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The Friendship Formula

The Friendship Formula

Meet Jesse. Jesse is a friendly person. She has just moved to a new apartment in New York City. She’s excited, but nervous because she doesn’t really know anyone in the area. As soon as she moves in, she strikes up a conversation with her neighbor. It didn’t go as smoothly as she planned, and the conversation ended awkwardly. Jesse is embarrassed about it, so she tries again with a different subject. Still, the neighbor seems disinterested in a conversation with Jesse.

Jesse is frustrated and hurt. But she can’t see that the neighbor was intimidated and irritated because of her aggressive attempts at conversation so soon.

So what can we do to avoid falling into this trap of being aggressive to others when all we want is just to be friendly?

Dr. Jack Schafer, a retired FBI agent, introduced the Friendship Formula in the book, The Like Switch. Schafer was assigned to the FBI’s National Security Behavioral Analysis Program, so he’s an expert on human behavior and interactions. Here’s the formula:

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Friendship = Proximity + Frequency + Duration + Intensity

    The elements in the formula help you to decide whether someone can be your friend. Our brains have something we’ll refer to as a territory scan. When we access this part of our brain, we’re assessing whether someone we’re talking to could be our friend. This scan sends messages to our brain while processing the information needed to assess, among other things, if any given individual in our range of observation should be ignored, approached, or avoided entirely.

      Let’s take a look at each element of the formula.

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      Proximity

      Proximity refers to the distance between you and another individual as it relates to your exposure to that individual. This can be anything from shared space to shared context. Proximity can be built by being close to someone as you stay silent and by their side. This quiet action can make the other person feel comfortable and non-threatening.

      Frequency and Duration

      The number of contacts you have with another individual over time is the frequency and duration in which you interact with them, as well as the length of time you spend with them.

      For example, the more time parents spend with their children, the more likely the parents will be able to influence them. Therefore, if parental duration is lacking, the children tend to spend more time with their friends, including, in extreme cases, gang members.

      Intensity

      How strongly you are able to satisfy another person’s psychological and/or physical needs through the use of verbal and nonverbal behaviors is intensity. It also includes the interaction during the time spent with someone. Some couples have an issue with intensity. Maybe they spend time together every weekend for a few hours, but they don’t interact much with each other and choose to focus their attention to their cell phones. This leads to lessened intensity and can slowly make the couple less intimate.

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      Essentially, the more time you spend with someone, the more they will like you. And the more intense (deep) those interactions are, the more they will like you.

      Take the relationship of a married couple. If they are too busy and don’t spend quality time together, they are failing at frequency and duration. To compensate, they’ll need a higher intensity/deeper connections/interactions.

        Use the Formula to Make Friends

        If there’s someone you want to know, or befriend, start by increasing your proximity with them. Be around that person, but not in an obvious or over-attentive way. The goal is to become familiar to them so that they are comfortable with you being around. Slowly increase the frequency of time you are around that person.

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        Once you’ve increased the amount of time you’re around, extend the duration of time spent. There can be some intensity (light, pleasant conversation), but after some time you can delve into some deeper topics. This is also a great way to make friends and break the ice when you have a new place to work or interact with someone at a party.

          Use this formula too if you’re trying to maintain a good friendship. You can learn more tips about how to stay friends with your best mates in my other article: Friends Don’t Have to Grow Apart as You Grow Older

          Take It Slowly

          The next time you meet someone new and feel like jumping into conversation, pump the breaks. While being overzealous in life can sometimes be a good thing; when it comes to friendships, it’s best to take it slow. While meeting new people can be exciting, if not a little nerve-racking, the Friendship Formula can help you master true connections.

          If you enjoy this article, make sure to check out The Like Switch to learn more. Find it here.

          More by this author

          Anna Chui

          Anna is a communication expert and a life enthusiast. She's the Content Strategist of Lifehack and loves to write about love, life, and passion.

          The Hidden Power of Every Single Person Around You The Purpose Of Friendship: The Only 4 Types Of Friends You Need In Life How Self-Doubt Keeps You Stuck (And How to Overcome It) How to Live Life to the Fullest and Enjoy Each Day 30 Books Everyone Should Read At Least Once In Their Lives

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          Last Updated on April 19, 2021

          How to Deal With Anger (The Ultimate Anger Management Guide)

          How to Deal With Anger (The Ultimate Anger Management Guide)

          We all lose our temper from time to time, and expressing anger is actually a healthy thing to do in our relationships with others. Expressing our differences in opinion allows us to have healthy conflict and many times come to an agreement or understanding that works for everyone. However, there are times when anger can become overwhelming or damaging, and during these times, it’s important to learn how to deal with anger.

          Expressing anger inappropriately can be harmful to relationships, both personal and professional. You may express too much anger, too often, or at times that are only going to make things worse, not better. In this article we will look at anger management techniques that will help you better control your emotions.

          Let’s take a deeper look at how to deal with anger.

          Expressing Anger

          Anger is a natural and normal part of almost any relationship. This includes relationships with your significant other, kids, boss, friends, family, etc. Anger provides us with valuable information if we are willing to listen to it. It clues us in to areas where we disagree with others and things that need to be changed or altered.

          Unhealthy Ways to Express Anger

          Here are some common yet unhealthy ways to express anger that you should avoid:

          Being Passive-Aggressive

          This is a term many of us are familiar with. Passive-aggressive behavior happens when someone is angry but uses indirect communication to express their anger.

          Some of the more common passive-aggressive behaviors include the silent treatment, making comments about someone behind their back, being grumpy, moody, or pouting, or simply not doing tasks or assignments that they should.

          This is a passive-aggressive person’s way of showing their anger. It’s not very productive but extremely common.

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          Poorly-Timed

          Some people get overwhelmed and express anger in a situation where it can’t really do any good.

