Friends: how many of us have them? by Lucas Tyson

(Editors note:Whodini may have some input on this)

I had an easy time making friends in college. Relating to others came naturally because we were all thrust into the similar circumstance of a brand new environment that we had to learn together, along with an abundance of free time to socialize. I finished school and still made friends, but they came at a considerably slower rate. Less free time, more stress. Over time the closest of my college friends began to leave New York, and my social life began to disintegrate. This was extremely troubling, because let’s face it, when you’re drinking alone at noon on a Sunday, it’s not called “brunch” it’s called “a drinking problem.”

After much introspection I realized the reason I wasn’t acquiring friends was internal: I was waiting for people to find me instead of pursuing them on my own. If you’re reading this you may be experiencing the same things. There is a method to making friends that works for me, and I’ve broken it down into four parts to ease the process for you. Click through to see what they are..

CULTIVATE INTERESTS

The first step is the most straightforward. The simplest way to connect with people is over mutual interests. When people ask you what you’ve been up to and your answer is always “you know, work and stuff…” it is time to inject some novelty into your life. Read new publications, listen to new music, research new activities to participate in, whatever it takes to expand your horizons. I can’t promise everything you try will be a perfect match, but if you keep pursuing these new interests you will eventually find something that sticks. You will have more facets to your personality, and a greater chance of having conversations that don’t default to boring topics like work and the weather.

THE ART OF CONVERSATION

How many times have you found yourself trapped by some stultifying person who won’t stop running their mouth about some asinine bullshit? Did you try to interject with something to no avail so now you’re attempting to hold your breath until you pass out? And then you wake up in the ambulance and wow, you can’t believe that worked, but wait, they let that guy ride with you and he’s still talking?

The offender is a Bad Conversationalist. No one wants to talk to this person. In order to avoid being a Bad Conversationalist you need to listen and ask questions. Most people just wait for their turn to talk in conversations. The next time you are speaking with someone, really pay attention. Think about what they are saying as they say it, and if you can relate to it, respond with a glimpse of your own perspective in an open-ended way to keep the flow going. If not, ask them a question to learn more. Questions engage people, open new thought processes, and most importantly show you are interested in what they are talking about. This will lead to you making a more lasting impression in their mind, and will give you something to reference next time you see them. You can then build upon this foundation and share more things to create a closer bond. However, this won’t work unless you….

OPEN UP (PAUSE)

We are trained to close ourselves off to others as a method of self preservation. There’s nothing wrong with this. However, many people do it for the wrong reasons: to cultivate a sense of mystery, to seem cool, or because they are insecure. If you are a truly interesting person and comfortable with yourself you don’t need to put up false fronts. If you are happy to see someone, smile. If you are having fun with someone, tell them. If you don’t agree with something, speak up. Be real and honest with people and the important ones will appreciate it.

DON’T BE LAZY

Your new friends will invite you to some event. This sounds great, but there’s a catch: you may have to step out of your comfort zone. You might have to try something new, or travel a little further than you want to. You may feel an overwhelming sense of laziness preventing you from making it to this event.

Squash that immediately. Get off your couch, go to that party, meet those strangers. You may be uncomfortable at first, but more likely than not you will end up having a great time, building a closer rapport with your new friends and creating memorable experiences. Even terrible times can be fun with the right people. Complacency leads to stagnation, so keep your mind open to the next activity. People who turn down invitations all the time stop getting invited, and all the effort you put in to make those new friends will be wasted.

So that’s it. The process takes a lot of effort but I guarantee you it will be worth it, and you and your new friends can buy me a drink the next time you see me.

Words by Lucas Tyson

You can follow Lucas on twitter.

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