I’m a pretty outgoing sort of person, generally speaking. I’m comfortable talking to large groups, I’m not afraid of discussing touchy subjects, I can approach strangers to ask questions, etc etc etc. However. Put me in a room full of strangers and ask me to make small talk? Urgh.
Because the irony is, even though I’m really good with groups and formal situations (even job interviews don’t especially faze me), I’m really shy at making friends. It’s something that caused difficulties in high school because people saw me being extroverted and assumed that I wouldn’t talk to them because I was snobby, when actually I was just terrified by them 😀
It’s a topic that’s been on my mind the last few months, so I decided to make a study: What techniques did people who are good at making friends easily do that I could do too? Turns out it was a pretty easy study: I have a fairly egregious three-year-old and an extremely egregious twin*, and they made for good observation subjects. I thought this was something that might be useful to other people too, so I’m sharing my list of top techniques you can you to easily make friends 😀
1) Answer more than required.
When someone you don’t know asks a question it’s sometimes really tempting to answer it as briefly and to-the-pointedly as possible, especially if you don’t know the person. But the number one thing I observed from watching the Twinny One at work on Twitter, and then observing the outgoing three-year-old for further evidence, is to always give more than you were asked for. This isn’t about boring your audience or intruding on their time, but simply being generous with yourself in an answer. Give the other person a glimpse of you.
2) Ask questions.
Hopefully, the other person is obeying rule 1, and this will give you a lot of fodder for questions. If not, though, you’d be amazed at how far you can get through a conversation simply by running through a fairly stock list of topics: Ask about their family, their work, their home, their hobbies. Pick something from their answer and ask another question to flesh it out in more detail. Ask how they feel about these things: Do they like their job? Do they enjoy living where there do? Etc. The trick here is to not make it sound like you’re just running through a list of questions, of course 😉
3) Pretend you’re already friends.
This one takes a bit of courage, but little kids are absolutely pro at this: you walk up to someone, and treat them like they’re already your friend. Imagine you already know this person, and that they already know and like you. What would you do then? What would you say? You’d be amazed at how simply treating someone like they’re already your friend can help you to skip all the early awkwardness in a friendship relationship.
4) Have an opinion.
What? An opinion? I know. Sometimes having an opinion and stating it can be scary, and what’s more, it can drive people away. Isn’t that the opposite of making friends? Sure, but daring to have an opinion can help you to find things in common, and that’s the key: really, you’re hoping to make friends with people you have something in common with. If the other person isn’t willing to let you have your own opinion on something, then you probably don’t want them as a friend anyway. Assuming you were nice and stated your opinion nicely, of course 😉 #NoHarrassmentZone
5) Say yes.
Three-year-old comes up to me in the playground. “Mummy, that boy has a car. I want to play with it!”
Me: “Okay. Why don’t you go ask him if you can play with him?”
Him: “Um, okay?”
With some encouragement, he toddles off. The conversation happens behind the slide where I can’t quite see, but a moment later he comes running back. “Mummy! He said yes! He said I can play with him!”
Will you be my friend? Sometimes, all it takes is asking. 🙂
Any other tips you can think of to add?