If you search online for How to Make Friends, there’s plenty advice like “talk to more people” or “invite people to do things.”
Well ok…but it ignores a major problem many face.
What if you just can’t connect with people once you’re with them?
Maybe you make polite conversation, but there’s just no “spark.” No bond forms.
If that’s the case, no matter how many new people you meet, you’ll still end up “friendless.”
A reader of my Conversation Tips Newsletter recently e-mailed asking for advice on this very problem. So in this post, I share his e-mail and my response.
It contains deeper concepts that, if you use them time and again, can really help you make more friends.
Case in Point: Conversation Tips Newsletter Subscriber Asks:
I love your conversation e-course! While I do have some trouble making conversation, one thing in particular I struggle with is forming friendships. I know plenty of people, but I’m friends with none of them. It’s somewhat frustrating that after making so much effort to just talk as many advise, I haven’t gotten better. How can I make new friends when I cannot form any type of bond with people. I was wondering if you have had the same experience and have some tips.
Your Problem of Bonding with New Friends is Ignored
Many people giving advice on conversation confidence and making friends skip this reader’s experience (probably because they’ve never experienced it themselves). But I believe it’s a core problem keeping people from effortless conversation and lasting friendships.
I would know because truly connecting with new people was one of my biggest problems.
An entire course would be needed to fully address the issue (in fact I’m creating a product about it). But here was my response with 4 quick tips that have helped me.
4 Tips to Connect & Make Friends
1. Realize Developing Friendships Takes Time
I think people believe there’s a way to forge deep friendships immediately, but in my experience it takes meeting more than once.
You CAN find connections and create warmth and comfort with strangers in one encounter. But that close, unspoken bond comes from getting-together multiple times. Just realizing this takes some pressure off and helps you behave more normal.
So the lesson here is don’t force it. Find ways to meet up with the same person or people more than once. Repeat exposure alone forms a sense of familiarity.
2. Friendships Usually Develop Out of Commonality
When you share a similar interest, history or viewpoint, this forms a bond. This is what causes people to feel they’ve met a “kindred soul.”
You do this by highlighting commonalities. How? First, you listen.
As you chat, do they mention a city you’ve been to (or would like to go to)? Do they like similar music? Are their opinions on the subject you’re discussing similar to yours?
If so mention it: “You know…I feel the same way because…” OR “Oh, I’ve been there too. It was great because…”
A few important points:
- Sharing feelings and opinions usually lets you connect with new friends quicker than sharing just facts. So saying, “I think Nirvana was one of the most influential bands of all time” is more powerful than sharing, “I went to the mall today, too.”
- You don’t have to connect on everything. Sharing some opposing viewpoints shows you’re independent. It commands respect.
- Don’t pretend you like something just to match the other person’s likes. For one, people usually see through this. Secondly, why force a friendship if you truly don’t have anything in common? There are billions of people out there!
3. Show Some Emotion!
If you really like something, don’t hold back. Show your passion for whatever it is you’re talking about.
This will get them excited too and as I mentioned above, feelings & emotions bond people faster.
4. Share More than Just Your Positive Attributes
This was (and sometimes still is) hard for me. Perhaps that’s from a combination of being introverted and my history of low self-esteem.
But the fact is, when you share your weaknesses and fears, people connect with you. I know, it seems counterproductive (when you want to get people to like you), but it works.
It works because people start to see you as a real human being, not some stranger they just met.
By being “vulnerable,” you show you’re comfortable enough to let down your defenses. In turn, they’re more likely to let down their defenses and just be real too. That’s when friendships truly take off.
Just be reasonable with what you share. Telling someone you just met about your abusive family or chronic money problems is a bit heavy. Save big stuff like that till the friendship is more developed.
But joking about how you’re lazy or exaggerate WAY too much or fear saying something silly in conversations works wonders in first meetings.