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Keep A “Friend Bank” So You Can Maintain The Right Kind Of Friendship!

Keep A “Friend Bank” So You Can Maintain The Right Kind Of Friendship!

On Facebook I have close to three hundred friends, someone else I know has well over one thousand. What does that mean?
Does it mean, that, when I want to hang out with friends, I contact three hundred people, or them, one thousand?
Clearly not. If not that, then are most of them friends at all?

Making someone a real friend takes considerable time and effort. Sometimes, instead of making the effort to establish someone as a friend, we might instead choose to have a large number of shallow acquaintances instead of friends.
On social media, someone you met once in passing at some house party, can become listed as a friend, even if there is little chance or little intention of you meeting them again.

Having a big list of “friends” may make us feel good, it might make us feel extremely popular. However in the end all of this could be bad for us, as we may lose out in making real profound human connection. Especially if we no longer see the need in making the necessary effort.

In our all too busy lives, we can easily lose sight of the simple fact that good friendships are not determined by quantity, but quality.

Who are your real friends?

When you add someone as a friend on social media, their actual connection to you and your emotional connection to them isn’t considered by the website. The site may highlight people you interact with online more, but generally real connections aren’t considered and all appear the same.
People that you care about and care about you may fall from sight. As such it can be important to do the slightly unusual task of taking stock. To determine who are, and who are not, your real friends.

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How does the “Friend bank” work?

Perhaps the best method to cut through this cloud of uncertainty is to take time and create a friend bank. To mentally group those who you are closest to and happiest with.
These days our lives are incredibly busy, we might have a family to feed, work commitments, or intense study schedules. In any case, the time we have to cultivate any form of relationship, let alone friendships, can be brief. It could be useful to better ascertain who to spend time with.

Also, paradoxically, though, thanks to social media, we seem to have an abundance of friends. The number of people we want to spend our free time with may actually be quite small. Considering a friendship tier system will help you mentally clarify things.

With this in mind, there are three different tiers of friends to consider.

Top Tier-Best friends
These are the ones who are the most important to you. You are happiest with them and think they are happy with you. Your friendship runs deep and as such you have a great deal of treasured memories with them and know that there will be many more great memories to come. You are willing to whatever it takes to maintain the friendship and you know they feel the same.

Right now you can probably think of many people that fulfil this category. These are the ones that are so close and important to you, that they almost seem a part of you.

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    Photo credit: Source

    Middle Tier- Good Friends
    These are the ones you really like spending time with. But you know deep down you have different tastes and values which sometimes results in you feeling distant from them. Sometimes it’s enough for you to simply stay in contact with them through social media.

    You hope your friendship with them will continue, and are willing to make some effort to maintain it, but in that is dependent on them as well. Friendship is a two-way street, and it’s only really worth it if they give as well as you.

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      Photo credit: Source

      Bottom Tier – Distant friends
      You like these people, and they like you. In the past you’ve had some good times. But you feel that you and they are slightly drifting apart, and that doesn’t bother you too much. Your conversations with them are shallow, bordering on small talk, as quite simply, you don’t have anything in common with them anymore.
      You and they rarely meet up or hang out.
      You think your feelings about them are mutual and feel you may drift apart entirely and that isn’t necessarily a bad thing.

      These people are like old friends from childhood, school, college, or work. People that you really associated with due to proximity and never became all that close, or were once close but the distance has become great.

      Everyone else is perhaps not your friends and are just acquaintances or perhaps even friends to be.

      It is important to note that none of these tiers is set in stone. Someone now in the top tier can tumble to the bottom, and someone from the bottom tier can climb to the top. It’s quite fluid, and entirely dependent on your thoughts and feelings about them.

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      You might find that the next time you meet with someone in the bottom tier, you really enjoy their company and come to consider them good friends or even best friends. This would be wonderful news, and so don’t hesitate to put them higher up on the list. Equally, if you fall out with someone in the top tier, you might find you want to place them lower.

      In the end this isn’t us telling you to carefully pick and choose your friends. Nor are we encouraging you to drop out of touch with some people.
      But considering such a tier system may help to clarify things for you, to organize your relationships. In the age of 1000+ friends list such an exercise could prove to be important, allowing you to realize who your true friends are, allowing you to appreciate them even more. Deepening your relationship and happiness with them.

