Increasing your popularity: top tips for winning new friends
A friend is one of the nicest things you can have, and one of the best things you can be. Douglas Pagels
Making new friends can be challenging, even for the most extroverted people – and particularly if you are trying to increase allies of the same gender as yourself. Once you reach a certain age, you may feel that everyone already has their group of friends and you’ve been left behind – maybe you’ve moved to a new city and you’re finding it hard to get to know people. This week Happiness Weekly looks at how you can increase your current level of popularity and win some new friends!
Know why you’re low on friends
A good place to start is to acknowledge the reason why you are low on friends. If you establish your weakness, it may prevent a pattern and help you keep the new friends you’re about to make. Here are some reasons you may need new friends (and this blog!):
- You have moved to a new city
- You are in a long-term relationship and your social life has withered
- Your current friends are moving away, starting a family, busy with work, getting engaged, getting married
- Your current friends graduated from university (where you met) and are moving back home
- You have grown apart from your current friends and are ready to make new friends
- You need a new group of fresh people with solid values away from bad influences (this is particularly important if you are trying to break an addiction or habit
- You are at home all the time and life is passing you by – you want more friends to get out and about with
- You never really knew how to make friends and have always wanted a better social life but didn’t know how to go about it (Good news – you’re in the right place!)
- Have a winning attitude – you need to ensure that you drive potential friends towards you – and one of the ways to do this is to smile, be approachable, social, chatty and prepared to make conversation etc. Avoid criticising people, gossiping, and don’t compromise your standards. Be positive about … pretty much everything!
- Accept people as they are – everyone has a right to their own values and beliefs, and just because they may not be 100% in-line with yours or they may not come from a similar background, does not mean they won’t make a great friend. The more you accept people for who they are, the more friends you will make!
- Be self-aware – it’s important that you are mindful of how you treat people, what you say, and your body language. You also must know who you are – your values, beliefs and attitudes to things. If you have a friend who makes you feel good when you are around them, use them as your role model. Consider how you like to be treated and do the same.
- You win some, you lose some – good friends aren’t made overnight. Be wary of sharing too much information too soon, and avoid talking about the negatives too quickly. Don’t be too disappointed if your decision to make some new friends doesn’t result in heaps of friends straight away. Some people may not be as they seem at the beginning and you may want to terminate what you think may be a close friendship, or someone may not be interested in your friendship for their own reasons. Making a network of friends can be quite a slow process but if you’re patient, you will be successful.
Where to meet potential friends
The hardest part about making new friends is figuring out how to find them. Again, this is particularly relevant when you are seeking friends of the same gender. Here are some great places to make new friends:
- Work. Open yourself to social occasions such as Friday night drinks, work lunches, birthday celebrations etc. Be sure the person is a friend before sharing too much personal information with them, as you may not be able to avoid them in the office.
- Study. Expand your interests by learning a new language, craft or furthering your self-development by completing a course. Look at TAFE, community colleges, sometimes universities also offer short courses that may be of interest.
- Join a MeetUp Group. This is a great way to find a group of friends that share that interest – the website attracts all different people and encourages people to participate in activities. Joining a MeetUp group is easy – just login to www.meetup.com.
- Volunteer. If you don’t work and have no particular hobbies, volunteering may be for you! Choose a charity that interests you and start contributing. Before you know it, you’ll be meeting other people, even some that will inspire you!
- Network. Use your existing network of friends and family to network your way into meeting new people. Whenever you are invited anywhere, always accept – you never know who you’re going to meet!
- Visit the local council. Your local council will have a stack of community groups that get together for various events and activities. Join one! Simply visit to your local council to find out more. (This is also a great way to make new friends in your area.)
How to maintain your friendships
Making new friends is one thing, but how do you maintain the friendships? If you already struggle to spark new friendships to begin with, keeping them may seem particularly challenging – but it’s easy!
- Appreciate – don’t take your friends for granted. Take time to thank them for enhancing your life, or showing them your gratitude e.g. inviting them for dinner
- Offer your time – friendships (particularly new ones) need nurturing, and the best gift you can give is your time and attention. Make your friendships a priority. Listen actively when speaking with your friends and show interest and enthusiasm in their lives
- Be compassionate – sometimes a friend may do something you don’t approve of, which is why forgiveness is an important quality of friendship. Try to put yourself in their shoes before you judge
- Be trustworthy – maintain a confidence and be the person that people feel they can openly confide in
- Be open and honest – avoid being jealous of their other friendships. If the person is a good friend to have, they may be popular. Accept it and join in!
