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Why It’s Hard to Make Friends, and What to Do About It

Why It’s Hard to Make Friends, and What to Do About It

Making friends can be hard because of one’s lack of social skills, because our society is generally making us more isolated, because of our modern busy lifestyles, or because we no longer have a context for meeting people like we did in college or high school.

There is no single cause that makes this crucial skill hard for us—it’s actually a group of causes. In this article, we’re going to tackle the main reasons you may find it hard to make friends, and how to overcome them so you can get the happy social life you want.

You Think that Everyone Else is Already in a Closed Group of Friends

Did you know that the lonelier the person is, the more they tend to only notice extroverted people who have a great time with friends? Somehow the mind gets blind to all others who are maybe even more lonely; it’s just a mental illusion.

At the same time, most friendships are superficial. People can hang out with others just to avoid being alone. Everyone is craving for more close and loyal friends, so don’t be fooled by appearances.

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You Learned That Friends Can be Disappointing

If you got hurt by friends in the past, you might think that friendship is risky. What you may have missed is that these scars are lessons. They are new tricks under your belt. Bad friendship experiences are signals and new skills that allow you to filter people better.

You get to become more safe as you gather friendship experience, and you’ll to see the warning signs before you get disappointed. It’s a wealth of knowledge that you shouldn’t throw away—you can learn from them.

Great Results Don’t Seem to Appear at First Attempt

If it’s been a long time since you made a new friend, then knowing where to start can be difficult. A big common mistake is for someone to psych themselves into going out to socialize, then quickly get discouraged when they see that other people aren’t very responsive to them.

Your social skills may be dormant or you may never developed them as you could have. If you want a great social life, you can’t count on one single action step. You need new habits that are easy to implement gradually, and a set of great social skills and techniques to use.

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The “What If They Don’t Like Me?” Factor

Fear of rejection is also a big block. If you try to make friends with someone and it doesn’t work out, you can rarely know why. It’s usually a lot of speculation. Whether you believe that think you’re not good enough, or they think that you’re too good for them, it’s usually just guesswork. You can never know what’s going on with someone you don’t know very well.

You don’t have to choose a thinking process that discourages you.

If someone isn’t ready to meet or hang out with you, let it go. It can be anything: they must be busy, they may not be ready for new friends, they may have been hurt lately, etc. It can be anything, so never take a guess that may only discourage you.

You’re Afraid to Reveal Who You Are

Revealing who you are (and your secrets) is a key part of making friends. If you’re not ready to open up, that hesitance can block you from making new connections. Please note that you don’t need to open up completely at once, and can do so in stages.

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People are used to having others talking about generalities at first. If you get good at that, you can wait and get to know people before revealing yourself gradually. At the same time, never think that people are that well-adjusted and perfect. Everyone has their own quirks; everyone has a side of themselves they’re not too proud of, or don’t have the courage to reveal. You’re not alone.

You Can’t Acknowledge That You Actually Need People

This is another common reason why people stay isolated. It’s okay to think of yourself as an independent person but, who said that independent people have to be lonely? If you feel that power means that you don’t need other people, it’s maybe time to rethink that. The ability to bring other people in your life and have them on your side is more powerful.

If you learn how to make friends, then you’ll never be obligated to be with anybody that doesn’t deserve you. That’s a more evolved way to see power. Power means that you choose who you hang out with.

Your Loner Habits Are Too Strong to Break?

Habits are like rivers: you can’t turn if you don’t have enough willpower. At the same time, you don’t need to be superman to get a social life. All you need is a set of strategic techniques that will allow you to new habits that automatically bring new people to your life.

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The new social habits work best if you subscribe to a club, or commit to helping out an organization that holds regular social get together.

Good luck.

More by this author

Paul Sanders

A communication expert who tries to help people improve their social skills and make friends anywhere.

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Last Updated on May 21, 2019

How to Communicate Effectively in Any Relationship

How to Communicate Effectively in Any Relationship

For all our social media bravado, we live in a society where communication is seen less as an art, and more as a perfunctory exercise. We spend so much time with people, yet we struggle with how to meaningfully communicate.

If you believe you have mastered effective communication, scan the list below and see whether you can see yourself in any of the examples:

Example 1

You are uncomfortable with a person’s actions or comments, and rather than telling the individual immediately, you sidestep the issue and attempt to move on as though the offending behavior or comment never happened.

You move on with the relationship and develop a pattern of not addressing challenging situations. Before long, the person with whom you are in relationship will say or do something that pushes you over the top and predictably, you explode or withdraw completely from the relationship.

In this example, hard-to-speak truths become never- expressed truths that turn into resentment and anger.

Example 2

You communicate from the head and without emotion. While what you communicate makes perfect sense to you, it comes across as cold because it lacks emotion.

People do not understand what motivates you to say what you say, and without sharing your feelings and emotions, others experience you as rude, cold or aggressive.

You will know this is a problem if people shy away from you, ignore your contributions in meetings or tell you your words hurt. You can also know you struggle in this area if you find yourself constantly apologizing for things you have said.

