Making friends is not easy for a lot of people, and for some the thought of speaking to others is terrifying. This can be debilitating in your life and if you're the self conscious type it makes it even worse. You might worry about what people think of you, you might be thinking about saying the right thing too much, rather than being yourself and engaging in authentic conversation.
Many people suffer from self consciousness and the need to impress, and it shows. It's easy for people to say: "˜relax, just be yourself' that's no good when you don't really know who you are as you're trying to impress too many different kinds of people.
I was self conscious around very intelligent people, but I got over it once I realised I was intelligent enough to speak to intelligent people, how intelligent is that!!
You can't make friends with people until you know what type of people you want to like. To know what type of person you want to like you have to know yourself first.
How on earth do you begin to know yourself?
Write yourself down on a piece of paper, seriously.
On a sheet of paper get to know yourself by asking yourself questions, for example:
What type of films do you like?
What type of books do you like to read?
What sports do you like?
What are your hobbies?
Who do you like to spend time with?
What are your best personality traits?
What are your worst personality traits?
What are your goals?
What are your values?
What are your principles
By asking yourself lots of questions, you will begin to understand what makes you tick. When you know this you begin to see how you will live your life and then it will become clear what type of friends you want in your life. You have to know your own values and principles before you befriend other people.
Values and principles
If you don't really know yourself you will befriend some people and maybe later on you will wonder why you ever befriended that person, it's because they are not aligned to your true values and principles.
So, sit down with a good cup of tea, or whatever is your want, and make a date with yourself. Getting to know you, may sound ridiculous but you may be surprised how much you will find out about yourself.
Looking at your friends
Once you have found out what your true values and principles are, it's time to look at your friends and find out if you really want to stay friends.
I remember having some friends in my teens. When I realised I wasn't aligned to their values and principles and they were not aligned to mine, I decided to split from them. It was one of the most difficult decisions I ever had to make but it changed the course of my life.
Aligning yourself to the right people, and by that I mean the right people for you, you will become comfortable with yourself and you will start to feel confident and secure in your environment.
Once you are secure you can then start to move a little outside your comfort zone and stretch yourself. For example, if one of your values is to be a positive person, it will be natural to want to be around positive people. If you have been around negative people a lot, it might be out of your comfort zone to try and befriend positive people. However you will eventually do this, as you will be more secure and confident within yourself and know what you really want in life.
The Pride of Loneliness
The world has never been so connected but we have never been so alone. When was the last time you had a conversation with your neighbours? When did you last strike up a conversation with someone in a lift (an elevator)? Our world has become so exciting and manic that we are forgetting to connect with each other.
If we want to speak to someone we send a "˜quick email' or give them a "˜quick call', if we want to see our friends holiday snaps we check out their Bebo site, if we want to meet someone new we check out a dating website.
If we want to make true friends with people, we have to start connecting with them on a genuine way.
A lot of us have become so psychologically and politically aware that we are all playing games with each other. When you are dating someone new have you ever held off calling that person for fear of them knowing you like him or her, have you ever come across this scenario:
You have met someone you like and it's clear they like you, you go to call them to meet up:
You: "˜He might think I like him too much so I will hold off calling them, I'll wait another few days'
Them: "˜I wish she would call, I don't want to call in case she thinks I am desperate, I'll wait another couple of days and call her'
We play games at work, in our love life, in our business life and even in our family life. All of this adds up to us feeling even more alone and isolated from each other.
If it's one thing I have learned in life that has helped me more than anything and that's being honest and genuine. By genuine I mean not having an agenda when speaking to someone. I have gained a reputation of being a very honest and open person. If somebody asks me a question that they may not like the answer to I always ask "˜Do you want me to tell the truth here or do you want me to tell you what you want to hear?' I have mixed reactions to that question, but it has gained me a great reputation of being trustworthy and honest.
It's time to stop playing games and being honest with yourself and being honest with others, this will start you on the road to connecting with others again.
Being honest can be hard for some people however the effort of being honest will stand you in good stead for making friends easily.
We all need people to help us in life, we need love, we need praise, and we need conversation. Even online we need people to help us reach our goals. If it wasn't for you reading this article right now I wouldn't have a blog, I wouldn't have 2000 subscribers to this blog, I wouldn't have written one single word if it wasn't for you. I have made some great contacts through blogging and I am one of the most anti-social people you could meet, however I choose my relationships wisely and don't collect friends for the sake of it. I recognise the importance of creating lasting friendships for myself and for others.
