HOW TO MAKE FRIENDS AND INTERACT WITH NEW PEOPLE
Updated: Jul 14
Some months ago, before the world had still not come under the control of the vicious Corona Virus, a friend of mine who is an undergrad student, let us call him Joe for convenience, went to attend a TEDx event.
The TEDx events are great platforms to socialize, meet and interact with new people and see the world through a different perspective.
Speakers from different walks of life come together to share their feelings, thoughts, and the hurdles they came across while working in their field.
This was Joe’s account of the event:-
Joe went there alone, reaching the venue fairly early. There were a number of people there, waiting for the event to start.
There were business persons, actors, musicians, teachers as well as other students just like Joe.
The event finally commenced.
There was a speaker who was a high ranking police officer.
Now what the thing is, Joe also aspires to become a police officer one day and getting an opportunity to listen to someone who has already got there was a big deal for Joe.
He wanted to go backstage, talk to the speaker and get an account of his first hand experience of the police’s professional lives but sadly, his hesitation got the better of him. He was too shy and introverted do it.
During the waiting time before the event and the break time in between, Joe wanted to talk to someone and share his excitement and views regarding the event.
But ironically, throughout the event, he just sat, listened to the speakers and came home.
Neither he talked to his favorite speaker of the event nor any of his fellow audience members.
Have you ever been at a place when you meet someone, at a social gathering, a family function, a professional event etc. and you start to admire them and are in awe of what they have achieved in life so far?
You want to talk to them, know more about them and how they did what they did but alas!
You just can’t muster up the courage to go and break the ice.
No matter how much the urge to know more about them pushes you, your hesitation gets the better of you.
That is exactly what happened with Joe here.
Let us talk about another scenario!
There is another friend of mine who is a university student, let’s call this one Jolly. One day, Jolly told me that she has very few friends in the college but would have liked to have more.
She said she feels very lonely while in the studying in the reading room or library or eating alone in the canteen or in the evenings when everyone is hanging out with their groups.
Even if people ask her to join them sometimes, she finds it hard to socialize.
When I asked her what the problem was and why she didn’t make more friends, she said it was because she feels odd to go and talk to new people.
She said she always tells herself that she doesn’t actually need more friends but in reality, she said she does. She wished to be more outgoing and likable as her other friends.
Why do you think she was unable to do that? Have you been at her place too?
Let us break it up into two parts based on the above scenarios:-
1. How to interact with people and break the ice with ease
There is no one word panacea for all.
For some people it is hesitation that comes in the way while for others, it is the fact that they don’t know what to say or how to behave in a proper manner with a stranger.
Here I have tried to offer some respite to ease your emotional turmoil and discomfort in such situations.
It may sound obvious and funny but I have made the above picture to be used as a reference for choosing people to talk to and befriend with effectively.
The black dot in the center is you and the dots encircling it are the people who work close to you.
Each shade of blue defines the accessibility of people around you.
The darker the shade of blue, the easier it is for you to interact with them.
Start with the nearest(metaphoric use of the word near) person.
For instance, the person sitting next to you in a class or a bus, people sharing the same hobby as yours, your colleagues etc.
1.1 LOOSE THE AIR OF FORMALITY
The need to maintain a formal behavior at times tends to mar the natural behavior of individuals.
There are occasions when you are supposed to behave in a composed manner but that need not happen all the time.
Don’t behave formally if it is not an absolute necessity.
Be gentle, be firm but let your natural behavior to come out.
Humans can always relate to humans better, not machines. It will be much easier for them to relate to you if you behave more like a person and less like a robot or a lifeless object.
1.2 DON’T FORGET TO SMILE
Smiling is an activity indigenous to humans (and some apes as they are our closest relatives).
Smiling builds an instant human connection between two individuals and brings about a state of comfort and ease.
You can have a much more wholesome conversation in such harmonious conditions.
1.3 BREAK THE ICE WITH A WITTY BUT NON-CREEPY REMARK
Whenever you want to start the conversation and don’t have any idea of how to start it, start with a funny remark.
The remark might be about anything.
If you are a student you can start by saying- “I find so and so course very boring” or “I am always sleepy in so and so’s class. Are you, in all your senses, generally?”
1.4 COMPLIMENT THE SHOES
It is a foolproof method of striking a conversation.
The most gentle and sincere looking compliment among all the compliment pantheon is the one for the footwear.
