I believe you will agree with me, that it’s a blessing to have many good friends. Sometimes, we wonder how do people with many friends do it to get so many friends. That’s why this article comes to help you make a new friend every day.
In my previous article, A Checklist for Making Good Friends in an International Setting, I promised to present to you some easy steps that will help you to start a conversation and interact with people. My promise today is, if you follow the steps, you’ll make 30 friends in 30 days; that 365 friends in 365 days. That article is a prerequisite to this. Therefore, I suggest that you give it a read (here it is) before reading this.
Before we start discussing the steps to making a new friend every day, let me relate to you my story with making a new friend every day.
My Story with Making a New Friend Every Day
To make my PhD journey a less stressful one, I thought of establishing a social habit that will relief my academic stress and have some social benefits at the same. So, I decided to make a friend every day in the university. Apparently, this new habit of mine effected beyond relieving academic stress. It did not only enable me to make a new friend every day, it also strengthened my friendship with my existing ones, those I call ‘coincidental friends.’
It has been a year since I adopted this, and I can testify, that people can be unfriendly until we befriend them. They can be unapproachable until we approach them. They can be doubtful until we assure them.
It has been a year, and I can estimate those I’ve managed to befriend, to be at least a hundred people whom I didn’t know prior to approaching them. “Befriend” means I’ve got know them, and they’ve got to know me personally. I may forget some of their names, and they may forget mine, but we’ve got to know each other on a table at the canteen.
The likelihood is that the next time I meet any of them, be it on campus, at the hostels, in the university or in town, we know each other, and we will re-live the excitement of knowing each other.
How Does It Work?
It’s important to remember when we deal with people, that no one wants to be rejected or disappointed. Not even you and I. Perhaps, this is one of the main obstacles that prevent many of us from taking initiatives in our lives, more so in making friends or talking to strangers. If you want to purposefully make a new friend every day, then be prepared to be rejected some (very seldom) times. But believe me, it’s worth the experience.
To start, never sit alone, the next time you buy your food at the canteen. (Your plate is still yours along, though J.) Avoid empty seats. Also, avoid groups. Sit next to a stranger who is sitting alone. Seek his permission to join him on the table. It’s unlikely that someone will say ‘No’ when you ask them, “Can I join you?” In fact, many will be glad that you join them.
Other than the canteen, there’re many places to use to seek to start conversations. But so far, in my experience, canteens or eateries are the best places to make a new friend every day. This is because people are at ease when eating. They’re willing to talk than in any place. Alternative to canteens are bus stops, clinics, at the airports and train stations. In fact, you can also make good friends on board of buses, trains and planes during long trips.
Whichever platform you choose; this is the first step. Just make sure you’re not interrupting you want to get to know from his work/assignment. Be considerate.
Now, Let the Conversation Begin
Now, I assume you’re at the canteen and you’ve already bought your food. You’ve also joined that stranger (brother or sister, depending your gender, of course!) who’s sitting alone. Since you are the one who joined the other, you need to start the conversation.
First, make your new friend feel comfortable. You can do that by introducing yourself. “My name is Salam… You can call me Baba Salam.” That’s how I usually introduce myself. Most likely, your new friend will happily tell you his name in return. If he (unlikely) remains silent after you’ve introduced yourself. Don’t worry. Just ensure the conversation continues. Feel free to ask him his name. He may be still shy. Because you’re still a stranger. Or are you not one? J
The conversation may stop here. But that’s if you allow it to. In some seldom occasions, your friends may ask you about the programme you’re taking (in other words, what do you do?). But mostly you have to tell him your programme first. He will tell you his, next. If he doesn’t, again, don’t hesitate to ask him. He’ll tell you. I promise!
In fact, before talking about your programmes, you may inform him your country, state or region, where you come from. I use to say “I’m from Ghana.” You can do the same.
You see, the conversation has started. The ball is in your court now. So keep it rolling. You can generate more points for conversation from the first three questions. No question is ‘silly’.
In fact, your whole first meeting can be around these three things: name, country and programme (or job). For instance, if a Malaysian tells me his name is Nuh (and I’m yet to come across one by this name), I may jokingly say, “Masha Allah! This is the first time I’m coming across a Malaysian by the name Nuh…” This is although the name is very common in Africa. I may also say “I just read the Chapter (Surah) of Nuh this morning.”
On my way back to Malaysia last week, I saw a Bangladeshi tourist at the Singapore Immigrations. We happened to be in the same bus. The man spoke neither English nor Arabic. So we could only speak ‘duck and chicken language’. I told him “my name is Salam” before he replied with “Wa’alaykumussalam” I signaled to him (pointing to myself), “name… my name… Salam” When he understood, he said back “Salim.” His name is “Salim”. We both laughed… You see how interesting it can be.
