When connection comes naturally and you hit it off with somebody straight away, it can seem like you were put on this earth for the sole purpose of making new friends.
However, the prospect of meeting new people can also set your palms sweating, your stomach knotting, your mind racing. It’s easy to get tongue-twisted or overthink things when making first impressions.
If you want to skip any first-meet awkwardness and jump straight to that social nirvana of comfortable and meaningful connection, here are a few things to keep in mind.
So, you’ve already made the most important first step on your way to finding your people: showing up and putting yourself out there. Now you’re here, be bold and speak up from the get-go.
If you disagree with something, say so. Be respectful, but don’t fret about ruffling feathers. Stay true to yourself and you’ll be respected for your honesty. Most likely, you’ll kick off a stimulating debate.
Even if you do fall out with someone, it’s actually no bad thing. The sooner you ascertain who shares your values and who doesn’t, the better. Just remember that a stranger liking or disliking you has zero bearing on your self-worth.
Even more important, don’t be afraid to dole out genuine compliments. Telling someone what you like about them, what makes them uniquely fabulous, will make their week. And via a quirk of psychology called ‘spontaneous trait transference’, people will actually associate you with the positive traits you praise in them.
The power of listening
You’ve got two ears and one mouth, best use them in that order.
Most people only remember a quarter to a half of what they hear, so pay good attention and try to beat that proportion. Listen to add value to your life, rather than just awaiting your turn to speak. Showing genuine interest in your new friend’s life is the embodiment of charisma.
Ask follow-up questions and find common ground. In one study, college students who shared intimate information about their lives reported significantly greater feelings of closeness than those who stuck to superficial topics. So discuss dreams and future plans, and if you really want to leave your mark, do what you can to be of help with those goals.
People who know how to have a good time are magnetic. So be spontaneous and take risks. Laugh at your own jokes, laugh at other people’s jokes, tear up the dance floor, shoot rays of positivity from your eyeballs.
Reframe any nerves you might have as excitement and always keep smiling. Even if you aren’t feeling it at first, smiling actually makes you feel happier, and triggers mirror neurons in the people you meet, making them feel smiley and happy too.
And of course, don’t beat yourself up about any mistakes you might make – before you know it, they’ll turn into your most crowd-pleasing dinner party anecdotes!
fethr social meets are currently happening across Sydney and will be coming to London in June. Sign up to fethr here.