Moving home, whether to a new place in your home country or abroad, means that you have to build connections from scratch. ‘How to make friends’ can be a troubling subject and sometimes it can be too embarrassing to ask for help.
It may sound like a slightly ridiculous post at first glance, but starting a conversation, trying to make friends and putting yourself out there for rejection can be a pretty scary thing.
You really want to be happy in your new life and I personally think that happiness is linked to having a strong network of support around you. So if you’re struggling with making friends, or just need a confidence boost, here are a few tips that may help to get things started!
- Give someone a compliment
If you really like someone’s new haircut, what they said in that lecture, or what car they drive – Tell them! Everybody loves a compliment and it’s a great way to start a conversation when you give the other person something to smile about.
- Find common ground
Joining clubs, classes or groups is essential to finding friends with the same interests as you. Join a sports team or sign up for a painting class. You can introduce yourself very easily in these settings by commenting on the instructor or complimenting their efforts – Easy! Not only this, you already have a common interest and you can regularly see them with each class/team meet-up.
- Maintain eye contact and smile
The easiest way to show that you’re shy and uncomfortable is to avoid meeting the person’s eye who you are talking to. Make a conscious effort to smile and meet their gaze whilst they are speaking. Whether or not it’s true, you will give off an illusion of confidence, approach-ability and show that you are really listening to what they are saying.
- Don’t judge a book by its cover
One of the biggest things I’ve learnt about myself recently is that I often make snap judgments about people without even knowing it. Since moving abroad, I have consciously made an effort to ignore my inner-critic and get to know everybody that comes my way. Give everyone a chance and get to know them as a person. You never know, the one you would have shrugged off might be one of your closest friends some day.
- Don’t assume you are always right
Now I’m all for a juicy debate but there is nothing worse than a know-it-all who shuts down any other opinion different to their own. We are all diverse and even if someone’s food-for-thought seems ridiculous to you, ask questions to understand where they’re coming from and respect that not everyone will agree with you.
- Ask for an opinion or recommendation
If you’ve just bought a new dress or you see someone reading an interesting looking book, ask them for their thoughts on it! The other day I noticed a girl who had a water bottle with the ‘BeachBody’ logo (my online workout program) and I went up to her and said ‘How great are the
BeachBody work outs?! Which one do you recommend?’- Grab every chance you can to connect.
- Ask How, What, Where, Why, Who, When….
Ie. Don’t just talk about yourself! Avoid an interrogation but make an effort to show interest in the other person and their life by asking authentic questions.
- Be pro-active
Don’t assume people will come to you. This is probably the most challenging tip but put yourself out there! Let someone know you’d love an invite next time they make plans. Ask somebody to be your tour guide of the area. Suggest an amazing movie that you think somebody would like to see with you. Ask your work colleague to check out the new café with you on your lunch break. If they say no, don’t take it personally. Chances are there is a better person to spend time with waiting around the corner. Just don’t give up!
- Visualize success
Stop self-sabotaging right. this. second. That stranger over there doesn’t know that you’re an introvert or nervous about talking to them so avoid
labelingyourself. If you start a conversation with kindness and authenticity, if nothing comes of it, big deal? – Move on and try again. If you are positive about who you are and visualize an optimistic outcome, the chances are you will be so much more successful.
- Be patient
Making friends takes time. If you are desperately searching for connections and fretting about loneliness, this will taint your experiences and enhance homesickness. Accept that friends will come organically. Be patient and be yourself. It will happen.
The beauty of friendship is that once you have connected with just ONE person, you can ask to be introduced to their friends and take advantage of the domino effect!
Remember, you won’t necessarily like or bond with every person you meet. Never put pressure on yourself to hang out with people you don’t feel comfortable with just for the sake of it. You’ll be wasting your time and theirs. Realise the value of your time, how awesome you are and before you know it you will have developed genuine friendships and feel that successful network start to build around you.
Share your own tips, recommendations and advice… We should talk about this topic SO much more!