As the number of years of life increases, friendships become fewer and fewer – or so it seems. And finding new people of the heart often proves difficult for many of us. But don’t worry: we have put together a little help.
After university or your first job or after having children (and the accompanying everyday bubble in which the receptionist at the pediatrician’s office is your best friend), the opportunities to make new, genuine friendships become fewer and fewer. So how do we find, even in our late 20s, mid-30s or later, those people who can become new, best heart people? Science can be relied on this time as well.
Be a trampoline and not a vessel
Citing a study published in the Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, Eric Barker, author of self-help books, notes that "being found likable is as easy as listening to people and asking them questions.". So how to become a better listener? Researchers Jack Zenger and Joseph Folkman explain that when listening, it’s not enough to nod wordlessly from time to time: "On the contrary, people perceive as good listeners those who repeatedly ask interested and relevant questions."
So instead of thinking of yourself as Azu, try using a trampoline as a metaphor: you’re not only providing support, you’re also giving back energy and bounce. Yep, so you have permission to interrupt your new friend – as long as what you say shows that you are honestly interested in what the other person is telling you.
When you offer support, mean it
Whether it’s a challenge at work or in your personal life that is causing you concern or even anxiety, avoid pseudo-support in the form of platitudes like "You’ll be fine." or "Go, it’ll all work out.". Real help looks different, like, ‘Hey, you’ve done a really good job of preparing yourself. You know what you want to say at the presentation tomorrow, so I’m sure you’ll get that across just fine." Not only does it bring you closer together, but it also makes your counterpart feel really cared for and supported.
"Sharing is caring – so go ahead and exaggerate
A study by the University of Illinois, USA, has confirmed what everyone who instinctively shares a lot about themselves has already guessed: We like people a good eutzerl more when they really open up to us. "Positive associations have been found between openness with oneself and individual characteristics such as self-confidence, strength in relationships, and social acceptance", the researchers explain. Dr. Susan Krauss Whitbourne knows why oversharing works: "People who open up to someone automatically assume that they genuinely like and trust that person."
Invest in casual acquaintances
Don’t make small talk at the coffee machine right away! Maybe even the chatterbox you meet on the Bim every morning will soon be a new friend. "Interacting with people with whom we have only loose social ties also have a big impact on our well-being", explains a study from the Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin.
Resurrect your zombies
A study from Organization Scienceagain has found out: "Reviving dormant relationships can be especially rewarding. Friends who meet again more intensively after a long time can quickly build up the old familiarity. At the same time, they offer wonderful opportunities for new shared experiences." A mix of connectedness and curiosity, then, that certainly won’t be boring.
People who work full time spend a lot of their waking hours in the office – and often find new friends there too.
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