Friday, July 25, 2008

The art of making friends

Due to a change of season in my life (check out Ecclesiastes 3:1-8) I'm in a position where it's important to make new friends.

Fact is, my phone isn't ringing, and few people invite me to do things. That's not a complaint, just a fact. So, it's important that I make an effort to build my base of friends, and fill my calendar with new things to do.

There is no shortcut to making friends, and it's not always an easy task. It is similar to finding a new job, or having a career in sales.

Here's a few tips from the master competitor on expanding your base of acquaintances:

  • If you see someone you want to meet, walk over and talk to them - immediately and at that moment. If you pause for a second, there's a big chance you'll talk yourself out of making that connection.
  • Just like sales, this process of making friends will take time. You'll be the recipient of several rejections and false starts, but that's the only way you'll get closer to finding those people who may be compatible as a new friend.
  • Be honest and open. Don't rehearse. Just thing of something interesting you would like to know about that person, and ask them.
  • Don't set any expectations. Just open the door by making the introduction, and see where it goes.
  • If there is a common interest, learn more about where that person goes, and if there is another group of his/her friends that also enjoy that common interest.
  • Don't talk about yourself. Present questions where the other person can tell you more about who they are. I always view the potential friend as more interesting than myself, someone I can learn things from.
  • Don't be too persistent or pushy. Let the conversation take a natural flow, and if that's not happening, conclude and move on.

Just this week, I had a conversation with someone who works out in the gym at the same time I do. It turns out he is building a commuter bike for school, and a great conversation about bicycles ensued. So, based on taking one opportunity to talk, I made a new friend.

I have realized that no one other than myself - and God - can change the environment in which I exist. And, I have also realized that my personality, beliefs, and traits will only be appealing to a select group of individuals. It's up to me to make the changes I desire. And to that end, I am moving forward.

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