Haven’t you always envied that one person who can speak with anyone in a social gathering? I’ve always envied those super-friendly types who can make conversation with a fruit plate. I have close friends, too – but when it comes to the prospect of meeting new people, moving to new places and making new friends in adulthood, I find it hard.
Sociologists and behavioural scientists argue that the formula for making new friends is actually quite simple – if you master it, you can make friends faster and more easily. However, that’s easier said than done for introverts. Yet there are some tried and tested methods that have worked in the past.
Don’t Carry Baggage From a Stressful Day to a Social Situation
Says healer Anjali Lavania, “When one meets new people for the first time, there is an immediate exchange of energy – the way one dresses, speaks walks and talks forms an immediate impression. Be your most Zen selves. Don’t let the stress of your day get carried over to meeting people and socialising. Centre yourself before a meeting with steady breaths and remind yourself that authenticity speaks volumes. People like people who are comfortable in their own skin and have a warm smile and handshake.”
Find Your Kind of People
Don’t be obliged to hold conversations with the wrong kind of people – you won’t enjoy yourself, nor will you be able to build a lasting friendship. According to New York magazine, “When approaching someone, begin with a litmus test. Similar to those colour-changing strips from science class, these social tests quickly tell you about a person’s personality.” Organisational psychologist and Wharton professor Adam Grant suggests asking people: “How much does the average employee steal from a crash register in a year?” The higher the number, the more likely they are to be dishonest. The reason, Grant explains, is that people assume others are like them, and will act as they would. All this helps you figure out whether you’d like to be friends with a person or not. If you have no common ground, move on.
Break the Ice by Asking People About Themselves
Says Lavania, “In my personal experience, people love talking about themselves – so a safe conversation starter is to simply introduce yourself and ask them how they know the host of the party, compliment them on their attire and speak about something unique that you both can see in your immediate environment. You can then proceed with ‘how do you spend most of your time during the day?’ This helps even a housewife or an unemployed person share their individual stories without any fear of being judged.”
Let Your Guard Down
People don’t tend to open up to a guarded person, they enjoy being around people who are funny, self-deprecating and show their silly side. The more you learn to laugh at yourself, the more people will feel inclined to open up to you and be friends with you.
Be a Good Listener
You might have lots of things to say that you know would be interesting to the other person, but remember that people gravitate towards listeners more than talkers. So instead of spending the time someone else is speaking imagining what you would like to say next, listen to the other person and offering constructive advice.
Be Genuine and Caring
People naturally want to be around warm, genuine people, says Lavania, adding “Don’t fake anything. If you feel a mutual connect, exchange numbers by saying, ‘it was so lovely meeting you today, it would be nice to keep in touch.’ If someone comes across as being cold and arrogant, don’t let them ruffle your feathers. Excuse yourself and, if needed, re-centre yourself in the restroom and then gravitate towards people with warm smiles. Your warm vibe will always attract the right tribe.”
The ‘Fast Friends’ Theory
According to a Social Pro Now article, scientists at Stony Brook University, New York, have discovered a method to become close friends with almost anyone in less than 60 minutes. This technique works best when you meet someone one on one – over coffee, while travelling, or at a party. During a period that can be as brief as 45 minutes, you go through a series of questions that gradually become more and more personal. First, ask something that is just slightly personal. For example, if your friend is talking about an unpleasant phone call he or she recently had to make, you can ask, “When you make a telephone call, do you rehearse it beforehand?” After your conversation partner has answered, refer to yourself to reveal something slightly personal as well, maybe along the lines of, “I actually rehearse several times when I’m about to call someone I don’t know that well.”
End on a Good Note
People remember their experience of an interaction with the way it ended. If a date ended badly, they’ll remember the negatives and forget the positives. According to New York magazine, we don’t remember the duration of pleasure or pain. We remember peaks of experiences and how they end. If you drag out your experiences, the momentum and enjoyment will fall. They will end on a lower note, and people will remember you less fondly.
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