Thursday, April 26, 2012

How to Make New Friends

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I have spent more time at parks filled with other moms, quietly sitting on the bench, just wishing that one of the ladies would spark up a conversation with me. But I'm not going to do it. No way. I think about saying something, but I can't. I do nothing. I just sit there-- frozen and stone-faced, waiting for someone else to courageously say something, anything. But no one makes a peep. And so there we all sit, a half dozen women or more, in an awkward silence (minus the few cheers we give our kids on the play ground), imagining how cool it would be if someone dared to break the ice.

Ugh! Who's with me on this one?

Since starting this new blog of mine 6 weeks ago however, I've been overwhelmed with this larger than life desire to get to know people better! Whether it's the grocer clerk, the other moms at swim lessons (or the teachers themselves), the hygienist at the dental office, the staff at a clothing store, the golf pro at the clubhouse, the waitress at the diner, the mom at the museum, the new girl at church, the babysitter(s) at the gym daycare, the salesman behind me on the airplane, or the elderly couple sharing a bench with me at the splash pad, if I can make eye contact with them, the 'newly evolved me' will smile and try to generate light conversation.

Yes ladies and gentlemen, I am that girl. Love me or hate me, I can't help the new Jacy that is emerging from the ashes. It's been AWESOME and guess what I've discovered?? If you ask enough questions, you will soon realize that EVERYONE has a story; glorious, ugly, or even just treading water, everyone has something. And because this concept has fascinated me so, I'm on a mission to make new friends everywhere I go!

So how do you do it? How do you get passed the anxiety that comes with igniting a conversation with a total stranger? How do you develop a sincere friendship (or make better friendships) with people you already know? 

While I am no pro and am still learning by much trial and error, here are some things that have helped me thus far:

When you're in a public place (the zoo, the park, Zumba class, etc) and are surrounded by other women (or men for my male readers) you don't know:

1) Make the first contact. It's okay to be BOLD. Get out of your comfort zone and see what happens! Smile, say hi, comment on something you like about her kids, her outfit, or anything that is open ended. See if this person gives you the vibe that they're interested in chatting. If not, no harm, no foul... at least you tried. 
 2) If the person is receptive to your friendly approach, be inquisitive! Get the other person talking about themselves. Listen intently to what they're saying. When it gets quiet, instead of blabbing about yourself (I am so guilty of this... yikes!), ask another question. Remember, the point is for you to get to know others, so listen! Your time will come when the questions are reciprocated... then you can talk more about you. :)
3) If you totally hit it off, link up by asking for an email, a phone number or even a Facebook request. I have met some of my GREATEST friends this way! But had I never asked for their contact information in the first place, I would have missed out. It's also important that once you get their info, don't be embarrassed to reach out at a later time.

When you're dealing with women you already know (in your neighborhood, church, work environment) and want to create more meaningful friendships with them:

4) Take the lead! Invite a few couples (or even just one couple to start) you don't know very well over to your house for dinner. Don't be afraid to HOST something. Let people in your home. Let them bring their favorite dish. Take them on a tour. Allow them to compliment you and graciously accept their kind words. And end the evening by asking "We must do this again! Whose house should we do it at next time?" This will not only open the door for future gatherings (giving someone else the opportunity to host), but it will also confirm your interest in building the friendships even more.
5) Coordinate a girls night with the ladies in your neighborhood or work place. Start by talking to one person, tell them your idea, get the word spreading and make it happen! By taking the lead on this, you'll get to know each lady even before the actual event because you'll be the go-to girl for details. This works wonders! 
6) And the most important part of all of this: don't just invite the couples/women you click with. Difficult as it may be, force yourself to include those whom you think you have nothing in common with! Because the women whom you think are 'too good for you' or 'have nothing in common with you' are most likely being misunderstood. In fact, I'd be willing to bet my left arm that most of the time these women are feeling the same doubts and insecurities about you. So swallow your pride, put your fears aside and personally invite those particular people along; making it a point to specifically get to know them better throughout the evening. ASK questions. Learn more about them. If you're nervous to start at such an aggressive level, begin by giving genuine compliments and work your way up from there (and this may be a gradual process that will take some work, but don't give up after just one try). 
Never judge a book by its cover! There are people in my own life that I initially labeled as 'not my type' whom I now consider my closest friends and/or those who have taught me the most valuable life-lessons. The best of friendships can flourish only when you give everyone a chance... and I guarantee that you'll be pleasantly surprised by the outcome if you do so.

