From the time I was a child up into my teens I didn’t have a lot of friends. This was mainly due to the fact that I didn’t understand quite how to make new friends. The other problem was that I also didn’t know how to keep the ones I already made. Getting people to like you is much easier than making them continue to be friends with you. Fortunately for me I have learned the art (and yes it is an art) of how to make friends. Unfortunately not everyone can make friends with others quite so easily. So for those out there who, like me when I was younger, have a hard time making friends, I have composed a list of tips on how to make new friends (and keep them.)
1. Don’t Act Desperate!
First and foremost, nobody, and I mean NOBODY likes a clingy person, so it’s important that you don’t come off like “please be my friend.” I have personally been turned off by so many people who’ve desperately begged for acceptance. On the other side of the coin, I had trouble making friends when I was younger because I did the same thing.
Therefore it is very important that one appear confident when approaching other people. Notice that I didn’t say you have to be confident, only that you need to appear as such. While it is much better to work on gaining self confidence, one can still get nearly the same results by faking it. Don’t act like you are afraid of people when approaching or interacting with them.
You may come off as nervous the first few times you try to fake your confidence, but don’t worry, the more you do it, the more comfortable it will become. Before you know it, you will have actually gained some measure of self confidence. Ever hear the term “fake it till you make it”? This is what they’re talking about.
Useful Hint: If you reach out to those who act as though they badly need friends, you will have a friend for life.
2. Don’t be Afraid of Rejection.
Never worry about rejection when interacting with people. The truth of the matter is, that no matter how cool or confident you are, no matter what kind of personality you have or how nice you are to people, there will always be someone who doesn’t like you. It’s a fact of life: learn to deal with it.
Either someone is going to like you or they won’t. Don’t feel so bad just because someone doesn’t like you. It’s not necessarily a sign that there is something wrong with you, but more of a sign that that person is not the type of person you want to be friends with. It’s more about becoming friends with people that you connect with, rather than trying to build connections with people that you don’t.
On the other hand, if everyone acts like they dislike you, then perhaps you need to do some soul-searching, as the problem likely does lie with you. When I was a kid, I was a self-centered little jerk, to put it mildly. It wasn’t until I was a bit older that I realized nobody liked me because of how I acted.
3. Don’t be a Phony.
Don’t try so hard to impress people! They aren’t looking to be your friend because you are so much more awesome than they are! People want to be friends with someone that they can relate to.
So that means that you don’t need to make up stories about how what you did was so much greater than something they did. Nobody likes a “been there, done that” type of person. Make no mistake about it: if you are the kind of person who makes up stories to try and impress people, they will see through it and your plans to look cool are going to backfire. You are going to look like a fool and a liar. And nobody likes a liar.
Be truthful about who you are and what you like and don’t like. Be yourself. I find the people I enjoy being around the most are those who aren’t afraid to act like dorks. Stop worrying about what other people are thinking of you. The only thing they are likely thinking about is what you’re thinking of them. Pay special attention to this tip and you will connect so much better on a personal level if you do.
4. Realize That Other People Are Just Like You.
What this means is that all the emotions you have are also present to one degree or another in every other person on the planet. For many people, they are just as conscious about interactions with others as you are. Remembering this can help you to have more confidence when talking to someone.
Also understand that any other person wants to be treated the same as you do. So stop and think for a moment: how would you like to be treated?
For the most part people like to feel good about themselves, so don’t be afraid to throw compliments around. Don’t make things up though; people can usually tell when you’re lying to them. So look for the good things about a person that are really there, and compliment them accordingly. Don’t lay it on too thick either, or you might come across as wishy-washy. Once or twice during an encounter should be sufficient.
Another thing you need to realize is those people who may seem stuck up or snobby to you may not be stuck up or snobbish at all. More often than not, people who seem to be snobs are actually just shy. Don’t be afraid to approach them. Being the person who initiates a conversation will yield way better results than waiting for the other person to talk to you.
5. Be a Good Listener.
People are inherently self-centered, so if you can tap into that, then you will be able to make friends easily. One way to do that is to get them to talk about themselves. People love to talk about themselves. It makes them feel important. When they do just listen and agree or compliment when appropriate. Don’t try to cut in or overshadow them by talking about yourself. You’ll get a chance to talk about yourself later. If you can develop the habit of being a good listener, people will like being around you.
6. It’s All Your Responsibility.
Don’t expect your friends to do the work of maintaining your friendship. People get caught up in life and become to busy to keep in contact with you or schedule time with you. Don’t feel offended. You likely do the same thing. In an ideal world friendships would just blossom and continue on their own with no effort. However, incase you haven’t noticed, this isn’t an ideal world. If you want to keep your relationships alive and strong, then take the entire responsibility of maintaining them upon your shoulders. A friendship won’t die if you don’t let it.
Remember: it’s all about them, not about you. Making friends is more about how you make the other person feel. If you can make a person feel like they are important and make them feel good about themselves, then you will have no problem making friends. They will feel like you are absolutely necessary to their well-being, and they will want to keep you around.
For more on making friends, check out: ReThinking Your Friendships
I just thought of another very useful hint for making friends, while I was at the supermarket last night. If you had the same problems that I did growing up (or even in your adulthood,) where people would pick on you constantly, then you probably have some trust issues. When you’re in a public place where you will meet people, do you try and keep from acknowledging people or looking them in the eye? If someone catches your gaze, do you look away? This seems to be a natural response for people like us. A defense mechanism of sorts. We tend to put up a wall to try and keep people away, and therefore keep ourselves from getting hurt. But this can actually hurt us as well.
The next time you’re out in public, instead of thinking of every person you come across as being a potential enemy, try to get into the mindset that every person you come across is actually a potential friend. This will help you to