4 Steps to Making New Friends
How to Be a Better Person and Make New Friends
The four communication principles I want to share in this article apply to any setting where two or more people meet, work or socialize together on a regular basis. These fours principles will make you a better person and will cause other people—potential new friends—to be attracted to you.
- Avoid gossiping
- Listen more
- Talk less
- Give words of praise
I have been a traveling healthcare worker for five years. I go from state to state, hospital to hospital for contracts that run from thirteen weeks to one year. This lifestyle gives me the opportunity to observe human behavior, in a variety of situations, at its best and worst.
The best workplaces I've been in have strong, mature leaders who are fair to everyone. The worst are those with weak leaders who participate in the daily gossip about others in the department. Gossip is like a drug that gives practicers an emotional high. They feel superior, powerful, and justified.
I worked in one facility that was having morale problems. The supervisor asked me how he could make the department better. Without hesitation, I mentioned his practice of talking about people when they weren’t present. It was a bombshell at first, but he took the advice well, and I could see how he made the effort to curb this very bad habit.
Here are three ways gossip destroys social groups:
- Gossip creates cliques. Every member of a gossip circle is a member of multiple gossip circles that prey on others and each other.
- Gossip creates distrust. We all understand this simple fact; If they talk about others to you, they will talk about you to others.
- Gossip reinforces negative feelings and creates a negative atmosphere. Gossip turns people within a group against each other. It separates those who gossip from those they gossip about, which is everyone, including the other gossipers.
- You get a reputation as a gossip among other gossips. But you also gain a reputation as a gossip among those with enough self-respect and respect for others not to participate. Which group do you want to be associated with?
How does not gossiping make you a better person? Good people build others up and encourage them. Gossipers are the demolition crew in any social setting. By not participating in gossip, you have taken the first step to building people up. You are already a better person.
How does not gossiping help me make new friends? By not gossiping you have proven yourself to be someone others can trust. They will gravitate toward you rather than the negative crowd.
“They have the unique ability to listen to one story and understand another.” Pandora Poikilos, Excuse Me, My Brains Have Stepped Out
To hear is the passive form of auditory processing. To listen is the active form. If you merely hear, you will neither care nor recall. Remember the Charlie Brown cartoons in which Charlie Brown is hearing his teacher talk? That’s pretty much what we hear when we aren’t actively listening.
Charlie Brown and His Teacher
Active listening involves asking clarifying questions and/or restating in your own words what you heard the person say. This is a simple tool that communicates to the speaker you are accurately processing their words.
Friend: “I hate when my husband falls asleep on the couch and doesn’t come to bed until 3:00AM.”
You: “So you’re offended when your husband doesn’t go to bed when you do?”
If you have missed their meaning, this gives them the opportunity to explain further.
“Most people do not listen with the intent to understand; they listen with the intent to reply.” Stephen R. Covey
“Listening is about being present, not just about being quiet.” Krista Tippet
You might prefer the term garrulousness or possibly narcissistic conversation. But the problem is the same. This person talks too much. Is it you? These are individuals whom others avoid at all costs.
We all enjoy talking about ourselves, our families, our plans for the future, our new car, our new grandchild, and on and on. It’s easy to become extreme and obnoxious on this point. If you want to be different from nearly everyone around you, try closing your mouth and listening to the constant noise of two-way monologues going on around you. It is eye opening—and mouth closing.
Here is a conversational tactic that is familiar because we’ve had it used on us. Most likely, though, we’ve used it as well. Rather than listening, we are planning our next spellbinding addition to the conversation.
The most self-centered example of this behavior is when someone tells another person about some bad news they’ve received. It might be about a cancer diagnosis or a death in the family. The hearer responds, not with sympathy and caring words but with their own story about a similar situation. Are they trying to be sympathetic by expressing how they too have been in such a place, or are they playing a game called, can you top this?
The garrulous person is like a child who shoves another child out of line at the drinking fountain and takes their place. These loquacious people verbally shove others aside and steal their place in the conversation.
This is a key place to show others you are different. Hear, listen and participate in the conversation the other person desires to hold.
About Talking Too Much
“It was impossible to get a conversation going. Everybody was talking too much.” Yogi Berra
We can also refer to this as giving credit where credit is due. Whenever I do this, the person I’ve spoken to pauses for a brief instant and looks at me. The compliment catches them completely off guard.
When someone says you have done a good job, you like the feeling it gives you. It shouldn’t be surprising to discover that others feel the same way. If someone does something well, tell them so.
Creates a positive atmosphere: Praise is a way of fighting back at the negativity of gossip.
Creates trust. If someone says you did a good job raising your children, you will have a new level of trust and respect for that person.
Will give you a reputation as an encouraging person, which beats having people run when they see you coming.
About Complimenting Others
“We are prepared for insults, but compliments leave us baffled.” Mason Cooley
“ You can always tell when someone deserves the praise and recognition they receive, because it humbles them rather than inflating their ego.” Ashly Lorenzana
Attracting New Friends
Being a Magnet for Like-minded People
If you want to be a better person and attract new friends, try these four principles of communication. They will set you apart from the majority of people in any social situation. You will become a magnet for like-minded people.
Questions & Answers
© 2018 Chris Mills