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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.

          10 Essential Books on Relationships To Help You Understand Love Why a Life Without Pain Is the Guarantee to True Suffering 20 Useful Things to Learn Now That Will Change Your Life How Self-Doubt Keeps You Stuck (And How to Overcome It) 23 Books About Racism to Inspire You to Embrace Race and Do Good

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          Last Updated on October 14, 2020

          Had a Bad Day? 7 Ways to Rebound From It and Feel Good Again

          Had a Bad Day? 7 Ways to Rebound From It and Feel Good Again

          Today didn’t turn out as you planned, but it doesn’t mean you’re weak. It simply means that you’re human, and you’re not bad just because you had a bad day.

          “Not everyday is a good day but there is something good in every day.” -Alice Morse Earle

          It’s not the end of the world when you find yourself thinking “I had a bad day,” but it can feel like it. You may have had plans that fell apart, experiences that set you back, and interactions that only did harm.

          You may have started the day thinking you could take on it all, only to find you could hardly get out of bed. When you have a bad day, you can forget to look at the good.

          Sometimes, self-care helps us to remember why we are worth it. It helps us to recharge and reset our mindset. It helps us to know that there are still options and that the day isn’t over yet.

          Love yourself today, no matter how hard it’s been. That’s the way to find yourself amidst the hardships you have. That’s how you center yourself and regain focus and live a more meaningful life. Give yourself some credit and compassion.

          Here are 7 ways to rebound from a bad day using self-compassion as a tool. If you had a bad day, these are for you!

          1. Make a Gratitude List

          In a study on gratitude, psychologists Dr. Robert A Emmons and Dr. Michael E. McCullough conducted an experiment where one group of people wrote out gratitude lists for ten weeks while another group wrote about irritations. The study found that the group that wrote about gratitude reported more optimistic mindsets in their lives[1].

          Overall, having a gratitude list improved well-being and made one truly grateful by counting the blessings in their lives.

          Write a list of what you are grateful for if you had a bad day. Make it as long as you like, but also remember to note why you’re grateful for each thing you write.

          What has given you the most joy? What has set you up for better days? Keep a tally of triumphs in mind, especially when you do have the bad days.

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          The day doesn’t define you, and you still have things of value that surround you. These could be material things, spiritual connections and experiences, relationships, basic needs, emotional and mental well-being, physical health, progress towards hopes and dreams, or simply being alive.

          Here are some other simple ways to practice gratitude.

          2. Write in a Journal

          Journaling affects your overall mental health, which also affects physical health and aids in the management of stress, depression, anxiety, and more[2].

          All you need is a pen and paper, or you could do an online, password-protected journal such as Penzu. The key is to get started and not pressure yourself on how polished or perfect it is. You don’t need to have prior experience to start journal writing. Just start.

          Write out everything that is bothering you for 15 minutes. This helps with rumination, processing problems, and can even aid with brainstorming solutions.

          However you approach it, you can find patterns of thinking that no longer serve you and start to transform your overall mental state. This will impact all areas of your life and is a great coping skill.

          3. Meditate

          Meditation can help you overcome negative thought patterns, worrying about the future, dwelling on the past, or struggling to overcome a bad day[3]. It shifts your mentality and helps you focus on the present or any one thing you truly want to focus on.

          Here is an example of a meditation you can do:

          Get into a comfortable position. Close your eyes. Rest your body, release tension, and unclench your jaw. Tighten and release each muscle group in a body scan for progressive muscle relaxation.

          Focus on your breath, taking a few deep breaths. Let your belly expand when you breathe in for diaphragmatic breathing. Empty yourself completely of air, then return to normal breathing.

          Next, focus on the idea of self-love and let it erase negative thoughts. Think about the ways you’ve been judging yourself, with the narratives coming up that your mind may create.

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          Give yourself unconditional love and release judgment. Take your time meditating on this because you matter. This is particularly important if you had a bad day.

          Check out this article for more on how to get started with a meditation practice.

