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How to Make Friends: A Complete Guide

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So it seems you’ve decided to research how to make friends. Awesome choice – I’m honestly proud of you.

Why am I proud, you ask?

Well, if you go and tell your friends, “Hey look at this awesome article on how to make friends”, they’ll most likely just make a look that says “what the hell are you on about?”

In terms of socializing, most people think like this:

I want to find a girlfriend/boyfriend, but I don’t want to be rejected.
I want to make friends, but I don’t want to risk being awkward.
I want to be amazingly charismatic, but I don’t want to sound like a loser practicing it.

Having these thoughts themselves, they project their own ideas onto others. So hearing someone researching how to make friends instantly triggers their own pre-conceived ideas: “That’s for losers”.

Their ego becomes their own social ceiling, ending up with friends and relationships that fate decides for them.

But not you. You are here. You are trying. You’re opening your mind to new ideas. That makes me glad to have written this already. Even if you do decide not to continue reading, please don’t stop this journey, and don’t stop practicing.

Introduction

The real question here is: Can you practice social skills?

Surprise surprise: naturally you can. However, scientifically, it’s hard to reach a solid conclusion such as “Yes if you do XYZ then you’ll be able to make a ton of friends easily”.

So how are you going to help me out? – You ask

Relax, we’ll get to that. This is only the introduction, you see. If you only came here to check this post out of curiosity, I’m saying that you should very much take it seriously.

Now, I could simply throw up a list of things you “need to do” in order to make friends easily, such as:

  • Have better eye contact!
  • Speak slowly and briefly!
  • Smile!
  • Etc etc…

Although this list is correct, it doesn’t tell you much. How do you go about doing these? In reality, this is something that’s much easier said than done.

For someone like me, who used to have social anxiety when talking to strangers and making friends, this kind of over-simplified advice is not enough.

Eye contact? How? How much of it should I make not to look creepy?

Smile? When? If I smile all the time I’ll look creepy and/or gullible as hell.

Because of questions like these, I decided to write this guide.

This guide won’t give a simple “have better eye contact” kind of advice. It will focus on underlying concepts and practice tips that will shift your ideas to the right place, even if just a little.

Hopefully, these lessons will be as useful to you as they were to me, and if that’s the case, I only ask you to share it with others who don’t give you “the look” to help them out as well. They too deserve it.

Core mindset

Before going to the concrete and practical examples, I’m going to tell you the most crucial mindset I’ve always been seeing over and over again in many networking events, as well as parties and when it comes to building new relationships (such as making new friends).

This mindset alone will put you above 90% of the people who have no clue as to what’s going on around them… if used correctly that is, so pay close attention and reflect upon it.

Friendships are exchanges of value

This is the core mindset and the root of every social interaction. No matter which scenario, in a healthy friendship, you will always give something, and take something back.

This is extremely important, so I’ll repeat it. In every social interaction, you need:

  • Something to give.
  • Something to take.

A lack of any of these is sure to make a failed relationship/friendship. Remember, it is as important to take as it is to give. Don’t just focus on giving. Don’t just focus on taking.

The explanation for this is very easy. If you just give, you’ll get bored fast. Don’t ignore the power of boredom, it’s extremely strong.

But wait, I know and have friends who don’t give each other anything, they just talk… They’re not giving anything to each other. – You comment

Well, my friend, that’s what it looks like on the surface. Exchanges of value don’t necessarily need to involve objects or things you see and feel.

For example, certain personality traits, such as making the other person laugh (humor), giving great advice, being a role model, etc., can very well be used for exchanging value.

When making friends, everything counts, even things you don’t see. Remember that.

Now, when is this mindset useful? Well, this guide teaches you how to make friends, so there you go. This is something that’ll be crucial when you go ahead and talk to strangers for the first time.

Note: You’re able to analyze failed past relationships/friendships with this in mind. If you think about it, you stop talking to old friends because “you have nothing more in common”, or you end things with someone because you are “bored”. That means this exchange stopped or it was broken somewhere down the line.

Friendships are exchanges of value: example

I began thinking about this mindset when I was studying abroad in Poland. I decided to go on a trip with a group of people who I didn’t know at all (because well, why not?).

The trip was made by bus and was several hours long. At one moment I was just relaxing while eating a bag of chips enjoying the view passing by me. That was when a guy popped up out of nowhere and asked me:

– Damn, I love those chips, can I have one? – He said
– Sure. – I replied

After eating, he took a box of cookies that he had and offered one to me:

– Here, take one. – He said
– No thanks, I’m good. – I replied
– Please, I insist, they’re really good.
– Erm… all right.

BAM. Right from the get-go, he managed to get what he wanted. An awkward-free introduction without much hassle.

