To approach people and make friends is something a lot of us need to do in our lives. Having friends is immensely beneficial to us as humans who are highly social creatures. Of course, you can’t make friends without approaching another person first. These two take courage and willingness, but more importantly, doing these two take skill.
If you’re someone who’s not really used to approaching people to befriend them, then this article is for you. To the uninitiated, this task can sound very tough. It takes guts and courage to go up to people and just start making conversation, after all. However, with enough time, practice, and relevant information, you’ll eventually be able to approach anyone and become friends with them. Here are some tips on how you can approach people and make friends.
First and foremost, if you want to approach people and make friends properly, you’ll first need to appear presentable. Be presentable enough that you look trustworthy without being too intimidating. As awful as it sounds, it is natural for most people to trust those who appear presentable. Those who appear like they have their lives in check. You need to appear like that if you want to approach people and make friends.
All you need to do is be neat. Be hygienic and make sure your clothes aren’t tattered, rugged, and wrinkly. Pick a fashion style that suits you and stick with it. If this is an aspect you’re not too familiar with, get help from a friend or a professional. Trim your nail, clean your hair, smell good, the works.
You don’t need to appear attractive for the sake of being attractive, you just need to do the people you’re going to be going up to the courtesy of being presentable. On top of that, people will feel more comfortable being approached by someone who’s presentable than someone who’s not.
Read the room
Before approaching someone at a party, at work, or wherever it is you are, be sure the person you’re approaching doesn’t mind getting approached. There are those who have too much on their minds, are waiting for someone, or just simply want to be left alone. Whatever their reasons are, you shouldn’t pry.
The point is, there will be people who won’t mind being approached. In fact, a lot of people welcome it. What you need to do now is to spot those people so you can approach those who are open instead of being rejected outright.
Most people who don’t want to be approached will just outright tell you. Some of them will just stand there, smile, and be polite. When in truth, they’d rather be left alone. When you encounter these people, just be polite and bid your farewell. Before approaching them, those who don’t want to be bothered will usually tense up and avert their eyes.
Focus on those who seem positive about being approached. They’ll appear optimistic and even look at you as you approach. In time, you’ll get better at spotting these individuals. For now, keep an extra eye out when reading the room.
Introduce yourself properly
Once you finally approach someone, the next step is to introduce yourself properly.
Make sure you’re able to articulate yourself and the person you’re speaking to can hear you loud and clear. If this is something you’re not used to, you may want to rehearse this at home, in front of a mirror. It may sound and seem silly, but this is a form of practice you’ll need to do.
When approaching somebody, you don’t even need to tell them your name immediately. You can begin with small talk or something in the room that needs to be talked about. Once you feel the other person is up for interaction, that’s when you can introduce yourself. You can just give out your name while extending your hand for a handshake. That’s all you need to do. Be sure your voice is clear and your handshake is firm.
Don’t be too guarded
If your goal is to approach people and make friends, being too guarded is the opposite of the thing you need to do. If you’re someone who’s used to being reserved and private, you may need to get used to the idea of opening up now for the sake of socializing.
You don’t need to reveal everything about yourself. You just need to be comfortable with the idea of opening yourself up to other people from now on. You’ll need to reveal your desires and goals in life. Your interests. The things that excite you and the things that grind your gears. You’ll need to speak to other people like you’re speaking to a friend.
Whenever you’re asked a question about yourself, don’t be afraid of opening up. This is one way you can make friends, after all. Just practice doing this from here on out. You may find the exercise very soothing.
Mind the distance between you and the other person
When speaking to somebody, be sure there’s a fair distance between the two of you. You need to be close enough so conversations are clear and understandable, and so that the other person can feel and know that you’re interested in getting to know them better, but not too close that it’s already intrusive.
Just mind the distance between you and the other person. Get close enough, but not too close. Don’t be too distant either. You want them to feel that you’re being engaged with them.
Be curious about the person you’re talking to
This is an exercise you can do moving forward if you want to be able to approach people and make friends. Force your mind to be curious about the person you’re talking to, or the person you want to talk to. Let that curiosity build up. Put certain questions in your mind such as, “I wonder what this person is like” or “I wonder what this person’s dreams and goals are.” Once you’ve planted those thoughts into your head, you can then force yourself to satisfy your curiosity by actually going up to that person and getting to know them.