          4. Do Child’s Pose

          Yoga Outlet says:

          “Child’s Pose is a simple way to calm your mind, slow your breath, and restore a feeling of peace and safety. Practicing the pose before bedtime can help to release the worries of the day. Practicing in the morning can you help transition from sleeping to waking.”[4]

          When you do Child’s Pose, it can be between difficult positions in yoga, or it can be anytime you feel you need a rest. It helps you recover from difficulties and relax the mind.

          It also has the physical health benefits of elongating your back, opening your hips, and helping with digestion[5].

          To do Child’s Pose, rest your buttocks back on your feet, knees on the floor. Elongate your body over your knees with both arms extended or tucked back, with head and neck resting on the floor[6].

          Had a bad day? Try Child's Pose.

             

            Do this pose as a gift to yourself. You are allowing yourself to heal, rest, get time for yourself, recover, and recharge. When you’ve had a bad day, it’s there waiting for you.

            5. Try Positive Self-Talk

            Engage in positive self-talk. This is essentially choosing your thoughts.

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            When you have a negative thought, such as “I can’t do this,” replace it consciously with the thought “I can do this.” Give yourself positive affirmations to help with this.

            Negative self-talk fits into four general categories: personalizing or blaming yourself, magnifying or only focusing on the negative, catastrophizing or expecting the worst to happen, and polarizing or only seeing back and white[7].

            When you stop blaming yourself for everything and start focusing on the positive, expecting things to work out, and seeing the areas of grey in life, you reverse these negative mindsets and engage in positive self-talk.

            When you speak words of kindness to yourself, your brain responds with a more positive attitude. That attitude will affect everything you do. It’s how you take care of yourself if you had a bad day.

            Check in with yourself to know when you are having negative self-talk. Are you seeing patterns? When did they start to become a problem? Are you able to turn these thoughts around?

            6. Use Coping Skills and Take a Break

            Use your coping skills. This means not letting your thoughts take control of yourself.

            You can distract yourself and escape a bit. Do things you love. You can exercise, listen to music, dance, volunteer or help someone, be in nature, or read a book.

            It isn’t about repression. It’s about redirection. You can’t stay in thoughts that are no longer working for you.

            Sometimes, it’s okay to get out of your own way. Give yourself a break from the things going on in your head. You can always come back to a problem later. This may even help you figure out the best course of action as sometimes stepping away is the only way to see the solution.

            If you had a bad day, you may not feel like addressing what went wrong. You may need a break, so take one.

            7. If a Bad Day Turns Into Bad Days

            “I believe depression is legitimate. But I also believe that if you don’t exercise, eat nutritious food, get sunlight, get enough sleep, consume positive material, surround yourself with support, then you aren’t giving yourself a fighting chance.” –Jim Carrey

            If you’ve been feeling out of control, depressed, or unstable for more than a few weeks, it’s time to call a mental health professional. This is not because you have failed in any way. It’s because you are human, and you simply need help.

            You may not be able to quickly rebound from a bad day, and that’s fine. Feel what you feel, but don’t let it consume you.

            When you talk to a professional, share the techniques that you have already tried here and whether they were helpful. They may tell you additional ideas or gain insights from your struggles of not being able to rebound from a series of bad days.

            If you’re having more than just a bad day, they will want to know. If you don’t have the answers, that’s okay, too. You just need to try these tools and figure out how you’re feeling. That’s all that’s required of you.

            Keep taking care of yourself. Any progress is progress, no matter how small. Give yourself a chance to get better by reaching out.

            Final Thoughts

            If you had a bad day, don’t let it stop you.

            Know this: It’s okay not to be okay. You have a right to feel what you feel. But there is something you can do about it.

            You can invest in yourself via self-care.

            You are not alone in this. Everyone has bad days from time to time. You just need to know that you are the positive things you tell yourself.

            More Things You Can Do If You Had a Bad Day

            Featured photo credit: Anthony Tran via unsplash.com

            Reference

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