While children can make friends through simple things, for adults making friends takes a little more work. These simple tips can help you grow your circle of friends, from small talk to saying yes more often.
WHEN was the last time you felt lonely? Or, more precisely, when was the last time you didn’t feel lonely?
Although 60 percent of Australians are more connected than ever, feelings of loneliness still often affect them, and it’s a feeling that reverberates around the world.
Social isolation is so widespread in the UK that there is now a “Minister for Solitude” and in the US health officials are warning of a “loneliness epidemic” after 43 percent of people admit they feel excluded from others.
Coupled with everything from a weakened immune system to an increased risk of heart disease – and, more recently, a 32 percent increased risk of premature death – loneliness has become one of society’s silent killers, meaning it never matters was to expand your social circle and reap the benefits of the community.
As you may have noticed, making friends as an adult is not an easy task.
“Adults tend to hold onto negative experiences. So if you’ve had a friendship that has turned sour or if you’ve been rejected in the past, it can make you feel cautious and not reaching forward,” says Sydney psychologist Jacqui Manning.
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While kids can make friends about simple things – like wearing the same colored shoes – forging friendships for adults takes a little more work, which makes it tempting to put in the too tough basket.
But here’s the thing: making friends doesn’t have to be difficult. Just follow these tips and you will be adding names to your contact list in no time.
1. ASK ABOUT INTROS
IF YOU want to add some new faces to your friendship pool, ask your existing friends if they know someone you would get along with, then organize a casual get-together. Better yet, why not throw a lunch or dinner party and ask your friends to bring someone you’ve never met before? They can chat and make new connections. Plus, you still have the safety net of your current friends to fall back on if nothing happens. It’s a win-win situation!
2. Say YES
IF you don’t actually meet someone, the chances of becoming friends are slim. The next time your neighbors invite you to a party, say “yes”!
“Don’t force yourself to do something you hate; don’t hide yourself either,” suggests Manning.
“If you keep saying no, people will think you don’t want to hang out with them, so they won’t ask again and that drives the cycle of rejection.”
3. FIND A HOBBY
Post-work activities are not only a great way to learn new skills, but also the perfect way to meet new people – especially if you are shy. “Because you’re there for something you enjoy and everyone else does, you feel less judged,” says Manning.
Since your hobby is also a built-in conversation starter, there is no need to look for topics to talk about. Anytime the joke subsides, you can always return your focus to the activity that got you there in the first stage.
4. WELDING TOGETHER
SOLO runs might be your workout of choice, but group training can expand your network. “Classes and clubs can be a great way to meet new people,” explains Manning.
“You’re all there for the same reason, so you feel more relaxed and when you’re on a team you can unite around a common goal.”
5. USE AN APP
With FREE apps like Meetup, Bumble, and Patook, you can connect with people who live nearby or share similar interests.
“People who hesitate can make contact but feel safe, and people who are open can make friends who share their passions,” says Manning.
6. Take the first step
If you think someone you know has the potential to become a friend, let them know. You don’t have to make a big announcement – just open it up a little.
“If you always keep things professional on a professional level when you meet, try to convey something personal,” suggests Manning.
“People connect through stories. So if you keep yourself closed, you keep those connections from forming.”
7. Seize the moment
Those random conversations that you have with your fellow commuters, neighbors, or walkers in the park on a daily basis are not a waste of time.
In fact, they give you the fuel you need to build more meaningful relationships along the way.
“Research shows that small talk with strangers can increase your body’s feel-good hormone levels and also help you have conversations,” says Manning.
She explains that doing this can help you develop increased confidence in various social situations, which makes it much easier to make new friends.
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DEVELOP A STRATEGY
The more control you have over a situation, the more comfortable you feel. So plan ahead. For example, if you’re going to a birthday party but only know the host, Manning recommends devising an exit strategy, such as dropping out. B. leaving after an hour or waiting for the cake to be cut to minimize worries. Do you often find yourself speechless? Before you arrive, think about a few things to talk about like sports, movies, or current affairs.
FIND STRENGTH IN SMALL NUMBERS
“When you’re introverted, talking to too many people at the same time can be overwhelming, so you don’t have to work on the floor,” says Manning.
Start with just one person and use each time alone to replenish your energy before the next conversation.
CHANGE YOUR BODY LANGUAGE
Crossing your arms may make you feel more protected, but that action also excludes you from possible connections.
“A lot of communication is non-verbal. So make yourself appear open by making eye contact, smiling, and standing upright,” says Manning.
“Having a stronger attitude can make you feel stronger emotionally, which will help you feel ready to reach out and connect with people.”