Example 3

You have an issue with one person, but you communicate your problem to an entirely different person.

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The person in whom you confide lacks the authority to resolve the matter troubling you, and while you have vented and expressed frustration, the underlying challenge is unresolved.

Example 4

You grew up in a family with destructive communication habits and those habits play out in your current relationships.

Because you have never stopped to ask why you communicate the way you do and whether your communication style still works, you may lack understanding of how your words impact others and how to implement positive change.

If you find yourself in any of the situations described above, this article is for you.

Communication can build or decimate worlds and it is important we get it right. Regardless of your professional aspirations or personal goals, you can improve your communication skills if you:

  • Understand your own communication style
  • Tailor your style depending on the needs of the audience
  • Communicate with precision and care
  • Be mindful of your delivery, timing and messenger

1. Understand Your Communication Style

To communicate effectively, you must understand the communication legacy passed down from our parents, grandparents or caregivers. Each of us grew up with spoken and unspoken rules about communication.

In some families, direct communication is practiced and honored. In other families, family members are encouraged to shy away from difficult conversations. Some families appreciate open and frank dialogue and others do not. Other families practice silence about substantive matters, that is, they seldom or rarely broach difficult conversations at all.

Before you can appreciate the nuance required in communication, it helps to know the familial patterns you grew up with.

2. Learn Others Communication Styles

Communicating effectively requires you to take a step back, assess the intended recipient of your communication and think through how the individual prefers to be communicated with. Once you know this, you can tailor your message in a way that increases the likelihood of being heard. This also prevents you from assuming the way you communicate with one group is appropriate or right for all groups or people.

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If you are unsure how to determine the styles of the groups or persons with whom you are interacting, you can always ask them:

“How do you prefer to receive information?”

This approach requires listening, both to what the individuals say as well as what is unspoken. Virgin Group CEO Richard Branson noted that the best communicators are also great listeners.

To communicate effectively from relationship to relationship and situation to situation, you must understand the communication needs of others.

3. Exercise Precision and Care

A recent engagement underscored for me the importance of exercising care when communicating.

On a recent trip to Ohio, I decided to meet up with an old friend to go for a walk. As we strolled through the soccer park, my friend gently announced that he had something to talk about, he was upset with me. His introduction to the problem allowed me to mentally shift gears and prepare for the conversation.

Shortly after introducing the shift in conversation, my friend asked me why I didn’t invite him to the launch party for my business. He lives in Ohio and I live in the D.C. area.

I explained that the event snuck up on me, and I only started planning the invite list three weeks before the event. Due to the last-minute nature of the gathering, I opted to invite people in the DMV area versus my friends from outside the area – I didn’t want to be disrespectful by asking them to travel on such short notice.

I also noted that I didn’t want to be disappointed if he and others declined to come to the event. So I played it safe in terms of inviting people who were local.

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In the moment, I felt the conversation went very well. I also checked in with my friend a few days after our walk, affirmed my appreciation for his willingness to communicate his upset and our ability to work through it.

The way this conversation unfolded exemplified effective communication. My friend approached me with grace and vulnerability. He approached me with a level of curiosity that didn’t put me on my heels — I was able to really listen to what he was saying, apologize for how my decision impacted him and vow that going forward, I would always ask rather than making decisions for him and others.

Our relationship is intact, and I now have information that will help me become a better friend to him and others.

4. Be Mindful of Delivery, Timing and Messenger

Communicating effectively also requires thinking through the delivery of the message one intends to communicate as well as the appropriate time for the discussion.

In an Entrepreneur.com column, VIP Contributor Deep Patel, noted that persons interested in communicating well need to master the art of timing. Patel noted,[1]

“Great comedians, like all great communicators, are able to feel out their audience to determine when to move on to a new topic or when to reiterate an idea.”

Communicating effectively also requires thoughtfulness about the messenger. A person prone to dramatic, angry outbursts should never be called upon to deliver constructive feedback, especially to people whom they do not know. The immediate aftermath of a mass shooting is not the ideal time to talk about the importance of the Second Amendment rights.

Like everyone else, I must work to ensure my communication is layered with precision and care.

It requires precision because words must be carefully tailored to the person with whom you are speaking.

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It requires intentionality because before one communicates, one should think about the audience and what the audience needs in order to hear your message the way you intended it to be communicated.

It requires active listening which is about hearing verbal and nonverbal messages.

Even though we may be right in what we say, how we say it could derail the impact of the message and the other parties’ ability to hear the message.

Communicating with care is also about saying things that the people in our life need to hear and doing so with love.

The Bottom Line

When I left the meeting with my dear friend, I wondered if I was replicating or modeling this level of openness and transparency in the rest of my relationships.

I was intrigued and appreciative. He’d clearly thought about what he wanted to say to me, picked the appropriate time to share his feedback and then delivered it with care. He hit the ball out of the park and I’m hopeful we all do the same.

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Featured photo credit: Kenan Buhic via unsplash.com

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