When you're blogging...
7) Don't feel stupid!! COMMENT. Add yourself as a follower to the blogs you like. When questions are asked, chime in! The point of blogging is to unite and gain perspective from others, right? And the blog authors will be thrilled to hear from you, too!
8) If you really like the people you are following online, don't be afraid to correspond via email. Get the conversation rolling even more. 
9) And if you so desire and the feelings are mutual, connect and plan a get together in a public place. Initiate a lunch somewhere with a few other blogging friends and see where it takes you! But of course, always use smart judgement and be extremely cautious when transitioning the cyber world into your real life. There are some weirdo's out there and you can never be too careful!

**Are you good at this making new friends thing?? Any other tips you'd like to add to my list??

 Let's get out there and make some friends people!! You never know who you're going to find!! :)


32 comments:

  1. I really like the topic of this blog post. Many of us are hesitant to initiate contact with total strangers, and you actually do a good job of pointing out some effective ways of doing this. Also, you are so right whan you say that everyone has a story...and deserves to have their story heard. Thank you for this post Jacy :-)

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    1. Glad you enjoyed it and found it somewhat beneficial K :)

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  2. Jacy, this rocked. I LOVE EVERY WORD. You are SO right!! I have applied most of the things you discussed, and they WORK. Not only that, but my life is so much richer and fuller because of the reaching out I have done during my life--reach out, draw people in with a smile, and then you can feel LOVE for that person. And that, truly, is such an awesome blessing--feeling united and loved with/by others. Thanks for writing this--it's so awesome.
    And GIRL! We need to see eachother STAT. xoxoxo

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    1. This is how we met girl! How awesome is that???? Boo-ya!!! :)

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  3. Amen! I think FEAR is the number one killer of relationships! It can make us feel so powerless. Love this post. PS-found you through Kate@Discover.Create.Live. I'm your newest follower!

    http://greg-shannon-mulder.blogspot.com/

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    1. Shannon! Welcome :) I'm so glad you found me and have added yourself as a follower! I'm heading over to your blog now! YAY! Thanks for reaching out :)

      And you're right... that dreaded word of fear... can destroy so much!

      Eager to be friends ;)

      XO

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  4. A bonus point could be - Don't limit yourself to making friendships with those of the same gender. Talking is not flirting, and friendships do not have to evolve into relationships (no matter what the genders of the parties involved).

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    1. I'm so glad you brought this up Frank! Thank you so much for commenting!

      Personally, now that I am single again, I have no issues with sparking conversation with the gents when I'm out and about- especially if it's another dad at the park or something like that :)

      I do think that depending on the marital status of the man, or if you're married yourself, you need to be careful how involved the 'friendship' becomes... (Unless you're my mom... who is happily married btw... she just said it depends on how hairy the guy is.. hahahah!!!).... because while talking is not always flirting, it can become that. But you're right! Don't limit yourself... one of my most treasured friendships is with a co-worker who is a little older than I and a male. We do lunch occasionally and have a really cool, totally platonic relationship :)

      Welcome to my blog Frank! I appreciate your thoughts!

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    2. I love your mom and her hairy man fetish. Haha

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  5. I've met some of my best friends in life through random encounters in a park, gym, airplane, etc. I have never regretted reaching out, but always regretted letting my fears of not being liked limit my interactions throughout the day.

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    1. Anon! Welcome! Glad you're here :)

      Isn't it so marvelous?? Meeting new people that we treasure forever?? I too am always worried about not being liked... and it does limit me... but it's something I'm totally trying to get over :)

      Thanks for commenting!

      p.s. I've suggested to a few of my Anon commenters that yo come up with a 'code name' so that when you're commenting on my blog (and other blogs), I can get to know you better (on a more personal level) and more consistently. Anyway, just an idea :) you don't have to... of course I'd still love to hear from you even as 'anonymous' ;)

      THRILLED you commented :) Welcome if you're a new anon to my blog!!

