“You can make more friends in two months by becoming interested in other people than you can in two years by trying to get other people interested in you.” ~ Dale Carnegie
Have you ever wondered what friendship really is? Do you often feel that it’s kind of a “black box”, and that no one really knows what’s inside it? Are you curious to discover what’s inside?
I always wondered about it, myself, as I was learning to make friends and become social. See, it’s when you struggle with loneliness day and night that you really commit to learning how to have the friends you want. That’s what I did, but you don’t have to. You can learn from me, starting right here in this article.
I would like to share with you a checklist you can use to go from strangers to friends with people.
An Encouraging Context
Before you make friends with someone, you have to meet them for the first time, and it has to take place in a good environment. What this means is that the context must encourage socializing and meeting new people. For example, networking events are good, bars and nightclubs are not.
When it comes to making friends, always focus on places where you can comfortably go to someone and introduce yourself. Public places, where people come with their existing friends, aren’t the best, as people don’t go there to meet new folks.
A Proper Situation
In order for you to make friends with a person, you both need to have enough time and energy to be able to socialize. For example, if they’re moving, having a baby, getting married, changing jobs, or just hanging out with too many friends already, then they just won’t have time for you.
What you can do here is consider places where others are out to meet new people. You’ll find people who actually have the time and energy to invest in new friendships. These can be trade shows, seminars, talks, cultural or charitable events, etc. These places even encourage networking. By going there, you’re improving your chances of meeting people who actually want to meet you.
Appropriate Friendship Skills
Social Skills: It’s true that social skills are important in general, but they’re especially important for making new friends. This particular phase of the friendship, the formation, is where some skills can make it, or break it.
These critical social skills are: Initiating and joining conversations, asking appropriate questions, showing interest in what others are saying, Proper eye contact, and respecting others’ personal space.
Engagement: This is a state that determines to others whether or not you’re open to making friends. Being responsive means that you appropriately answer the questions that people ask, with some enthusiasm. This shows that you’re interested, that you like them, and that you’re engaged in the conversation. People who give half-answers and who barely look at you when you talk to them aren’t regarded as friendly.
A Great Interaction
Similarities: having things in common is very important. It’s the factor that most predicts whether or not you’re going to be friends with someone. When we find people like us, we are validated, we feel that we’re “right”. We also love to have people that enjoy the same kind of weekend activities.
This is why I recommend that you join a community that revolves around a subject or hobby that you love. If you can’t find that, then look for what’s available in your local area, and join the one where people seem to share your attitude and values.
Mutual Liking: When you first meet someone, you both have to like each other to become friends. This entirely subjective aspect about first encounters shouldn’t scare you. What you can do here is always assume that you’re going to be liked and that you generally like to meet new people.
When you hold these two mindsets, you automatically start to behave in a way that signals to other people that you like them, which makes them like you. This is a self-fulfilling prophecy: if they think you like them, they’ll start to like you.
Openness: This sounds like an expression out of a crime movie, but it’s not. It’s a principle that happens in almost every new friendship. If you’re going to be friends with someone, there is a level of trust to establish; both of you have to disclose some things to each other.
You can start by revealing something quirky, funny, or weird about yourself, and see how they respond. Start by something not that weird, don’t disclose heavy secrets right away. This is like a dance, you disclose something, they replicate, then you disclose something a little heavier, and so on. This exchange of secrets means that you’re going to trust each other; it literally glues two people and makes them friends.
This checklist gives you more clarity on what needs to happen between two people before they become friends. You can use it to understand why some friendships worked in your past, while others didn’t. If you want to have great friends that care for you and support you, instead of feeling lonely and isolated, I recommend that you see friendship as a skill, and start learning it.