Then he went ahead and followed up with:

– By the way, are you a good skier? – He asked. (we were going to be skiing on this trip)
– Yeah, I snowboard though – I replied.
– Awesome, by the way, my group and I are terrible skiers. If you’re free, you can help us out. You’ll never have to pay for beer again on this trip.
– Hmm… Free beer is always welcomed. – I confirmed.

This type of exchange is an example of making friends, on steroids. This guy forced 2 exchanges right off the bat. Although this in itself doesn’t really guarantee friendship, it increases the chance by an insane amount.

In this case, well… we became almost best friends on that trip.

Note: Even though this may look trivial to you, this is how you’ll make most friends. Not flashy FX flying around with drum sounds following your sentences.

A note on the example

But hey man, what if you just wanted to be by yourself in the example above and thought that the guy was just a bother? – You wondering

Great question. The answer is easy though: he would just go around and ask someone else.

This is the power of knowing what you want before talking to a stranger. Remember, you need to know what you want as much as what you can give back.

If you don’t want anything, then it’ll be hard to make friends. I mean, why do you want them anyway?

What I recommend in that case is that you make something up. Something you find mildly interesting, and stick to it.

This is the key to being charismatic. Don’t focus on the social interaction itself, focus on what you want and what you can give in exchange for what you want.

Rejections will bother you much, much less this way.

Practice tips

With the mindset in place, it’s time to move on to what you can do to improve your friend-making skills. Having participated in an insane amount of networking events, parties, and other social events, I’ll give you 2 practical tips you can apply right now to improve your social life.

Just 2 tips? Wasn’t this supposed to be a complete guide? – The skeptical you talking

I’d rather give you 2 in-depth tips with actionable plans which will entice you to follow along than a list of 20 things you’ll never do or remember.

Introductions and goodbyes

I had a friend who, whenever he introduced himself to someone, would always comment on the clothes of the other person. Without fail.

Hey man, you looking buff in that shirt, nice one! I’m Chad. You are…?
(Disclaimer: his name wasn’t actually Chad)

That made it really easy to break the ice without any awkwardness. He felt really smooth in his conversations, but looking back, he adapted the same stories and lines for every interaction he had.

Now, my advice here is to do the same as my friend Chad here. Practice not only your introductions but also how you end your conversations.

There are two reasons for this.

1# Introductions and goodbyes aren’t too different in each situation

Unless your name, gender, and location keep changing from one interaction to the other, chances are you say pretty much the same thing over and over again – you just don’t realize it.

2# It’s scientifically backed

Introductions are key to set the frame for the rest of the interaction, while the way you say goodbye is one of the things strangers will remember most.

With that said, trying to come up with unique things to say during your introduction and goodbye, although noble, is not only mentally taxing but also a very awkward experience for both parties.

S***, what do I say now? – Almost everyone talking to a stranger

So, with that said, you can basically make it official in your mind and actually have a canned introduction and goodbye – same as my friend above.

Exercise

  1. Grab your phone/camera and record yourself introducing to the camera, down to the handshake.
  2. Do the same for goodbyes.
  3. Watch the recordings. Is something off? Maybe your facial expression is too forced, maybe your back isn’t straight, or maybe what you say isn’t too memorable.
  4. Repeat steps 1-3 until happy.
  5. Go on the mirror and say it 20 more times. Make sure it’s stuck in your head.

Remember, half-assing it is as good as doing nothing. If you’re giving this a try, you might as well give it a good shot. I promise you won’t be disappointed.

The next time you’re talking to someone, you’ll definitely use that introduction and goodbye unconsciously or not.

If you’re interested, I’ve talked about breaking the ice when talking to strangers in my previous post with examples, which I definitely encourage you to check it out.

What do you want? What can you give?

This is something that you can do in the comfort of your home as well and it’s crucial to understand your own role in friendships.

It’s very simple, make a list of 3-5 things you’re looking for when you’re meeting someone. Then make another list with around the same number of items with what you can give.

For example:

What do I want:

  • A friend to go on student parties with
  • A partner to go on hiking trips
  • A partner to play CS: GO (video-game)

What can I give:

  • Programming and web development tips.
  • Fitness tips
  • Awesome YouTube funny videos

What about humor, giving good advice and all that?

Ah, that’s right, you want to make the list with concrete and specific things. “I have humor”, or “I want good advice” is too broad and complicated to assess in an exchange. You want to go simple and straightforward.

After you finish writing down the list, I want you to repeat it out loud. Engrave these items in your head, especially the “what you want” part.

The next time you’re talking to someone, don’t just chit chat your way out of there. You know what you want, so at least try to find out if they can give you what you’re looking for.

If you enjoyed this article, please do share it with your friends and/or family and/or others. Bonus points for introducing yourself with this article… and while saying goodbye ?.

Also, take a look at our guide on how to be funny. You’ll be sure to learn the best techniques from the pros. This will also make your journey on making friends much easier, so check it out!


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