      XOXO

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  6. i needed this. so much. i feel so. socially retarded. all the time. thanks for the ideas!

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  7. p.s. i should have mentioned that even though it says j, k & l, usually i am the only one blogging, so i'll sign on as katie or kt when i'm too lazy. :) oh, and i still need to respond to the gross-out game, don't i?

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    1. You are welcome Katie! Sometimes we just need some helpful reminders to get us in the mood to socialize a little more :) At least that's what I need to get a jump start! And I highly doubt you are socially inept... lol...

      YES I'm still waiting for the Would you rather comment :) HAHA! Thanks for commenting girl!!

      XO

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  8. Wow, I love blog posts where I didn't realize that I felt so strongly about something until someone else says it and then I feel like they/you took the words right out of my mouth.

    First of all, I AM the hygienist at the dental office, and since I have small kids my one day a week at work is my chance to chat with grown-ups. I LOVE the patients that respond my friendly gestures, and it makes my job and their appointment a meaningful experience.

    AMEN to the LISTEN LISTEN LISTEN. Listening is an act of love. (Not my words.)

    As far as reach out to everyone, even if you don't think you have something in common I feel strongly about this now. Once I started attending 12-step meetings and feeling a depth of love for the women in the room, I realized I am capable of feeling that love towards all people, but particularly other women. Before, I spent so much time comparing and feeling either inadequate or superior (yep, I had some snobby moments). But now I look at women and think, if she were to show up at group meeting I would hug her and love her, so why can't I do that now? Well, not the hugging part. Creepy.

    And lastly, like you said about the cyber world and real life. I used to feel like I was wasting time when I read the blogs of strangers, but my new cyber world has taught me that strangers don't have to be strangers forever. I have been SO. BLESSED. by my online friends. I can't imagine my life without them. (HA! UBER CHEESY.)

    I used to feel sorry for myself because I didn't have friends and I felt left out, but my wise husband pointed out that I was making NO effort to BE a friend.

    One of your best posts so far Jacy, loved it!

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  9. I constantly go back and forth between wanting to be social and wanting to be alone! Sometimes it's easy for me and sometimes it's not. I'm trying to get the point of not overanalyzing and just doing what comes naturally. ;-)

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  10. Thanks I tend to be a recluse. especially when I am struggling with personal life stuff. I always wonder where I fit in I have old grown up kids right down to a 9 year old.But like you said we don't have to have to have lot's in common with people for them great friends. My mother was always wonderful at making friends she was a good example. I know when I try I can be very charming! (:

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  11. Not a new Anon-I don't feel like making new friends anymore because I feel fake, how can I be true when my husband has revealed his secret life to me, but now I am carrying he secret that my husband has cheated on me for a million years with prostitutes. And when we are with other couples, I just feel sad that I don't have the dream. I know everyone has problems. I was the social butterfly my whole life, until the bomb dropped. Sorry to Frank but now when a man talks to me, I think is this a married guy trying to hook up with strangers behind his unassuming wife's back? Or does he really just think its a nice day outside? Well, them he shouldn't be givin me elevator eyes stoping at certain floors! I did have a nice conversation with a man the other night and his girlfriend or wife or whatever was close by and he told me I was beautiful and was asking for some suggestions on the local area. Anyway, I hope part of healing is getting my old fun self back.

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    1. I get the feeling of carrying around the secret! And not having the "dream"
      I thought I had once.
      It really gets to me when I am around other "HAPPY" couples. GAHHHHHHH!!!!! it makes me crazy!

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    2. Past experience, especially dealing with such betrayal, is absolutely understandable in not wanting to get close to others, much less those of the opposite gender.
      Even though it can be nice to get to know new people and move just a little out of your comfort zone, you have to be aware of the comfort level of others.

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    3. Here's an idea. Don't keep the secret. I didn't. One day, I felt so isolate and alone, I called a friend and decided once i wasn't going to protect his secrets any longer. I carefully selected friends and family that I knew loved him unconditionally and shared our struggle. This opened so many doors. Suddenly he wasn't accountable to just me. Our close friends were supporting both of us no matter what the outcome. They didn't take sides, they didn't judge, they've just loved both of us.

