I am no chef, but there is one recipe I have up my sleeve.
With all of the semi-solo traveling I have been doing, I have learned how to make lasting friendships surprisingly quickly.
Here is my friendship recipe: Equal parts kindness and happiness, with a dash of spontaneity.
Honestly, who doesn’t love a happy person? I am not talking about someone who constantly operates at a (annoyingly) high level of enthusiasm, but someone who is generally and consistently pleasant. Some of the easiest ways I find to be more happy is to be accommodating and agreeable, especially if you are out of your comfort zone. I know it can be a little unsettling to be in a new place or surrounded by new people, but an easy way to take the edge off is to let the little things go.
While at a friend’s birthday party recently, I didn’t know anyone aside from the host. I entered the party with an open mind and the intention of having a good time. Instantly I was laughing away with a bunch of great people and even made plans with two of them to go to a show that same night after the party. Knowing that the show was at 8PM, I started prompting the others to start saying goodbye at 7PM. Despite my gentle reminder that we would have to leave soon to make it on time, we didn’t seem any closer to wrapping things up. After two glances at my watch, I resolved to putting my night into fate’s hands and go with the flow. If the worst that would happen would be that I wouldn’t go to a play with my new friends and would instead stay at this fun party with my new friends, then….that wasn’t bad at all. In the end, my new friends and I made it to the show on time and really enjoyed ourselves.
In this situation, the best thing was to just shrug my shoulders and let it play out instead of nagging my friends and waving my watch in their faces. It takes a strong demeanor to be easy-going and care-free, but I find that when I relinquish control, things often work out better than planned. Maybe the key is to be a little flexible.
Frequently, we keep friends in our lives because they are nice, considerate, and treat us with respect. These are my pillars for kindness. There are many easy ways to spread kindness in a way that can spark a new friendship. You can hold a door open for a stranger, let the single father cut ahead of you in line at the grocery store, or pick up another’s block, blanket, or strap to put away at a yoga studio. You can pay a compliment to someone you just met or worked with for the first time, ask about the book the person is reading on the Subway next to you, or offer to drop off some of the other kids on your son’s soccer team on your way home. Even a simple smile can start a long friendship just by displaying your openness to being approached.
I think the key to making new friends is being spontaneous. The best way to meet new people is to try new things. And the best way to become friends with those new people is to try new things with them. When I decided to take my new party friends up on their offer to go to a show together, we were able to bond in stronger ways. We had just met six hours earlier and now we were doing something together. What’s better, the journey to the show provided me with some great one-on-one time with one friend and the destination allowed me to see where the other worked, as that was where the show was held. Trying new things together bonds people in a special way.
But it doesn’t stop there. You still have, in my mind, the hardest part: making it last. You laid a solid foundation for a new friendship, so follow up or keep in touch to build a lasting relationship. Did you promise to send your new friend a link to that music video? Follow through. Think you might have made a new business contact? Send a LinkedIn invite their way. If you feel like giving out your number might be to…forward…opt for Facebook as a way to stay connected.
And, as with any recipe, I find that chocolate makes it better. So surprise your coworkers with a box from See’s, take your in-laws out for ice cream, bake your neighbors cookies, or invite your normal book club group to each bring along a friend for a night of chocolate martinis at home. Cheers to chocolate bringing people together.
What is your key ingredient for making new friends? Let us know below.