Advertising
Advertising

10 Secrets to Making Lifelong Friends

10 Secrets to Making Lifelong Friends

Ever since college, it has been harder and harder to meet and keep friends. But with these ten secrets to making lifelong friends, you’ll be rocking new and deeper friendships before you know it. Here they are:

1. Say, “Yes”

Be open to connection. When your friend calls, pick up. Get a message? Call back. If it’s texting, respond reasonably quickly if at all possible. When invited over, go. It takes time and energy to build a deep and lasting connection. So put in the time and say, “Yes,” as much as you’re able. If you’re over-scheduled and often find yourself saying, “No,” to invitations from friends, re-assess your priorities and clear some time and space for your social connections.

Advertising

2. Reach out to connect more often

Phone calls, emails, texts: if you’re keeping track of whose turn it is, give it up and reach out more. But here’s the trick, you can’t expect anything in return. If you’re giving to get, you’ll get nothing. People are very sensitive to our unconscious desires, and even though they don’t understand why they don’t want to call back, they won’t. On the other hand, if you make lots of invitations with no strings attached, you’ll eventually get a yes, and after dropping your attachment to a specific outcome, you’ll probably be surprised at how often people say, “Yes,” to your invitations.

3. Bring a gift

Doing the little extras can be really fun and can help deepen your friendship. Did you know that some people’s primary love language is gifts? The cost of the gift doesn’t much matter, it really is the thought that counts. If you’re far away, sending a package is a super sweet way to reach over the miles and connect. If you’re going to dinner, bring some flowers or a bottle of wine. If you’re invited to a party, same thing. When you’re thoughtful and generous toward your friends, you’ll be the one that they want to stick around.

Advertising

4. Get curious

Being inquisitive and listening to others is the hallmark of a good friend. If you find yourself constantly talking about yourself and your own life, or asking for advice, take a moment to consider switching that dynamic so that your friendship can be an equal partnership of mutual support. Ask questions about your friend’s life, their dreams and desires, and their struggles. And instead of jumping in to fix their problems for them, try asking clarifying questions and listen to their process as they figure things out for themselves.

5. Share something vulnerable

Again, there must be heartfelt sharing in order to foster a strong and healthy friendship. If you’re too scared to tell your friend how you truly feel, you’re not allowing your friendship to mature to the next level. Instead, be brave and be willing to risk the friendship. We can only foster a deep and lasting connection if we’re able to share our true thoughts and feelings. And if your friend doesn’t like it when you vulnerably share your deep truth, then it’s time to put your friendship energy elsewhere. This doesn’t mean you can use your friends as emotional dumping grounds, it’s important to get permission to share something deeply emotional, but a true friend will be there for you and feel even more connected when you share your unedited truth.

Advertising

6. Offer a hug

Physical touch is incredibly nurturing and, personally, I can never get enough hugs and snuggles. Not everyone’s a hugger, but if you are, you can certainly find others who also enjoy hugs by offering them. Sometimes it’s as simple as opening up your arms as your friend is about to leave (or when they arrive). I haven’t found too many people who will refuse to hug when one is offered. This can be a great way to get your needs for physical touch met, but do be careful not to hang on too long. It’s creepy to be hugged for a super long time by someone you hardly know. Super short hugs can also be off-putting, so my rule of thumb is to squeeze, take a deep breath and then let go with a smile.

7. Gratitude and acknowledgments

Different from compliments, which only go skin deep, offering gratitude and acknowledgment is a way to share your heart and deepen your connections with everyone in your life. Take the following example: “I like your new haircut,” is a nice thing to say, but it’s not deeply impactful. On the other hand, “I really appreciated it when you called to invite me to lunch. I love spending time with you, and life gets so busy. I’m grateful that our friendship is important to you, too,” has a far greater emotional impact. If that’s too sappy for you, try this, “Hey bro, playing basketball with you last week was the highlight of my week. You rock!”

Advertising

8. Provide a service

Help out, do the dishes, fix the sink, offer to run to the store. These acts of service are also perceived as love. Also, begin to see other people’s acts of service as love and notice how much more loved and appreciated you feel. And when your friend says, “Thank you,” try to fully receive the gratitude without minimizing your contribution. If that’s tough for you, try shutting your mouth, taking a deep breath through your nose and making eye contact. After a moment of silence, simply say, “You’re welcome,” and mean it.

