When clients first come to see me, some of the first questions I ask are:
- Who is your community?
- Who really knows you?
People grow emotionally and spiritually in the context of community and relationships. We were created to be relational beings. A lot of people who have been hurt in the past feel better closing themselves off to avoid future pain. But true wholeness is found by connecting with others. Ultimately, one must choose between risking rejection (but eventually finding connection) or remaining safe (and stuck in psychological stagnation).
It seems like it's easy for children to make friends. Adults find themselves scratching their heads in situations where they are forced to interact with people they don't know. It's easy to forget some of the basic principles for making friends.
How do you make friends? Dale Carnegie addressed this in his popular classic, How to Win Friends and Influence People. This is a summary of some of his most salient points on getting people to warm up to you:
- Become genuinely interested in other people.
- Remember that a person's name is to that person the sweetest and most important sound in any language.
- Be a good listener. Encourage others to talk about themselves.
- Talk in terms of the other person's interests.
- Make the other person feel important—and do it sincerely.
These are excellent tactics because they take the pressure off yourself and help you focus on others. This is what it means to love others first. We are called to love our neighbor, even our enemies, before looking out for our own interests. Not only does this please God, but it instills immediate trust in other people.
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