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11 Reasons You Have Trouble Making New Friends (And What to do About It)

11 Reasons You Have Trouble Making New Friends (And What to do About It)

Making new friends is really hard to do when you don’t know how. Who wants to do something just to wind up struggling and failing?

That’s why I’ve put together this list of 11 reasons you’ve had some trouble in this part of your life and what to do about it. Once you see where you’ve been stuck within any of these common holding patterns below, you can more easily change your approach so you can start building a fulfilling social life today.

1. You think making friends should “just happen.”

Once we graduate from school, there’s not a lot of structures in place to help us along in making new friends. We have to be grown-ups and make those opportunities and structures for ourselves.

Health and wellness coach Sarah Jenks suggests that you come up with a strategy that works for you on finding and making new friends, including showing up at places where you figure people with your interests are already hanging out. When you do that, you’re not leaving things up to chance, but taking steps to go after what you want. Aside from making more friends, just the practice of taking strategic action feels good in and of itself.

2. You haven’t realized yet that making friends is like dating.

Last night I was at a party that my friend and charisma coach Fel Spar hosted, and I ended up especially hitting it off with one of the women there.

When I was leaving for the night, Fel said to me, “Looks like you two really enjoyed each other. You should make a girl date!”

As soon as I got home, I texted my new friend to plan a brunch date next month. The process of making new friends is a lot like dating – you meet someone you like, and you schedule a time to see them again. Fel is brilliant and has lots more great info on making new friends quickly and easily here.

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For whatever reason, scheduling new-friend-dates happens more rarely than it could. It’s normal to feel a little shy when initiating getting together again, but the important thing to remember is that when you feel a spark and genuinely enjoy each other, make a date!

3. You’re afraid that initiating conversations will come across as creepy.

Because of what I do for a living (teaching introverted men on how to attract women naturally), this is a fear that I hear often. The truth is, if there’s genuine mutual interest and it’s a gentle invite, it’s not creepy! In fact, my new friend and I were talking about this last night in the context of dating, and she said of men who have this fear, “If you think you’re creepy, that means you’re not! Because the truly creepy ones have no idea they’re being creepy.”

This is pretty funny, and there’s definitely some truth in there. Better than worrying about whether or not you’re being creepy, focus on noticing whether there’s a genuine mutual interest there, and whether the other person is ENJOYING you. If she is, then she’d probably like to see you again too, so it’s not creepy to help her have more of what she wants. This goes for dating AND friend contexts.

4. You forget your friends have other friends like them.

Another reference to last night’s fantastic get-together – My friend Fel brought together 10 of the brightest women she knew because she figured everyone should know each other. Because we’re all friends of hers, we had a lot in common. It was a big hit, and we’ve already made plans with each other to grab lunch or drinks and keep getting to know each other.

If you’re at a loss for where to find new friends, start with the people you love and respect the most. Organize a small get-together, or if your friend loves to do that kind of thing, offer to co-host. Then, even if you each just invite a couple more people, you’re making a great opportunity for new friendships all around.

Bonus points that you’re now a connector in your friends’ eyes (and in reality), so you’re an even more attractive person to get to know. Everyone loves a connector, and it’s really not hard to do. It all starts with a small get-together or two, bringing folks together.

5. You haven’t sat down and actually thought about what you want.

Until my mid-twenties, I would become friends with whoever was around, just because they were there. This habit took real effort to change, and my first big effort towards it was at a business development weekend I went to.

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I’d gone to the same workshop the year before and made mediocre connections. Throwing business cards around like confetti doesn’t tend to get you anywhere substantial.

So this time, I said, “You know what? I’m going to look around this room and purposefully notice the people I like the most, who I feel most drawn towards.”

I had to first consider what I even wanted in a connection, and I landed on ambition, style, and grace. I connected with three women that weekend, one of which remained a dear friend a couple of years later. Boom!

6. You pressure yourself to like everyone.

If you’re a nice person, you like everyone, right? Certainly, you don’t NOT like people. This is what I believed most of my life, anyway.

When I realized I can respect everyone and show kindness without doing back flips over getting to spend time with them, I became much happier and more relaxed. It’s okay not to like everyone. You can’t possibly, so don’t try to force it. If you find you like someone, capitalize on that by setting up “dates” and getting to know them better. Soon, you’ll have a budding friendship.

Meanwhile, don’t stress when you’re not into someone. Still be kind and respectful, but you’re under no obligation to spend time and energy getting to know them if you don’t want to. It wouldn’t be fair to them anyway. After all, do YOU want anyone befriending you just because they think they should? Yuck, didn’t think so.

7. You don’t want the chaos & messiness that intimacy can bring.

Don’t think that just because you make friends with someone that it’s going to be dramatic. It’s only dramatic if either (or especially both) of the parties involved are dramatic as well. You can make sure your relationships are full of ease and collaborative by first being an awesome person yourself (often takes work, folks), and secondly, choosing your friends well.