Making the first move
The best way to move an acquaintance into a stable friendship is to invite that potential friend to do something with you. Take action to achieve your goal and win a friend. You can ease in by having a party or gathering and inviting your new friend along. You may even let them invite a friend to ensure they feel comfortable. This gives you a chance to get to know them outside your usual routine without any pressure. Here are some tips for asking people out and making the first move (including what to say!):
- Consider the most appropriate way to ask this person out: face to face, over the phone, text message, email, Facebook message or through a chat window
- Be direct with your invitation if you are asking someone out one-on-one, this will give you an indication of how open they are to the friendship: if they say straight “no”, then you have your answer, but if they reject you and offer a follow up “How about next weekend?” or even contact you again when they are available – then they’re clearly open to the friendship
- Ask an open question to gauge the level of interest in catching up: “Would you like to grab a coffee/drink sometime?”, “Would you be interested in checking out that new store with me sometime?”, “What days are you usually free? Would you like to hang out sometime?”
- Ask the question with a plan: “Would you like to grab a drink after work?”, “Are you free on Thursday night? Let’s go late night shopping!”, “Do you want to go see that movie in the next week or so?” If you make a more general offer to hang out, and the other person isn’t interested, they may say something like, “Yeah sure, maybe we could do that sometime soon”, but then they’ll change the subject, and they won’t follow up later. If you follow up, they may be “busy”. It’s advisable that you offer them a way out to avoid any awkwardness if they’re not interested.
- Inviting a group of people to hang out: “Do you guys want to hang out together some time?”, “Would you like to try the new restaurant down the road for lunch one day?” “What does everyone think about heading into the city for drinks after work on Friday?”
- If you invite people out with your existing friends it will certainly take pressure off because you won’t be as needy. “Some friends and I are meeting at the pub on Friday night for a friend’s birthday drinks if you’d like to join us?”, “I go jogging with some friends every Sunday morning if you’d like to come?”, “I’m having a party this Saturday night for my birthday if you want to come round?”
- It can also become awkward to ask an existing friend out that you haven’t seen in a while – but it doesn’t have to be: “Wow – it’s been ages – would you like to grab a coffee on Sunday morning?”, “What have you been up to? Would you like to grab some lunch and catch up?”
Six steps to friendship
Converting an acquaintance into friendship can be a challenge, but now you know how to make the first move, the hard part is over! Simply follow these steps to win the friendship:
- Invite people out – individually or as a group (as above)
- Get in the habit of receiving contact information. Ask for their phone number or email address or try to find them on Facebook. This makes it easier to contact them if there’s a group outing that comes up
- Make a plan. To avoid any awkwardness it’s advisable you have a plan when asking someone out. Once you ask if they want to hang out with you, you need to be ready with a time and place – or some kind of plan. This will also make it easier to ask them out because there’s something to offer them
- Learn to invite yourself out. For example, if you have been hanging out with someone who mentions that their friends regularly do something you’re interested in, while the topic is there, simply ask if it’s ok if you tag along one day
- Accept every invitation you can to meet new people. This is really important because if you come across as too busy, they will stop coming your way. Remember: the only way to get something you haven’t got, is to do something you’ve never done
- Maintain the friendship by keeping in touch, organising more events/catch ups, remembering important dates or events and following up about them, and assisting the relationship to grow. Sooner or later you’ll meet your new friend’s friends and things (including your popularity) will build from there.
How to make a group of friends quickly and easily
A few quick and easy tips to making a group of friends:
- Join a club (this could be a sporting club or just a club based on your interest)
- Start a new job (hang out in the lunchroom
- Take a class in something you’re interested in
- Join a sports team
- Participate in a regular activity such as Zumba or Salsa dancing
- Live in share accommodation
- Merge all your individual friends into a group (and hope everyone gets along).
Learning to be sociable
Some people lack the social skills to network their way into more friendships – but it’s as simple as asking people out:
- Watch and learn from sociable people
- Practice socialising
- Be a good listener (it’s more important than talking too much!)
- Appear interested (ask the person about themselves)
- Find out other strategies (e.g. a counsellor or psychologist may be able to assist you)
- Be bold – step out of your comfort zone. You need to interact with people to gain their attention
- Be friendly and sociable. Prepare to make short, friendly conversation with anyone in the room. Appear approachable and be pleasant so people enjoy being around you
- Talk to everyone who crosses your path. Make it a habit to know the people around you
- Keep a casual attitude. Choose light, safe topics to discuss – if you can’t say anything nice, don’t say anything at all
- Be polite and respect people’s privacy. Don’t be nosey or clingy. Read people’s body language and learn to understand the signals
- Be empathetic and a good listener. Try to relate to the people around you and be interested in them
- Lend a helping hand where you can – this will help you be on good terms with people. One of the easiest ways of building rapport is to listen to people and offer to help somehow
- Be yourself and simply mould the above qualities into your current situation
- Have something to say when you talk to people, particularly if you’re talking online or via a social media channel. Don’t just say “Hi – I’m bored”…
- Maintain your privacy – don’t tell everyone everything, it can come back to haunt you.
So now you’re set to make some new friends! Thank you for reading, and if you have tips, hints or advice to add, please leave your comment below!
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