No matter what income level they've achieved, some people still don't have a clue as to how to draw others to them. They don't know what to say to put others at ease or how to act in order to electrify a room. But by the time you reach 50, you should know a thing or two about how to impress those around you. People can tell when you feel comfortable in your own skin. And when you feel comfortable in your own skin, you'll give others the confidence they need to be themselves as well. And that's pretty impressive.
Famous folks usually included on lists of the world's most impressive people include Hillary Clinton, Taylor Swift and Chris Christie. What do they have in common? All are smart and supremely self-confident.
After consulting with a few very impressive friends, here are seven ways to wow people in 60 seconds or less. Have your own ideas? Tell us about them in comments.
1. Treat your spouse well.
Few things impress me LESS than someone who talks poorly about their spouse (or children for that matter). Marital fidelity/loyalty is becoming increasingly rare, especially among my 50-something friends. Those who stay faithful to their partner -- and who also don't cut them down -- impress me. And certainly they impress their spouses as well. So take your partner's hand, or say something nice about them.
2. Look people in the eye
If you can hold someone's gaze, you are more likely to connect with them on a personal level. If someone can't look me in the eye, I tend to think they are either hiding something or are simply not very confident about what they have to say. I'm impressed when people have the confidence to really focus on me.
3. Give compliments freely to those who deserve it
I have a friend who always -- without fail -- says something nice to me as soon as she sees me. It's always something simple like "I love those earrings" but it always makes me feel good and it always makes me want to be around her. People may not always remember what you say, but they will remember how it feels to be around you. Obviously, don't overdo it. But a simple, genuine compliment goes a long way.
4. Do what you say you're going to do
I have another friend who, if she says she's going to meet you at 7 p.m., she's going to meet you at 7 p.m. and not a minute after. I have other friends who are habitually late or who make promises they can never deliver on. I'd rather have a friend tell me "no" than to tell me "maybe" and then renege on me later on. Be reliable and people will respect you for it.
5. Stand up for your beliefs in a respectful, intelligent manner
There are few things more impressive to me than someone who doesn't shy away from standing up for their beliefs -- and then who can back up what they say with intelligent research while also keeping an open mind and listening to what others have to interject. By the time you're 50, you should definitely have a pretty clear idea of where you stand on issues. Impress people by speaking out without sounding arrogant.
6. Ask about a person's kid or grandkid
I'm always impressed when someone remembers something pertaining to one of my three kids. When someone asks me about, say, my daughter's audition for the lead in the school play, it shows me they are paying attention to what's going on in my life. And that's very impressive.
7. Know what's going on in the world
Even those who have a cursory knowledge of current events are impressive. (And this doesn't just mean knowing who won "Dancing With The Stars" the night before.) If you don't have a lot of time, try at least scanning the headlines or catching up on the news during the weekend.
What you want is someone to hang with near where you live. Approach this scientifically. Having a friend who lives an hour's drive away will mean you won't see them as much as the person who lives closer. So think global, but stay local. That means your local coffee shop, the local branch of the public library, they local chapter of the Sierra Club, or the local college that offers evening courses.
If you play tennis, join a club or take a few lessons at the community center. If you like to throw parties, volunteer to run the annual fund-raiser at your synagogue or church; when the board thanks you publicly at the dinner, everyone will learn your name. If you hike, join the Sierra Club. If you bicycle, join a biking group or enter a race in your age category. Here's the one caveat about following your interests: Nobody ever met anyone while watching "American Idol" from the couch.
Be open to the idea that it's OK to have friends who are older or younger. The fact that they are in different stages in life just means they bring a different perspective to the table. While a 14-year-old won't be interested in socializing with a toddler, that 10-year age gap dissipates when they get older. Why not say yes to the 30-somethings who invite you to join them for drinks after work? Invite them over for dinner with their families and get to know their kids. Their views on the world may not match yours precisely, but variety is the spice of life.
If you are post 50 and uncoupled, you might find that traveling isn't as much fun. Call it the Noah's Ark theory, but in general, we like to go places paired up. There are services that will help you find a travel room-mate. Not only does this give you someone to talk to over dinner, it cuts down those single supplements that some tours and cruises charge. Friendly Planet runs one such pairing-up service. Road Scholar offers many active adult adventure vacations here -- offers to find you a roommate if you want. Their programs and generally educationally based and draw a well-heeled and educated crowd. Cruise ships do a pretty good job of making sure solo travelers find people to hang out with; group dining arrangements go a long way toward conversational icebreaking.
Even if you've never been a joiner, now may be the time to get yourself out there. Got a new puppy or an old dog who needs some new tricks? Find a community dog-training class. If you like to cook, take a cooking class. Participate in the 5K run for charity, even if you walk the final three.
Keep your smart phone with you and ask for numbers. Sure it may feel a little awkward to say to someone you just met "Hey, I really enjoyed talking to you on this Sierra Club hike but the next one isn't for two months. Would you like to get together for a hike before that?" Worst they can say is no.
With Skype and apps like FaceTime, it's easier than ever to have face-to-face visits. Don't assume your old friends are too busy to talk to you on the phone. Most cellphone plans include free long-distance calls and for those that don't, there's Skype. Invite friends who live a great distance to come and stay with you. Show them your city. Friendships are like gardens; it's often easier to tend to an existing one than grow a new one from seeds.