We are social creatures and we all need somebody. Why not smile at that person in the lift and strike up a conversation, stop and speak to your neighbours for 5 minutes, have a genuine conversation with no agenda with your work colleagues. It's time to become a social-human again instead of a techno-human.
The art of honesty
It's easy to say be honest and open with everyone but there is an art to being honest.
I remember when I was about 19, I was dancing with a girl in a nightclub, (that was back in the day when you just went up to a girl and tapped her on the shoulder and she was obliged to dance with you). I was talking away to her, just general chitchat. I then asked when her baby was due, as she was obviously pregnant. She looked at me and asked me to repeat what I had said, obviously the music was too loud, I then asked her "˜When is the baby due?' looking toward her stomach. She glared at me and said "˜I'm not pregnant, I'm just ******* fat' and she then stormed off. Now that was embarrassing. What did I learn from that? "“ Never ask a fat woman if she is pregnant! Yep, but I learned to keep my mouth shut until I was sure of the facts else a swift kick between the legs could be on its way. That wasn't about honesty it was about diplomacy and tact and it ties in nicely with the art of honesty.
Honesty is telling the truth to people and telling the truth to yourself. This is a big distinction to make. Some people lie to themselves and can't get to the truth, as they are lost in their own self-lies.
Why being honest is important
To gain respect from others and to have respect for yourself it is important to be honest and true to yourself and others. If you are honest from the outset you will gain a reputation for being an honest person, therefore you will gain the reputation for being trustworthy, therefore gaining the reputation of being dependable. Being honest can open so many doors for you.
Practising honesty with yourself
To practise honesty you have to start being honest with yourself.
Are you a lazy git "“ if so, admit it and do something about it,
Are you fat "“ Admit it, and do something about it if you're not happy with it
Are you gorgeous "“ Admit it and make the most of it
Are you good at something "“ admit it and keep learning to become better
Do you really want that job "“ Look for another one and chuck the one you don't like
Do you really want to be with your partner "“
There are many questions to ask yourself and ask you must to ever have self-respect.
Practising honesty with others
Once you are comfortable telling yourself the truth it is time to tell others in a way that is neither offensive or hurtful.
Q. Do I look fat in this? "“
A. It's not the kind of thing I would wear, now unless they have a very low IQ they will know what you mean here but without hurting and embarrassing them.
Q. Can you to take on another project? "“
A. I would love to work on that, however I want more time with my family and I am already working on "¦"¦"¦"¦"¦This is being assertive which goes hand in hand with honesty once you have practised honesty for a while.
I am sure you can think of hundreds of scenarios where you have to tell the truth but feel a little uncomfortable doing it. If you shy away from telling the truth or standing up for yourself practise little by little. Once you've overcome the first honesty hurdle the rest become easier.
My wife always asks me my opinion on something she is wearing, or something she wants my opinion on, as she knows I will be completely honest without being hurtful and she respects that.
From now on"¦
If you want more respect for yourself and you want others to respect you it is important for honesty in your life.
There are two rules I would use when being honest:
When you are being honest with other people, be tactful not hurtful
When being honest with yourself, be blunt and take action.
We've all read about body language and seen TV programs about it. It's one of the most important parts to communication we can master and there is an art to body language, both the receiving of body language and the giving out of body language.
Learning about body language can help when making friends and when wanting to help your overall interaction with others personally or in business or in the workplace.
You might not realise that body language has wide range of components. Here are the main categories:
- Kinesics (body language)
- Proxemics (proximity)
- Locomotion Walking, running, staggering, limping
Although body language skills can be learned to a degree it is extremely difficult to teach due to the nature of humans and the different shapes and sizes we come. However if we know the components of body language and have a rough idea of the structure we can become better body language communicators.
Obviously to look at each component and write about it would be a book in itself so I will give an example of each component and direct you to a useful website.
Kinesics: This is how we use our body to let others know how we are feeling. Some body language signals used are:
Shoulder shrug: The simple act of a shoulder shrug can tell someone a lot about you if you use this gesture a lot. It's basically telling the other person that you are quite submissive, you're telling them you don't know something and sometimes you're saying you don't really care. It's also a sign of resignation and possibly that you've given up on something.
