It’s important to have people in our lives who we truly connect with, but it’s not always easy to meet the right people, make a real connection and maintain friendships. This is especially true as an adult and even more so right now when the way we socialise has changed so much! That’s why we’ve put together our top tips to help you build a stronger connection with others, make lasting friendships and maintain them.
If you want to truly connect with other people and make friendships that last, the most important thing is to be yourself. You want to spend time with people who you have something in common with and who share similar interests and goals as you. This can only happen if you’re honest with people about who you truly are and what you enjoy doing.
Make the first move
Developing a new relationship or friendship can be nerve-wrecking but someone has to make the first move, or it might not happen. Like asking someone out on a date, asking a new acquaintance to meet up socially can be daunting, but if you don’t ask, you’ll never know!
When talking to someone you would like to get to know better, listen for openings such as interests you have in common which could be an opportunity. For example, if they want to try going to a different pub or restaurant, suggest going together, or if you’ve both always wanted to try out a specific class or hobby, look into it together. If they’re having a bad day, why not invite them over for a cuppa or a beer to cheer them up? Look for any excuse you can find to spend time together. Once you’ve met up outside your normal context it will get easier to meet up again and, before you know it, you’ve made a new friend.
Practice active listening
When you’re trying to get to know someone, it’s important to listen – which may sound obvious, but you would be surprised how many people don’t properly listen to others. Active listening means paying full attention to the conversation, not interrupting and taking the time to understand what the person is saying, giving encouragement such as nodding your head and responding when they have finished talking.
Studies show that talking about ourselves triggers the same pleasure areas of the brain as sex and good food, so if you actively listen to a new acquaintance and show interest by asking questions they will enjoy spending time with you.
Don’t let the conversation get too one-sided though, it’s important to contribute information about yourself as well, but in general, try to listen more than you speak. If you want some ideas to get the conversation flowing, we have a list of handy conversation starters.
Make time for your friends
Making a new friend is just the beginning. Like a car needs its MOT and a regular service, it’s important to maintain a friendship or you’ll drift apart. Put it in your diary to phone or meet up with your new friend at least once every two weeks and aim to keep in touch with messages in between. If you need to set up reminders to keep in contact with friends, try using an app like Fabriq.
It could be simple things like a message about what’s happening in a TV programme you both watch or the football results. The more time you spend with someone and the more you share random parts of your day, e.g. by sending them a photo of something funny, the closer you’ll become.
When it comes to making more time with friends then, like most things, plan ahead – co-ordinate dates in the diary in advance – and make it happen!
Don’t be afraid to open up
Finally, in order to build a truly close friendship, you need to make an emotional, as well as a time, investment. Having a laugh together is great, but to get to know someone on a deeper level it’s important to be able to share with them your hopes, dreams, and fears, as well as support them with theirs.
Getting too personal too quickly can be off putting but once you’ve been friendly with someone for a while, try to open up a bit. You could ask for their advice on a problem you’re having, or share something a bit more personal you wouldn’t tell an acquaintance. If they’re a friend for keeps they’ll be pleased that you can trust them and they might start to share more about themselves.
If you need help meeting new people, have a read of our top tips blog.