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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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Samantha Rodman

Clinical psychologist, author, blogger, wife and mommy.

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Last Updated on January 24, 2021

How to Say No When You Know You Say Yes Too Often

How to Say No When You Know You Say Yes Too Often

Do you say yes so often that you no longer feel that your own needs are being met? Are you wondering how to say no to people?

For years, I was a serial people pleaser[1]. Known as someone who would step up, I would gladly make time, especially when it came to volunteering for certain causes. I proudly carried this role all through grade school, college, even through law school. For years, I thought saying “no” meant I would disappoint a good friend or someone I respected.

But somewhere along the way, I noticed I wasn’t quite living my life. Instead, I seem to have created a schedule that was a strange combination of meeting the expectations of others, what I thought I should be doing, and some of what I actually wanted to do. The result? I had a packed schedule that left me overwhelmed and unfulfilled.

It took a long while, but I learned the art of saying no. Saying no meant I no longer catered fully to everyone else’s needs and could make more room for what I really wanted to do. Instead of cramming too much in, I chose to pursue what really mattered. When that happened, I became a lot happier.

And guess what? I hardly disappointed anyone.

The Importance of Saying No

When you learn the art of saying no, you begin to look at the world differently. Rather than seeing all of the things you could or should be doing (and aren’t doing), you start to look at how to say yes to what’s important.

In other words, you aren’t just reacting to what life throws at you. You seek the opportunities that move you to where you want to be.

Successful people aren’t afraid to say no. Oprah Winfrey, considered one of the most successful women in the world, confessed that it was much later in life when she learned how to say no. Even after she had become internationally famous, she felt she had to say yes to virtually everything.

Being able to say no also helps you manage your time better.

Warren Buffett views “no” as essential to his success. He said:

“The difference between successful people and really successful people is that really successful people say no to almost everything.”

When I made “no” a part of my toolbox, I drove more of my own success, focusing on fewer things and doing them well.

How We Are Pressured to Say Yes

It’s no wonder a lot of us find it hard to say no.

From an early age, we are conditioned to say yes. We said yes probably hundreds of times in order to graduate from high school and then get into college. We said yes to find work, to get a promotion, to find love and then yes again to stay in a relationship. We said yes to find and keep friends.

We say yes because we feel good when we help someone, because it can seem like the right thing to do, because we think that is key to success, and because the request might come from someone who is hard to resist.

And that’s not all. The pressure to say yes doesn’t just come from others. We put a lot of pressure on ourselves.

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At work, we say yes because we compare ourselves to others who seem to be doing more than we are. Outside of work, we say yes because we are feeling bad that we aren’t doing enough to spend time with family or friends.

The message, no matter where we turn, is nearly always, “You really could be doing more.” The result? When people ask us for our time, we are heavily conditioned to say yes.

How Do You Say No Without Feeling Guilty?

Deciding to add the word “no” to your toolbox is no small thing. Perhaps you already say no, but not as much as you would like. Maybe you have an instinct that if you were to learn the art of no that you could finally create more time for things you care about.

But let’s be honest, using the word “no” doesn’t come easily for many people.

3 Rules of Thumbs for Saying No

1. You Need to Get Out of Your Comfort Zone

Let’s face it. It is hard to say no. Setting boundaries around your time, especially you haven’t done it much in the past, will feel awkward. Your comfort zone is “yes,” so it’s time to challenge that and step outside that.

If you need help getting out of your comfort zone, check out this article.

2. You Are the Air Traffic Controller of Your Time

When you want to learn how to say no, remember that you are the only one who understands the demands for your time. Think about it: who else knows about all of the demands in your life? No one.

Only you are at the center of all of these requests. You are the only one that understands what time you really have.

3. Saying No Means Saying Yes to Something That Matters

When we decide not to do something, it means we can say yes to something else that we may care more about. You have a unique opportunity to decide how you spend your precious time.

6 Ways to Start Saying No

Incorporating that little word “no” into your life can be transformational. Turning some things down will mean you can open doors to what really matters. Here are some essential tips to learn the art of no:

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1. Check in With Your Obligation Meter

One of the biggest challenges to saying no is a feeling of obligation. Do you feel you have a responsibility to say yes and worry that saying no will reflect poorly on you?

Ask yourself whether you truly have the duty to say yes. Check your assumptions or beliefs about whether you carry the responsibility to say yes. Turn it around and instead ask what duty you owe to yourself.

2. Resist the Fear of Missing out (FOMO)

Do you have a fear of missing out (FOMO)? FOMO can follow us around in so many ways. At work, we volunteer our time because we fear we won’t move ahead. In our personal lives, we agree to join the crowd because of FOMO, even while we ourselves aren’t enjoying the fun.

Check in with yourself. Are you saying yes because of FOMO or because you really want to say yes? More often than not, running after fear doesn’t make us feel better[2].

3. Check Your Assumptions About What It Means to Say No

Do you dread the reaction you will get if you say no? Often, we say yes because we worry about how others will respond or because of the consequences. We may be afraid to disappoint others or think we will lose their respect. We often forget how much we are disappointing ourselves along the way.

Keep in mind that saying no can be exactly what is needed to send the right message that you have limited time. In the tips below, you will see how to communicate your no in a gentle and loving way.

You might disappoint someone initially, but drawing a boundary can bring you the freedom you need so that you can give freely of yourself when you truly want to. And it will often help others have more respect for you and your boundaries, not less.

4. When the Request Comes in, Sit on It

Sometimes, when we are in the moment, we instinctively agree. The request might make sense at first. Or we typically have said yes to this request in the past.

Give yourself a little time to reflect on whether you really have the time or can do the task properly. You may decide the best option is to say no. There is no harm in giving yourself the time to decide.

5. Communicate Your “No” with Transparency and Kindness

When you are ready to tell someone no, communicate your decision clearly. The message can be open and honest[3] to ensure the recipient that your reasons have to do with your limited time.

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How do you say no? 9 Healthy Ways to Say “No”

    Resist the temptation not to respond or communicate all. But do not feel obligated to provide a lengthy account about why you are saying no.

    Clear communication with a short explanation is all that is needed. I have found it useful to tell people that I have many demands and need to be careful with how I allocate my time. I will sometimes say I really appreciate that they came to me and for them to check in again if the opportunity arises another time.

    6. Consider How to Use a Modified No

    If you are under pressure to say yes but want to say no, you may want to consider downgrading a “yes” to a “yes but…” as this will give you an opportunity to condition your agreement to what works best for you.

    Sometimes, the condition can be to do the task, but not in the time frame that was originally requested. Or perhaps you can do part of what has been asked.

    Final Thoughts

    Beginning right now, you can change how you respond to requests for your time. When the request comes in, take yourself off autopilot where you might normally say yes.

    Use the request as a way to draw a healthy boundary around your time. Pay particular attention to when you place certain demands on yourself.

    Try it now. Say no to a friend who continues to take advantage of your goodwill. Or, draw the line with a workaholic colleague and tell them you will complete the project, but not by working all weekend. You’ll find yourself much happier.

    More Tips on How to Say No

    Featured photo credit: Chris Ainsworth via unsplash.com

    Reference

    [1] Science of People: 11 Expert Tips to Stop Being a People Pleaser and Start Doing You
    [2] Anxiety and Depression Association of America: Tips to Get Over Your FOMO, or Fear of Missing Out
    [3] Cooks Hill Counseling: 9 Healthy Ways to Say “No”

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