How to Put Others at Ease

Making Those Around You Comfortable

Friends Enjoying a Meal
Allow yourself to relax, and you may discover your friends will be more comfortable around you. SolStock / Getty Images

Have you ever watched people squirm when they're in an uncomfortable or awkward situation? It's not difficult to put them at ease if you know and master a few simple skills.

Being a gracious person requires knowing good manners and having the ability to put other people at ease. Although some people seem to have been born with this knack, it can be learned. Once you learn, practice, and develop this skill, you'll be amazed by how people flock to you.

Be Gracious

The first step in putting others at ease is to be gracious and kind to everyone. Learn basic manners and use them in all situations, whether you are at a formal get-together or hanging out with friends.

Everyday manners tips:

  • Learn important etiquette rules for any social setting you're getting yourself into. These guidelines apply when you're hanging out with friends and while you're having lunch with coworkers. It's important to know how to act in social settings, or you'll find yourself being left out.
  • Some etiquette rules apply to almost all occasions. Your friends and coworkers will see that you know how to act in all situations, and they're probably going to follow your lead. 
  • Avoid engaging in bad manners. You probably already know what they are and whether or not you're guilty of some of them. Do whatever it takes to break the habit. You might even ask a close friend to call you out if you slip up.

    Have Empathy

    When you're with other people, try not to think about your own feelings so much. If you turn the attention to others, they will be drawn to you because you care. Ask questions about them and listen to their answers. Do something nice for someone else without expecting something in return.

    Ways to show that you care:

    • Do something special for the people in your life and make it specific to each one's needs.
    • Engage in conversation that interests the people you are with. If you sense that they have become disengaged, switch topics to something that they care about. Always listen to what the other person says without thinking about what you want to say next.
    • Acknowledge others and give them praise for accomplishments. Never take credit for other people's work.

    Show Confidence

    A confident person is generally much easier to be around than someone who is uncomfortable in her own skin. Be the person who has direction and the self-assuredness to be at ease in all settings. If you've had a rough day, try not to burden everyone else with the details.

    There is nothing wrong with venting occasionally, but be careful not to do it too often. Doing so will make people very uncomfortable, and they'll start backing away to find more positivity. You don't want to become that person who is a chronic complainer.

    Do your best to relax. If you're nervous, others will be too, so take a deep breath and slowly exhale. Avoid talking too fast, or you'll appear tense. Give the people you're around plenty of personal space so they won't feel crowded.

    Be Aware

    Know what is going on around you. This includes everything from noticing the person who is standing alone to knowing the latest current events.

    Ways to show awareness:

    • Approach someone who is standing alone, shake her hand, and ask appropriate questions about her. Respond with comments to let her know you're actually listening to her.
    • Read the newspaper or listen to the news regularly so you can carry on a decent conversation about what is going on in the world. It is okay to state your opinion, but always listen to opposing views with respect.
    • Pay attention to body language and know when it's time to change the subject or end the conversation.

    Be Engaged

    Give the other person your total attention. Avoid periodic glances over their shoulder, or they will think you're looking for an escape.

    The person you are speaking to at any given time should feel as though he is the most important person in the room. Make eye contact, smile when appropriate, and nod to show that you are listening.

    Use Humor

    Allow yourself to relax and enjoy a good laugh periodically. It shows that you are a happy person, and that will pull people toward you. Don't take every little comment too seriously, including those that pertain to you. What you perceive as negative may actually be positive to others. Learn to laugh at yourself when you make mistakes.