Whether you are eight or eighty years old, knowing how to make new friends is an important skill to have in life. Whether you want to make friends because you have started a new job, school, or college, whether you have moved to a new town, or whether you just want to socialize with some new people for fun, the basic principles for making new friends are pretty much the same.
I personally first began taking an interest in this area, when I borrowed a copy of Dale Carnegie’s classic people skills book, How to Win Friends and Influence People from the library, while still a kid at school. Having been to different schools, colleges and workplaces, and lived in different towns and countries since then, I feel sufficiently qualified to offer my top 10 tips on how to make new friends. I hope that you enjoy my list and find it useful.
1. Before you embark on your mission to make new friends, I would pause for a time and think about a few things, such as what sort of person you are in terms of your likes and dislikes, as well as your personality and your interests, as this sort of information can help a lot when it comes to finding friends (See 2). It is also be useful to know what you want out of your friendships, as friends can fill a variety of different roles, whether it’s as casual social buddies, or for emotional support.
2. Find your niche groups. If you know what you like, then it makes sense that meeting like-minded people will lead to finding more potential friends. It doesn’t matter what it is, whether it’s a sports club, or a readers’ group, only that people who like something similar to you gather there. Essentially what you are doing when you join such a group or a club is targeting your energies when it comes to making friends. It also makes conversation easier, when you are communicating with people who share one or more of your interests.
3. Ask questions and listen. It is largely a myth that popular people are those who can show off and entertain – most people like it most when people take an interest in them and listen to what they have got to say. It is therefore often best to engage people by asking them questions about themselves and subjects that they are interested in and then show an interest in their reply.
4. Be positive in your approach with people. One technique that can help to form a good impression is to find something that you like about someone, such as their clothing, or something that they’ve achieved recently, and give them a compliment on it. Only do it when it’s something you genuine like or admire, however, as people are very good at spotting false flattery and you may end up having the opposite effect to the one that you desire if you are not careful.
5. Don’t force the situation. Friendships usually have their own natural rate of progression and can take time to develop. If you push too hard, then you scare people away.
6. Consider your appearance and grooming. You need to think about the impression that you are putting out in terms of image, people who don’t know you will place more importance on how you look and judge you for it, so make sure that you do a good job.
7. Be prepared to contribute and participate in a group situation. Most people don’t like freeloaders and they like people to at least try to get involved with group activities, even things are a little awkward at first.
8. If you do hit it off with people socially, remember to ask them about meeting up again, or get some sort of contact details. There is nothing more frustrating than finding somebody that you get on with and then never seeing them again because you don’t know how to get hold of them.
9. Don’t get upset by rejection. If you attempt to be friends with someone and you get rebuffed, try not to get upset and instead, just move on. View it philosophically - if you don’t get on with someone, it is best to find out early on, rather than have some big bust up farther down the line. (Having said that, if your rebuttals follow the same pattern over and over again, then you should consider modifying your approach.)
10. Expand your circle through friends of friends. Once you have got to know one or two friends, things can actually get a lot easier, as your new friends will introduce you to their friends and you will often discover that you get on with many of those people too.