9. Communicate when there’s trouble

If you feel there’s something wrong, talk about it. Most often, there’s been some sort of miscommunication and by bringing it up, you can resolve it quickly before too much upset builds. You may want to learn some communication skills like Nonviolent Communication. But they key is not to let your upset or confusion fester. Find out what’s really going on by asking for clarification and share your feelings using “I” statements and describing your experience, rather than “you” statements, which infer blame and may cause your friend to become defensive.

10. Ask for support

Asking for help when you need it can be incredibly hard and feels very vulnerable, but if you want to deepen your friendships it’s important to allow your friends to help you out. Maybe you need help moving, or a ride to the airport. Or perhaps you need someone to listen to you about how messed up your relationship with your mom is. Maybe you even need a wing man or woman to go out and help you get laid. Whatever it is that you need and are afraid to ask for help with is the exact thing that will help to deepen your friendship. Consider how good you feel when you’ve helped a friend with something. Do you really want to deny your friends the opportunity to contribute to you?

Some of these tips may be easy for you and others might be harder. But if you keep them in mind and practice them often, you can’t help but build stronger, longer lasting, and deeper friendships.

More by this author

9 Gentle Parenting Hacks That Really Work 10 Secrets to Making Lifelong Friends Do You Recognize the 4 Warning Signs of an Impending Toddler Meltdown? 6 Secrets to Getting Kids to Cooperate 5 Steps to Instantly Connect More Deeply with Anyone and Everyone

Trending in Communication

1 7 Ways To Have More Confident Body Language 2 How to Apologize When You Have Made a Mistake 3 7 Science-Backed Books About Spirituality That Will Change Your Life 4 20 Things Life Is Too Short to Worry About 5 How to Find Inner Peace and Lasting Happiness

Read Next

Advertising
Advertising
Advertising

Last Updated on January 15, 2021

7 Ways To Have More Confident Body Language

7 Ways To Have More Confident Body Language

The popular idiomatic saying that “actions speak louder than words” has been around for centuries, but even to this day, most people struggle with at least one area of nonverbal communication. Consequently, many of us aspire to have more confident body language but don’t have the knowledge and tools necessary to change what are largely unconscious behaviors.

Given that others’ perceptions of our competence and confidence are predominantly influenced by what we do with our faces and bodies, it’s important to develop greater self-awareness and consciously practice better posture, stance, eye contact, facial expressions, hand movements, and other aspects of body language.

Posture

First things first: how is your posture? Let’s start with a quick self-assessment of your body.

  • Are your shoulders slumped over or rolled back in an upright posture?
  • When you stand up, do you evenly distribute your weight or lean excessively to one side?
  • Does your natural stance place your feet relatively shoulder-width apart or are your feet and legs close together in a closed-off position?
  • When you sit, does your lower back protrude out in a slumped position or maintain a straight, spine-friendly posture in your seat?

All of these are important considerations to make when evaluating and improving your posture and stance, which will lead to more confident body language over time. If you routinely struggle with maintaining good posture, consider buying a posture trainer/corrector, consulting a chiropractor or physical therapist, stretching daily, and strengthening both your core and back muscles.

Facial Expressions

Are you prone to any of the following in personal or professional settings?

  • Bruxism (tight, clenched jaw or grinding teeth)
  • Frowning and/or furrowing brows
  • Avoiding direct eye contact and/or staring at the ground

If you answered “yes” to any of these, then let’s start by examining various ways in which you can project confident body language through your facial expressions.

Advertising

1. Understand How Others Perceive Your Facial Expressions

A December 2020 study by UC Berkeley and Google researchers utilized a deep neural network to analyze facial expressions in six million YouTube clips representing people from over 140 countries. The study found that, despite socio-cultural differences, people around the world tended to use about 70% of the same facial expressions in response to different emotional stimuli and situations.[1]

The study’s researchers also published a fascinating interactive map to demonstrate how their machine learning technology assessed various facial expressions and determined subtle differences in emotional responses.

