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12 Tips for Making Friends

2020, the year of the Covid lockdowns, made many realise how precious friends are to us as we cannot physically meet them as often as before. Here are some tips on how to make friends and keep them.

1. Act Happy

Practice smiling, whistling a tune, singing, acting happy. By regulating our action we can indirectly effect the feelings and vice versa. Draw the chin in. Hold the crown of your head high, fill the lungs to the upmost, drink in the sunshine, put your soul in every handshake.

Preserve a right mental attitude by maintaining a happy funny disposition. People rarely succeed in anything unless they have fun doing it. Keep your mind on the great and splendid things that you are going to do.

2. Be Generous with your Time and Energy

Take the risk of reaching out to your neighbours and the people you regularly meet on the pathways of your life. Shake yourself off the couch and get involved in some local community endeavour – be it a community, sporting or cultural group. Very few have not a gift or an interest that will not find expression in some local group. Put yourself out for people spending your time and energy unselfishly and thoughtfully meeting the needs of your neighbours and community.

3. Smile

Start by greeting them with animation and enthusiasm. Stretch out your hand and smile - the expression one wears on one’s face is far more important than the clothes one wears on one’s back. Give them a real smile, a heart-warming smile, a smile that comes from within. Smile even when you are talking on the phone.

4. Call People by their First Name

As often as you can, make a point of calling people by their first name. Our first names are special and important to most of us. Indeed the bible believes our names have a sacred quality. The prophet Isaiah (43:1) imagined God specifically calling out our name as He summons us to follow his special plans for us - “I have called you by your name and you are mine.”

Because we humans can only retrieve a limited number of names easily from our memory bank, we need to make an effort to remember names. A good way of helping name retention is that during initial chats with a person we should use their first name as often as possible. Try to associate the name with some striking aspect of the person’s expression or characteristics. Consciously writing the name down is also a good way of embedding their name onto your brain’s neural pathways.

5. Show Genuine Interest in People

After an enthusiastic greeting, encourage others to talk about themselves. Discover what interests the other. Ask them questions encouraging them to talk as much as they need to. Don’t interrupt except to occasionally summarise and seek further clarification They won’t pay attention to you while they still have a lot of own ideas crying for attention.

6. Give Honest and Sincere Appreciation

If the other really feels that you are hearing and understanding them, they will open up more. In this more open state you have a chance to recognise and appreciate some of their gifts and qualities. Make sure then to give the person honest and sincere appreciation. Name and call out the gifts and qualities of the other that are being revealed. Make the other feel appreciated and important.

7. Recognise the True Worth of the Other Person.

A deep human need is the need to be accepted and appreciated and to feel important. Everyone you meet feels superior to you in some way. If you recognise it in them you are doing them a great service. You cannot teach a man anything. You can only help him to find it within himself. The other person knows more about their business and problems than you do. By recognising and calling out their gifts and qualities you are part of a sacred divine calling to them to show their greatness to the world. You are calling them to dance their dance for the world. #

8. Never Command. Always Invite and Suggest

The only way on earth to influence other people is to talk about what they want and show them how to get it. See it always from the other person’s point of view. When we have an idea try as much as possible to let them think its there’s or at least they had their part to play in it. Suggest. Inadvertently scatter the seeds of your ideas. When we want others to join us in any endeavour, point out to them what need of theirs is being met by committing to the endeavour.

9. Don’t Criticise Condemn or Complain

Criticism is futile because it puts a person on the defensive and usually makes him strive to justify himself. It is dangerous because it wounds a person’s pride, hurts his sense of importance, and arouses resentment. When dealing with people we are not dealing primarily with rational people but creatures of emotion – suspicion, fear and envy, encumbered with blind spots and biases and sometimes motivated by pride and vanity. Avoid Argument.

10. Admit Fault

Sometimes our best attempts to reach out and befriend will fail and sometimes fail spectacularly. It takes character and self-control to be understanding and forgiving with some. Treat those who come to you with grievances in a cheerful manner. Most of the time when a person is unfriendly even hostile they have a reason for it. As soon as possible, admit your mistake or fault quickly and emphatically. If appropriate ask for their forgiveness.

11. Emphasise Points of Agreement

To rehabilitate the relationship, start to emphasise and keep emphasising the things on which you agree and enjoyed doing together. Keep emphasising that you are both striving for the same end and that your only difference is one method not of purpose. Ask questions that are sure to get a number of yes responses from the other.

12. Accept You Won’t Win them All

We humans are complex beings with many contradictory and mysterious ways. We have to accept that we will never be friends with many. After we have made reasonable attempts to reach, befriend and be reconciled with others, there comes a time when we have to accept that some are better off without our company.


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