For many, it can be a very daunting experience to find yourself meeting a new group of people. When you join a club or society, a class or course or start a new job… you will find yourself surrounded by people with at least one similar interest but there still remains the important step of getting to know each other. There are many things that hold us back. Fear of rejection. Worrying about other people’s perception of us. Concern about being ‘stuck’ spending time with people that we do not like. Anxiety about being talked about. The list goes on. Making friends requires you to do a number of things.
First, change your attitude about the other people around you. Although first impressions can sometimes be right, we all know of lots of experiences we have had where we met someone and the person turned out entirely different from what we expected. It is critical to paint the best possible picture of each person you meet in your mind so that you find yourself more motivated to get to know them.
Second, change your attitude about rejection. If they are rude to you or not interested in communicating with you, there are more than likely one of two things going on. Either a) they are not interested in communicating because they have no interest in making friends which is good to know as you do not want to get to know someone like that anyway; or b) they are pretty shy so they need you to help them to keep persisting through the wall of shyness until they relax around you.
Third, change your attitude about how you are coming across. The most important thing you can possibly do when you first meet other people is to be yourself. The easiest way to do this is to focus on the situation itself and making others feel as good as possible. Making them feel good will make them more relaxed and more likely to open up and be themselves.
As well as changing your attitude, the next step is to make the first move. Start conversations with them… about anything. Just get talking with them. The more you can start to engage them, the more they will feel a part of the interaction and comfortable with you. Waiting for others to make the first move makes you seem aloof and disinterested in them. It also makes you come across more confident and interesting.
Paying attention to them is also important. The more you remember their name and ask interesting questions to know more about them, the better you will get on with them. People like people who are interested in them. It is simple but true.
Finally, find ways of organising social events. Invite people out for coffee, drinks or dinner as a group. Do what you can to create more bonding opportunities with others. This will help break down any boundaries that may be there socially and offer a better chance to get to know each other.
Dale Carnegie’s classic book ‘How to Win Friends and Influence People’ has plenty of terrific advice as well so check that out.