DEAR ABBY: I'm 26 and not currently in a relationship. I don't have many friends. I'd like to have more, and I try. I wasn't popular in middle and high school, either. I have been in and out of college, so I haven't been able to make friends there. I have worked at my job for three years and it's the same story.
People say I'm "sweet, nice and cheerful," but those traits aren't helping me. I know you've written about this problem before. Can you give me some tips for being someone who others want to be around? -- EAGER IN SOUTH CAROLINA
DEAR EAGER: The keys to being well-liked by both men and women are these: Be kind. Be honest. Be tactful. Don't be afraid of giving someone a compliment if it is deserved.
You do not have to be beautiful (or handsome) to put your best foot forward. Be well-groomed, tastefully dressed and conscious of your posture. (People who stand tall project self-confidence.) Stay informed about current events, but refrain from forcing your opinions on others. Ask them what they think and encourage them to share their opinions.
If you're smarter than most, resist the temptation to be a know-it-all. Good conversationalists are interested in what others have to say rather than filling the air with the sound of their own voices. Cultivate your own interests so you will have things to talk about with others.
My booklet, "How To Be Popular" contains many other tips on how to approach others, and what to say and not to say when trying to make conversation. It can be ordered by sending your name and address, plus a check or money order for $8 (U.S. funds), to: Dear Abby Popularity Booklet, P.O. Box 447, Mount Morris, IL 61054-0447. Shipping and handling are included in the price.
Above all, remember that social adeptness isn't something that comes naturally to everyone. It is a skill that needs to be practiced until it becomes second nature. When you receive your booklet, don't read it just once. Keep it on hand for reference because it contains many helpful suggestions about how to be the kind of individual others find interesting and attractive.