The act of turning acquaintances to friends is a challenging effort. But once you’re able to do it, it’s very fulfilling. Our adult socializing life mostly just consists of this process. You meet someone, you get to know each other to become acquaintances, and then you get to know each other even more to become friends. This article is about that transition going from acquaintances to an actual close friendship.
To make sure you can properly make a friend out of an acquaintance, there are certain social skills you need to familiarize yourself with. I will list down 16 factors you need to always keep in mind every time you socialize with an acquaintance. If you want them to become your real friends eventually, make sure you study this and apply it in real life.
With that said, here are 16 ways you can develop your relationships from acquaintances to friends.
1. Choose The People You Want To Be Friends With
First and foremost, you need to set realistic expectations for yourself. You need to know this early on that not everyone you meet will end up becoming your friend. Instead, you need to be careful who you choose to befriend.
You need to find people you can really connect with. People you can understand, and equally as important, people who will understand you.
While a lot of people desire to make friends with people who share a lot of similar interests with them, you shouldn’t limit yourself to this. Don’t only make friends with people whom you think are similar to you in many ways. You never know what kind of connection you might end up building with someone who’s kind of like your polar opposite.
For example, just because you’re an introvert, it doesn’t mean you can’t be friends with an extrovert. Quite the contrary, actually. As long as the other person is capable of understanding you as a whole and on a deeper level, can be kind to you, enjoys your company, and you feel the same towards them, you can most definitely build a friendship there.
If you really feel a connection with someone and the friendship doesn’t end up happening, don’t worry too much. Don’t let it bum you out and discourage you from building other friendships. Instead, move on and do your best to befriend the next person you feel a connection with.
2. Start Laying The Groundwork In The First Meeting
Let’s say you meet someone at work or you get introduced to a stranger by another friend. You will not be able to immediately point out if you can create a friendship with that person in just a single interaction. You can, however, act friendly and welcoming. That way, with just your first meeting, you’re giving off the vibe of someone who’s willing to be friends with others.
You need to properly lay the certain groundwork of a possible friendship to the people you interact with for the next time you talk to each other. When that meeting comes, even though you’re only acquaintances, they’ll be comfortable around.
They’ll know you’re someone who’s friendly and nice to be around. If you attempt to make conversations with them, they’ll allow you to. This time, you can properly assess if you have that connection with that person because you’re actually given the chance to interact with them in a friendly manner.
3. Make Every Hangout Count
By the time you do start hanging out with an acquaintance, you need to make sure that every hangout you have with them can be memorable. You don’t need to always do something crazy, you just need to make sure the person you’re with is having fun.
A person can have fun with just conversations, as long as those conversations are engaging. Tell interesting stories. Share your experiences. Crack a few jokes if you have to.
If you’re in a place that requires you to do certain activities, like a golf club or a bar with a billiard table or dartboards, engage in those with your acquaintance as well. Use those as opportunities to bond with the other person.
For this to properly work, make sure you assess your acquaintance’s mood and you need to be the one to adjust to that if you want to be friends with them.
For example, if you’re the one who’s constantly talking and you feel like they have something to say, encourage them to speak up. If you’re at a place that’s for specific activities and you feel like they don’t really want to participate, don’t force them to. Maybe all they want is to just sit back, relax, and have a few conversations.
4. Give The Impression That You Can Talk About Anything
Most people will feel the need to only talk about things that are of importance when hanging out with acquaintances. After all, people only feel comfortable talking about silly things when they’re with friends. If you want to upgrade your relationship from acquaintances to friends, however, you need to break this chain.
Start talking about things some people may consider unimportant. If something funny happened along the way as you’re meeting your acquaintance, open it up. Talking about things that are unimportant may seem dull but what it does is it sets that mood that you’re comfortable with talking about anything.
Once you start doing this, the other person will feel inclined to do it too. You both will then start talking about anything and everything at that point. Important things, unimportant things, silly stories, funny experiences, the works.
Anything from serious, personal matters to unimportant small will all be on the table for you and your acquaintance. If you keep doing this, you’ll eventually build a stronger bond with that person.
5. Be Open To Others
An acquaintance is someone you know personally but would never “open up” to. This is another chain you’re going to have to break. You need to feel comfortable with being more open to others if you want to jump from acquaintances to friends.
You wouldn’t start opening up to an acquaintance by telling them your deepest, darkest secret or your most personal history. No. That would be wrong, inappropriate, even. What you should do instead is to start minimally and slowly.
Start sharing personal things, but start in shallow waters first. If you met your acquaintance at work, perhaps you can start with how you discovered that job. Or why you wanted to do what you do in the first place. Talk about your dreams and aspirations.
Every time you open up to them, they’ll start to see more of you as a person. If the other person reciprocates by opening up as well, then that’s a good sign.
You will gradually divert to more deep and personal topics. This is where you’ll really get to connect with an acquaintance. At this point, you’ll figure out if you two should just remain acquaintances or upgrade to friends. If you can relate and connect to them and they can to you, then you should already be successful in your goal to befriend them.
