Kenneth, born and raised in the South, resides in Hamilton, Alabama. He enjoys sharing his unique perspectives on life through his writing.
There's a delicate balance between having time for yourself and being part of a social group. The following tips help smooth the experience.
1. Be Yourself
This is probably the most important tip I can give. Try as you might to fit into someone else's mold, there will always be that little feeling of unfulfillment lurking in your interior at the pit of your stomach.
When you are doing the things that make you happy, that make you sing and laugh, then you're on the right track, and you will attract those future tried-and-true friends with similar characteristics and interests with just enough diversity to make your social life worthwhile.
You know you're in the wrong place with not-so-great friends when
- you've made over three trips suggested by others that you don't enjoy
- your company talk and talk but never ask let you say anything
- your associates tease you about your hair, dress or manners
So, be true to yourself. You are your own best friend first, whether you realize it or not. When you glow with contentment and confidence, the right friends will automatically be attracted to you. Honest.
2. How to Set a Date
Probably the most overused, unsuccessful words a potential friend can say to another is, "We'll have to get together sometime." Even if said with enthusiasm, this phrase goes nowhere.
Make a mental note of where and how you met and what interests, if any, you have in common. If you feel excited about an upcoming event, let the other person know, or it can be something as simple as, "I'm reading that book too. Let's get together at Starbucks for a latte and compare notes. Saturday at 2:00?"
The more specific you can be about a potential meeting, the more apt it will happen. The worst the other person can say is that he or she can't make it. Visit the place often where you met and keep trying with different ideas and times.
Ideas that may just result in a real meeting:
- at the park for exercise and chat
- view a movie at a home or theater with drinks afterward
- at the library to help with a school assignment or review a favorite book
- a few hours at one or the other's home to share favorite hobbies
You get the idea and always, always remember to suggest the place, day of the week, and time. It's the only way you can know for sure the other person is really interested.
3. Don't Interrupt
The quickest way to rub a talker the wrong way is to keep interrupting. Even a positive but misplaced statement like "you're right" can go wrong because the other person may feel he or she didn't really express their feelings. In fact, the friend may be trying to relate something completely different than what you thought. Instead, try these suggestions:
- listen by also observing facial expressions and body language
- notice whether any of your vitals change with what is being said
- allow about eight seconds after the speaker has stopped before verbalizing
Do not chew gum or food, mumble under your breath, keep shaking your head, cross your arms defensively or put your hands on your hips--these are sure signs you aren't listening and don't really care about what your friend is saying. Such habits and actions will alienate any potential friend, and you just may find yourself in an argument and each going your separate ways.
4. Be Considerate of Others' Feelings
Okay, there are many facets to why people do the things they do. Sometimes a gal or guy needs to express an alter ego to cope with things happening or not happening in her or his life. Take a deep breath and thank the person for taking the time to be together. You might carefully ask, "How has your day been?" Listen. Then maybe, "Are to ready to start (whatever you had agreed to do together)?" When the other person feels your warmth and calm, she or he will more then likely feel relieved and assured.
If your friend asks what you think of her (his) outfit, answer briefly and neutrally with an "it's all right," then "let's get started, okay?"
If you are the one who has dressed inappropriately for a meeting, ask yourself:
- what part of my life needs attention?
- am I rebelling because I really don't want to be here?
There may be a good chance neither of you will actually work on whatever project you had agreed upon, but share feelings and establish a deeper understanding of one another. Go with the flow.
If, however, the project or meeting depends on a deadline and your partner continues to express hurt or depression, politely excuse yourself to make a phone call to express your concern about your friend's behavior to a neutral party. You may have to work alone after you've done your best to help your friend.
5. Share Responsibility
While it may be better to give than receive, a successful social life has to work both ways. If you find yourself frequently running errands for your friends, treating them and picking up the tab, and going places or doing things only they want, you need to stop and assess the situation.
Furthermore, you are actually stunting the growth of your friends by doing everything for them. Here are some suggestions:
- suggest that Cathy, John, or whoever run the errand with something like, "Oh, (friend's name), would you please get the coffee this time? I'd like to sit this one out."
- suggest that all of you "go Dutch" on future outings (you're saving for a special gift or need to repay a debt)
- tell your friends you really miss visiting (name the place where you'd like to go that they've been avoiding), then suggest they meet there next
Your social well-being is as important as your friends', and you need to take the initiate to even the playing field; otherwise, nothing will change, and you'll feel resentful for being used by-and-by. You want friends who share, not use.
A Healthy Social Life
The five foregoing tips certainly don't cover every situation, but they go a long way in keeping your social life balanced and whole. You don't have to incorporate them all at once, and you shouldn't put yourself down for making a mistake. "I'm sorry, please forgive me" goes a long way when learning new habits.
My life experience has shown me time and again that these basic tips really work. I invite you to explore your social horizons and make those friendships that are truly worthwhile and long-lasting.
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This content reflects the personal opinions of the author. It is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and should not be substituted for impartial fact or advice in legal, political, or personal matters.
Tajwer Shakir on October 16, 2020:
An isightful list! It's good to read it!
Kenneth Avery (author) from Hamilton, Alabama on September 03, 2020:
Hello, Barb, here at 1:40 a.m., Sept. 4
Thank you so kindly for leaving me such a warm and appreciated comment. This topic, learning how to be successful with society and crowds too can be beneficial.
My trouble is when a smart alec, one who thinks that they are God in knowing all things, gets in the middle of a party and then takes over.
No wonder that other guests suddenly find reason to leave.
I have stood with my teeth clenched plenty of time while Mr. Party gave himself a show.
Wish now that I had left with the others.
Say, you are welcome to write me at anytime and if you are not a follower, I invite you to do that also.
Barb, be safe and happy Labor Day.
Barb Johnson from Alaska's Kenai Peninsula on September 03, 2020:
A very helpful and in-depth refresher on a topic that never gets old. Making and keeping friends shouldn't be so hard but unfortunately we tend to pick up bad habits along the way. Sometimes we get too comfortable, maybe even forget that good manners, consideration and kindness are needed in every relationship. Thanks for sharing this article Kenneth.