Find and Make New Friends
In the following
article Skye Thomas looks at an effective way to find new friends.
It may be deceptively simple and she uses the example of her young
son, but this is good advice that can equally be applied to adults
to help them make new friends too, with very little adaptation...
by Skye Thomas
How do we make
friends? More importantly if dropped into a new city or a new job
or a new school, how do we go about making a new friends? Most of
us don’t really think about it, but just sort of allow people to
float in and out of our lives without really paying any attention
to how we pull new people into our lives.
Years ago, my
son was four years old and starting preschool. He had been begging
to go for about a year and was thrilled that he was finally there.
He had longed to play on their playground. He really loved all of
the noise and commotion of such a large day care center. He was
fascinated by the sight of all those other children running around
laughing and playing. He was so excited to dive in and start hanging
out with those other kids. He was naturally outgoing and energetic,
and had wonderful social skills so I knew he’d get along just fine.
I was a bit surprised when he came up to me after a few weeks and
said that he was really struggling because as ‘the new kid’ he didn’t
have any friends.
“How do I get
some friends to play with me?”
I told him that
every week I would give him a new assignment. I explained to him
that you don’t want to run through these steps too fast because
it makes people nervous and they’ll push you away. You want to give
them time to adjust to you as you go through these steps.
For the first
week all he had to do was smile a nice big smile and say, “Hi!”
He needed to walk around saying ‘hi’ to teachers and students alike.
Whoever seemed cool in his opinion. He didn’t have to be a geek
about it and say ‘hi’ to everyone, just those he thought seemed
kind of interesting. This gives people the impression that you’re
an upbeat positive person, but not too pushy. Greet them everyday
with a smile on your face.
For the second
week, he had to start adding their names to the cheerful greeting.
When you see someone you like, smile real big and say “Hi Joey!”
or “Hi Suzy!” or “Hi Anthony!” Just start learning their names and
adding it to your hellos. This way they’re already used to your
pleasant greetings and it just personalizes it a bit. Greet them
with a personalized greeting everyday.
For the third
week, I told him to give them an honest compliment along with the
greeting. Don’t make it something big and embarrassing, but something
small and comfortable for them to hear you say out loud in front
of others. “Hi Joey! I love your Ninja Turtle T-shirt!” or “Hi Suzy!
I really like the way you color within the lines, looks great!”
or “Hi Anthony! Nice haircut dude!” The key to this step is honesty.
You have to find something you truly like about the person to compliment.
People get an odd feeling and on some level can sense when others
are being fake or insincere with them. Be honest, be upbeat, and
personalize the greeting and the compliment. Again, do it every
day. Consistency really matters. You’re not just making them feel
good about themselves, but creating a public image of yourself as
a consistently upbeat positive person.
For the fourth
week, I was going to have him include an invitation to play with
him in with his greetings, but he never got that far. He was having
such a good time with all of his new friends that he never really
bothered with any more lessons. He was very popular and well loved
from that point on.
Every time he’s
changed schools or neighborhoods or started going to a new church
or gone away to camp or whatever, he has always used that same system
to make new friends. It’s foolproof and always works for him. He’s
just started high school this year and is incredibly confident in
his ability to make new friends. Now, he simply walks up to strangers,
flashes them his best grin, in a charming and almost clown like
manner he greets them with a big hug, and will tell them he loves
them before he even introduces himself. He just hams it up like
a beloved comedian and delivers whatever silly greeting will make
kids laugh. It’s beautiful to watch him. There isn’t a shy bone
in that kids body!
Can we as adults
do the same thing? I know that if I really look at my own behaviors,
the times that friends have seemed a bit scarce were when I wasn’t
doing a lot of reaching out and greeting them. If I wasn’t personalizing
my conversations towards them and I wasn’t handing out the compliments,
then new people didn’t seem to stick around and develop into friendships.
Most people are a lot more insecure and shy then they let on, and
they really feel good when someone else notices them enough to learn
their name and to greet them with a real compliment. It usually
makes them feel comfortable enough to respond and to begin opening
It’s a really
simple exercise… consistently greet them, personalize the greeting,
and then add a compliment to the greeting, if you aren’t friends
by then, offer an invitation along with the greeting. People love
to feel likeable. This system lets them know that you think they’re
likeable without making you feel like an uncomfortable nerd. It’s
slow enough paced to not be forced, unnatural, or pushy. We humans
have funny little behavioral rules and rituals that we follow instinctively
and red warning flags pop up when someone doesn’t approach us just
right. Deep down, I think we’re still just as skittish and easily
spooked away as the first cavemen. Give them time to check you out.
It’s amazing how beautifully this works.
Skye Thomas, Tomorrow’s Edge
began writing books and articles with an everyday practical
approach to spirituality, motivation, and inspiration in 1999
after twenty years of studying spirituality, metaphysics,
motivation, and parenting. More of her articles can be found
as well as free previews of her books.
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