Attack of the Friendlies

I like the way Abraham Lincoln said it best, “Am I not destroying my enemies when I make friends of them?”

Now, I don’t know how many of you have actual enemies, arch nemeses, rivals, foes or adversaries. These descriptions seem pretty extreme, but sometimes in business, rivalries happen.  They key is not to let them define us or impede us because unlike movie villains, most people are really just looking for friendlies.

Everywhere people go, they are looking for a friendly face. They are looking for someone to acknowledge them. It doesn’t matter who you are, where you’re going, or what you’re doing, people look for this acknowledgement.

In our world, people are all the time sending out the signal looking for friendlies. All the time they are searching for people who are going to be nice to them.

And the world ignores them.

Know this going in: as persuaders, you’re going to get ignored. You’re going to “put yourself out there” and people will flat out disregard you, as if you don’t even exist. People will ignore your signals of ‘hello’ and that’s okay. They don’t know any better. Forgive them. You know better and you’ll know how to influence them in a heart beat the second you lay eyes on them.

How is it that what people really want is to be acknowledged and yet, they end up not paying attention to other people? Well, we’re conditioned. We’ve set up our boundaries. Protected ourselves from rejection by rejecting first.  Sheltered ourselves from disappointment by avoiding engagement. And sometimes, for those of us who live in larger cities, we’ve attempted to eliminate some of the impact from energy siphons and “crazies” and have instead opted to look at our shoes or appear otherwise occupied instead of giving a little nod or smile.

And despite all of this, despite the fact that you WILL be rejected, let us commit to stop ignoring people and to cutting back on our own rudeness.

This rudeness, while not confined to the US, is not as prevalent if you go to other countries. Other cultures are quite different in terms of their unconscious hellos and a general openness to greeting people.

Several years ago I visited a Latin American country where I was woefully ignorant of their particular way of greeting. And I say woefully, because I had not only misinterpreted, but I had judged in the process.

After getting off the airplane, I noticed the greeting first in the airport. A man tipped his head back and pushed his lips out. Instead of immediately realizing that this was in fact a greeting, I took it that the man was trying to hit on me. Here, if you purse your lips at someone, it’s an indication of, ‘Yeah, hey, I’d like to kiss you.’

And so I was off put and became increasingly disturbed as the day went on because wherever I’d go, I’d encounter this same treatment. Had I all of the sudden become a very desirable commodity in the gay community? No. Was I giving off a vibe that this was a part of my personality? Again, no. I was not. And yet, here I was confronted over and over again with men suggesting, in my mind, that they wanted to kiss.

Huh? Well, as quick as I like to believe I am. . . Eventually, I noticed a fellow member of the group I was with doing the same thing, and this man was most definitely not interested in other men. Once I saw this, like a lightning bolt, as if the blindfold of my limited cultural frame had been taken off, I began noticing EVERYONE doing this.

Of course, once I realized this, I immediately began to mirror the behavior and all of the sudden, my discomfort became acceptance in this culture that was new to me.

Practice your “unconscious hello” everywhere you go and be sure and tell us all your successes with using it on the blog below.


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