While it takes time to build a long-lasting, meaningful friendship, there are a few things you can do in the first interaction to lay the foundation for a promising connection.
Our resident friendship coach, Danielle Bayard Jackson, is here to help when it comes to the joys, complexities, and misunderstandings of female friendship.
And this is a skill that we should all have as we work to make new friends!
Here are 6 hacks that you can incorporate into your first meeting with someone - whether it’s in person or virtually.
Things that you can use that have somebody walking away from the conversation thinking, “I think I like her.” [Scroll to the end of the blog to watch the video!]
SOCIAL HACK #1 Try being quiet.
The first thing you can do in your first interaction with somebody is simply be quiet.
Yes, just be quiet. Let those spaces of silence kind of hang for a bit. When we’re anxious or nervous, we tend to get excited and talk a lot. A lot of us are uncomfortable with silences in the first place. The thing is, if after asking somebody a question, you let them respond, and then you wait when they’re done, they’ll likely fill it with more information about themselves.
And research shows us that the #1 topic people like to talk about is themselves, so why not let her? You’ll have her in a position to where she’s leaving the conversation thinking, “I don’t know what it is about her, but I like her style.” It’s simply because you let her talk about herself.
SOCIAL HACK #2 Avoid natural countering.
What this means is sometimes when we have someone who tells us, “Oh I’m a Florida Gator. I went to the University of Florida”, we’ll say something like, “Ugh, gross, I’m a Seminole”, and even though we’re trying to engage in banter and connect in that way, it still offers a space of resistance. It’s still a pushback. I’m still highlighting the ways we’re different instead of adding on to what she’s saying.
So instead of her saying, “I’m a Florida Gator” and I say, “Ugh, gross, we’re rivals” say, “Oh did you like going to a big school? I loved going to a big school. What kind of groups were you in? What kind of clubs were you in?” Even though it might feel natural to speak on the ways you’re different, it’s not helpful. So find ways to listen, identify similarities, and build on those.
SOCIAL HACK #3 Say her name.
For the next hack, we’re taking a cue from Destiny’s Child because you’re going to say her name, say her name.
A study from 2006 found that hearing or using your own name is qualified as self-representational behavior. And remember what we said earlier about allowing people to talk about themselves. It happens to be our favorite subject. And if that’s the case, and we know that there’s lots of brain activity that goes off when we hear or use our own name, why not leverage that?
If she introduces herself right away and says, “Hey I’m Kesha”, then you would say, “Kesha, ok, nice to meet you”. And if you ask her a question, “Ok wait a second, Kesha, where did you say you’re from?” Just naturally, occasionally sprinkling it within your conversation, it helps her to associate her positive feelings during that conversation with you.
SOCIAL HACK #4 Leverage the conversation for intel.
The next hack is to use that conversation for intel. This can’t necessarily transpire all within that first 90 seconds. But you can use the information that you’re getting from the other person within the first 2 minutes of conversation. So as you guys are talking, she mentions her love for a new Netflix show.
A week later when you watch said show, you text her or DM her simply to say, “Oh my gosh, I watched that show you talked about. You’re right, it’s hilarious”. What this does is offer momentum in the friendship and keeps things going. We all too often have a really great encounter with somebody and then never follow up. And we wonder, ”Are they going to reach out to me? How soon is too soon?” The goal is to keep things going. And it’s easier to do that if you’re leveraging intel from the conversation you received from the first conversation.
SOCIAL HACK #5 Ask for help.
The next hack is going to put you in a position that makes you a little vulnerable, but in my opinion, it’s totally worth it. Ask for help. Now you don’t want to ask for something really major like you’re moving this weekend, you just met this stranger, and you ask them to help move boxes; that wouldn’t be appropriate. But what I do mean is something small, like this. Let’s say you and a roommate are new in town and you’re trying to figure out different hot spots to go to and how to get involved.
Simply asking the other person for a recommendation puts them in a position to help, and everybody likes to feel helpful. The key to this hack, however, is you have to ask for something that’s actually manageable, something not intrusive that they can actually do. So asking for tips, recommendations, and guidance for small things is effective because at the end of the day, everyone wants to feel helpful.
SOCIAL HACK #6 Tell her you like her.
The last tip comes from Vanessa Van Edwards who is the Lead Investigator at Science of People. She suggests we end conversations by saying, “You know what, I really like you”. Here’s why that matters. Research tells us that we tend to underestimate how much new people like us. So we’ll walk away thinking we totally bombed a conversation, and meanwhile they really liked us more than we thought.
In order to counter that insecurity, to confirm, “Yes you did well. You’re engaging. You’re interesting”, you tell them so out loud. It also kind of eases the wondering that we sometimes walk away with. Admit it, when you walk away and you’re thinking, “Did she like me? Was she as into me as I was into her?” We all think it. So this offers confirmation that yes, you were liked, you’re interesting, and I’d like to do more of this. So simply ending the conversation with that affirmation can work wonders.
WATCH THE VIDEO!
Remember that it takes time.
So again, even though it does take time and work and intention to create something deep and meaningful, there are things you can do within that first interaction that lay a foundation for a solid friendship in the future.
Thanks for watching today’s video. If you’re looking for more support on your journey towards better female friendships, then you should consider becoming a Friend Forward member, a space where we have virtual events, coaching exercises, and an opportunity to connect with women just like you.
Making a Good First Impression For New Friends, From a Friendship Coach
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