No man is an island. No one can live alone in this very world. People must and have to be connected in some ways to other people. The connection is plainly easy, but the hardest part is to determine benefits of that people network. It is believed that you are the average of five people with whom you socialize, physically, mentally, relationally, financially, and etc. If your surrounding people are that important in your life, don’t you want to know for sure what they are doing to you? Have you ever asked yourself ‘who am I around?’ or ‘what are my friends contributing to my life?’
Finding the right people to befriend with is not that easy. That’s why you have seen a lot of people, especially teenagers, trapped into gang groups and never been able to come back again. You probably have seen a nice son suddenly transformed to a punk, and you might have also seen a normal guy turned to become a rich man. In fact, there are many factors leading to such dramatic changes but change in socialization is certainly one of those key ingredients. If you are interested in knowing how to choose the right people to sail your boat, called life, with you, you’ve got to learn and consider the following characteristics of people.
Goal is one of the most common words in English language, and it is not only exclusive for one person, but also interrelated between people. They say that no two people stay together without having any reasons to do so. Now ask yourself, why do you socialize with some group of people, not the others? Usually, the answer to this question is that you have something in common with that particular group. You have got to have something appealing and interesting that you can share with, relate to, play, do and enjoy with those people.
In physics, scientists say that OPPOSITE attracts each other. For example, plus (+) attracts minus (-). However, in relationship or friendship, LIKE—not opposite—attracts. It is safe to say that all people including you want to seek safe heaven by staying close to people who have almost similar views about world and mindset as you do.
Whether you know it or not, I can say that most, if not all, people want to be understood and supported. They may say that they hate to be mind-read, but when it comes to doing anything mind-reading is one of the most effective ways to make people like you and feel close to you. If you are the kind of person who can do the right thing right for people without being asked to, I have no doubts that you are one of the most sought-after people.
So, how do know whether they are good or bad for you to be with? One of the keys is to identify your goals why you are with them. Your goals should be SMART (Specific, Measurable, Action-oriented, Realistic, and Timed) even though it is not necessary. Next, you’ve got to match your goals with theirs. The link between yours and theirs is crucial since the tighter the link is, the longer the relationship is and the more trustworthy the information you can share. Even though I cannot say for certain that the more things, which you have in common with them, determines how close you are to them compared with other people, it seems to be like that in many situations. Also, please look at their goals closely to check whether they help you improve your status quo or not. To do this, you may listen to what they say carefully directly or eye-witness their actions. The cliché ‘action speaks much louder than words’ can still be applied in this situation.
Actions speak much louder than words!
2. Behavioral Consistency
After discovering their goals which have to be in alignment with yours, it is time to test them in real-life practice. Please be careful and cautious with the actions of people with whom you want to socialize. If I am not wrong, you want them to be sincerely true both in front of you and behind your back. Nothing hurts much more than knowing that a person you like treats you badly behind your back though they do good in front of you.
If you don’t want a drama-like friendship, you have to be highly alert and careful of how your surrounding people behave towards you with/without your presence. Good people don’t talk behind your back. If they don’t like you, they will tell you in a respectful way that they don’t. They don’t tell you that they do, and when you are out of their sight, they start bombard bad things about you to other people.
In my personal life, I happen to have one relative who is not consistent in her attitude and action at all (I am sorry that I can’t reveal her identity). I can say that she is a good film star performing in the street of real life. In front of you, she can praise you non-stop to make you feel so good like you are flying like a free bird in the sky. However, behind your back she tells other people how bad you are and even curse you for sometimes no reasons at all. A lot of people can’t stand her at all. It is a matter of time that her life will become utterly miserable if she keeps such an inconsistent attitude of hers.
To know whether a person is consistently treating you, you can just observe the way he/she treats you. Is she/he a kind of person who changes behavior dramatically and illogically? Or is she/he a kind of person who is true to him/herself regardless of the situations and circumstances? Moreover, you can try asking him/her about other people whom you know. After you ask, listen attentively, neutrally and emphatically to the answer. Check if he/she is talking bad behind someone’s back. His/her answer can tell you the kind of information and view about you that she/he is going to tell other people behind your back. If he/she talks fairly about the other people to you, he/she will also fairly talk about you to the other people. If he/she refuses to talk discuss other people’s issues with you, he/she will probably refuse to do the same too when other people suggest him/her to talk about your issues behind your back. But, if she/he talks bad about the other people to you, (be careful!) he/she will also talk bad about you to the other people too.
Talking alone is not enough to judge whether the person really helps or destroys you. You’ve got to see and evaluate the real activities that they do towards you, which is called support. When it comes to support, most people think of money. But that is not always true. Support can be seen in many ways. For the sake of easy understanding, let us divide support into five aspects: physical, mental, intellectual, financial, and relational.
First, you can feel a person’s physical support by the time she/he spends with you, especially when she/he is needed. The old saying “a friend in need is a friend indeed” is still true. Good friends show up when you need them and they don’t abandon you when you thrive for help. In friendship or relationship, physical support can be considered one of the most important things even though people nowadays can create friendship out of thin air and even without seeing thanks to the power of internet and technology through applications such as Facebook, Myspace, Twitter, and etc.