This is an exercise you can force yourself to do quite easily. It’s something you’ll need to actively do early on, but with enough repetition, this is something that will start happening naturally to you. Every time you encounter a person you want to talk to, your curiosity will already flourish, which will make you want to talk to that person more because you’ll be so eager to satisfy your curiosity.
Don’t be afraid of things going wrong
One of the things you absolutely shouldn’t do if you want to approach people and make friends is being afraid of things going wrong. If you allow this type of fear to take over, you’ll never be able to do anything efficiently.
Don’t be afraid of things going wrong socially. You’re actually entitled to your mistakes. When it does come, learn to be okay with it and move on. Don’t be afraid of something before it even happens. Although this is perfectly natural, it’s something you’ll need to eventually learn to stop doing if you want to approach people and make friends.
Force your mind to believe everyone you’re approaching is already a friend
This is another neat trick you can employ so you don’t get too anxious to approach anyone. Whenever you spot someone you want to approach but are too nervous to do so, force your mind into thinking that that person is already your friend. You wouldn’t feel anxious approaching a friend, would you?
It’s going to be tough at first, but the more you force yourself to think this, the more naturally it’s going to become eventually. Plus, not only will this help you actually approach someone but it will also help you be more friendly with them during the interaction.
Don’t be afraid of small talk, but don’t use them too much either
Small talks can either make or break a conversation. There’s nothing inherently wrong about them, of course, but whenever someone uses small talk too much when trying to get to know someone, they automatically make that conversation stale.
That said, use it sparingly. It’s fine to comment on things such as the traffic or the weather for as long as it’s relevant and worthwhile to talk about. However, you must eventually move on to making the conversation more meaningful. Don’t get trapped on just using small talk. Start to really get to know the other person.
Find a common ground
Once you’ve engaged someone in a conversation, the next step that may be a hurdle for you is to maintain the conversation. Not only maintain it but actually make it meaningful. Approaching a person is one thing, but becoming friends with them is a whole new other game.
One of the ways you can do this is by finding a common ground between you and the other person. Start asking them about their interests and share yours as well. As you keep conversing, you may then find an interest you both share. That can then be the gravity of your conversation moving forward. This will allow you to establish a connection with the other person.
Being observant is another thing you need to keep in mind so you can approach people and make friends properly. This can help you with a lot of things. For one, it can help you determine which of the individuals in the room are up for an interaction and which prefer to be left alone.
During a conversation, being observant will allow you to make comments that are relevant to the topic at hand. It can also help you make appropriate compliments so you can make the person you’re talking to feel good about themselves.
Practice being observant. Notice things you can bring up in a conversation. Notice things about the person you’re talking to. This is a very powerful tool when it comes to making friends.
A smile can and will go a long way. If you’re looking to approach people, do so with a smile. No one wants to be approached by a person who looks grumpy. If you want to make friends, do so with a smile too! It will enlighten the mood and the person you’re approaching will actually look forward to interacting with you.
Never underestimate what a good smile can bring. A lot of friendships have literally begun with a single smile. This can be true for you as well. Just remember, the next time you approach a person, approach them smiling.
Allow them to talk as well
While it is good for you to talk about yourself so that the other person can get to know you better, just keep in mind that for you to make friends through conversations, the conversation itself needs to be a two-way street. The other person needs to be talking as much as you do. The more you open up about yourself, the more they should as well.
With this in mind, there are things you can do to encourage the other person to speak up more if they’re being more silent than you want them to be. The first and the best way to do that is to ask them questions. Keep asking them open-ended questions so they can answer thoroughly.
Whenever they do start talking, one other thing you can do to encourage them to keep going is to show them you’re actually paying attention to them. Listen to their every word. Lean in closer to show intent. Nod your head every once in a while. These are subtle, minor things but they will absolutely encourage and uplift the other person.
Be mindful of your body language
As mentioned previously, you can show the other person that you are listening by moving your body in certain ways. Aside from that, there are also other things that you can do to exhibit positive body language. Doing so will make you look and feel more comfortable. The person you’re interacting with will also begin to feel comfortable with you as you go along.
