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10 Ways To Turn a Conversation Into a Potential Friendship

10 Ways To Turn a Conversation Into a Potential Friendship

We have all been in situations where we meet someone that we feel we would really hit it off with as a friend, but then we end up walking away without having made a closer connection.  It’s tough to know how to change your interaction from just a casual conversation to a potential friendship, without seeming awkward or needy.  These ten tips will help you connect more deeply in the initial minutes of a conversation, and ensure that you’re not left regretting that you didn’t try hard enough to make a new acquaintance into a new friend.

1. Ask open ended questions.

It is difficult to connect with someone if you ask them questions that can be answered in two words.  There is no chance for a connection to develop.  Instead of asking, “Where do you live?” trying asking “What do you think of your neighborhood?”  Instead of “where did you get that shirt?” try “What do you think of the new store in the mall?”  The longer you talk, the more chance there is for a connection to grow.

2. Find things in common.

If your potential new friend interned at Credit Suisse, discuss that your brother works in finance.  If she is all about reality TV, tell her which shows you’re into.  Friendship is built on commonalities.

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3. Use emotion words.

Sticking to the facts makes a conversation dry and boring.  You want to capture your new acquaintance’s interest by using emotion words so they can connect with you on a genuine level.  Instead of going into detail about where you stayed on your trip to London, talk about how anxious you felt when you almost missed your connection. Instead of describing how long your commute is, discuss how much you dread that hour of your day.

4. Think of who this person reminds you of.

If this person reminds you of a friend, someone on TV, or a public figure, tell them, as long as it isn’t insulting, of course.  People love to hear who others think they look or act like.  It is flattering that someone thinks about you enough to compare you to someone that they know and like.

5. Say positive things.

Don’t complain or whine about your life or discuss how upset you are by friend or work drama.  This makes a potential friend wary of getting too close.  It can seem like you’re always creating drama and negative energy, which is a turn off.

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6. Don’t gossip.

Many people will gossip right back, but then won’t be interested in becoming a closer friend to you.  In the back of their mind, they will keep wondering what you’re going to say about them when their back is turned.  Try to stay positive and give people the benefit of the doubt when you talk about them, or better, just talk about the two of you without dragging others, who aren’t even there, into the conversation.

7. Don’t self-deprecate.

It can make people feel awkward to be around individuals who talk badly about themselves, complaining about their various terrible qualities.  They feel like they have to reassure you, and nobody wants to be someone’s therapist (unless they, like me, are a therapist).

8. Praise mutual friends.

If you know someone in common, talk nicely about them.  This will increase the chances that this new acquaintance thinks well of you, and it also makes it likely that the three of you can hang out sometime.

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9. Discuss potential future activities.

If your new acquaintance mentions an activity that you also enjoy, invite them to join you in the future.  Not in a creepy way where you bring out your phone and start looking at the calendar, but just say that you’d love to have them come along surfing the next time you go to the beach, or whatever the case may be.

10. Don’t be shy about asking to connect.

Plant the seed that you want to be closer friends by saying something like, “I’ll definitely have to friend you on Facebook.” This is also a good way to assess whether this person is also interested in being friends.  If they seem excited and later immediately accept your friend request, it’s likely that a friendship may be developing.

If you follow these 10 tips, it is likely you’ll be able to connect much more readily with people who interest you. Now try some of these out, and don’t blame us if you end up with too many plans for the weekend.

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Featured photo credit: friends talking via happinessweekly.org

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Last Updated on December 16, 2018

12 Simple Ways You Can Build A Positive Attitude

12 Simple Ways You Can Build A Positive Attitude

We all look for a better and happier life, but somehow we realize it’s our attitude that makes it hard to lead the life we want. How can we build a positive attitude? Grant Mathews has listed out the things (from the easiest to the hardest) we can do to cultivate this attitude on Quora:

1. Listen to good music.

Music definitely improves your mood, and it’s a really simple thing to do.

2. Don’t watch television passively.

Studies have shown that people who watch TV less are happier, which leads me to my next point…

3. Don’t do anything passively.

Whenever I do something, I like to ask myself if, at the end of the day, I would be content saying that I had spent time doing it. (This is why I block sites I find myself wasting too much time on. I enjoy them, but they’re just not worth it when I could be learning something new, or working on projects I care about.)

Time is incredibly valuable.

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4. Be aware of negativity

A community that considers itself intelligent tends to be negativity because criticizing is seen as a signaling mechanism to indicate that you’re more intelligent than the person you corrected. This was irrationally frustrating for me – it’s one of those things you’ll stay up all night to think about.

5. Make time to be alone.

I initially said “take time just to be alone.” I changed it because if you don’t ensure you can take a break, you’ll surely be interrupted.

Being with other people is something you can do to make you happy, but I don’t include it in this list because nearly everyone finds time to talk with friends. On the other hand, spending time just with yourself is almost considered a taboo.

Take some time to figure out who you are.

6. Exercise.

This is the best way to improve your immediate happiness.

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Exercise probably makes you happy. Try and go on a run. You’ll hate yourself while doing it, but the gratification that you get towards the end vastly outweighs the frustration of the first few attempts. I can’t say enough good things about exercise.

Exercising is also fantastic because it gives you time alone.

7. Have projects.

Having a goal, and moving towards it, is a key to happiness.

You have to realize though that achieving the goal is not necessarily what makes you happy – it’s the process. When I write music, I write it because writing is inherently enjoyable, not because I want to get popular (as if!).

8. Take time to do the things you enjoy.

That’s very general, so let me give you a good example.

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One of the things that has really changed my life was finding small communities centered around activities I enjoy. For instance, I like writing music, so I’m part of a community that meets up to write a song for an hour every week. I love the community. I’ve also written a song every week, 37 weeks in a row, which has gradually moved me towards larger goals and makes me feel very satisfied.

9. Change your definition of happiness.

Another reason I think I’m more happy than other people is because my definition of happiness is a lot more relaxed than most people’s. I don’t seek for some sort of constant euphoria; I don’t think it’s possible to live like that. My happiness is closer to stability.

10. Ignore things that don’t make you happy.

I get varying reactions to this one.

The argument goes “if something is making you unhappy, then you should find out why and improve it, not ignore it.” If you can do that, great. But on the other hand, there’s no reason to mope about a bad score on a test.

There’s another counterargument: perhaps you’re moping because your brain is trying to work out how to improve. In fact, this is the key purpose of depression: Depression’s Upside – NYTimes.com

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I can think of examples that go both ways. I remember, for instance, when I was debating a year or two ago and my partner and I would lose a round, I would mull over what we had done wrong for a long time. In that way, I got immensely better at debate (and public speaking in general – did you know debate has amazing effects on your public speaking ability? But now I really digress).

On the other hand, there’s no way that mulling over how dumb you were for missing that +x term on the left hand side will make you better at math. So stop worrying about it, and go practice math instead.

11. Find a way to measure your progress, and then measure it.

Video games are addictive for a reason: filling up an experience bar and making it to the next level is immensely satisfying. I think that it would be really cool if we could apply this concept to the real world.

I put this near the bottom of the list because, unfortunately, this hasn’t been done too often in the real world – startup idea, anyone? So you would have to do it yourself, which is difficult when you don’t even know how much you’ve progressed.

For a while, I kept a log of the runs I had taken, and my average speed. It was really cool to see my improvement over the weeks. (Also, I was exercising. Combining the two was fantastic for boosting happiness.)

12. Realize that happiness is an evolutionary reward, not an objective truth.

It’s easy to see that this is correct, but this is at the bottom of the list for a reason.

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