This study highlights the social importance of facial expressions because whether or not we’re consciously aware of them—by gazing into a mirror or your screen on a video conferencing platform—how we present our faces to others can have tremendous impacts on their perceptions of us, our confidence, and our emotional states. This awareness is the essential first step towards

2. Relax Your Face

New research on bruxism and facial tension found the stresses and anxieties of Covid-19 lockdowns led to considerable increases in orofacial pain, jaw-clenching, and teeth grinding, particularly among women.[2]

The National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research estimates that more than 10 million Americans alone have temporomandibular joint dysfunction (TMJ syndrome), and facial tension can lead to other complications such as insomnia, wrinkles, dry skin, and dark, puffy bags under your eyes.[3])

To avoid these unpleasant outcomes, start practicing progressive muscle relaxation techniques and taking breaks more frequently throughout the day to moderate facial tension.[4] You should also try out some biofeedback techniques to enhance your awareness of involuntary bodily processes like facial tension and achieve more confident body language as a result.[5]

Advertising

3. Improve Your Eye Contact

Did you know there’s an entire subfield of kinesic communication research dedicated to eye movements and behaviors called oculesics?[6] It refers to various communication behaviors including direct eye contact, averting one’s gaze, pupil dilation/constriction, and even frequency of blinking. All of these qualities can shape how other people perceive you, which means that eye contact is yet another area of nonverbal body language that we should be more mindful of in social interactions.

The ideal type (direct/indirect) and duration of eye contact depends on a variety of factors, such as cultural setting, differences in power/authority/age between the parties involved, and communication context. Research has shown that differences in the effects of eye contact are particularly prominent when comparing East Asian and Western European/North American cultures.[7]

To improve your eye contact with others, strive to maintain consistent contact for at least 3 to 4 seconds at a time, consciously consider where you’re looking while listening to someone else, and practice eye contact as much as possible (as strange as this may seem in the beginning, it’s the best way to improve).

3. Smile More

There are many benefits to smiling and laughing, and when it comes to working on more confident body language, this is an area that should be fun, low-stakes, and relatively stress-free.

Smiling is associated with the “happiness chemical” dopamine and the mood-stabilizing hormone, serotonin. Many empirical studies have shown that smiling generally leads to positive outcomes for the person smiling, and further research has shown that smiling can influence listeners’ perceptions of our confidence and trustworthiness as well.

4. Hand Gestures

Similar to facial expressions and posture, what you do with your hands while speaking or listening in a conversation can significantly influence others’ perceptions of you in positive or negative ways.

Advertising

It’s undoubtedly challenging to consciously account for all of your nonverbal signals while simultaneously trying to stay engaged with the verbal part of the discussion, but putting in the effort to develop more bodily awareness now will make it much easier to unconsciously project more confident body language later on.

5. Enhance Your Handshake

In the article, “An Anthropology of the Handshake,” University of Copenhagen social anthropology professor Bjarke Oxlund assessed the future of handshaking in wake of the Covid-19 pandemic:[8]

“Handshakes not only vary in function and meaning but do so according to social context, situation and scale. . . a public discussion should ensue on the advantages and disadvantages of holding on to the tradition of shaking hands as the conventional gesture of greeting and leave-taking in a variety of circumstances.”

It’s too early to determine some of the ways in which Covid-19 has permanently changed our social norms and professional etiquette standards, but it’s reasonable to assume that handshaking may retain its importance in American society even after this pandemic. To practice more confident body language in the meantime, the video on the science of the perfect handshake below explains what you need to know.

6. Complement Your Verbals With Hand Gestures

As you know by now, confident communication involves so much more than simply smiling more or sounding like you know what you’re talking about. What you do with your hands can be particularly influential in how others perceive you, whether you’re fidgeting with an object, clenching your fists, hiding your hands in your pockets, or calmly gesturing to emphasize important points you’re discussing.

Social psychology researchers have found that “iconic gestures”—hand movements that appear to be meaningfully related to the speaker’s verbal content—can have profound impacts on listeners’ information retention. In other words, people are more likely to engage with you and remember more of what you said when you speak with complementary hand gestures instead of just your voice.[9]

Advertising

Further research on hand gestures has shown that even your choice of the left or right hand for gesturing can influence your ability to clearly convey information to listeners, which supports the notion that more confident body language is readily achievable through greater self-awareness and deliberate nonverbal actions.[10]

Final Takeaways

Developing better posture, enhancing your facial expressiveness, and practicing hand gestures can vastly improve your communication with other people. At first, it will be challenging to consciously practice nonverbal behaviors that many of us are accustomed to performing daily without thinking about them.

If you ever feel discouraged, however, remember that there’s no downside to consistently putting in just a little more time and effort to increase your bodily awareness. With the tips and strategies above, you’ll be well on your way to embracing more confident body language and amplifying others’ perceptions of you in no time.

More Tips on How to Develop a Confident Body Language

Featured photo credit: Maria Lupan via unsplash.com

Reference

Read Next