9 Easy Ways to Meet New People
Americans are lonelier than ever.
Research conducted by sociologists at Duke and the University of Arizona found that we have fewer friends and confidants than ever before. Loneliness is a real problem because it’s a breeding ground for unhappiness and despair. Research has consistently shown that people with strong friendships lead happier lives.
If you’re looking for a way to break out of your fortress of solitude, make meaningful connections, and boost your happiness, review these 9 simple social solutions:
1. Recognize the Human Connection: It’s easy to believe we won’t fit in because we fear we’re too different from the people we’d like to meet. But in reality, human beings are a lot more alike than different. We’re made of the same organic material, are driven by the same basic needs, and perceive the world in remarkably similar ways. In other words, you and your potential new friend already have an important connection. When you’re about to engage a potential new friend in conversation, take a moment to focus on that connection, that basic human bond.
2. Host a Gathering: Host a backyard barbecue, a dinner party, or a game night, an interaction-heavy event in a socially comfortable environment. Invite people you already know, and tell those people to invite their friends. If there’s someone specific you’d like to know, invite that person directly. If you make it a point to host a social event every month, you’ll be amazed at all your new connections.
3. Share a Non-Threatening Secret: Research has shown that if you confide in someone, that someone is more likely to confide in you, strengthening your bond. Keep in mind that we’re talking about new relationships – people who don’t know you – so be careful not to blast them out of the water with a horrible tale of woe. A good story to tell might involve the time you spilled coffee on your suit before the big meeting, something that reveals your basic humanity without threatening or offending.
4. Talk about Children or Pets: Though it may be politically incorrect to lump children and pets into the same category, people do tend to use each of these as icebreaker topics. And it works too, but it generally works best if you ask the other person about his children or pets first, to gauge interest. If he whips out his wallet and starts showing you pictures of Tabby and Russel, you’re in. On the other hand, If he doesn’t show interest, back off. This topic works well with some, terribly with others. Mostly, it works with people who share an interest in children or pets, which brings me to my next suggestion…
5. Find Common Ground: If you listen to a person talk for long enough, you’ll eventually ascertain what makes him tick. If you share any of his interests (cars, cameras, social causes, fine cuisine, movies) try breaking the ice on common ground.
6. Smile: If you smile, you’ll notice two things: smiles are contagious, and they actually improve your mood. People respond to smiles with friendliness and generosity, which helps when you’re trying to make new friends and meet new people. Smiles even work during telephone conversations, where they can be heard clear as day by whomever you’re speaking with.
7. Say Something Nice: Every day, life presents you with another opportunity to say something kind, generous, and genuine to somebody. Whether it’s complimenting a co-worker on his new tie or admiring someone’s accomplishment, most people respond warmly to genuine goodwill.
8. Lend a Helping Hand: Not only is helping someone a proven way to boost your own happiness, it’s a great way to meet people. If you see an opportunity to help a new co-worker or classmate, jump right in.
9. Start a Conversation with One New Person Per Week: Don’t invade someone’s personal space or privacy, but do look for opportunities to strike up a conversation. If you can find a way to have one meaningful conversation with a different person every week (or a succession of conversations in the pursuit of getting to know a certain individual), you’ll be amazed at the growth of your social circle.
Relationships, in and of themselves, may not have the power to make you happy, but the research proves that they are a vitally important ingredient in most happy lives. I hope these 9 tips encourage you to break out of your comfort zone, shake new hands, and meet new people. Any way you slice it, life goes better with friends.
October 2, 2007 Tuesday at 2:08 pm