Science reveals: 3 steps to make friends with ANYONE

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Did you know that it only takes 3 steps to connect and make friends with anyone?

This is something EVERYONE should learn in school.

Step 1: Show people clearly that you like them.

Do you know what we humans tend to do when we feel uncomfortable in a social setting?

We become self-conscious and hesitant. Other misinterpret that as if we don’t really like them. (I mean, would YOU want to try to talk to someone who comes off as reserved?)

We want to fight our urge to be distant and for others to be nice toward us first.

Whenever I’m in a social setting, I make sure to be WARM and RELAXED.

Here’s how I show people that I like them:

I ask sincere questions that I really want to know the answer to:

“What’s that like, to work in a greenhouse?”

I dare to smile and give appreciation to others jokes and what they say. If I think someone’s right, I let them know about it.

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“I think John has a great point here…”

But except for that, it’s all about tone. I give examples of the tone I use in the video here.

We want to be accepting and positive. We do that by focusing on the one we’re talking to. If we focus on ourselves, we get nervous, stiff, and come off as reserved.

Interestingly, focusing on others makes us MORE confident.

Step 2: Avoid getting stuck in your head and SHOW people that you hear what they say

Another mistake in social settings is that we get so preoccupied with what we should say next, that it’s hard for us to listen to what people are actually saying.

So, we get stuck in our heads.

The scientists discovered that being attentive is a DEAL BREAKER when it comes to connecting with people.

In other words a) listen closely and b) SHOW that you listen by keeping eye contact, humming, and summarizing what people say.

You want to be curious about people by asking sincere follow-up questions to what they say.

Friend: “So we missed the train and had to wait until the next day.“

Bad listener: “Oh. Yeah, one time when I was taking the train…” (That’s self-focused)

Attentive listener: “That’s crazy! Where did you sleep that night?”

Read more: How to make new friends.

Step 3: Pick up on what mood people are in and match it

The third factor that is a make-it-or-break-it when it comes to bonding is if we MATCH PEOPLE’S MOOD.

Here are some examples:

DON’T be more high energy and talk faster than someone else.

DO pay attention to what mood people are in and match it.

DON’T talk more than everyone else.

DO pay attention to how much or little someone talks and spend roughly the same time talking.

DON’T try to change moods by dropping jokes in a serious setting

DO pay attention to the mood in the room and match it.

The researchers found that socially successful people are great at picking up on what mood others are in and adjust to that.

“But David, isn’t it fake to adjust to the mood?”

No – building rapport like this is human and a cornerstone of being a likable person. We talk in one way with our grandma and another way with friends – and that’s how it’s supposed to be.

(What IS fake is to adjust our values and beliefs to fit in, something I talk about here.)

So whenever I’m in a social setting – I keep these three things in mind:

  1. I show that I like the person I’m talking with by being warm and accepting
  2. I listen actively and show INTEREST in what the person’s telling me
  3. I pay attention to what mood people are in and adjust to fit the situation

There you have it!

After analyzing thousands of traits, the researchers found that these three principles are THE deal breakers when it comes to bonding. (Here’s the actual study)

IF we follow these steps, we connect with people and make close friends in life.

What do you think? I’m excited to hear in the comments!

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David Morin is the founder of SocialPro. He's been writing about social skills since 2012. Follow on Twitter or read more.

Go to Comments (7)

7 thoughts on “Science reveals: 3 steps to make friends with ANYONE”

  1. Hi David,im Ricky I been stuck in side to long.i have no friends at all,i believe that reading your material is going to help me find new friends.thanks.

  2. Also for step 2 I might have misunderstood, but is it saying a bad listener talks about themselves instead of reflecting the question back to the person you’re talking to? Isn’t it a good thing to mix attentive questions as well as talking about yourself so the conversation doesn’t feel awkward like a one way interrogation?

    • It’s quite a complex issue. But in the example there, it would in most cases have been better to let them end their story properly first. And then, when they’re done with that one, you can relate to it if you want to. When you try to relate back too early, it feels more like you interrupt them and take their moment. Give them validation and show that you fully hear and understand them before you start talking about yourself.

  3. This web page and video make a lot of sense to me and I think it is well presented and captures useful and valid information. The question I have is this: It seems like there are too many pointers mentioned in this article to focus on at once during a social interaction. What should people do about that?

    • Great question! Start by just focusing on one thing and practice that. Just becoming better at one of these things will make a big difference in your life.


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