A question that has always flattered me is: How do you have so many friends, Heather?
Now, I am definitely not one to brag about myself, so if reading that first sentence of the blog post has put a distaste in your mouth, I’m sorry! But what I am trying to get at is that this question always makes me take a step back, because I don’t see myself as one with many friends. Therefore, while this inquiry has always been taken as a pleasant compliment to my own character, it has me a bit perplexed. I mean is there really a right way to make a friend? Let alone, is my way of making friends worth other people’s interest and regard.
With that said, naturally then, when I get asked how do I do it, I usually don’t have a well put together response. However, I think giving some thought to this question is pertinent, especially now a days with the internet becoming our best friend, instead of the peers that we see everyday, whether that be in a classroom we study in, or the office we work at.
Welp, for what it’s worth, here are my tips on how to make friends:
1. Be a Good Listener.
If there is one thing that I have learned in life, I would say one of the more significant things is that people innately love to talk about themselves. Hell, why do you think I made this blog, I love talking about myself! And don’t lie, you do too!! In order for this to happen, the talker obviously needs a listener. And that’s where you come in! A good listener is focused on who they are listening to, and as the talker (aka your new friend) is talking, you are simultaneously understanding the message you hear, and then creating an appropriate response. Now listening is different than hearing. I can hear the escalator ding, I can hear the music I am listening to in my headphones, I can even hear my boss list off dates that upcoming college visits will be. But if I am not listening, I am not retaining the information that those sound waves are quickly transmitting.
2. Ask Questions. Lots of Them.
In adding on to the first tip, usually an appropriate response is to ask follow up questions regarding what your new friend is speaking about. If you are listening, follow up questions should be easy! Be curious! As your teachers have always told you, no question is a stupid question. This mantra definitely applies to real life too. If you find yourself running out of follow up questions to ask, don’t be afraid to steer the conversation in a new direction by asking a completely off topic question.
I remember in high school, during lunch in the loud and overcrowded cafeteria, my friends and I would always reach a point where half of our chicken nuggets had been chewed on, most of our French fries had been gobbled, and all of our small talk ideas had been swallowed. I would then proceed to ask, “Sooooo what did everyone eat for breakfast?” You think I am joking don’t you? Well I pinky swear, I am not. And let me tell you, this question jump started multiple new conversations within seconds! It was like magic. If you don’t believe me, you should try it out.
3. Smile. Laughter is Good Too.
There are over 6,000 languages spoken in the world. However, one mode of communication that is universally recognized is smiling. Now, I am a communications major, so I must acknowledge that smiling does mean different things to different cultures, but what
I will say is that smiling 100% of the time has been perceived as friendly, open, and welcoming from my own experiences. And I would bet that most of the people you meet will feel the same. A genuine smile can do wonders to the person it’s directed at. There’s even studies that show smiling makes you live longer, and that if you hold a fake smile, you will eventually start actually genuinely smiling! If you can crake a joke or insert some sarcasm into your conversation with your new friend, well then that’s just an added bonus!
Ultimately, these three things show that you care. Which is another aspect of life that humans intrinsically desire. Why do you think people fear loneliness? I believe one reason is that people are scared of not being cherished. We are creatures that foster from interacting with one another. Therefore, when your actions signal thoughtfulness, curiosity, and an open heart, you become someone that others naturally gravitate toward. You become a friend.
Until next time,