I had a similar encounter at one of the hostels of the International Islamic University (IIUM). I said to the Malaysian undergrad, “my name is Salam.” He replied, “my name is Salam.” Hahaha! That was a good coincidence, indeed. So far, He was the first Malaysian ‘Salam’ I had met.
Just like you can crack jokes from just your names, do the same from his or your programme of studies, as well as his or your country or hometown.
You’re making a new friend. So, go simple. By the time you realize, at the end of your meal, you’ve spent more than half an hour. Whereby, usually, you just eat and leave.
What to Take Way?
You’ve just made a new friend. You’ve met only 15-30 minutes ago. Yet, there’re a lot that you’ve talked about. The objective was to make a new friend, to be happy and make someone else too happy. Despite that, there must be a takeaway.
The best thing you can take away is to be able to retain your new friend’s name in your long-term memory. The next time you meet into each other, you should be the first to mention his name. To achieve that, find your own way of recalling his name. Although it’s a first time of meeting, feel free to ask him again and again.
Why is it important to retain his name? So you can greet him by his name, the next time you meet him. Trust me…
Out of a surprise, some may say, “Whoa! You still remember my name!” Wouldn’t you feel good to be loved the same way by someone?
You may not be able to recall all the names. That’s expected. Just don’t hesitate to ask ‘to recall’ the name again. In the ‘worst case scenario’, you can address your new friend with the wrong name; any name that comes across your mind will do (but ensure it’s close to reality. You can’t address someone with ‘John’ to reconfirm ‘Ilyas’). Your friend will correct you if you’re wrong. Apologize for not recalling the correct name. And be happy and see how happier your friend will be.
Is It that Simple?
Yes. It’s that simple. And you’ll find out that your new friend is grateful you joined him on his table. You may also find that he sat alone because he knows no one (as friends), that’s why he was sitting alone. Perhaps, he didn’t have the courage to join someone else on his table, just like you joined him. (This could be his takeaway from you.)
It’s you, who are making friends. Before you joined the person, perhaps, he wasn’t expecting anyone to join him. Therefore, don’t be disappointed if some of the people you join react with suspicion based on their past experiences or professions. But believe me… they’re the minority.
What After You’ve Made a Hundred of Friends?
When you start making friends purposefully, you’ll find that it’s actually fun and exciting. Honestly, it’s an effective way to relief academic stress. In fact, it can be a charity work without you realizing its impact. It’s an act of charity when you give someone the chance to talk, smile and be happy. He may not necessarily be ‘lonely’, but he may be in stress.
Yes, it’s a purposeful friendship, but the people you meet and talk to are random. Random and strangers. They come from everywhere and they can be anyone or anything. They can be good, and they can be the otherwise. You may meet some for once and never again. You may meet some very frequently. And you may meet some, every other day.
For those you meet frequently, there’s possibility of developing a longer or even everlasting friendships with them. Therefore, you need to analyze and consider who to take for that long or eternal friendship. Either way, make yourself resourceful and helpful, by any means possible. And always remember to choose your close friends wise. Everyone can be your friend, but your close friends must be very special.
Moreover, whoever you meet, there’s something you can learn from them. If, really there’s nothing for you to learn from them (which I strongly doubt), that means there’s something they can learn from you. Make yourself resourceful for them.
To Sum Up…
It’s important to ensure our attempts in establishing more friendship is based on a noble intention. (This is an extension from the previous article. Isn’t it?) Brush aside any possible hidden agenda. Never do this, because you want a favour from your new friend. Instead, you may do it because you could be helpful to him. That way, your conversations can be innocent, sincere and consistent.
Unless we take the initiative, we can’t see the change we dream of. Until then, people will remain unfriendly, unapproachable and always doubtful.
To make a new friend every day, the following 9 easy steps (which is the summary of the article) are helpful:
- Have a noble intention behind making a new friend every day.
- Go to the canteen alone (you still have other public places to consider).
- Join a stranger who’s sitting alone.
- Introduce yourself, your country (or state/village) and programme (or job).
- Let the conversation continue.
- Do all you can to retain his name in your long term memory.
- The next time you meet him, greet him by their name!
- Learn something from your friends. Or allow them to learn from you.
- You’ll meet all types of people. So choose your close friends wisely.
This is what I have practised and it proved to be effective in an international setting like that of IIUM. You may alter it to suit your environment. Most importantly, you should be able to make a new friend every day. Good friends will fill your heart with fun and relief your stress. They’ll show you love and concern. They’ll allow you to realize your self-worth. But you need to have many friends in order to be able to pick the ones from among them, for that matter.
When you’re used to making new friends, you’ll realize that, it’s we who are unfriendly. Not others. When we approach others with friendliness, they’ll respond with friendliness. There’s also exception to every rule, though. When you’re able to make friends easily, you master your language and communication skills. Above all that, you develop your self-confidence.
What are the other effective ways of making friends you have tried? Share them with us, and let’s benefit from each other. Kindly share them in the comments area below.
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