There are a lot of good reasons to make friends with anyone, as you will have friends you can trust, rely on and chill out with. Firstly, it’s healthy to socialise and mix with different people, expand your life experience and viewpoints, but it’s also healthy to have people to share your experiences with, be a leader for, bounce ideas off and be yourself around. For some people having true and valued friendships is also a mark of success.
How big your friendship groups are will be different for everyone, building successful friendships is not something that is defined by numbers. For some people a few of the best friends is the perfect number. Others love the variety and flexibility of having big parties of friends and circulate among them frequently.
Some people seem to be naturally great at meeting people and creating lasting connections. That might not feel like you, but it can be. Even if you are someone who feels awkward in social situations and lacks confidence when speaking to people, it’s important not to let that hold you back from making friends and connecting with people.
You might hide behind the excuse that you’re an introvert, only I’m not going to let you get away with that one. Everyone wants to build and have connections with others and everyone has the ability to communicate. Introverts are no different to extroverts in their desire to interact well with other people and have genuine relationships. The usual difference is that extroverts have more practice mingling and are less hard on themselves when they make idiots of themselves.
There are all sorts of things that can be holding you make from meeting new people:
Some of these fears might have a long history in your life, stemming from when you were just a little kid in the playground.
You can keep carrying these fears around with you if you like. You can let them continue holding you back from having rewarding and inspiring friendships, or, you can re-think that playground situation and see it for what it really was, one isolated incident that was probably about something totally different than what you thought at the time. Looking back on an event through adult eyes can bring a lot of clarity and understanding that can help move us in a new direction.
If this advice seems like too big of a step for you just now, then Live It Now, my free Sydney based weekend, is everything you need to get started in building your confidence and expanding your network.
If you are ready to have another look at the value of friendship and see that the benefits far outweigh the fears, then I have the perfect strategies to get you started by teaching you how to make friends with anyone. Keep reading!
The value of friends
One of the best ways to overcome fear is to have a goal that is bigger and more motivating than the fear.
Lucky the list of benefits for having friends is massive. Engaging in positive and rewarding friendships:
You are going to make friends with yourself, basically, because people who like each other, like each other. It’s not important to make friends with everyone, you will click better with some than others so use that, go with your instincts and trust yourself.
Talk to as many people in the room as you can and spend longer on the people you like most, they will be most like you.
While it is absolutely possible to connect with any person instantly, no matter what the differences are between you, it takes more work and more practice to connect with people who are mismatched. It can come in handy in certain situations, like when you’re seated next to someone on a long-haul flight, when you are locked out of your house or when there was a booking glitch and the hotel has no record of your arrival. If you are super interested in making an instant connection with literally any person my Excellence Now course is definitely for you. If you are just getting started and want to get some friendship runs on the board early, look for people who are like you. That means hanging out in places you like and doing things you like to do (sounds really difficult!).
Go with the friendships that feel natural, positive and high quality. Consider if you want more professional friends, couples, singles, retired friends, travelling groups or exercise buddies…the list goes on.
Knowing who you are will help guide you to the right places to meet the kinds of people you will want to spend more time with.
Now that you know who you are looking for, join networking groups, social clubs or take yourself to places where you would be most likely to mingle, (or the best version of you if you are not in a place that’s up for mingling right now)
It might be a hobby you enjoy, a book club, a class, a place of worship, a volunteer position. If you are not used to getting out and interacting this might feel awkward at first but that’s all it is, the start of the dance where you don’t know the steps. Pay attention and stick with it, you will pick it up in no time.
Engage with people who are active and sociable, flutter from person to person and enjoy getting to know them. Play games to remember as many people’s names as you can. Attempting to talk to the lone person hunched in the corner will get you nowhere fast, actually it will probably attach a negative to the experience and make you wonder why you bothered trying at all. Having a fun and interesting conversation means talking to fun and interesting people. If their body language says, “leave me alone, I don’t want to interact,” respect that, even though you may feel more comfortable and safe in a loner one-on-one conversation, you will likely be talking negatives and conversation will be stalled and difficult. Take advantage of the people who love to talk and are good at it, they will do all the hard work for you and you’ll learn a lot just by watching how they work. You’ll also pick up on their passion and enthusiasm and gain confidence for the next conversation. Circulate the whole room and talk to as many people as you can. Show enthusiasm and support for what they are talking about and ask questions if you are not able to follow the topic.
If you are interested in them, they will be interested in you. The way to show you are interested and open up great conversations is by asking open-ended questions. That’s any question that has a reply longer than, Yes, No or maybe.
Open-ended questions start with How, Who, What, When and Where.
‘Why’ is a little aggressive and can put people off. Avoid asking why questions unless you notice they ask you Why a few times in a friendly and curious manner. If you notice a defensive reaction to Why, change to a different type of question.
Avoid closed questions like Did you… Would you… and have you… that bring the conversation back around to you fast and put the ball in your court.
As you listen, search for commonalities. It’s okay if nothing presents itself at first, you can let the conversation run for a while and not notice similar things between you. Being patient is important, rather than forcing something ‘close’ they like or do to fit with yours. It won’t feel natural or easy for either party. If you like you can mention your similar thing and see if they find that a close connection, it might be the key that opens up a whole new conversation.
If they do things you haven’t done but want to, tell them so and express your interest in their activity.
If you don’t show you’re interested through your body language then nothing you say will help. Standing with a closed posture might feel safe and comfortable for you, however your focus needs to be on the other person. Allow them to feel safe and comfortable in your space by invite open body language, nod your head when you like what they say or how they say it, maintain eye contact and keep your head high with your shoulders back.
When you have a great experience be sure to swap details so you can catch up later. If you are a business person at social networking events this is a must, you definitely want to keep the conversation light and fun and catch up for business at another time.
Make sure you follow up quickly, like the next day, or a time previously agreed so they have you fresh in your mind.
You are not the only one who finds conversations difficult. You never know who else in the room feels weird about approaching people, even the most confident looking people can be harbouring doubts about themselves.
People will appreciate it if you take the lead and put yourself out there confidently. It instantly gives them confidence and invites them to talk to you. Introduce yourself and strike up a conversation, compliment them on what they are wearing or something interesting about them (or the event) you have noticed. Make sure you are genuine, blowing smoke up people’s rear is obvious and not flattering for anyone. Be yourself and be honest, then they will be too.
People who live in your neighbourhood already have something in common with you. It’s also easy to catch up and see them frequently. Have a gathering at your home and invite some neighbours around for coffee or cocktails or organise a community event like a street garage sale, picnic or joint dinner. Speak to your local council about ideas, support and permits.
When you do establish a friendship you need to keep it going with support and contact. Organise times to meet and make sure you do the work to stick to it. Be reliable and on time, remember to return favours and items that you borrow. Continue a positive relationship by being positive and honest in the things you say and do. Don’t stoop to gossip and backstabbing. Express gratitude and enthusiasm for your time together.
Have gatherings where you can introduce your old friends to your new ones or get different groups together. It’s fun and engaging for everyone and you can all expand your networks.
If you would like to make friends with people who are on a similar journey to you, and will help you to achieve the goals and milestones you lay out for your journey, then join us at Live it Now soon! We have people attend who make life-long friends, and sometimes even find their soulmate 😉
PO Box 590,
MANLY NSW 1655 AUSTRALIA
1300 997 669