You can read more about Kinesics here
Proxemics: This is the use of space to signal privacy or attraction to someone. There are four different types of space: social space, personal space, intimate space and public space.
When you are attracted to someone you will notice that you will stand closer to them and don't mind them coming into your personal space. On the other hand if you are not attracted to someone your personal space becomes bigger and the person that enters that space will be given clues by you to back off or you will back off.
Be careful to read the signs correctly about personal space as it can be uncomfortable and embarrassing for you and the person you are with, if not read correctly.
You can read more about Proxemics here
Haptics: The use of touch to convey feelings. Have you ever had someone who touches you on the shoulder or the arm when they are talking to you? This is the use of Haptics to convey a sign or trust or attraction. Think about a time when you are chatting to someone and they touch your arm when they are telling you a story, this happens quite a lot in human interaction, but only with people who trust you or whom you trust.
This also happens when two people are attracted to each other and it is a way of touching the other person in a non-sexual way but still give the sign that you are interested in them.
Couples use haptics all the time to convey love for each other and of course to show love for each other.
You can read more about Haptics here
Oculesics: This is the use of eye contact to convey your feelings. We will use eye contact every day of our lives so it makes sense to learn the best ways to use your eyes to your advantage.
Certain situations demand different uses of the eyes. For example, if you are arguing it is seen as strong if you can hold your gaze. If you are deferring to someone it is better to lower your eyes, if you are loving someone, it is good to stare into the pool of the eyes.
Eye contact is one of the most important areas in non-verbal communication.
You can read more about Oculesics here
Chronemics: Use of time, waiting, pausing. I remember being obsessed with time when I was meeting someone for a date. My mantra was "˜If they are not on time for a date they are not that interested'. I used to wait for 15 minutes tops and would then leave. This is of course a bit silly, but it said a lot about me and it says a lot about the other person as well.
Your speed of speech is also a non-verbal indicator that you are in a hurry, or you don't think people will listen long enough to let you speak slower. There are a lot of Chronemic indicators in body language and it is one I find the most interesting.
There are two types of people when it comes to chronemics, see if you can recognise yourself:
Monochronemic person: someone who does one job at a time, concentrates on the job at hand, adheres religiously to plans, emphasizes promptness, and is accustomed to short-term relationships.
Ploychronemic person: do many things at once, highly distracted and are subject to interruptions, change plans often and easily, have a strong tendency to build lifetime relationships.
Read more about Chronemics here
Olfactics: The use of smell to help us in our lives. We all know that smell is important when it comes to warning us of dangers, for example rotten food smells, which is a warning to us not to eat it.
Humans also use this knowledge of smell to attract a potential mate. This is why the perfume industry is still booming and also why ads portray deodorants in a sexual way.
Vocalics: Tone of voice, timbre, volume, speed. Another important aspect of human interaction especially for sales people, public speakers and politicians etc. Your voice gives a lot of clues about how you are feeling at any particular time.
If you speak to quickly it could be sign that you think that what you are saying is not worthy of being heard. Speaking too loudly is a sign of brashness and pomposity, speaking too softly is a sign of being too timid and lacking confidence. Your voice holds a lot of clue to the type of person you are.
Read more about Vocalics here
Adornment: What you wear and how you wear it. What you wear is another indication of your personality. One classic example is wearing something to distinguish you from another group, think about the mods and the rockers, or Goths, punks, teddy boys, skaters etc.
Your hairstyle is another part of adornment and the way you wear your hair says a lot about you.
Think about the phrase "˜First impressions last", most people dress to impress when meeting someone for the first time or for going for an interview, this is part of the non verbal communication side of adornment.
Locomotion: Walking, running, staggering, limping. How do you walk when you are felling depressed or low? Shoulders hunched head down, walking slowly. Now think about how you walk when you are feeling bright and confident; head held high, chest out, walk quickly.
The way you walk tells a person a lot about you. I always walk in a confident way even if I am feeling low, it helps me to get into a better mood and feel more confident. When you are feeling weary trying walking as if you are confident and very happy, pretty soon you'll be feeling more confident and happier.
Read more about Locomation here
As you can see I have only touched the tip of the iceberg when it comes to body language. It is a fascinating subject and one I would recommend learning about. Most of us instinctively can read the signs of body language but we can always learn more and gain advantage when it comes to making friendships in all areas of our lives.
