When I was in second grade we moved to a new town and I had a new school to attend. I came into that school not knowing anyone. I felt so alone. Learning to make friends, as a child, in a new neighborhood was scary. There’s really not much difference when moving to a new town as an adult. It takes a while to warm up to people. Developing friends is a long process which requires a lot of patience and an outgoing spirit. We can meet new people at
- our children’s karate class
- Girl Scouts
- and at the local park.
There are three things that I keep in mind when cultivating new relationships.
If you want to make friends, you need to be a friend. Many times this means you are on the giving end a whole lot more often than those you are trying to befriend. We need to give attention. Positive attention is much better than negative attention. The old saying is true, ‘misery loves company’, but do you really want miserable relationships? Stay positive and you’ll attract positive people.
Affirm the person:
People want to be friends with people who are interested in them. When we meet new people we should ask safe questions. This means we should be wise in not asking probing questions that are too personal. It’s safer to ask how long they’ve lived in the neighborhood, what good restaurants are around, and what their opinion of the schools are. These three topics can tell you a lot about a person and they are non threatening questions. They are more likely to trust us to be friends if we are kind in our questions. The length of time in a neighborhood will let you know if the person might be resourceful. Someone who has longevity in the neighborhood can help us make more friends. When they tell us which restaurants are good (ask where the closest coffee shop is), we know right away what their food preferences are and you can ask where it’s located, what other stores are near there and which shopping center has the most to offer. When they share their opinions about a school they might open up with how many children they have, what their ages are, or that they have no children at all. In just three questions we can learn a lot about a person. Nod your head, smile, and comment positively so they know you value what they have to say.
When we have an attitude of gratitude by expressing our appreciation for their ‘review’ of the town, it builds up the person we’re talking to. They are more likely to feel as though they have assisted us (and they did), which is a sign of a giving spirit. Two friends who have a giving heart have a higher chance of building a strong friendship than meeting someone who doesn’t have much to say.
There’s always going to be some folks we come across that are blander than dry white bread. Be kind and smile, but don’t feel obligated to try and open them up if they’re not ready. They just might be a bit shy.
After an initial conversation, offer to get together for coffee sometime (this is why you ask where the local coffee shop is). Coffee is a beverage we normally sip slowly so we know a second conversation will have more depth to it.
What happens if the initial conversation goes well, but they cancel a second and third attempt at getting together? It’s okay. People have a life and they probably had things come up unexpectedly. This happens to me quite often. It doesn’t mean I lack interest, just time. Keep reaching out to more people and eventually you’ll make some good friends and have many acquaintances established.
“Friendship is like a violin; the music may stop now and then, but the strings will last forever.” ~Anonymous