Building a friendship is like dating. Ok...before you throw up your hands and shout “nevermind!!!” - hear me out. Interacting with others and fostering a meaningful connection takes time and effort. We worry about what to say, what to wear, where to go, will they like me!? Although it would be easiest if our perfect friends (and honestly, our perfect partner) dropped from the sky directly onto our doorsteps, finding those people will require some work. The last time you probably worked to make a friend was preschool. When the nice kid next to you in the sandbox offered you a chance at playing with their awesome new toy, you knew right then that you were bffs. Now that you’re an adult, the sandboxes have changed; they are now your workplace, your church, your campus. And it may seem so much harder to actually find that bff. Here are some tips to get you started:
1. Say hello! Do this with a smile, and I guarantee (loosely) that the person will respond and smile back!
2. Small talk! I have yet to meet a person who enjoys small talk. But small talk leads to big talk (i.e. more in depth conversations). Most of us have opinions on the weather, and it's a relatively safe topic that should not incur intense emotional reactions. Make a comment on the weather this season, how it compares to last year, your hopes for a warmer/cooler summer and then wait for your almost-bestie to respond.
3. Compliment...appropriately. Sometimes an appropriate compliment or observation can get the ball rolling. I have a t-shirt that says "my coffee needs coffee." Many people have complimented the shirt and noted that they could relate. This opening has allowed me to discuss my love of coffee, mention where I bought the shirt, and even discuss whose coffee I like best. Inevitably, the conversation continues.
These tips can get you started. Remember that most of us are a little awkward when it comes to trying to be more social and make connections. Be assured that the person next to you probably does not see themselves as a social butterfly easily able to make friends with any random person. Anxiety will probably rear its head when you try to step out of your comfort zone and engage with others. But, I think you will feel proud of yourself for giving it a try!
If all else fails, let's draw up some floor plans for an adult sandbox. -Dr. B.