Get out of Self Deprecation mode
The quickest way to lose potential friends is to put yourself down all the time. People who do this, no matter what's going on in their lives, are very tiresome and drain everyone's energy.
We've all been the victim of self-deprecation before. The times when we have lost our confidence in ourselves and used language that conveyed to others we were incapable of doing things. Now this is okay as we quickly recognised it or our friends, family and colleagues would ask us why we were putting ourselves down and hopefully we would get out of self-deprecation mode and regain our confidence.
For some people they have developed the art of self-deprecation and function very well. They draw people in and make people feel sorry for them, thereby offering help when someone is putting themselves down, this quickly becomes tiresome and the person who is helping all the time will start to avoid the person putting themselves down.
Self-deprecation can also be an indicator of some form of mental illness; severe depression, and stress. It can also be an indicator of some kind of trauma in someone's life such as abuse, in the past and in the present. Many women who suffer from domestic abuse are prone to self-deprecation. Therefore, we as colleagues, friends and family have a duty to try to understand what is going on in someone's life and help them through difficult times.
Dealing with the self deprecator
There are ways to deal with people who put themselves down all the time. Here are just a few things you can do:
- Point out to the person when they are using self deprecating language
- Ask if there is anything they want to talk about
- Point out their strengths
- Stop them from apologising all the time
- Never put them down in front of people
The cycle of self-doubt
If you constantly say to yourself you can't do something, guess what, you won't be able to do it. If you don't do things you will sink further into the "˜can't do' attitude and try even less activities. The less you try to do the lower your self esteem will become. This is a vicious circle and is hard to break if not recognised.
Stopping the cycle and gaining confidence
If you are someone who puts yourself down all the time there are a few things you can do to try and stop the cycle and regain your self confidence
- Focus on your strengths and do more things around them
- Work on smaller goals which are achievable
- Do not compare yourself to someone else
- Think about your successes in life (everyone has success stories)
- Learn from someone you admire (Don't compare, just learn i.e. how do they react in certain situations, how do they walk, how do they talk)
- Learn to talk positively to yourself
- Recognise the demons of self consciousness and stop them in their tracks by talking positively and remembering your successes
- Congratulate yourself often, even with small jobs
- Build your confidence slowly and learn from each success
A powerful way to change your beliefs
The way you speak to yourself internally will literally change your beliefs about yourself. If you constantly tell yourself you're no good at something you are literally hypnotising yourself into believing that. Don't underestimate the power of self talk.
Low self esteem and low self confidence can be debilitating but you can break the habit by changing the way you think and changing the way you speak. Stop the self deprecating talk and start to learn more about yourself and build on your successes.
Attracting the friends, you want
To attract the type of friends you want you will have to know what type of friends you want to attract, makes sense doesn't it.
Using the principles of manifestation you can attract to you the type of friends you want in your life.
Although it sounds like another airy-fairy law of attraction type of thing, I know this works as I have used it myself and have married my best friend, my wife. I used to imagine what she looked like, what type of personality she had, how she would react in certain situations etc I have also attracted business relationships this way, friendships, online acquaintances and even readers to my blog. I know it sounds sad thinking about the type of readers you want to read your blog, but I am a bit weird that way. "˜What's really going to bake your noodle' is would you be here if I didn't think about you reading this blog.
How does it work?
This is quite simple. You think about the different attributes that you would like in a friend; honest, strong minded, fun, attractive or whatever it is you are looking for in a true friend. You imagine them and the different situations you would be in together and how they would react if different situations. You imagine feeling a strong bond with them and having a lasting friendship. Imagine yourselves together in years to come and how your friendship will evolve. You imagine going to their parties, meeting up with your future partners, going through difficult times with them.
You don't go looking for friendships; your friends will come to you when the time is right.
