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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.

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The Gentle Art of Saying No

The Gentle Art of Saying No

No!

It’s a simple fact that you can never be productive if you take on too many commitments — you simply spread yourself too thin and will not be able to get anything done, at least not well or on time.

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But requests for your time are coming in all the time — through phone, email, IM or in person. To stay productive, and minimize stress, you have to learn the Gentle Art of Saying No — an art that many people have problems with.

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What’s so hard about saying no? Well, to start with, it can hurt, anger or disappoint the person you’re saying “no” to, and that’s not usually a fun task. Second, if you hope to work with that person in the future, you’ll want to continue to have a good relationship with that person, and saying “no” in the wrong way can jeopardize that.

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But it doesn’t have to be difficult or hard on your relationship. Here are the Top 10 tips for learning the Gentle Art of Saying No:

  1. Value your time. Know your commitments, and how valuable your precious time is. Then, when someone asks you to dedicate some of your time to a new commitment, you’ll know that you simply cannot do it. And tell them that: “I just can’t right now … my plate is overloaded as it is.”
  2. Know your priorities. Even if you do have some extra time (which for many of us is rare), is this new commitment really the way you want to spend that time? For myself, I know that more commitments means less time with my wife and kids, who are more important to me than anything.
  3. Practice saying no. Practice makes perfect. Saying “no” as often as you can is a great way to get better at it and more comfortable with saying the word. And sometimes, repeating the word is the only way to get a message through to extremely persistent people. When they keep insisting, just keep saying no. Eventually, they’ll get the message.
  4. Don’t apologize. A common way to start out is “I’m sorry but …” as people think that it sounds more polite. While politeness is important, apologizing just makes it sound weaker. You need to be firm, and unapologetic about guarding your time.
  5. Stop being nice. Again, it’s important to be polite, but being nice by saying yes all the time only hurts you. When you make it easy for people to grab your time (or money), they will continue to do it. But if you erect a wall, they will look for easier targets. Show them that your time is well guarded by being firm and turning down as many requests (that are not on your top priority list) as possible.
  6. Say no to your boss. Sometimes we feel that we have to say yes to our boss — they’re our boss, right? And if we say “no” then we look like we can’t handle the work — at least, that’s the common reasoning. But in fact, it’s the opposite — explain to your boss that by taking on too many commitments, you are weakening your productivity and jeopardizing your existing commitments. If your boss insists that you take on the project, go over your project or task list and ask him/her to re-prioritize, explaining that there’s only so much you can take on at one time.
  7. Pre-empting. It’s often much easier to pre-empt requests than to say “no” to them after the request has been made. If you know that requests are likely to be made, perhaps in a meeting, just say to everyone as soon as you come into the meeting, “Look guys, just to let you know, my week is booked full with some urgent projects and I won’t be able to take on any new requests.”
  8. Get back to you. Instead of providing an answer then and there, it’s often better to tell the person you’ll give their request some thought and get back to them. This will allow you to give it some consideration, and check your commitments and priorities. Then, if you can’t take on the request, simply tell them: “After giving this some thought, and checking my commitments, I won’t be able to accommodate the request at this time.” At least you gave it some consideration.
  9. Maybe later. If this is an option that you’d like to keep open, instead of just shutting the door on the person, it’s often better to just say, “This sounds like an interesting opportunity, but I just don’t have the time at the moment. Perhaps you could check back with me in [give a time frame].” Next time, when they check back with you, you might have some free time on your hands.
  10. It’s not you, it’s me. This classic dating rejection can work in other situations. Don’t be insincere about it, though. Often the person or project is a good one, but it’s just not right for you, at least not at this time. Simply say so — you can compliment the idea, the project, the person, the organization … but say that it’s not the right fit, or it’s not what you’re looking for at this time. Only say this if it’s true — people can sense insincerity.

Featured photo credit: Pexels via pexels.com

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