A number of young people
have asked me how they can
improve their friend making
skills (mind you, I didn’t say
toasting or dating skills).
Some believe others just
don’t want to be friendly
while others are of the
opinion that he that must
be a friend should learn to
show him or herself friendly.
I click more with people that
gravitate towards me so even
I had to do some web search
as well as read some
literatures to improve. Here
are some skill building tips on
how to make friends:
Start by saying hi, hello, good day, what’s up etc, whatever works for the person you are trying to interact with, when the person is less busy. It may be a bad idea to jump into the middle of a conversation or ask to chat when someone is busy reading.
Don’t start thinking of what to chat about after saying hi. If the person is an interesting talker you’d survive that otherwise you’d bore the person as you bore yourself. “Nice dress” (if it’s really nice), “Where did you get that from?” “What material is it made of?” “How’s the week going for you?” “You live around here?” “It’s a warm day, isn’t it?” Needless to tell you that small talk does not include “What do you feel about global warming?” Neither does it include “What's your opinion of the nation's education policy?” Unless you are meeting the person in an international conference but even at that, that is hardly a start up topic.
Extending your hand for a handshake may not be a bad idea but some don’t shake strangers and for religious, cultural or psychosocial reasons some don’t shake opposite genders. If you gain the person’s audience ask if he or she has some time. “I would like to chat with you but I could come back if you are busy”, “Do you mind if I take some of your time”, “Can I cut into your time”, “I've been seeing you around, just wanted to say hi”.
Fixing your gaze on an adult you hardly know could mean disrespect in some culture. Eye contact is good with peers but it could affect the bonding if the person is timid or already thinking you have something else up your sleeves so, don’t maintain eye contact 100%.
Ask short and direct not complex questions. Offer information when it is asked of you. First interaction is not a time to prove the person should be glad you are initiating the discussion. This is also not a time to show off difference in social or academic levels.
Someone once asked, “How’s your day?”, “I broke a leg” was the response and “Great!” was the remark she got. The person who asked was only expecting the common response and was obviously not listening. Listen and facilitate the chat in a way that makes the person comfortable. Slicing into the middle of a conversation to ask “How old are you?” may be met with strict rebuff.
Create some space; distance between you and the person will decrease, as you get closer. Standing too close is like saying I believe we are close when he or she feels you are a stranger.
Keep it short. It’s the first meeting. Even if the person enjoys long chat s/he may dodge the next time especially when they don’t have much time on their hands. You do not want the person regretting s/he chatted with you when something more important was lying aloof.
Leave the contact line open. “Maybe I’ll see you some other time if I ever come around here” is not a good way to end. Asking for phone number, e-mail or simply “Nice chatting with you, I’ll see you around” could be a way of leaving the lines open for friendship.