Blake Snow

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Moving from toxic to healthy relationships always requires temporary loneliness

I volunteer with a support group that counsels and encourages ex-prisoners back into society.

It’s heavy stuff, especially since many of them are homeless when they first get out and largely ostracized by friends, family, and greater society. Those are hard conditions to beat, which is why so many of them return to prison (upwards of 70%).

That said, these meetings are usually incredibly warm, uplifting, humbling, and inspiring. Just last night, one participant expressed frustration in how difficult it can be to leave negative relationships behind, especially if you don’t have any positive relationships to replace them with.

In other words, misery loves company. As social creatures, many humans would rather stay with toxic people than endure loneliness.

When I quit recreational drugs, I spent a lot of lonely nights on my own. My friends were still good people, but I had to remove myself from negative behavior.

It was hard. But after a while, I gradually started fellowshipping with less dependent, more “naturally high” individuals. That felt wonderful and totally worth the temporary loneness I suffered in order to meet them.

So if you’re in an unhealthy relationship but don’t want to be alone, that’s understandable. But it’s better to brave temporary loneliness than to endure ongoing negativity.

The sacrifice is worth it, I promise.

8 ways to get people to like you

In the lifelong pursuit of love, acceptance, friends, and opportunity, the following eight habits have served me well:

  1. Smile. If it’s good enough for one of the most popular books ever written, it’s good enough for you.
  2. Follow the golden rule. They’re not the fastest “sprinters,” but nice people always win “marathons.”
  3. Admit your mistakes. Doing so is not only the right thing to do, it speeds learning and exposes your vulnerabilities, which makes you more personable and humanizing, which makes you more likable.
  4. Share. FACT: People who share have more friends and money than people who don’t.
  5. Create results. Earn your keep with merit, not just connections.
  6. Be interested, not interesting. Instead of trying to impress, take an interest in people you meet. You can always learn something from someone and should always try.
  7. Be honest. Don’t tell people what they want to hear. Tell them what you think. Be considerate of their feelings, but don’t let those feelings lead to dishonesty.
  8. Sympathize with everyone. If they’re human, they’re worth learning from, serving, and sometimes even listening to (depending on the situation).

SEE ALSO: How to influence more and be persuaded less

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It pays to have friends—literally

village peopleBBC recently cited a study that found the more friends you have, the more you earn. After observing 10,000 U.S. students over a period of 35 years, the study showed that the wealthiest people were those that had the most friends at school. Each extra school friend added 2% to the salary.

The take away: The more people you talk to (i.e. network with), the more chances you have to sell yourself as a likable person. The more likable you are in the eyes of others, the higher chance you have of being retained for professional help. That goes for “in school” and in life.

So don’t be an introvert. Talk to people. Take an interest. It takes a village.