Do: Introduce yourself
Even if they’re long-term employees or members of a social club, anyone can feel shy about starting a conversation with someone they don’t know. Taking the initiative by introducing yourself is a good way to skip any awkwardness.
Don’t: Do all the talking
Good conversationalists are good listeners. Follow up with questions to show that you are interested in what’s being said. Thoughtful questioning builds a person’s self-esteem.
Read our tips for building friendships
Do: Smile on introduction
Research has found that receiving a smile from a friend causes higher brain stimulation than being given money or eating multiple chocolate bars. Unsurprisingly, it breaks down social barriers too.
Don’t: Write people off at first glance
Not everybody represents themselves perfectly straight away. Good chemistry can take time to develop.
Do: Use names in conversations
Referring back to a person’s name when you end a chat is a subliminal clue that you were listening closely. It’s a good way to ensure you remember their name next time, too.
Don’t: Worry too much about what people make of you
Relax, be yourself and assume that people want to get to know you. Channel the old adage attributed to the poet WB Yeats. ‘There are no strangers here; only friends you haven’t yet met.’
Do: A little pre-meet brainstorming
Consider a few conversation topics that you could use in advance. An activity-based social meet-up is an ideal place to get beyond the dreaded surface-skirting of small talk: the whole thing is structured around a shared interest.
Don’t: Forget to thank the organisers
If you’re at a party, say, or a Meetup group, offering to lend a hand at the end is another great way to show your appreciation – and to make friends a little quicker.
Find out how to make new friends
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The material is for general information only and does not constitute investment, tax, legal, medical or other form of advice. You should not rely on this information to make (or refrain from making) any decisions. Always obtain independent, professional advice for your own particular situation.