Monday, 25 August 2014

How to Make Grownup Friends

You know, you probably have a few of those things in life where you think you are really crappy at, but if you think about it a little longer, turns out you're actually pretty ok.

Making friends is one of those things for me.  I am deeply introverted and shy.  I almost never feel comfortable being the center of attention.  But! I've lived in a lot of different places and I am pleased to admit that in every one of those places, I've formed an excellent, close-knit little tribe.  I know this is something most people struggle with, especially when you are older and living in places where you didn't grow up.

I've been thinking about this a lot lately, so I made a list of best practice solutions.

1.  Accept that people will turn you down.  This maybe seems like a negative way to start the list, but it's really a positive.  You have to reach out to many kinds of people to make friends, and most of them will be preoccupied, in a bad mood that day, or a little crazy themselves and will not be receptive to your friend vibes.  That's ok!  Keep trying, it only takes one or two awesome people to make friends.

2.  Ask questions.  People love to talk about themselves.  Ask them things.  You should be listening 80% and talking 20% of the time.  Look for parts in the conversation that open up to bigger things, especially if you think you have a similar interest.

3.  Don't make small talk.  I'm not saying don't talk to people, just the opposite.  Make sure when you do, you're talking to them in a way that will ensure they can't give you one-word, nothing answers.  This article, How to turn small talk into smart conversation, describes this well.  For example, don't say "I like your shoes." Say, "Where did you get those awesome shoes?"

4.  Become a regular somewhere.  People are way more likely to open up to you if they've seen you in a regular, casual fashion.  This is why it's easier to make friends at work.  If you have a local cafe or shop that you love, make the extra effort to talk to people there.  We go to a playgroup at the library every week and it's the only place I've been able to meet other Moms.

5.  Watch your body language.  I didn't realize how important this one was until Alec learned about it at work when being trained on how to interview people. Don't cross your arms, fidget too much, or turn your shoulder towards them.  Also, smiles are good.

6.  Don't be afraid of making the extra effort.  You know that point at the end of the conversation where it's all over and you think, I'd really like to see this person again! That's when you go, "Hey, can I look you up on facebook?" Or "Let's meet up for a coffee sometime soon."  Admittedly this is the hardest part (and keep #1 in mind) but when it works, it works.

7.  Reflect on the power of kindness.  If you are nice to people, they will probably be nice back to you.  Being nice also feels really good mostly.

8.  Be patient, really really patient.  This takes time!  You probably won't go to the grocery store this afternoon and find a bucket of cool people.  I think it took me a solid year of living in Melbourne to feel like I had any inkling of friends outside of my family.  It was hard.  It seemed like everyone I talked to already had their own friends, but like I said, it only takes one or two.

Sooo what do you think?  Do you feel like an awkward weirdo in new places too?  I'd love to hear your thoughts and please pass this post on to anyone who might also like it :)

Aaand because this is a blog post and all posts need pictures, here's some pictures of a few of my awesome friends who are all cute and wonderful and I miss them.  (I stole them from facebook)


  1. I'm wearing that shirt today lol!

  2. Since I'm your mom- and I always feel the need to add something, I have one more:

    9. When you have an option- and most of the time you do- interpret people and their thoughts and motives in the best possible way instead of the worst way- or even the medium way.

    And smiles are a HUGE icebreaker- unless you're one of those members of our fam who look like they're having a bowl movement when they try to smile. In that case, maybe just a friendly, "hello."

    And you have more friends than you think you do- it's just hard to remember that when most days the only folks you see are Alec, Clem, and Ders.

  3. Mom, you can be a guest contributor on my blog any day!

    Very true about your #9. I have a very bad habit of replaying conversations (especially with new people) over and over in my head and fixating on made up details, like how they may have perceived something that I said. Life is a lot easier if you don't do this.