It never goes wrong.
If the footwear is actually good, the person will be impressed by your keen eye and if they are not, they will like your sense of choice of object to be complimented.
The one getting the compliment is sure to smile.
1.5 LISTEN CAREFULLY AND EARNESTLY TO WHAT THEY HAVE TO SAY
A good listener is always preferred over a great orator.
This is because the person in front of you is a human and just like all other humans, likes to feel important.
When you listen to them, they feel important and realize that their thoughts and ideas have value. They get to know that people like to listen to what they have to say.
Also try to bring up the points that they said or mentioned earlier in the further conversation and don’t forget to show enthusiasm about the it.
This enables you to entwine the conversation in one thread and keep the person interested and engaged.
1.6 REDUCE DISTRACTIONS
This point is an annex to the last one. In order to pay proper attention to what one is saying, you need to turn off your other distractions such as your cell-phone.
1.7 DO NOT LET YOUR EYES WANDER
This one might sound odd but it is important to keep a check on what you are looking at while you are talking to someone.
You must not give the impression that you are ogling at them.
I’ve mistakenly done it a several times and it becomes completely clear that the person feels odd and sometimes intimidated.
Also kindly don’t look at the walls, trees and other things while talking. Look into the eyes of the person. An easy way to practice this is by trying to observe the eye colour of someone while you talk.
1.8 INQUIRE ABOUT THEIR PROFESSIONAL LIFE
A topic which can give you a lot of opportunities to frame questions is the person’s professional life.
Personal questions should be avoided till the other person has not started asking them too. They are considered a bit prying but on the other hand professional questions are welcomed with open arms.
Ask them about “what public transport they prefer to take and why” or things like “how is the work/study environment in their campus” etc.
1.9 DO NOT FAKE OR BOAST ABOUT ANYTHING
Remember the last time you were conversing with people and they started boasting about themselves?
The unchecked boasting becomes evident rather quickly and the other party is left feeling intimidated and irritated by such behavior.
When talking to someone, take care that you neither overdo nor under-do it.
There is a subtle difference between being a showboat and earnestly telling them about yourself. Take good care of it.
2. HOW TO KEEP THE FRIENDS YOU HAVE MADE
Now that you are braced with all the know-how of having a hearty conversation, I hope you’ll be able to make friends.
Making friends is still easy but keeping them is a different ball game altogether.
Keepers have some particular behavior due to which their friends like and enjoy their company very much.
I, personally, am not one such person but I have friends who are.
Here are some golden rules that I’ve observed in and learnt from them:-
2.1 SEE IF YOUR FRIENDS LACK IN SOMETHING AND OFFER TO HELP
As human beings evolved, they learnt about the advantages of living in a colony. All humans are interdependent as none of us are perfect. We require each-other’s help all the time.
Hence, ask your friends if they need any help from time to time.
If they tell you something which you can do something about, do it!
2.2 KEEP THE SECRETS, SECRETS
If any of your friend tells you a personal secret, let it be a secret. Take it to your grave. Let it be their choice if they want to tell it further to someone else or not.
Don’t talk about them behind their backs.
This improves trust and bonding between friends.
2.3 BE THERE FOR THEM
All of us encounter times when we find ourselves on the rocks.
If your friends are going through tough times, be there to hold the door.
Be the first person to get their backs when they need it.
2.4 DON’T JUDGE
Be respectful of the differences. There might be times when your faiths and beliefs on a certain topic do not match. Do not argue.
Discuss it out, if possible. Suggest changes or give advice but arguing only makes the matters worse.
Everyone is free to have their own beliefs and make choices in life. Do not criticise or judge them for it.
To take your advice or not should solely be their decision.
Live and let live.
2.5 SAY NOTHING OFFENSIVE
Do not ever deliberately say or do things to offend or hurt people. It is applicable for not only your friends but everybody.
Doing such things removes you from their good books forever.
It can ruin age old friendships/relationships.
Sometimes, no amount of explanation or apology can make up for your deeds hence it is better to keep yourself form initiating such behavior in the first place.
BONUS ADVICE FOR INTROVERTS
٭ ! SHARE YOUR FOOD WHOLEHEARTEDLY WHEN YOUR FRIENDS ASK FOR IT ٭
Nothing buys people in a more holistic way than food.
Don’t believe me? Try for yourself.