I love socializing, but I am shy of taking that first step — if you are reading this, let me guess — you are too.
Starting a small talk or putting that extra effort into maintaining those relations afterward just doesn’t come naturally to me.
Over the years, though, I have changed this in little ways I could.
When asked to a bunch of old people — what they would regret the most on their deathbed? An overwhelming majority said they’d regret not having a strong relationship as they’d prefer.
Pause for a second and think of the memorable experience with your friends — now what is the one thing that strikes out? I bet it would be how they made you feel — that is the most valued possession you’d ever have.
It won’t be the money you earned or the titles you secured. Even a luxurious life or a huge social media presence can’t replace the stir of emotions you experience around friends and family.
#1. Seek advice more often
Yes, people love it when you reach out to them for advice. They need to feel they are valued. We live in such busy times that we seldom reach out to our friends before we make important decisions, leave alone the trivial stuff we decide every day. Start with simple questions like — “Hey, I know you went to this salon in the city, would you recommend them?” or “Hey, I am planning to buy a new phone — which model would you suggest?”
Plus, it is a great way to connect with those old friends and colleagues whom you said “be in touch” and never called back ever again.
“The greatest compliment that was ever paid to me was when someone asked me what I thought and attended to my answer” — Henry David Thoreau
#2. Use wit to your advantage
You can use humor to lighten the mood or diffuse a tense situation.
Don’t have fun at the expense of others. Be humble. No one likes to be the person who is always picked on.
If humor isn’t your forte, just take a deep breath and smile — no one can get offended when you smile. It’s the best way to show you are warm and open to a conversation.
#3. Make them feel good about themselves
The world is quite toxic anyway.
The one person they rely on is you. So make them feel great about themselves. Not by exchanging pleasantries or putting up a mask. By showing them your support and motivating them in what they do.
If they want to get validation, they would turn to social media instead.
“People will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel“ — Maya Angelou
#4. Show you care
The only way you can do it is to genuinely care.
Remember the intricate details when they talk about their passion, worries, and plans. Ask them and follow-up when you meet them the next time.
#5. Know your boundaries
Know when to stop in a conversation, when you sense it is getting heated up.
You may be like-minded in some aspects, but there may be a few differences of opinion on certain matters such as political views or social views.
Don’t let your views supersede your friendship with them.
“Little people are indifferent, superior people are caring.” — Maxima Lagace
#6. Be considerate and kind
Be kind. Treat them the way you’d like to be treated in person and online.
They may be struggling with something and are not ready to discuss it with you. Respect their privacy — you are not entitled to know everything.
#7. Be vulnerable, not whiny
Everyone loves modest people. You don’t have to share your deepest darkest secrets, but you can talk about things you suck at or you struggle or don’t get.
The other extreme would be an egoist who blabbers on and on about themselves. No one wants to be around that person. So don’t be one yourself.
“Being our messy, imperfect, authentic selves helps create a space where others feel comfortable to be themselves too. Your vulnerability can be a gift to others. How badass is that?” — Brittin Oakman
#8. Let it go
Don’t stress over frivolous things — not worth the mental baggage. If you fight, be the bigger person to let it go.
In the long run, these things won’t matter.
Whether or not they say it, they are always observant — they can sense it too.
#9. Don’t judge too harshly or quickly
No one is perfect. Neither are you and nor they. So don’t criticize every little thing they do.
Allow space to breathe in any relationship.
Let them be themselves — just as you’d like to be with them.
#10. Talk it out
As simple as it may sound, confrontation can be really daunting. Most avoid it. But do it to iron differences. It would feel a lot lighter.
The universe doesn’t revolve around you.
You don’t have to talk about your possessions or your extravagant trips or yourself. It is not a competition. And to be honest, it is a big put-off — people don’t want to feel envy or think of themselves as any lesser.
You may not be doing it intentionally. But it hurts the other person when you shove things in their face — they may not tell you.
Bonus — Here are two additional tips
#11. Put in the effort
Save their birthdays and anniversaries on your phone. Don’t wish them in the group following the herd. If they are really close, call them.
Respond to messages with kindness.
Relationships need to be nurtured. Invest your time and effort in the right people and it would reap valuable returns in the long term.
Be interested in their lives. Ask what they do or what their long-term plans are. But also don’t pester them with a million questions. Just a few to get the conversation started and to show you are interested in them.
The most fun you’d ever have in friendship is when you be a sport and play along, even if you don’t want to. If they invite you for a costume party but you aren’t particularly interested, join in — just play along. It would mean a great deal to them, and it would be a lot of fun as you look back at those memories.
Similarly, if someone is a control freak and loves to control every aspect of a gathering or a celebration or a trip — let them manage it. You have someone who’d plan it and keep everything in check — you should thank them instead.
“A relationship where you can be weird together is your best choice.” — Paulo Coelho
The one principle underlying all this advice has been how the other person feels about their relationship with you. If they feel valued, they’d reciprocate and your relationship will be that much stronger.
The idea isn’t to please people or win them over — it is to be more human and forging ties that last forever.
Recently my husband and I had a re-run of the ‘Friends’ series and I exclaimed to my husband — I want a friend like them. He looked at me in a moment of silence — and I realized what he wanted to say, and so I rephrased myself — I want to be a friend like them (to someone).
“Be the type of person that you want to meet.” — Anonymous