      Sure, I wasn't as social as i was before either. I didn't feel like reaching out to new friends or even semi-close friends, and it's ok not to answer those phone calls. But by sharing our "secret" we've been able to build deeper more meaningful relationships with our close circle of friends and family. And it's been an eye opener to mr scabs to see that true love and intimacy are unconditional. And really, this is what his addiction is all about...not feeling loved or valued.

      Just like you, I don't like to pretend. And i don't like to fake im having a great time hanging out with a couple when im torn up inside.

      Sure, it was uncomfortable for him, but it's just part of the natural consequences of his actions. Having to face what he'd done and make restitution to not only me but our close circle of friends and family has been a huge relief of the burden on me.

      And it was amazing to see these people reach out to him in love and concern. They cried and got upset and felt compassion for him. After all, I wasn't his only casualty and keeping a secret was no longer something i was willing to do.

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  12. This is so good! I think the older I get, the harder it is to make friends. I used to take my son to Gymboree classes (a learning/playing environment indoors where they do music classes, art, and indoor gym stuff) and I had the hardest time trying to get up the nerve to see if they wanted to go to lunch. I don't know why it was so hard but it was! I did get to know one girl really well and even though she has moved twice (military), we still keep in touch.

    Amy

    fashionandbeautyfinds.blogspot.com

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  13. Hey cutie! How are you? It's been awhile! I found your blog through a comment on Kenzee's So happy to see what's going on in your life. Can I just say you are amazing! Such a cute mommy and just a fabulous person! You always have been!
    I just had to let you know I'm here...and loving your fun posts! I loved this post. My favorite is the reminder to just LISTEN instead of talking about yourself! It's such a hard thing to do.
    You need to come out again to see us!
    Love ya Jace!
    Lacey

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  14. I so agree about asking a lot of questions. My mother-in-law always says that people our age don't know how to have a conversation, that they are too self-focused. I totally agree. It feels good when people ask questions. Great post! I can tell you're good at this! Congratulations on the new you. ;) Too bad you're not in Texas!!!

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  15. Jacy, I LOVED this blog post. I was painfully shy growing up and although I'm much more outgoing that I used to be I still find myself freezing up at times. Next time I feel awkward I'll just remember that you're out there breaking the ice, too - and even though it's not always easy to take the first step it usually ends well. Someone has to do it, right?!?!

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  16. This post is amazing!! So much great advice. Unfortunately I came from a super dysfunctional family and I inherited the really bad listening skills. Over time I've gotten better (my husband happens to be an awesome listener and has taught me the ropes of asking questions...I never even THOUGHT to ask questions really before I met him, how silly is that!) but I still have a long ways to go. You have inspired me to do better at making friends. You'll be proud - it took all the guts I had, in fact, I felt like I was calling someone for a first date!! - but I called a girl in my ward and asked her to be my running partner. So far so good! I'm getting some exercise, some sun, and a friend. Sometimes all it takes is stepping out of your comfort zone. Thanks again Jacy :)

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  17. This was fabulous, as always. I'm gonna add this to my collection of "how to" guides. Thank you, fairy godmother! lol

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  18. Making connections that turn into real friendships is so rare. Like SO rare. I just try and be really observant to the people around me and if we have anything really in common. I ask myself... Would I care what this person had for lunch? If yes...I know they could be a real friend... Cheers for this insightful post.

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    1. Okay, I'm know I'm about 2 years late on this, but I LOVE this idea. "Would I care what this person had for lunch?" Now, that's love. :)

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  19. Love this post Jacy! I seriously need to incorporate these steps! I'm really shy at first... Once I know a person I won't stop talking hahahah But, it's that initial step that's the hardest. I always admire people that are like that! I need to get with the program!

    xx
    Giovanna
    www.oliveandanarrow.com

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  20. Wow. I'm finding so many good things today! I know we haven't had a lot of conversations, but I sort of feel like we just did. This is probably what you would be telling me if we were talking in real time. :) And I LOVE it! It's super fun to make new friends. I'm learning. I'm overcoming some huge barriers that I've let stand in my way for too long. Those barriers have been threatening their way back. Nuh uh. This post gives me renewed hope. Thanks, Jacy. :) Even thought we're not "chatting," you're still helping me out a LOT.

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