Making Friends – How Hard Can It Be?
Well it would seem, much harder than you may think.
Many young people contact me with issues around friendships and how to make and keep them. So I thought I would see if I can bring my 50+ years of experience, to your aid…
When an opportunity to meet someone comes along we need to be able to act on it. However, often people are too shy to make that initial move or if they do, they don’t know how to turn that, into a lasting friendship. Then there are those that are sometimes so desperate to ‘make friends’, that they simply try too hard and turn into babbling idiots.
So how do we overcome these issues?
Well, I feel one of the first things we need to realise, is that friendships take work; even people who are socially outgoing, need to put in continuing effort in order to make and maintain a true friendship. We also need to open up to people and allow them to see the real us, maybe not all at once, but certainly within the course of a few weeks. Others need to see you, as you are, so this is something you must risk, if the friendship is to truly be fulfilling and lasting. No one likes a fake, so be real.
Here are a few guidelines, which if you follow & practice, I believe will make it easier to be and have, good friends in your life.
Initial conversations can be scary for many people. We worry that we will have nothing to talk about, that we will seem stupid in another’s eyes, that they wont like us because we are boring. AND the truth is, when we talk about ourselves, we can sometimes seem self-absorbed and indeed boring. So my advice, is to arm yourself with lots of questions you can ask the other person and then listen to the answers.
For example; after an inital introduction, a conversation may go like this:-
“Hi, nice to meet you, how do you know X ?” “Oh we know each other from work”.
“Who is it you work for?” “XX”
“Oh really, what do you do there?”, ” I’m an accountant”,
“Gosh would never had guessed, what got you into Accounting?” “Oh parents really, they sort of encouraged me into that at college”.
“What sort of accounting do you do?” “legal stuff mostly”.
“what does that entail exactly”.
“Do you like it?”
Hopefully you’re getting the hang of this 🙂 Questions, Questions & Questions.
If you learn one thing from me today, I hope it is that people like to talk about themselves and if you really LISTEN to them, they will think you are an amazing person and want to hang around you! A mistake many people make is they are busy trying to think of their next clever question or comment and they don’t actually hear what the person replies. So LISTENING is very important, because the next question, will present itself quite naturally, if you do.
When you are ending the conversation, if this is someone you would like to talk to/meet again, then you need to let them know that.
I would normally say something along the lines of:-
“Its been really great chatting, perhaps we can do it again sometime? “This is my cell/email, lets keep in touch”. Keep it light and friendly but not pushy and most people at this point, will give you their email in return.
So Hints for initial meeting are:-
1) Practice asking questions, keep your attention on the other person and listen to their answers.
2) Tell them you had fun and give them your contact info. Dont ask for theirs, they will give it to you, if they want to.
3) A few days later Follow up by sending an email, simply saying you enjoyed meeting them and hope that you cross paths again soon.
Growing the relationship:
Much like a garden, friendships need regular nurturing and tender care, in order for them to flourish, especially early on. This person needs to know they can trust you and this starts with simple things like being on time when you arrange to meet. Even seemingly trivial things you don’t follow through on, may put a X against your name in your friends eyes. So don’t promise things you cannot fulfill, and make sure you do the things you say you will. One area many fall short, is in keeping conversations secret. If something is told to you in confidence, then it must remain in confidence……………always!
Dont expect the other person to do all the running. If you feel you have connected with someone, then you will have to leave your comfort zone and instigate meetings. If you sit around waiting on them because you’re unsure whether they really like you, then you could be waiting a long time. It is entirely possible that your new friend is also shy and waiting for you to contact them.
So take a risk and send that email or make that call.
One very big mistake I feel people make when looking for friends, is to assume that One person is going to tick all the boxes you want. This is very rarely the case. You, I am sure are a complicated person, with many different sides to your character and many different things you like to do. Finding one friend who has all the same likes and dislikes is almost impossible. So diversify!
I personally have different friends in different areas of my life and with whom, I do different things. The friend I go shopping with, is not the same person I go dancing with and the friend I discuss books with, is not the same person as either of them. So don’t put all your eggs in one basket (as my grandmother would say). Cultivate several friends, in different areas of your life and this way, there is not so much pressure on any one relationship.
You may, as I have been, lucky enough to become very good friends with many of them, for the rest of your life!
Note : If you need more coaching around this issue, please email me direct at firstname.lastname@example.org
Would love to hear your opinion :)