        Photo credit: Source

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        Last Updated on January 15, 2019

        How to Talk to Strangers Without Feeling Awkward

        How to Talk to Strangers Without Feeling Awkward

        Many of us feel awkward talking to strangers. I’m a very outgoing person, even though I sometimes feel uncomfortable walking up to someone and asking a question or starting a conversation. I consider myself pretty high up on the extrovert meter. So what is it that makes us pause and become worried or anxious about talking to people we don’t know?

        In this article, we will discuss why we feel this way as well as some tips on how to talk to strangers without feeling awkward.

        Step right up, don’t be shy!

        Why We Feel Awkward Talking to Strangers

        The next time you feel uncomfortable talking to a stranger, tell yourself that’s completely normal. There are numerous reasons why it’s actually natural to feel awkward talking to strangers:

        Our Stress Levels Rise Around Strangers

        Numerous studies have show that our levels of cortisol go up when we are around strangers.[1] Cortisol is the hormone inside of us which produces stress responses.[2]
        So there you go, right off the bat you can see part of your standard response to strangers is due to a chemical reaction!

        A very interesting by product of increased cortisol is that it makes us less empathetic. More than likely this can be traced to our evolution. The increase in the cortisol and the corresponding decrease in empathy makes us want to stay away from strangers. We are biologically wired to feel concern around strangers.

        Evolution Taught Us to Be Wary

        Evolution has also taught us to be wary of strangers in general. Humans as a whole have spent a large chunk of their history banded together in small protective groups. We did this in order to help protect each other and maximize resources.

        When you think about it in this context, outsiders to our small groups or strangers are considered potential threats. Fear of strangers is common across almost all human cultures.

        Culturally Conditioned

        We can also thank our society for helping us feel uncomfortable and sometimes afraid of strangers. The term “stranger danger” is something most of us can relate to either growing up or raising kids. Or both.

        I remember hearing this from my parents, mostly about not getting in someone’s car I didn’t know. And as the father of 2 teenage girls, you can be sure I’ve talked to them about this very concept more times that they want to hear.

        The thought that strangers can be dangerous is built into us as it is. Toss in the amplification of the media on strangers doing things such as kidnapping kids and it takes it to an even higher level.

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        Now that we’ve reviewed some of the reasons why we are nervous, let’s look at why you should talk to strangers more.

        Benefits of Getting over the Awkwardness

        Let’s take a quick look at some of the advantages of how to talk to strangers without feeling awkward. These are some high level benefits of talking to strangers.

        1. Broadens Your Network

        After you talk to someone, you didn’t know previously they become someone you know at least a little bit. This alone helps broaden your network of people you know. This is helpful in many ways whether it is work related or socially related.

        2. Improves Your Communication Skills

        I am a huge proponent of the value of solid communication skills and have written about it often. The more you talk to people, especially people you don’t know, the better your communication skills become.

        Interacting with a wider variety of people will bring the added benefit of improving your communication skills.

        3. Continually Learning

        So many of us don’t actively seek to learn new things. This is one of the primary keys to staying engaged in life and our own personal self fulfillment.

        Almost every time I speak to someone I didn’t know previously, I’ve learned something new. When we speak to strangers, it pushes us out of our comfort zones and we tend to learn new things.

        4. Increases Self Confidence

        Every time we learn to do something we were previously anxious about, we feel better about ourselves.

        Forcing ourselves to talk to strangers will lead to increased self confidence. As we get more and more comfortable doing something that previously made us feel awkward, our self confidence will go up and up.

        So, how to talk to strangers to reap these benefits?

        How to Talk to Strangers

        Here are some tips to on how to talk to strangers without feeling awkward.

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        1. Say Hello

        Putting “say hello” first may seem a bit obvious but let’s take a deeper look. Much of the social awkwardness when speaking to strangers is simply breaking the ice. The first words that will engage someone.

        Most people will respond when someone says hello or hi to them. And those that don’t, you probably don’t want to talk to anyway.

        Practice being the person that opens the door to a conversation. Say hello.

        2. Ask About Them

        Something that I have noticed over the years is that people love to talk about themselves. Even fairly private people tend to open up when asked about events in their lives.

        You can ask leading questions that get people to talk about themselves and recent events. Things like recent movies watched or the summer vacation are great to get someone talking.

        As a father, I also know that people love to talk about their kids. Asking about kids is a fairly easy topic to bring up and in general, most people will expound upon all the great things their kids do or are involved with.

