How To Be More Approachable When Trying To Make New Friends As An Adult

October 19, 2018  |  
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making new friends as a grownup

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Making new friends isn’t easy for every personality type. If you’re an introvert, you’re probably tired of hearing that you should get over it/get out there/open up. That’s just not really who you are. And, it’s annoying when people give you personality feedback you didn’t ask for. With that in mind, if you’ve been giving yourself some self-feedback lately and realized that you’re not great at making new friends, there are some things you can do to change that. Even introverts want to make friends and like other humans. They just don’t have the bright, bubbly, outgoing mannerisms to make that clear. Between moving around and being busy with careers, it’s not uncommon for a woman to find herself in her late thirties or beyond and realize, “I don’t really have a good female friend group.” This is especially true for introverts. But it’s never too late. Here are things that make you more approachable to new friends.

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Open with a compliment

Giving a compliment is the universal way of saying, “You’re safe with me and I want to get along.” It’s especially powerful between women who can, unfortunately, feel some competition. Simply telling someone you love her haircut or earrings is a subtle way of saying, “I’m friendly.” Compliments are wonderfully disarming.

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Ask lots of questions

Ask lots of questions. It feels good to have someone ask you a lot of questions—it shows that they A) think your experiences and stories are valuable and B) aren’t totally self-involved. So turn that around, and ask new people lots of questions.

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Keep questions positive or neutral

One important note on question-asking if this: keep your tone upbeat. Ask questions with a tone that implies, “Whatever the answer to this question is is fine—I’m just curious.” Some tones can accidentally make your questions sound judgmental.

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Reveal something quirky about yourself

Appearing perfect is great but you know what’s really great? Being comfortable with your imperfection and showing it to others. Telling new people about some quirky habit of yours or a little flaw shows you’re not trying to be competitive or put on airs. In fact, it shows that you’re an open person who is okay with other people’s flaws.

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Share something

Friendship can be as simple as it was in kindergarten and sharing something goes a long way. Whether you offer someone a piece of gum, some of your snack, or your sunscreen, it’s a way of showing that you’re caring and generous.

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Offer to make an introduction

If you think of an introduction you could make that would be beneficial for this new friend, bring it up. Everyone appreciates someone who is always looking out for others.

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Initiate plans

Even if it’s nerve-wracking, initiate plans. The worst thing that can happen is that the person doesn’t want to, and that won’t kill you. But I mean really initiate plans. Don’t just say, “We should hang out sometime.” Pull up your calendar and pick a date.

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Smile while you listen

A lot of people don’t realize that they have resting worried face, or resting judgmental face, or resting disgusted face. When you have one of these faces, the person talking closes up and doesn’t want to share much. Just remember to smile when someone is sharing something about her life.

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Don’t have wandering eyes

Wandering eyes syndrome—it can happen unintentionally. Even if you just have a hard time focusing, letting your eyes wander around the room makes the other person feel like you’re just looking for someone “better” to talk to. Look at the person talking, even if it feels weird—you’ll get used to it.

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Watch your arms

Be aware of your arms—they communicate a lot whether you want them to or not. Folding them makes you look closed off and fidgeting makes you appear like you want to leave.

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Assume the person means well

You’ll have to learn to trust to take this tip: assume that when people ask about your life, they mean well. Don’t assume they’re looking for some weakness or flaw. Assume they’re genuinely curious and supportive. It will help you answer questions freely, rather than defensively.

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Don’t talk badly about others

If you talk badly about one person then the person you’re speaking to believes you could talk about them some day. Nobody wants to open up to a gossip. Even if you really aren’t a gossip, keep in mind that this new friend barely knows you and doesn’t know that yet.

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Mirror their feelings

How does the person who is talking feel about what she is saying? Mirror that feeling. If she’s clearly disappointed in what she’s talking about, look sympathetic. If she’s clearly elated about it, then look elated, too. Some people have a hard time not showing exactly what they think or feel on their face, but that can make the person they’re talking to feel isolated and judged.

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Stop looking at your phone

For goodness sake stop looking at your phone. It never ceases to feel rude if two people are talking, and one is looking at her phone. You know you can listen and look at your phone but the person talking doesn’t know that.

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Don’t isolate yourself

This may sound like a catch but it’s easy to make friends when you have friends. I guess what I mean is that, in group settings like at a party, if a group forms around you, stay there—even it makes you uncomfortable. People are usually more prone to approaching someone already in conversation than someone alone. New, one-on-one conversations come with too much pressure.

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