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Be the friend who naturally attracts the kind of friend you want. The same goes for dating, by the way. Be the man/woman who naturally attracts the kind of dates or partner you truly want.

8. You feel shameful about your lack of friends, which keeps you stuck.

When we see ourselves as “not social enough” or inherently undesirable, we don’t feel (or look) so hot. Just because you don’t have as many dear friends as you’d like now, doesn’t mean there’s anything wrong with you. It simply means you’ve not identified exactly what you want in a friend and then gone about becoming a natural, intuitive match for that kind of person, and second, not sought out those folks and invited them on friend-dates.

9. You didn’t realize that making friends is 95% SKILL and 5% talent.

Does a little talent help? Good looks? Sure. Do you NEED the 5%? No, you don’t. Making yourself a more attractive potential friend is a skill. You can make yourself attractive to the kinds of people you’re drawn to by taking great care in your presentation, emotional health and happiness, ambition, and everything else.

Skills are learn-able and build-able, and most of life can be dramatically enhanced with skills alone, regardless of any talent that may or may not be there to offer its tiny 5%. We don’t often think of talent as so tiny, but it is compared to the monumental force of skill-building. It’s just that most of us don’t know how to skill-build very well, so we end up noticing and crediting things to talent much more than is warranted.

10. You’re a private person and don’t want 55 best friends.

Perfect! You don’t have to go nuts and spend every waking moment with folks just because you set up one friend-date. Remember that making friends is an inherently gradual process. You decide what kind of social life you want. It’s a creative process that is completely up to you, and with time and attention, you can make as many or as few friends as you want.

11. You’ve forgotten what you have to offer.

I bet you $100 that you’re awesome at something.

Maybe it’s something purely social like making people laugh. Maybe it’s intellectual or something more strategic, like with your career success. Maybe it’s a warmth and coziness, like baking or homemaking skills.

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Whatever you’re awesome at can be a GREAT quality to bring to the table in a friendship.

Laughter? That one’s obvious. You put people in their happy-endorphin-place.

What about intelligence and success? You can provide reason and objectivity to problems your friends are trying to solve.

Warmth and coziness? When your friends come to your house, they feel happy, loved, and nourished.

Think about the skills and/or natural disposition you have and how you can start sharing it with new friends.

Then, get cracking at skill-building to fill any missing pieces in your friendship-making process and enjoy what happens.

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Last Updated on April 6, 2020

10 Powerful Ways to Influence People Positively

10 Powerful Ways to Influence People Positively

Most discussions on positively influencing others eventually touch on Dale Carnegie’s seminal work, How to Win Friends and Influence People. Written more than 83 years ago, the book touches on a core component of human interaction, building strong relationships. It is no wonder why.

Everything that we do hinges on our ability to connect with others and formulate deep relationships. You cannot sell a house, buy a house, advance in most careers, sell a product, pitch a story, teach a course, etc. without building healthy relationships. Managers get the best results from their teams, not through brute force, but to careful appeals to their sensibilities, occasional withdrawals from the reservoir of respect they’ve built. Using these tactics, they can influence others to excellence, to productivity, and to success.

Carnegie’s book is great. Of course, there are other resources too. Most of us have someone in our lives who positively influences us. The truth is positively influencing people is about centering the humanity of others. Chances are, you know someone who is really good at making others feel like stars. They can get you to do things that the average person cannot. Where the requests of others sound like fingernails on a chalkboard, the request from this special person sounds like music to your ears. You’re delighted to not only listen but also to oblige.

So how to influence people in a positive way? Read on for tips.

1. Be Authentic

To influence people in a positive way, be authentic. Rather than being a carbon copy of someone else’s version of authenticity, uncover what it is that makes you unique.

Discover your unique take on an issue and then live up to and honor that. Once of the reasons social media influencers are so powerful is that they have carved out a niche for themselves or taken a common issue and approached it from a novel or uncommon way. People instinctually appreciate people whose public persona matches their private values.

Contradictions bother us because we crave stability. When someone professes to be one way, but lives contrary to that profession, it signals that they are confused or untrustworthy and thereby, inauthentic. Neither of these combinations bode well for positively influencing others.

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2. Listen

Growing up, my father would tell me to listen to what others said. He told me if I listened carefully, I would know all I needed to know about a person’s character, desires and needs.

To positively influence others, you must listen to what is spoken and what is left unsaid. Therein lies the explanation for what people need in order to feel validated, supported and seen. If a person feels they are invisible, and unseen by their superiors, they are less likely to be positively influenced by that person.

Listening meets a person’s primary need of validation and acceptance.

