When we were younger, all it took was a trip to the park and voila, new friends were made. At school, we were consistently around the same people and friendships seemed to happen automatically. As we get older, it gets more and more difficult to make new friends. Why is that? Below are four things we forgot about the best ways to make new friends.
1. Create Consistency
Consistency is the key ingredient to making new friends. When we were kids, making friends at school was easy, because the same people were constantly around. We don’t have the same social circumstance to rely on anymore, so now we have to take initiative to provide the consistency in interacting with new people. When you plan on joining a new group, don’t go just once! Make it a commitment to go 5-7 times to give yourself the opportunity to have time to connect with others.
2. Align Expectations
When you think about making new friends, what scenario do you picture? Do you imagine introducing yourself to someone new and immediately everything clicks and you have a new best friend? For some reason, this is what most people think of, even though that is rarely reality. The reality is that friends are made over time, so give yourself that time. Some people look for new friends by looking for someone who meets a list of requirements or enjoys all the exact same things. But the reality is that we learn from people who are different from us, so be patient and be open-minded. You never know who your new best friend will be! And remember that you are not looking for “the one” perfect friend. We can have lots of friends that connect with different pieces of ourselves (one friend to play tennis with and another to discuss politics with), so no worries if you don’t connect on everything. So talk to everyone, get to know them, and give it some time for things to click!
3. Expose Yourself
Do kids ever talk about the weather when they first meet? Nope, they get right to the questions that matter. Now, small talk has its place and it’s important to make sure that your conversation partner is comfortable chatting before diving into weightier topics. On the other hand, it’s also important to not spend too much time on generic conversation topics that you never get to the emotions and the heart of the person. You should be looking to create meaning and connections, not just words. So how do you create something meaningful and enjoyable for all involved? Talk about something that is meaningful to you, describe something that makes you a little emotional, admit a fault, or ask for advice. Those are the areas where conversation can help you the most, so don’t be afraid to go there.
4. Bond Over Emotions
What if you meet someone who is an electrical engineer that loves snowboarding and has a pet cat, and you are an event planner that loves playing chess and has never owned a pet? The best part about conversation is that you don’t actually need to know the details of what someone does or what someone’s hobby is in order to discuss it. The only thing you need to know how to talk about is emotions. We all know what it’s like to be happy, sad, and angry. So find out what the other person loves about their hobby, what is challenging about it, how they made the decision to get into it. Those are the places you will find things in common. Don’t ask where they go and how often they go. Get out of the world of facts and get to what makes people who they are: their emotions.