Our friends have a huge impact on our quality of life and, whilst our society often places more importance on romantic relationships, good friends relieve stress, prevent loneliness and even strengthen your health. They are extremely important to our psychological well-being as they improve our mood, support us during hard times such as getting over a break up, or help us as we strive to reach our goals and boost our self-worth.
Many of us struggle to meet new people and develop friendships, especially in today’s hectic world. Whatever your age or circumstances, it isn’t too late. Here are a few tips to get you started.
What’s stopping you?
- Time – realise the importance of this to your well-being and set time aside. Make a plan and stick to it.
- Shyness – many people struggle with confidence when approaching strangers. Take one step at a time and set small goals. You may find it useful to work on building your confidence
- Fear of rejection – spend some time thinking about the good in other people and realise that almost everyone is open to making more friends or at least having a conversation. Become resilient to setbacks and enjoy the journey.
- Anger or heartbreak – negative thoughts can harden your behaviour and make you more unapproachable. Even if you think you are hiding them, many people can sense negativity and will be put off approaching you. Spend a bit of time on yourself first and make sure you have let go of resentments, feel positive and you’re ready to open up to someone new.
Find ways to meet new people:
- Clubs – sometimes when we try to make new friends we can end up randomly chasing people and then becoming disheartened when they don’t respond. Join a club, social group or local church – the WI, meetups, choirs and fitness groups and all good options. Find the ones that suit you.
- Classes – try something new that you’ve always wanted to try. Focus on a passion you have or a hobby you enjoy and you’ll meet like-minded people. We’re usually very open to conversation and friendship when we’re doing something we enjoy.
- Volunteer – many people bond over a common goal such as helping others or completing a project. Volunteer for a project you believe in.
- Work – there may be people at work you get on with that would be open to building a friendship with you. Think about who you might not have given a chance and strike up a conversation or invite them for a coffee.
Make a connection:
Once you get talking to people concentrate on building a connection with them and forming a relationship. Good communication skills can be practiced and developed as can charisma. Learn more about how to develop charisma here.
- Focus on others – think about what you can do for others, their needs and their interests. Share about yourself when asked but try not to be self-centered.
- Be genuine – don’t try too hard or put on airs. Be yourself, people respond to authenticity.
- Stay positive – people to spend time with kind, happy and positive people. Gossiping, bad mouthing or complaining isn’t a good way to make friends.
- Pay attention – pay attention to what people say and do and build upon interests you share.
Be a good friend:
Once you have a relationship with someone it’s time to work on cementing and deepening it.
- Keep in touch – although it sounds simple it’s amazing how many friendships fizzle out in the early stages just through lack of effort and contact. Check in regularly.
- Connect – humour, support, loyalty and kindness – these are all things you’d want in a good friend. Think about what you are looking for in a friend and emulate these behaviours yourself.
- Time – spend quality time with people. Organise activities and events and try to accept as many invitations as possible.
Remember, you should enjoy the process of meeting people and developing friendships so don’t put too much pressure on yourself. Let go of your expectations, get out there and have fun.
If you still feel there’s something holding you back it might be time to seek a little support. I’ve helped many people with issues surrounding friendship including confidence, communication and openness so whatever support you need please do get in touch.