6. Be More Light-Hearted
Make it your goal to make your interactions light-hearted. Not when you’re talking about serious personal stuff, of course, but be a little more light and fun when you can help it.
If you can keep a situation and mood a little lighter and more fun, people will be excited to have you around. Your acquaintance will feel more comfortable being around you. If you can be more fun and light, people will see you as someone they can totally hang out with. You’re a highly possible friend rather than just an acquaintance.
This is especially useful as it makes your acquaintance ease up a little bit. An acquaintance isn’t someone who can be as calm and lose with you compared to a friend that you’ve known for a long time.
By being a little light-hearted and keeping the interactions more fun allows the atmosphere to be a little more comfortable. An acquaintance will feel comfortable around you. You will be able to start talking about more things after they’ve warmed up to you.
7. Adjust and Be Comfortable With The Other Person’s Pace
If your acquaintance isn’t moving at the same pace as you, then that’s okay. You’re the one who’s actively trying to upgrade that relationship, after all. Eventually, they’ll be on the same page as you. For now, be comfortable with your acquaintance’s pace.
Let’s say you’re starting to talk about more personal matters to your acquaintance in hopes of connecting with them further. If your acquaintance isn’t reciprocating, don’t push them. Allow them to move at their own pace. If you really feel a connection with them and they with you, they’ll open up eventually.
On the other hand, if they’re also really eager to build a closer connection with you, then that’s good! Then you can be as open and friendly with them without having to worry about a thing. This is good when you’re really feeling a connection early on and so do they. You’ll turn from acquaintances to friends in no time.
8. Be Relaxed And Encourage The Other Person To Be The Same
Be relaxed with your interactions. Don’t appear over-eager, or conversely, don’t make it seem like you don’t care at all. There’s a middle ground there. Just relax. Don’t overthink things. If you can relax while socializing with an acquaintance, you’ll make the transition smoother.
The other person will also know if you’re too uptight or too indifferent throughout this process. It may make you seem awkward or weird, or worse, it will make you seem like you don’t want them around at all.
The thing that hinders you from being relaxed in situations like this is when you keep on thinking inwards. If you constantly worry about yourself, how you speak, how you act, how others see you, it will damage your cool.
To counter this, start focusing on the things around you instead. Focus on your acquaintance! Really empathize with them. Whenever they’re talking, listen to them properly. Make sure your attention is completely undivided.
If you’re relaxed while interacting, it will encourage your acquaintance to do the same. Since you two don’t know each other very well yet, not being able to relax is very understandable on their part. That is why you have to help them by encouraging the behavior.
If you’re at a bar, don’t be worried about drinking. Let loose and allow your acquaintance to do the same. If you don’t drink, that’s fine too. Don’t let that be a major issue. If you don’t drink but your acquaintance does, make sure you let them know that it’s completely okay for them to do so. That’s the key here. Be relaxed and encourage your acquaintance to relax. You can build your friendship better with this.
9. Give People A Chance To Impress You
I’ve mentioned earlier that there’s no way you can be friends with everyone you meet. That’s not just how the way this works. While it is advised that you just accept this and move on, there may be some people that can be good friends with you but there’s just something about your first interaction that put you off.
First impressions can be difficult to nail for some people. There may be some people you really can be good friends with but the first meeting just didn’t go as well as it did. If you give certain people a chance to impress you, maybe your second interaction will be so much better. Maybe that’s when you’ll feel the connection and the urge to go from acquaintances to friends.
You’re going to have to trust your guts for this one. While there may be people you should give chances to, maybe there’s some who’ll just end up wasting your time and you’ll end up wasting theirs.
If you feel like they’re really good people within, maybe they’re just awkward with interactions, give them a chance. If you and the other person have absolutely nothing in common, your personalities clash, and you feel like you just can’t be close with that person at all, then it’s okay to let it go.
10. Body Language and Facial Expressions
Your body language and your facial expressions are your silent tools when it comes to socializing. These two can even speak louder than words if you utilize them well. Both body language and facial expressions are indicators of how you feel. If you’re socializing with an acquaintance and you want to upgrade that relationship, your body language and facial expressions should say so as well.
Certain body movements and facial expressions you can watch out for are the following:
- Avoid crossing your arms
- In conversations, nod and smile whenever the person you’re talking to says something interesting.
- Lean just a little forward towards the person you’re talking to show interest
- Stand upright. Don’t slouch
These are just a few of the points you need to consider but they can basically get you started very well. Just remember that your body language and facial expressions are extensions of your emotions. So if you want to turn your acquaintances to friends, make use of this.
11. Be Open To Future Interactions
Once you’ve gone out with an acquaintance or if you’ve already had conversations with them, make sure you make it known that you’re open to future interactions.
If you’ve read some of the articles here or have seen my training videos, you’ve probably heard me talk about something called “hook points” before. Essentially, hook points are something you can use to build a connection with somebody or allow you the opportunity to see each other again.
That may be vague, but let me give you an example.
If someone says “I really love working out. I go to the gym at least 4 times a week.” If you happen to love to go to the gym as well, this is your hook point with that other person.
You both love to do the same thing, or loves to visit the same place. You can use this as an opportunity to hang out with them again.
