Making friends is an important part of life.
Friends can reduce your stress and make you happier.
There are other related benefits as well. Friends, in general, make our personal and work lives better.
But now I’m catching myself doing it…
I’m thinking about what I get out of friendships. I guess that’s normal, though, but I don’t often think about what the other person, my friend, gets out of the friendship.
Trouble Making Friends
It seems that some have an easier time making friends than others. And if you realize the benefits of friends and want friends, but you struggle to make them than it can be frustrating and stressful.
The trouble with making friends might come down to how we project ourselves. When we look for friends we think about what would make a person appealing as a friend.
But we don’t often think about it the other way around.
Why would this person want to be my friend?
If you’ve noticed that you don’t have the type of friends or the number of friends that you want or need then it’s important to identify the potential reasons.
I’m not making accusations with the following. I’m guilty of not being a good friend or not being an appealing friend. Let’s just check out some of the common reasons you might be struggling to make friends at work and at home.
Do you make them feel good?
This is apparently a very simple way to make yourself appealing to others.
Many people love from attention. It’s totally normal. We all experience it to some degree. To be a good friend you need to provide your attention. That includes being a mindful listener. It means asking questions. It means digging down into conversation with people.
It doesn’t mean always having the answer.
If the person does ask you for an answer then do your best to provide the best one you can, but work with them to figure things out. Make them the main focus.
Now, this also means that not putting others down. There is playfulness like joking around and maybe taking a few little jabs at each other. That can be part of a healthy relationship, but you have to read the situation and if people are pushing you away maybe you are making them feel bad.
Are you too negative?
Smiling is important in life. There are health benefits when we smile even when we’re alone. Smiling also a way to attract others including friends. People generally want to be around people that are pleasant and happy.
If you’re negative more often than not then you’re bringing those around you down. That’s not a situation that most people want to be in.
I’ve even been in conversations that have started out pleasant only for someone to bring the whole mood down with a sob story. Yes, it’s important to be able to talk about all things, but sometimes the balance can be tipped toward the negative and when that happens you’re going to turn people away.
Are you annoying?
Sometimes it’s just easy to come on too strong or to make people feel repelled. Being annoying can come about in a number of ways. You probably know someone that is just rather annoying to have a conversation with one-to-one or in a group setting.
There can be some non-verbal cues that you’re being a little annoying in a situation. Little grimaces that others make are clues. Rolling of the eyes is another one. Turning away repeatedly while you talk. Sighs when you join the conversation. Nothing crazy. People are generally nice, but if you notice some of these things it might be that you’re annoying.
The next step is figuring out why you’re annoying. You could just ask, “Hey, I know I might be annoying in conversations? Can you just be straight up with me and tell me why?”
Are you inappropriate, uncomfortable & awkward?
This one builds on being annoying. Some people are just inappropriate when they’re around others. They tell off putting jokes or make uncomfortable comments and make others feel awkward.
You might not even realize that you’re doing it. You might be trying to be funny, but it comes out way over the line. It’s okay if that happens sometimes, but if it happens too often you’re going to struggle making friends.
You can learn to be more socially skilled I think. It comes with practice and someone you can work with to get feedback so you don’t have to do it all yourself.
It’s important to make and keep friends. I wrote this post because I was thinking about my own life. I know sometimes I can share a negative story just like anyone and I wonder if sometimes it’s too much for some or off putting for others. I think it does go back to just making people feel good. I know I like being friends with people that make me feel good. Not just people that tell me that I’m the best person in the world and that everything I do is great, but someone that genuinely has my best interest at heart.