The right way to approach potential friends

By M.Farouk Radwan, MSc.

The most important rule

I get many emails from people who tell me that they have problems making friends. I have said earlier that loneliness is one of the worst emotions a person can feel and that the absence of intimacy can certainly lead to depression.

The problem with making new friends is that there is a fine line between being friendly and being socially awkward. The first mistake so many people make when approaching others is being too direct.

If you went to a person and told them something like "Hey let's do something tonight" or "Let's be friends" then this person's won't just consider you awkward but he might also get scared and back off.

When it comes to building friends the most important part is letting it come naturally. Being too direct doesn't only scare away people but it also makes them think that you are needy.

People generally like to be friends with the ones who will add to them not the ones who will drag them down. If a person felt that you are needy he might conclude that you have no friends and as a result he might believe that you are socially awkward.

so to summarize the first rule of approaching people: don't ever be direct about your intention to become friends at least in the beginning. See also what is interpersonal attraction.

Approach the ones who feel comfortable around you

In order to become friends with a person you need to first feel that this person is comfortable around you. If for example you joined a yoga class then it would be pretty evident after sometime that some people there are comfortable around you.

Don't make the mistake of trying to approach people right away especially if you were the new guy. Let the relationship grows naturally through the day to day interactions. As you talk to people , even few words at a time, those people will become more familiar with you.

I have said earlier that familiarity leads to likeness unless of course you do something wrong and scare people away.

So the second rule is to only approach the ones who seem comfortable around you. As you keep interacting with those people on daily basis you will become a familiar face to them and so moving on to the third step would be much easier.

In any place you will also find some extroverts and people who seem happy to talk to you. Try to get along with those people for they are usually the fastest ones you can become friends with. See also Socializing and the Need for belonging

The final step

Many people do this part wrong. They just ask the ones they barely know to hang out with them but that doesn't always work. The best way to do this is to let it happen naturally through the conversation.

If for example you were talking about coffee then you can say something like "The best place i prefer for coffee is that small shop next door, i actually go there everyday." You should then wait and see if your potential friend has similar interests. If that happened you can then invite them to join you one day.

Again don't tell them to join you on the same day because that would seem very needy. Just invite them then later on , on a different day, you can tell them that you are going to have coffee after the yoga class if they would like to join.

So to sum the whole process up you first need to let people get familiar with you and then you need to let things come very naturally. If you tried to force the creation of a relationship things will usually backfire.

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