After I graduated college, I felt alone. I lived with my best college friend, and a couple of other roommates. But then my college friend got married, and the other roommates when on their way.
But finally, I had enough of being lonely. My sister had started attending a midsize church outside of Chicago, and she invited me to a service. Besides loving the church, I was amazed to see lots of other singles my age.
Over the next five years, I struggled with low self-esteem, social mistakes, and embarrassing dating situations because of my lack of social experience in America.
But I persisted, and I found friends and met my future wife during a game of broom ball!
I’ve shared how I made some new friends, including my lifelong friend, Vicki (my wife).
My journey includes some friendship skills activities which are part of the list I’m going to share with you.
You can make new friends by applying some of the following friendship skills activities.
1. Spend more time around people. It’s hard to make friends without people around! Decide that you’ll block time out of your schedule to spend time with others.
2. Join an organization or club with people who have common interests. Alex Plank shared that he joined clubs in his areas of interest in high school: drama club, computer club, science, art. Check out Meetup.com for groups in your area. I’m interested in writing and entrepreneurship. It took me a couple of searches, but I found a few writers’ groups, and a local entrepreneurs’ group. Make sure the group is now active.
3. Volunteer. Volunteering is a great way to meet other people united for a single cause. Volunteermatch.org connects you with causes you care about.
4. Practice starting, maintaining, and ending conversations. I’ve written a number of articles to help you practice conversation skills.
5. Be sure that your body language communicates interest. Body language can communicate that you’re not interested, even if you are! Study body language to make sure that you’re basically conveying interest.
6. Be willing to engage in small talk. I know from reading many comments from Aspergers and autism bloggers that small talk can be a pain, but small talk does serve to get conversations going. Here’s a Wiki How about how to be good at small talk. Dan Wendler recommends the book, How To Talk To Anyone, to help you and I learn the art of small talk.
7. Introduce yourself, and remember names! Practice introducing yourself with these conversation starters, or role play with a friend you trust. Sometime I have to take the initiative in a new social setting, and often the person I approach is glad that I’ve made the effort.
Don’t make the mistake I’ve too often made: forgetting people’s names! Remembering names communicates that you cared and listened. I often forget a name because I get caught up in the conversation. Someone advised me to repeat the person’s name a couple of times during the conversation, when meeting someone new. This repetition helps me remember.
8. Be open-minded. Don’t judge a person too quickly. My best college friend isn’t someone I would have naturally gravitated to, nor he to me! But, because we lived together our freshman year, we got to know each other better and found out that we really did have some interests and values in common.
Get to know the other person. Here are some questions to think about, (from the Personal Excellence blog).
- What does he/she do?
- What are his/her hobbies?
- What has he/she been up to recently?
- What are his/her upcoming priorities/goals?
- What does he/she value the most?
- What are his/her values?
- What motivates/drives him/her?
- What are his/her passions in life? Goals? Dreams?
9. Learn good listening skills. Check out this podcast episode by married couple Caleb and Verlynda, Listen to Understand, for a good example.
10. Pay attention to common interests, and initiate a get together.
If you’ve discovered that the person you’re talking to has a common interest, ask him or her more about it and, if appropriate, whether they get together with others (in a club, for example) to pursue this interest. If so, this is a perfect opportunity to ask about joining them. If you clearly express interest (when? where? can anyone come?) they’ll probably invite you. If you have a club, band, church, etc. that you think they might enjoy, take the opportunity to give them your number or email address and invite them to join you. How to Make Friends
11. Join online communities, like WrongPlanet.net, or Google Hangouts of people with similar interests is a great way to connect with people locally and far away. Once you get to know and trust someone online, you may be able to meet offline.
12. Be easy on yourself, but persistent in learning. Alex Plank, in this interview, recommends that we treat making friends as an activity we don’t have to succeed at immediately. In the short-term, we are learning skills that will help us build friendships in the long run.
What friendship skills activities are you going to apply this week?