Everybody needs a friend- someone they can call for a night of fun or help when they are in a bind, someone they can confide in. The problem is, sometimes it can be hard to make new friends- especially when you feel stuck in a constant whirlwind of craziness. Use these 6 keys to make and keep more friends even through the chaos we call life.
Pssstttt....one of my fears is calling someone by the wrong name or not remembering it at all! I can't let that keep me from connecting with others though. We all need friends! I try to say the person's name often the first time I meet someone whether it's in conversation with them or afterwards with my husband or children. I'll even write it down if I need to but if all else fails, ask again. It's better to ask then never know! Chances are they will understand. On to the 6 tips!
Open Your Mouth
You can't make any friends if you don't talk to anyone. Open your mouth to everyone you meet- the cashier at the store, the bank teller, the greeter at church. Say hello and when you can, go beyond the typical conversation rut- you know, what I'm talking about:
"How are you?"
"How are you doing?"
Ask a question that you really want to hear the answer to like, "I love your haircut, where do you get it done?" or "How long have you lived here?" Something that you are willing to listen to but also helps the other person open up. Compliments followed by a question are a great way to get people talking. Even if you don't make friends with everyone you meet, it's a great way to work on your conversation skills.
If you are on social media, remember to actually use your keyboard and comment! Hardly anyone actually looks at who liked their post, they do look at (and remember) who commented on their post. It's a great way to go from acquaintance to a friend. See that cute picture of your neighbor's baby? Make a sincere comment that helps you connect. For example: "Awww, so cute." is okay but "Look at his eyes! They are just like yours!" means a whole lot more to someone and is more likely to get a response. And who knows? Your comment could be exactly what they need that day.
Get Out of the House
You can't meet anyone if you don't actually get out of the house. When someone says, "Let's get together sometime." actually take them up on the offer- text them later with a suggested time and place. When your church has an activity, plan on attending. Even if you aren't particularly interested in the activity itself, it's a chance to connect with others which you certainly won't do at home in front of Netflix. Also take advantage of those opportunities to go inside instead of driving through when you can. It's way more fun to go to the bank when you get to chat with a friend.
Listen to Remember
Pssttt....most people love to talk about themselves. They might not think so but if you ask the right questions, they will open up. The key though, is to listen to remember. It's so easy to tune someone out or start thinking about what you want to say in response. It takes practice to actually listen to listen. It takes more practice to listen and remember what you heard tomorrow. Think about it though. Who are you better friends with (or want to be friends with)? Someone that keeps asking you the same question each week or the person who follows up with more personal, relevant questions the next time you see them?
Do the Little Things
Now that you are listening to remember, act on that knowledge and do the little things that matter. Do you know that someone is going to a new exercise class that she is nervous about? Call her after and see how it went. Does your friend seem overwhelmed by all the craziness in her life? Drop by with some paper plates one afternoon or offer to watch her kids. Did you think your friend looked a little down last time? Send a text to cheer them up (find some ideas of what to include). Those little extra things will make a big difference between knowing a bunch of people and actually having friends. After all, "A friend is a possession we earn, not a gift" (Marvin J. Ashton)- meaning friendship takes work!
Invite, Invite, Invite
Last but certainly not least, invite people over to your house, to a movie, to the park, anywhere so you can get to know them better. Don't plan some elaborate party or worry about having the perfectly cleaned house, just invite them over. It can be an invite to help you plant flowers out front, a play date for your kids at the park, family game night, or over for dinner on Sunday. Invite them over! And don't get discouraged when someone says no. It may not be the right time, they may have a lot more going on in their lives than you realize, or they may be super shy. Don't give up after the first attempt!
Bonus Tip: Forgive Often
We all make mistakes and lots of them. Choose not be offended and forgive when someone makes a mistake. It won't be long until you will need them to forgive you. Even if you choose not to continue that friendship, you can always choose to forgive.