You can say something like “Oh, you love working out? I do too! I go to a different gym, though. Where do you work out?”
By saying this, you’re opening the possibility of you both doing that thing together in the future. You can turn your acquaintances to friends by using hook points. This can be applied to anything. If it’s an opportunity to hang out, if you both share an interest, use that!
12. Avoid Being Neutral and Indifferent
You don’t want to be someone who’s always just passive if you want to build a friendship with an acquaintance. Do not be neutral or indifferent towards them. You have to show interest and make your connection with them active.
You can do this simply by being attentive towards your acquaintance. You have to know what they’re trying to let you know. You have to feel what they feel. If they’re happy, you go towards that too. If they’re sad, join along with them. You cannot remain passive as they feel these things while interacting with you. It will make you look distant. You won’t turn acquaintances to friends this way.
You need to be able to voice out your mind as well. If you feel like there’s something you can say to add value to your interaction or say something that can help with what they’re feeling, go ahead and say it!
13. Do Certain Activities Together
Earlier we’ve talked about opening up the possibility of hanging out again in the future and utilizing hook points. Now, you need to fulfill that promise.
Whatever it was that you used as a hook point in your previous interaction, or if there’s anything that was promised between you and your acquaintance, you need to move forward with that. It’s up to you when you want to get in touch with them again after your previous interaction. Whatever amount of time you feel comfortable with.
Just make sure you don’t wait on it for too long. It might make them feel like you’re disinterested or will just make them forget you altogether.
Reach out. Send them a message. You can say something like “Hey, it’s me. I really had fun (when you met). So yeah, remember when we talked about (the hook point)? I’m actually going there this weekend. If you’d like to join me, hit me up”.
If you both really made a connection in your previous interaction, your acquaintance will be pleased to hear from you again. They’ll even appreciate the fact that you actually contacted them.
For this one, you need to be the one to actively reach out to them. Not everybody can be as active. It’s not that they don’t want to be friends with you, maybe they just have important things like work or family to worry about. That’s why you should contact them first so you can build that connection. They’ll reciprocate eventually.
In order for you to be friends with someone, acquaintances or not, there needs to be trust involved. You need to be able to trust the other person if you’re to build a friendship with them properly.
I know that trust isn’t easy to come by. Trust is earned and not just freely given. However, if you want to turn your acquaintances to friends, you need to give them the benefit of the doubt.
Besides, you wouldn’t attempt to build a friendship with an acquaintance you feel no connection with.
Once the connection is present, though, make sure you aren’t way too guarded around them. You need to ease up. If you’re too guarded, they will be too. This will make you both not trust each other. What’s the point of being friends then?
For this exchange of trust to happen, you need to be the one to give it first. Trust your acquaintance. Just don’t think about being guarded at all. Just have a free conversation with them. It will smoothen this transition.
15. Be Honest
This is something you can do when you feel like you’re almost at the line of becoming friends. This is the push that you can do to really make your friendship official.
It’s really simple. The thing you just need to do now is to tell them.
Yes, you read that right. After you’ve had your conversations, feeling the connection of friendship, having gone out again, and getting to know each other a little deeper, all you have to do now is to let them know “Hey, we should be friends”.
Now, there are better ways of saying that, of course, but you get the gist. Once you’ve really connected with someone after multiple hangouts, depending on the other person’s pace, you can say something like “Hey, I really enjoy this. We should do this more often! I feel like we can be really good friends, you know?
You can say something along the lines of that if and only if you’re sure you both are on the same page. They’ll breathe a sigh of relief to know you feel the same way as them.
Now, this isn’t something you need to do every time like it’s an unspoken rule. It’s just something you can do if you feel like it needs to be said. Sometimes, you’ll just feel like you and an acquaintance really are friends now because of your level of comfortability towards each other after just a few interactions. No words need to be said in situations like that.
16. Be Patient
Finally, you need to be patient throughout this whole thing.
As I mentioned earlier, you won’t have a connection with everyone you’ll meet. You won’t be able to make a successful bond with everyone you feel connections with either. You just have to not mind them and focus on succeeding. This isn’t about who got away, it’s about who ends up staying.
Turning acquaintances to friends doesn’t happen overnight either. There’s a process to all of this and you need to allow that process to happen. For some, you may reach towards friendship faster, for some, not so much. That’s okay. Everyone moves at different paces.
Your job here is to just keep on doing what you’re doing. Just keep on interacting with people. Whether you get introduced to strangers by friends, or workmates you’re not close with but see each other regularly, people who live in your apartment building, your neighbors, anyone.
Find that connection. Once you do, attempt to strengthen that connection. Go out of your way to turn your acquaintances to friends using everything you’ve just read here. As long as your willing and patient, you’ll get there.
Do all of these things and you will be able to turn the acquaintances you feel connections with into really good friends. Make sure you remember everything you’ve read here and apply them next time. It can give you a very good friend and companion for you for the rest of your days.
If you want more to read and study in terms of building your social skills, making friends, and having better conversations, why don’t you grab a copy of my eBook here? This will help you even more as you turn acquaintances into friends or just making more friends in general.