supportive word, an exciting idea.
Even if you're in relaxation mode, there are always a few things you can do to add value and be an upper to someone.
As long as you make a conscious decision about taking an action (whether it be to watch a funny movie so you can laugh, to ask a meaningful question so you can feel closer, to go for a walk so you can be healthy), rather than passively default into what comes next, you will always ensure that you are an upper in their eyes.
8. You sound like Eeyore.
A touch of self-deprecation can be charming, but an overdose and you start to sound like Eeyore, the depressive donkey from Winnie the Pooh.
When we judge or speak negatively about ourselves in public, you're basically telling the world that even you don't want to hang out with yourself.
That's a problem.
Eeyore is also famous for his monotone, gloomy voice, which brings you down just listening to it!
If you want to uplift people, the first step is always to start with a clear intention to do so.
Try it today. Make the intention to inspire the next person you have a conversation with.
Then watch what naturally happens to your tone of voice!
You'll probably notice more energy, enthusiasm and vivaciousness creeping all up in there...in a good way!
9. Excuse me, I think you dropped your sense of humor.
I don't care how important you are or how important something is to you.
There is always enough space to laugh at yourself.
Without humor between two people, even at a basic level, the interaction just doesn't flow and work properly.
It's always an uphill battle.
So start practicing now.
Watch stand up comedy on Netflix or silly side-busting movies.
Whatever it takes to make yourself more comfortable with your sense of humor.
People love to laugh and have fun, and if you can help them do that, you will have to turn down invitations because you'll be such in high demand.
10. You're not attending to your needs.
Do you need to eat, sleep or hug someone?
You've probably heard the saying that you can't take care of anyone else if you're not taking care of yourself first.
I gained first-hand experience with this wise adage in 2002 when I began working as a massage therapist.
To the degree that I was committed to high-level self-care on a daily basis, I was happy, motivated and effective at my work.
If I dropped my healthy sleeping, eating and exercise habits, I was absolutely useless, moody and lethargic with clients.
So taking care of me has become my number one priority, and continues to be as I now care for my coaching students these days.
The bottom line is that the impact you'd like to have on someone will fall flat if you haven't first tried to make a difference in your own day and well-being.
Got another idea of what makes someone a downer? Comment below!
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Got a burning question about how to implement something I've shared here?
Go ahead and email me at firstname.lastname@example.org, and I'll reply as fast as I can!