Making Friends - Counselling Newsletter

Making Friends - Counselling Newsletter

Published: 28 June 2018

Now that the holidays are here and you’ve had time to relax, how do you keep yourself busy? Some people spend time with friends. However, what if your friends have gone away for the holidays or you don’t have many close friends? Well now’s the time to make some.

Meeting new people can be a lot of fun. It provides the opportunity to have a conversation with someone new who you might share something in common with. It can also be a worrying experience for many people. You might be wondering what you'll say, how you should act, and what the other person will think of you. You may be feeling excited, nervous, anxious, relaxed, curious. Experiencing any of these feelings is not uncommon. However, if it is affecting your ability to meet new people and this is affecting your life in a negative way it is important that you talk to someone about it. Here are a few tips on how to meet new people and what to do when you meet them to make sure that the experience as fun, pain-free and successful as possible.   

How to Meet New People. Meeting new people may be a case of doing the things you enjoy or trying new things. Chances are that people you want to meet like doing the same things too, so you will have something in common to share. So, say ‘yes' when people invite you to go and do things - you never know who else might be there. Take opportunities to go to parties where you may meet new people, volunteer, join a sporting club/book club, take a course at a community college (like learning a language or an art or cooking class), walk your dog in the local park (or borrow one!), learn to dance/surf/draw etc. Having a regular activity where you see the same people every week can allow time for you to get to know them while doing something in common with less pressure to talk.

Tips for meeting someone for the first time:

  • Try not to judge based on first impressions - sometimes people feel nervous when they meet new people (you might be too) and they don't always give a great first impression. Or, they might be having a really bad day, or be feeling unwell. They may be a completely different person once you get to know them.
  • Dealing with nerves - there are a number of things you can do to combat nerves. It might be helpful to learn to challenge your negative self-talk. “I’m not a mind reader so don’t assume they don’t like me”. If you're going to an event where there are many people, it might help to track down the people you do know first to relax a bit before meeting new people. If you are at an event where you don't know anyone and you are feeling a bit nervous, it might also help to chat with a friend on the phone to feel a bit more comfortable first.
  • Smile, keep eye contact and be friendly - you are more likely to be friendly to someone who smiles at you, so try it yourself. Opening yourself up to people can make them feel more comfortable and more likely to be friendly in response. You can practice in front of the mirror - it will become easier and more comfortable over time.
  • Starting a conversation - it's a good idea to ask the other person something about themselves to start things off. Try not to get too personal though. You might want to start with a simple question like: "Do you study/work?" "What do you study/do?" Or, if you're at a party, you might start by asking the other person how they know the person whose party it is. From these basic starting points you should find some things you have in common and more things to talk about. 
  • Prepare conversation topics - thinking about what you might talk about with new people can really help the conversation and any awkward feelings. It helps to pick a topic that you know a lot about and feel confident talking about and feel is likely to be of interest to other people.
  • Remembering names - it's always impressive if you can remember someone's name after meeting them for the first time, and helpful if other people join your conversation and you need to do introductions. There are a few things you can to do to help you remember names more easily. These include; repeating the name immediately when you meet someone, and then trying to use it as much as possible in conversation or thinking of a famous person who has the same name might help you to remember the person's name. 
  • Be yourself - when you come across as relaxed and confident, it is more likely the person you are meeting will also feel relaxed and more comfortable chatting.

Extract from Reach Out;

UNSW Student Life Blog;

Buzzfeed Tips;