          An example would be getting angry at one person in front of a crowd of people. All that does is make people uncomfortable and shuts them down. It’s not a healthy way to express anger or disagreement with someone.

          Ongoing Anger

          Being angry all the time is most often a symptom of something else. It’s healthy and normal to express anger when you disagree with someone. However, if someone is angry most of the time and always seems to be expressing their anger to everyone around them, this won’t serve them well.

          Over time, people will start to avoid this person and have as little contact as possible. The reason being is no one likes being around someone who is angry all the time; it’s a no-win situation.

          Healthy Ways to Express Anger

          What about the healthy ways[1] to adapt? When learning how to deal with anger, here are some healthy ways to get you started.

          Being Honest

          Express your anger or disagreement honestly. Be truthful about what it is that is making you angry. Sometimes this will entail walking away and thinking about it for a bit before you respond.

          Don’t say you’re mad at something someone did or said when it’s really something else that upset you.

          Being Direct

          Similar to being honest, being direct is a healthy way to express anger.

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          Don’t talk around something that is making you angry. Don’t say that one thing is making you angry when it’s really something else, and don’t stack items on top of each other so you can unload on someone about 10 different things 6 months from now.

          Be direct and upfront about what is making you angry. Ensure you are expressing your anger to the person who upset you or you are angry at, not to someone else. This is very counterproductive.

          Being Timely

          When something makes you angry, it’s much better to express it in a timely manner. Don’t keep it bottled up inside of you, as that’s only going to do more harm than good.

          Think of the marriages that seem to go up in flames out of nowhere when the reality is someone kept quiet for years until they hit their breaking point.

          Expressing anger as it occurs is a much healthier way of using anger to help us guide our relationships in the moment.

          How to Deal With Anger

          If you feel angry, how should you deal with it right at that moment?

          1. Slow Down

          From time to time, I receive an email at work that makes me so angry that steam is probably pouring out of my ears.

          In my less restrained moments, I have been known to fire off a quick response, and that typically has ended about as well as you might imagine.

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          When I actually walk away from my computer and go do something else for a while, I am able to calm down and think more rationally. After that happens, I am able to respond in a more appropriate and productive manner. Doing things that helps you learn how to release anger can make an uncomfortable situation more manageable before it gets out of hand.

          2. Focus on the “I”

          Remember that you are the one that’s upset. Don’t accuse people of making you upset because, in the end, it’s your response to what someone did that really triggered your anger. You don’t want to place blame by saying something like “Why don’t you ever put away your dishes?” Say something more like “Having dirty dishes laying on the counter upsets me—can you work with me to come to a solution?”

          When you are accusatory towards someone, all that does is increase the tension. This doesn’t usually do anything except make your anger rise higher.

          3. Work out

          When learning how to deal with anger, exercise is a great outlet. If something happens that angers you, see if you have the opportunity to burn off some of the anger.

          Being able to hit the gym to get a hard workout in is great. If this isn’t an option, see if you can go for a run or a bike ride. If you are at work when you become angry and the weather permits, at least go outside for a brisk walk.

          Besides working some of your anger out through exercise, this also helps to give your mind a chance to work through some ways to address what it is that upset you.

          If you’re not sure where to start with an exercise routine, check out Lifehack’s free Simple Cardio Home Workout Plan.

          4. Seek Help When Needed

          There are times when we could all use some help. Life can be stressful and overwhelming. It’s perfectly fine to seek some help from a mental health professional if it will help you get back to a healthy balance.If you find that you are angry all the time, it might be a good idea to go talk to an expert about learning to control intense emotions. They can give you some sound advice and ideas on how to get your anger to a more manageable and healthy level.

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          5. Practice Relaxation

          We all seem to lead incredibly busy lives, and that’s a good thing if we are loving the life we are living. That being said, it is very beneficial to our physical and mental well-being to take time out for relaxation.

          That can mean spending time doing things that help us calm down and relax, like being around people we enjoy, practicing deep breathing or listening to music. It could be making time for things that help bring us balance like a healthy diet and physical activity.

          Many people incorporate techniques such as yoga and meditation to calm their minds and release tension when learning how to deal with anger. Whatever your choice is, ensure you take time out to relax when warning signs of anger start to bubble up.

          6. Laugh

          Incorporating humor and laughter on a regular basis will help keep anger in check and help you get over a bad mood and feelings of anger more quickly. This isn’t part of formal anger management techniques, but you’ll be surprised by how well it works. Remember, life is a journey that’s meant to be enjoyed fully along the way through healthy emotion. Make sure you take time to laugh and have fun.Surround yourself with people that like to laugh and enjoy life. Don’t work at a job that just causes you stress, which can lead to anger. Work at something you enjoy doing.

          7. Be Grateful

          It’s easy to focus on the bad in life and the things that cause us negative emotions. It’s vitally important to remind ourselves of all the wonderful things in life that bring us positive emotions, things that we easily forget because we get caught up in the whirlwind of day to day life.

          Take time out each day to remind yourself of a few things you are grateful for in order to help you learn how to release anger and invite in more positive feelings.

          Final Thoughts

          Life can be overwhelming at times. We seem to have constant pressure to achieve more and to always be on the go or motivated. People we are around and situations we are in can cause stress, anger, and negative emotions. At times, it can seem to be too much, and we get angry and our emotions start to get out of control.

          During these times, keep in mind that life is an incredible journey, full of wonder and things that bring you joy. When you find yourself angry more often than is healthy, take time out to remember the good things in life—the things that we seem to forget yet bring us so much positive energy and emotions.

          Use some of the tips included here to help with how to deal with anger and better control your emotions.

          More Resources on Anger Management

          Featured photo credit: Andre Hunter via unsplash.com

          Reference

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