There is one huge condition to you attracting your friends and potential partners and that is belief. Belief that it will happen when the time is right. This usually means getting rid of all your negative emotions such as feeling lonely, feeling jealousy, hate, depressed; all these feelings will hamper you in meeting your true friends or potential partner. Why is this? When you body and mind is riddled with negative emotions you are concentrating on yourself and your energy field will be low and not very expansive. When you have let go of negative emotions your energy field will be much more expansive and far-reaching, touching the lives of those you want to meet. Have you ever come across someone who just radiates energy and they seem to attract everyone around them? This will be because they have let go of their inhibitions and their negative emotions. These people are usually happy go lucky people and don't really care what other people think about them and can take people as they are and see they positives in everyone. Don't get me wrong you still get the people who attract everyone else around them due to their self confidence and yes they may be nasty or unkind but this type of person usually breaks down later on in their lives due to the masking of their negative feelings and emotions.
Does this sound like a lot of rubbish?
Of course it does, because for most of us we simply can't believe in a world that is interconnected and we are all at this very moment touching each other's energy. If you don't believe it can work it won't work. For some, like me, it took years to start believing in the power of thoughts and manifestation, but it has changed my life in immeasurable ways and I can only pass on what I believe. If you believe it's a pile of cow dung, that's great I respect your opinion. However, I would urge you to try it for a week or two and really try to believe in it before dismissing it.
If you've read all the other parts of the series you will have a strategy for getting to know yourself and getting to know others. Now I want you to take all that knowledge, roll it into a little ball and then I want you to be yourself.
What does "˜Be yourself' mean?
How many times have you heard someone say "˜Just be yourself'. You're going for an interview and someone gives the sage advice "˜you'll be great, just be yourself' , after you've picked them up off the floor and apologised for smacking them in the mouth, you ask yourself "˜what does that mean?'
Being yourself means you are comfortable with who you are and you are confident enough to realise that not everyone will have the same opinion of you. You will not be at the stage of trying to impress everyone all of the time and you'll know this is impossible anyway. You'll know that what others think about you does not matter, and you will save so much time in your life by not worrying about what others are thinking about you.
We have all met these types of people before and they are instantly recognisable. They have a quiet confidence about them, they are not brash, not "˜in your face' confident, not loud, just confident within themselves, not afraid to speak up and not afraid to voice their opinion when needed. That's what being yourself means.
It's a shame, but most people do not become confident within themselves until later on in life. That comes with all the realisations in life and that it really doesn't matter what others do, say or think.
How to "˜be yourself'
Unfortunately you can't learn to be yourself by reading this article but I can give you hints on developing yourself enough to really be yourself.
- Know the person you want to be "“ List all the qualities that you really admire in people and develop those skills within yourself.
- Be quiet for one whole day "“ For one whole day try and not to breathe a word to anybody. If you are on the phone all day this will be difficult but try not to speak to your colleagues. Watch how others are interacting with each other; watch how they react to you being quiet. You might feel uncomfortable at first but you will soon develop a silent confidence that it is you who is in control of you, and not others who are controlling you. This is a powerful exercise and it's hard to describe here but I would urge you to try it.
- Be honest "“ I mentioned this in part 3 of this series. Honesty is a powerful tool, yet it is not used enough. Be honest with yourself, really honest and you will learn a lot about yourself. Be honest with others and you will learn even more about yourself and others.
- Dress the way you want to dress "“ "˜It's not the clothes that wear the person it's the person that wears the clothes' If you like a particular style of clothing but have never had the courage to wear it, next time you are out, buy the clothes you like, wear them, and hold your head high. This all helps to assert your individuality.
- Like yourself "“ It might sound a strange thing to say but I love my own company. I could spend days just being by myself and not be bored. I have developed this over time. If you are not comfortable with your own company how do you expect others to be comfortable with you? If you can, spend a few days alone and you will really learn a lot about yourself. I don't mean sit and watch TV for 2 days, I mean go out shopping, go to a restaurant, go to the cinema, read a book.
- Never gossip "“ If you're a gossip, stop it right now. You are giving your power and energy away by gossiping about other people, no matter how much people listen to you when you have juicy gossip.
- Create a set of principles and values "“ This is another powerful tool to learn. Think about a set of principles and values you would like to live by and start living them, e.g.
Always be honest but tactful
Family comes first
Always be on time
These are obviously just a few and I am sure you have your own principles and values. However, a lot of people don't know what principles and values they live by. So it is good to look at the type of life you wish to lead, look at the core values and develop your life around these.
If you have read all of this article you will notice a common thread among them all and that is know yourself and be comfortable with who you are. Until you really get to know yourself and know how you want to live your life, making friends might be difficult or you may make bad choices.