        3. Just Do It

        One of the biggest reasons we don’t do things we want to or know we should is because we overthink it. Quit thinking about it so much and just do it.

        When you give yourself the time to analyze every little angle about a situation, you also give plenty of time to talk yourself out of it. You’ll wind up thinking what if this happens or what if that happens.

        Try to force yourself to jump right in without thinking about it too much. Whenever I have done this, I always feel great about it afterwards, no matter how it turned out.

        4. Don’t Take It Personal

        One of the greatest lessons in life I ever learned was don’t take anything personally. We all go through life with our own sets of experiences and see things through our own lens. The way people react to different situations has almost nothing to do with us. It has to do with previous experiences and the way people feel about things other than us.

        When someone’s reaction isn’t what you’d hoped or expected, chances are it has nothing to do with you. Remember that and keep it in context.

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        5. Get a Chuckle If Possible

        I used the word chuckle purposely because it makes me laugh. In my opinion, it’s one of those funny words. We all like to laugh because it makes us feel good. And when someone makes us laugh, we typically remember those people in a positive light.

        One of the best ways to make a conversation easy and free flowing is to get some laughter going. It doesn’t mean you have to be the master joke teller or anything. See if you can work in a way to make the person you are talking to get a smile or some laughter in. In fact, laughing at yourself maybe a nice try.

        6. Detach

        A great feeling is when you don’t mind which way something turns out, that you will be fine no matter what happens. Kind of like when I watch my two favorite football teams play against each other. I don’t really care who wins, I just want a fun game.

        Treat talking to strangers the same way. You don’t really care how the conversation goes because you are detaching from the outcome. Make it a fun time with yourself and if the conversation goes well, awesome! If not then no big deal, move on.

        7. Share Your Stories

        Well, all like to feel connected to other people. And many times we wind up hanging out with people that we have things in common with. No surprise here.

        To help with how to talk to strangers without feeling awkward, tell stories that have commonalities with the person you are talking to. Kids are an easy one. I have a daughter who was a competitive cheerleader and now plays club volleyball. I have instant connection and stories with strangers I speak with who have kids that play sports. It’s easy to relate to.

        So when you are speaking to a stranger and you have a story or mutual connection point, bring it up.

        8. Give a Compliment

        Almost everyone likes hearing a compliment, whether they admit to it or not. As a general rule, we don’t give out enough compliments. It’s amazing how one small remark someone tosses your way about how good you look can literally make your entire day.

        When you are speaking with someone you don’t know, see if you can work a compliment in. Nothing creepy here. Not a good idea to tell someone you just met that they are the prettiest or handsomest person you ever met. However, if you can share how you like their tattoo or shoes or something like that, it will help put the conversation into an easy going, smiling place.

        9. Relax Your Body Language

        If you go into a situation all worried and nervous, it shows on your body. Your shoulders are tensed up, there’s a look of consternation on your face, things like that.

        When you engage a stranger in conversation, make it a point to relax your body language. Take a deep breath before you engage the person, let your body relax, and put a smile on your face. This will help relax you and it has the added benefit of putting the other person more at ease.

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        If they see that you are relaxed, it helps them relax. Plus having open, engaging body language is very conducive to inviting someone to open up into a conversation with you.

        10. Practice, Practice, Practice

        Like everything else in life, talking to strangers gets easier with practice. The more you do it, the easier it becomes.

        Make it a point to talk to several strangers each week and it will definitely help you relax as you do it more and more.

        After a while, it will become something you don’t even think about, you just do it. And that takes all of the awkwardness out of being in these type situations.

        The Bottom Line

        As we have seen, it is perfectly natural to feel awkward talking to strangers. We are biologically built that way and we have our own society constantly warning us how dangerous it is. It’s no wonder we feel awkward talking to strangers!

        There are numerous benefits to learning to be more comfortable talking to strangers. See if you can employ some of the techniques mentioned to learn how to talk to strangers without feeling awkward.

        Once you start practicing speaking with strangers more often and utilizing some of the tips, you will become more comfortable doing so. This in turn will lead to a learned new skill and increased self confidence.

        Remember, everyone you know was a stranger at one time. Now get out there and make some new friends.

        More Resources About Strengthening Communication Skills

        Featured photo credit: Priscilla Du Preez via unsplash.com

        Reference

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