Second, mental support can be shared verbally between people through words of encouragement and motivation. It is as important as physical support since mental support, if you do it correctly and properly, can move people to do something they want to do successfully and make them remember you for the rest of their lives. Even without your physical presence, your motivational words stay in their mind for good. Mental support is extremely needed when the situation for someone is getting more and more tensed because it can lift and ease that person up, at least mentally. Please remember that mental power is the real power which controls the body of any human being.
Third, though I want to discuss about this in the next point ‘wisdom and knowledge’, let me deal with it briefly now. Like you and me, people want to learn more so that they can solve more problems. And the truth is that we will not be able to stop learning since problems are endless and sometimes difficult to be solved, which is the reason why we need intellectual support. Of course, we can learn on our own. But in some urgent situations or in times when we want to solve our problems quickly, we can’t just go to find the answer by ourselves; we need some help from people who have enough experience and knowledge to guide us through the path and solve the problems. If you observe, people who possess high knowledge and more information which is of benefit to other people are usually surrounded and sought after by many people because they are problem solvers or knowledge sources.
Fourth, financial support is a very common kind of support people can think of. Traditionally, if you want to help someone, giving your money to them is one of the easiest things to do. Personally, I don’t know whether financial support is enough or not for relationship but I do know that if it is used in a proper way at the right time, financial support can be very useful. For example, as a friend you can help provide some learning materials to another a friend whose family is struggling financially, which is what he/she needs much more than physical or mental support.
Last, this is relational support. Now, how many people do you know nowadays? In his best-selling book ‘How to sell anything to anyone”, Joe Girard—greatest salesman in the world awarded by Guinness book of world records—states that an average person knows approximately 250 people ranging from the closest to the remotest ones. So, supposed you have socialized with a very person whose 250 friends are all good people, would it be nice to let him introduce you to those 250 good friends of his? How about knowing those 250 friends of each friend of the 250-people group to whom you have been introduced? If you do a simple calculation, a single good friend can befriend you with 62500 effortlessly. In fact, relational support is most of the time neglected by people since it does not have direct benefit like financial or physical support. But this hidden power of relational support, if used properly, can be optimized exponentially. For example, your friend is sick and you want to help your friend. Even if you aren’t a doctor, you can still help him by introducing him to a good doctor or someone who can find him/her a good doctor.
In a nutshell, each kind of support is important and needed according to different situations and place/time settings. Yet, if the combination of all support can be used, magic can happen to the one who receives the support.
4. Related wisdom and knowledge
Some people might find this point very selfish as I am writing deeper about this. But I think it’s worth knowing and caring about this very point. In simple terms, people who can provide you with higher knowledge and wisdom are the ones helping you while the ones with lower knowledge are wasting your time or even downgrading you.
Have you ever heard ‘birds of the same feather fly together’? For us as human, it is also the same. If you want to be successful, surround yourself with successful people. If you want to be like someone, simply behave similarly like them by using your own unique style. I don’t know much, but I do know that when I want to have something such as advice, suggestion, etc. I usually go to people who have higher related knowledge in the field than I do.
In fact there is nothing wrong with the ones who don’t have the knowledge or resources that you want. And the truth is that the world has a lot of people of this kind. These people are called mediocre. They don’t make any mistakes, but they don’t make any achievements either. They don’t cause any problems to you, but they are not helping you either. They may be nice guys but they are not able to help you at all.
If your idea is to find people who can help you to realize your goals in life, you should try your best to find the people who have power, knowledge, etc. and who are willing to help you, not the ones who destroy you or who can’t help you. So, please be a bit clever at this point. It’s not about how nice your surrounding people are to you, yet it’s all about how much they can help you.
5. Language use
Again, everyone wants to be nicely treated. By this, I mean people want to hear nice words such as admiration, praise, etc. Because this is one of human’s natural weaknesses, a few people who master the skill of effective communication have taken advantages over a lot of people who have not mastered this skill. This is like an 80/20 principle. Amongst 100 people, the 20 who are good take control over the rest who are not good. Actually, there is nothing wrong with this 80/20 rule. The only problem is that some of the 20 people overdo it until this skill becomes one of the deadliest weapons to kill people in a soft and cold-hearted way.
Effective communication skill is a two-head spear. It can either help or destroy people. That’s the reason why I want you to be extra-careful with this point. You should not judge people solely by their language use. People who are outspoken are not always bad and people have sugar-coated tongue are not always good either. In case of my relative that I mentioned above, she has very sweet tone and uses very nice words when she talks to you in person, but behind your back, you don’t want to hear her words talking about you.
Let me give you another real example of my father. He is a person who doesn’t know how to express himself pretty well verbally. When he talks to you, he always carries a frowning face talking to you loudly in a way that you feel you are being threatened by him. Most people don’t even dare to talk to him at all. Yet, the truth is that he is one of the kindest and most easy-going people in the world. He doesn’t demand a lot and if you ask him for help, 90 percent of time he will help you even though that means he has to spend his own money, time, or other resources.
My only advice for those who find it hard to interpret people’s language use is ‘please ignore this language use substantially and focus on their action’. It is said that ‘talk is cheap’ because talking doesn’t produce much tangible results. It is the doing that brings visible results. Having said that, I want you to study their behavioral consistency, support, and other criteria, before you judge them.