Take a look at this guide on how to be a better listener: How to Practice Active Listening (A Step-By-Step Guide)

3. Become an Expert

Most people are predisposed to listen to, if not respect, authority. If you want to positively influence others, become an authority in the area in which you seek to lead others. Research and read everything you can about the given topic, and then look for opportunities to put your education into practice.

You can argue over opinions. You cannot argue, or it is unwise to argue, over facts and experts come with facts.

4. Lead with Story

From years of working in the public relations space, I know that personal narratives, testimonials and impact stories are incredibly powerful. But I never cease to be amazed with how effective a well-timed and told story can be.

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If you want to influence people, learn to tell stories. Your stories should be related to the issue or concept you are discussing. They should be an analogy or metaphor that explains your topic in ordinary terms and in vivid detail. To learn more about how to tell powerful stories, and the ethics of storytelling, take a look at this article: How To Tell An Interesting Story In 4 Simple Steps

5. Lead by Example

It is incredibly inspiring to watch passionate, talented people at work or play. One of the reasons a person who is not an athlete can be in awe of athletic prowess is because human nature appreciates the extraordinary. When we watch the Olympics, Olympic trials, gymnastic competitions, ice skating, and other competitive sports, we can recognize the effort of people who day in and day out give their all. C

ase in point: Simone Biles. The gymnast extraordinaire won her 6TH all-around title at the U.S. Gymnastics Championships after doing a triple double. She was the first woman to do so. Watching her gave me chills. Even non-gymnasts and non-competitive athletes can appreciate the talent required to pull off such a remarkable feat.

We celebrate remarkable accomplishments and believe that their example is proof that we too can accomplish something great, even if it isn’t qualifying for the Olympics. To influence people in a positive way, we must lead by example, lead with intention and execute with excellence.

6. Catch People Doing Good

A powerful way to influence people in a positive way is to catch people doing good. Instead of looking for problems, look for successes. Look for often overlooked, but critically important things that your peers, subordinates and managers do that make the work more effective and more enjoyable.

Once you catch people doing good, name and notice their contributions.

7. Be Effusive with Praise

It did not take me long to notice a remarkable trait of a former boss. He not only began and ended meetings with praise, but he peppered praise throughout the entire meeting. He found a way to celebrate the unique attributes and skills of his team members. He was able to quickly and accurately assess what people were doing well and then let them and their colleagues know.

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Meetings were not just an occasion to go through a “To Do” list, they were opportunities to celebrate accomplishments, no matter how small they are.

8. Be Kind Rather Than Right

I am going to level with you; this one is tough. It is easy to get caught up in a cycle of proving oneself. For people who lack confidence, or people who prioritize the opinions of others, being right is important. The validation that comes with being perceived as “right” feeds one’s ego. But in the quest to be “right,” we can hurt other people. Once we’ve hurt someone by being unkind, it is much harder to get them to listen to what we’re trying to influence them to do.

The antidote to influencing others via bullying is to prioritize kindness above rightness. You can be kind and still stand firm in your position. For instance, many people think that they need others to validate their experience. If a person does not see the situation you experienced in the way you see it, you get upset. But your experience is your experience.

If you and your friends go out to eat and you get food poisoning, you do not need your friends to agree that the food served at the restaurant was problematic for you. Your own experience of getting food poisoning is all the validation you need. Therefore, taking time to be right is essentially wasted and, if you were unkind in seeking validation for your food-poison experience, now you’ve really lost points.

9. Understand a Person’s Logical, Emotional and Cooperative Needs

The Center for Creative Leadership has argued that the best way to influence others is to appeal to their logical, emotional and cooperative needs. Their logical need is their rational and educational need. Their emotional need is the information that touches them in a deeply personal manner. The cooperative need is understanding the level of cooperation various individuals need and then appropriately offering it.

The trick with this system is to understand that different people need different things. For some people, a strong emotional appeal will outweigh logical explanations. For others, having an opportunity to collaborate will override emotional connection.

If you know your audience, you will know what they need in order to be positively influenced. If you have limited information about the people whom you are attempting to influence, you will be ineffective.

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10. Understand Your Lane

If you want to positively influence others, operate from your sphere of influence. Operate from your place of expertise. Leave everything else to others. Gone are the days when being a jack of all trades is celebrated.

Most people appreciate brands that understand their target audience and then deliver on what that audience wants. When you focus on what you are uniquely gifted and qualified to do, and then offer that gift to the people who need it, you are likely more effective. This effectiveness is attractive.

You cannot positively influence others if you are more preoccupied by what others do well versus what you do well.

Final Thoughts

Influencing people is about centering your humanity. If you want to influence others positively, focus on the way you communicate and improve the relationship with yourself first.

It’s hard to influence others if you’re still trying to figure out how to communicate with yourself.

More Tips About Making Influence

Featured photo credit: Wonderlane via unsplash.com

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