As we enter adulthood it becomes harder and harder to stay in touch with all our friends from our youth.
As our busy lives take over, we get caught up in our own business. We keep putting off meeting up with friends.
Happiness is firmly attached to having friends and a social life. Being lonely is a very serious problem, and affects millions of people.
As human beings we crave social interaction. Our brains have evolved to need to communicate, learn, and be stimulated.
This is one of the main reasons for depression and social anxiety. People who do not socialize throughout their lives find it difficult forming relationships.
Studies have shown that people with five or more friends with whom they can discuss topics and socialize are likely to describe themselves as “very happy”.
There is also further evidence to show that social people live longer. Being happy as a result of having a core group of friends is actually good for your health. It boost your immune system, reduces the risk of depression, and boots your energy level.
But making quality friends isn’t easy. Being desperate and trying to hurry people to befriend you will push them away.
You need to be able to read social situations, communicate with people effectively, and be genuine.
If you find yourself in the position where you have lost a lot of your friends, and want to get back an active social life. Here are 8 actionable tips to help you make new friends:
Turn up to Invites
If you’re invited to an event, someone wants you there. Don’t make excuses why you can’t go, make it a priority to go. Make an effort too. If it’s a dinner party or a celebration take a small gift for the host. Don’t be late, and show good etiquette.
Networking at events is a powerful way to meet new people and make friends. There is an accumulation effect to networking too. The more people you meet, the more you will be introduced to friends of those people. You will have a bunch of new contacts, and potential friends in no time.
Join Social Groups
Being a part of a group with likeminded people is one of the best ways to make friends. Social groups in your workplace, looking for groups around your hobbies, and neighbourhood hangouts are all great places to start.
You can find groups on sites like meetup.com, or by browsing forums. The biggest hook here is the common interests. It’s possibly the best ice breaker for any two people to talk about. Don’t try and fake it however, you’ll be busted in a heartbeat.
Start a Social Group
If you can’t find a group for the interest or hobby you’re interested in start your own group. Studies have shown that people with common interests are more likely to become friends. So starting your own group is a great way to connect with every member.
There is a lot of work involved with managing groups. Also, there is usually no money involved, unless you have a paid subscription. But if it’s around a hobby you’re passionate about, you shouldn’t grudge giving up much of your time.
Compliment Other People
It’s easy to give out a compliment. Chose the right moment and judge the social situation of course, but compliment others where appropriate. Everyone likes being complicated, it will help them warm up to you. It’s a great ice-breaker if you’re complimenting a new person, and strengthens bonds with current friends.
The kind of compliment you give also helps determine how people think about you. If you constantly say you like someone’s hair, people will associate hair with you. They may even ask you what you think of their hair. So choose your compliments wisely, and never make negative comments.
Set out to Make Friends
Friends don’t just drop into your life. You need to give off the right signals, and make the effort to make friends. Always be yourself though, this isn’t some kind of strategic to make people like you.
Don’t have a standoffish appearance. Think about the vibes you’re giving off. If you’re busy are you putting up barriers? You should always be polite, after all, you never know if the other person is trying to make friends too.
Smile, It’s Easy to Do
This probably won’t come as a surprise to anyone, but studies have shown that the more you smile during a conversation the more friendly you’re perceived. Obviously there is a fine line between coming across like a fake smiler, and someone genuinely happy.
The best thing is that smiling is free, and easy. If you’re not much of a natural smiler, just give it a thought every time you’re having a conversation.
Reach out to Friends-Of-Friends
When you’re hanging out with a friend and you’re introduced with a friend of theirs, be just as polite as you are with your friend. If you hit it off and realise you have some common interests, invite them to any groups or related gatherings.
This is a great way of expanding your social circle. You already have something in common if you think about it. You both know the same person.
Be Mindful of Cultural and Religious Differences
Respect the fact that people are of varying religions and cultural backgrounds. Don’t try and force your views on other people, this is a quick way to push people away. Do some research to make sure you don’t put your foot in it. Show them that you care and respect their views.
Different backgrounds doesn’t have to be a barrier between two people. Making friends from different cultures and beliefs can be an educational, and enriching experience.
Hopefully there are some actionable tips to help you make new friends applicable to you above. Some pointers you can take action on.
Stop telling yourself you don’t have the time to meet new people and make friends. Almost everyone comes across other people in their daily lives.
Stop telling yourself you don’t know enough people to meet other people. Anyone can start from scratch.
Check through these conversation starters if you find it difficult breaking the ice. Once you start talking to someone your personality will come through.
Phil lives in England, UK, and has around 20 years experience as a professional life, career and executive coach. He started this blog to help others find and define their own self development journey. Blogging about a wide range of topics to help facilitate a better future.