How Happy are People When They See You?

If you have either owned a dog, or been around one before, you can generally tell their tail wagging is because they are happy to see you. When you know they are wagging their tail because they are delighted to see you, it’s a great feeling to have this kind of reception. Unfortunately, people are not as easy to read, and wouldn’t it be amazing if they were? Especially at work or everyday life situations.

Let’s face it. Every time you meet or encounter someone, they are not always “tail wagging” happy to see you. How can you tell? Some ways to do so are obvious (e.g., from a visual perspective they facially appear genuinely happy looking). Other people are less facially expressive and harder to judge. You might have heard the expression they have a poker face. They may in fact not realize how they are coming across to you, particularly when they are unaware of the fact they are more stoic in their facial and other body mannerisms.

Having an awareness of how you come across to others is an important skill to master. Coming across as being genuine, is even more important to work on. People who are perceived as being more friendly and happy, even if they are faking it, are much easier to interact with, and generally are stronger leaders or managers.

I recently wrote an article about the topic of being approachable . When you are approachable, or work on becoming more so, when you achieve a level of being more approachable, its equivalent to having a Disney “Fast Pass” to all of your favorite rides. The best part is that it is like having lanes of opportunity open up to you. Who wouldn’t want to hop on board to achieving this?

So, how do you tell if others are happy to see you? Here’s my take on this, and how you too can leverage this as a skill.

  • Everyone is intuitive. Some more than others. Generally, we all have a sense of being able to intuitively tell whether the person we are about to, or are interacting with is happy to be engaging with us. We have to trust our gut instinct on this. This is also referred to as an aspect of emotional intelligence.
  • Whether you realize it or not, we all have the capacity to change how others are feeling when they interact with us. Seriously. Start off by making sure you ask everyone you engage with how they are doing? Most of the time people will tell you they are “fine”. However, if you sense they are only being polite, ask them if there is something you can do for them to make their day better. You would be amazed at the reaction people have (it’s a good one) when you ask them this question.
  • Notice their body language. Are their arms crossed when they are talking to you? Do they keep adjusting their clothing, as if it is a protective armour? Many women do this, and are unaware of doing this out of being nervous, or less comfortable with the person or group they are interacting with. In this situation, make sure your physical distance is not making the person feel uncomfortable, as sometimes you might make them feel like you are invading their personal space. Different cultures have varying degrees of personal space and what amount of space makes them comfortable.
  • Maintain a steady, but not overly aggressive eye contact level with them. Striking the right balance on doing this is a factor which makes you both more engaged, and appear happy to be interacting with the person you are conversing with.
  • Even if you are not feeling happy about interacting with the person you are engaging with. When someone smiles, this can change the dynamic of the engagement from neutral to a more positive tone. Of course, there are times when it isn’t appropriate to smile, but I’m going to give you credit that you don’t need me to spell out these instances.

Having the ability to either make people happy to see you, or to turn the situation around from them not being happy to see you, to being thrilled to see you is one of the social superpowers we can all work on becoming better at. Wouldn’t you rather live in a world where the majority of people are happy to see you? I know I would, and I work on this every day.

Kathleen E. R. Murphy is the Founder, Chief Performance Strategist and CEO of Market Me Too.  She is a Gallup Certified Strengths Finder Coachauthor of Wisdom Whispererand Evolve! With the Wisdom Whisperer (published December 2019) and is a well-respected motivational and social influencer with a global following from her numerous speaking, print, radio and television media appearances. She also is the creator and Host of a TV Show and Podcast called Murf & E Unfiltered – Zero BS Biz Talk.

Essentially every team is dysfunctional in some way. Our expertise is in uniting, motivating and bridging dysfunctional teams (sports & business), and turning them into epic ones.

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