When Friendlies Attack

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

I don’t know how many of you, my readers, have actual enemies,arch nemeses, foes or adversaries as these descriptions seem somewhat extreme, but in business at the very least, sometimes rivalries happen. What is important to remember is that these rivalries need not define or impede us. Contrary to what we see in the movies, most people are really just looking for a friendly face.

People are always looking for a friendly face. They’re looking for someone to acknowledge them and it makes no difference who you are, where you’re going, what you’re doing, they are looking for this acknowledgment.

People are sending out the signal looking for friendlies searching for people who are going to be nice to them.

And most of the time, the world ignores them.

Here’s an important thing to remember as a persuader: You are going to get ignored. You will put yourself out there, open yourself up and people are going to flat out disregard you. But that’s okay. This is a built up cynicism. They don’t know better. You do. And you’ll know how to influence them in a heartbeat.

So here’s a weird incongruity–how is it that what people really, truly want in life is to be acknowledged and accepted and yet they end up not paying any attention when other people are acknowledging and accepting them? We are all conditioned. That’s one thing. We set up boundaries early on. Maybe we’re protecting ourselves against rejection, sheltering ourselves from disappointment. We’re trying to keep up a wall that separates us from the “crazies” out there and we’ve opted to look down at our feet and appear occupied instead of extending our energy.

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.

Of course this rudeness isn’t confined to the U.S, but it’s definitely not as prevalent in 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.

When I arrived at the airport, I noticed the greeting immediately and immediately misconstrued it. The man tipped his head back and pushed his lips out at me. Instead of realizing this was a greeting, I took it as him hitting on me, as in, hey, I’d like to kiss you.

As I went through the day and evening, I encountered the same treatment everywhere I went. Was I all of the sudden a very hot commodity in the gay community? Nope. I wasn’t giving off a different vibe. And yet over and over I was confronted with men who apparently wanted to kiss me.

Well. . . As quick as I like to believe I am. . . EVENTUALLY, I realized what was going on. A fellow member of the religious group I was working with did the exact same thing and I was certain he was not looking to hook up with another man. That’s when it dawned on me. The constricted and limited cultural frame I was looking through immediately expanded and I began noticing EVERYONE was doing the same exact thing.

Once I realized this, I began to immediately mirror the behavior and my discomfort became acceptance.

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