For example, you should avoid crossing your arms all the time when talking to someone. If your hands and arms feel awkward, just put them in your pocket. You should avoid slouching as it exhibits weariness and discomfort. Think about confidence and appear confident. Your body language can say more than your words ever will. Make sure you’re mindful of it.
Maybe avoid approaching groups at first
You may be tempted to approach a group of people while you’re still learning this whole process. After all, if you could do so successfully, then you’ll automatically have a bunch of friends that quickly. However, if approaching people is something you’re not used to doing yet, I suggest you steer clear of doing this for now.
Approaching a group is a different level of being socially adept compared to just approaching a single person. For now, focus your efforts on one person at a time. That way, you’re more efficient and the conversations you’ll have are more intimate and meaningful.
Once you truly get the hang of approaching people and befriending them, you can then attempt to approach a group of friends. For now, though, don’t worry about this daunting task just yet.
There are boundaries in social interactions you should always keep in mind and respect. You can interpret this literally or figuratively. Literally speaking, there should always be a fair distance between you and the other person. Breaking the touch barrier too much is a boundary you should never cross.
This goes for the conversations you’ll have with them as well. You can ask them questions about their life, but you should always remember to find their boundary so you can never cross that. If there’s a question they prefer not answering, then don’t push your luck.
You also shouldn’t ask questions that are too personal if it’s your first time conversing with that person. At the same time, you also should reveal things about yourself that are too intimate. Find the boundary and make sure to not go beyond it.
Don’t hesitate to offer advice, if it’s solicited
Offering advice is something a lot of socially adept people do. This makes other individuals feel comfortable with them, and it even makes them become more approachable. However, although they do offer advice from time to time, they’ll never give out unsolicited ones.
If you want to properly approach people to make friends, this is something you also need to do. When you’re speaking with someone and they sound like they need advice, do not be afraid to give one. However, if you can’t give any, make sure to also not spew unreasonable or outright bad pieces of advice. Just give them out if you have something to say you know can be helpful.
Also, you should never give them out if the other person doesn’t want it. Sometimes, a person just wants to vent and they just need you to listen. This is okay too. Just lend an ear when giving advice isn’t necessary.
To be empathetic is to know and feel exactly what the other person is feeling. It is a social and emotional tool you can use to gauge another person’s thoughts and emotions so you can react accordingly. Not only is this useful when conversing with someone, but it is also ultimately one of the best things you can do to befriend another person.
Empathy is very important. That said, you should waste no time in making use of it whenever you’re out and about and approaching people. This will also make all of your interactions more impactful and meaningful for you. If you can empathize with every person you encounter, you’ll spend your days drawing in the emotions and thoughts of other individuals. This is an absolutely beautiful thing to experience.
This is how you can make friends. Approach anyone and be empathetic with them. Put yourself in their shoes when they’re talking about their experiences, both the good and the bad. You’ll be able to connect with them better that way.
Be in a place you’re comfortable in
One minor but helpful thing you can also do is to head to places you’re comfortable in. If you’re in a place that’s comfortable for you, you’ll be able to approach people and make friends much more easily. Whereas if you’re in a place you find discomforting, you’ll only spend most of your time trying to adjust to the environment instead of actually paying attention to the person you’re going to be speaking to.
With this in mind, choose to only socialize in places where you’re comfortable. Places you’ve already been to before or new places with atmospheres that are to your liking. This will make your experience so much easier and much more enjoyable.
Approach People and Make Friends By Improving Your Social Skills
If you truly want to approach people and make friends effectively, aside from employing everything you’ve just read here, you’ll also need to vastly improve your social skills as a whole. You’ll need to become the socially adept person you want to be. That way, you’ll be able to form connections properly and get the friends you want to have, no matter where you go.
There are a lot of factors that come into improving your social skills. Thankfully, you’ll have a ton of research materials to turn to while browsing this site. Read the articles here to learn various social skills such as being approachable, mastering the art of conversations, and dealing with various social anxieties.
The road ahead of you is long and full of hurdles. But it will be incredibly worth it. For now, research and practice. Wherever you go, try to approach people and make friends. You might just be able to make a few of them.