11 Easiest Ways To Make New Friends In Absolutely Any Situation

Making new friends in situations where we don't know anyone can inspire dread. But it doesn't have to. In fact, there are even tips for making new friends that can break it down into a pretty full proof, step-by-step process that can turn even the shyest among us into friend-making machines.

I used to think I just wasn't good at socializing and would never be like the people I saw who were. And we all know those people — the ones who show up at a party or event, march right up to a group of strangers, and within ten minutes are exchanging numbers and making plans for lunch dates. I'd marvel at how easily these people seemed to be able to make connections, and resigned myself to the fact that I would just "never be like that."

However, I started to realize that my thinking was becoming a self-fulfilling prophesy, and that it was also actively preventing me from doing activities that were actually good for me, like going to networking events, or signing up for activities I was interested in. I was forced to take a hard look at my own behavior and assumptions and see how they were often isolating me or preventing me from having positive new experiences.

If this is sounding relatable, or you just generally hate attending events where you don't know anyone, worry no more. Here are 11 super helpful ways to make friends in any situation.

1. Compliment & Transition

When it comes to breaking the ice, entrepreneur and lifestyle blogger Kevin Kleitches recommended the "compliment and transition" strategy on a piece for The Huffington Post. He noted that a simple compliment, like, "I love your shoes," or "Your tie is super unique," is an instant opportunity to introduce yourself and get into conversation.

2. Set A Goal

In a piece for Psychology Today, Gretchin Rubin, author of The Happiness Project, said that she finds setting a goal helpful when tackling a new social situation. "When I enter a situation where I meet a new set of people, I set myself the goal of making three new friends. This seems artificial, but somehow, this shift makes me behave differently, it makes me more open to people, it prompts me to make the effort to say more than a perfunctory hello," Rubin wrote.

See: The Happiness Project, $12, Amazon

3. Detach Yourself From The Outcome

And if strategic goal setting isn't your thing, Tiny Buddha contributor Matt Ramos recommended detaching yourself from the outcome when meeting people for the first time. "When you don’t expect any outcome, you won’t be disappointed or offended if someone doesn’t respond to you," he wrote. This also makes entering into conversation with a stranger way less stressful, which means you'll be way more likely to let your authentic self shine through.

4. Ask Questions

Ramos also stressed the importance of asking questions when meeting a new potential friend. "The best way to keep someone interested in a conversation is to show an interest in their life. Everyone likes to talk about themselves. Even if you don’t know a lot about a particular subject, keep asking questions to understand them," Ramos said.

5. Try To Be Your Authentic Self

This is a personal tip that I have found is incredibly important when it comes to making friends. When surrounded by new people it can be super tempting to try to be the person we think they want to see, or to mimic the behaviors of others so that we feel like we're fitting in. However, the people you meet this way won't be meeting the real you, and so it definitely isn't the best way to make a meaningful or lasting connection.

6. Imagine You're Already Friends

This is another super helpful tip from Ramos that will instantly make you more comfortable. He noted that when we act comfortable, it puts others at ease. So instead of stiffly asking formal questions, try to seem totally comfortable in the situation — this will help the other person relax too.

7. Keep It Interesting

A study from OKCupid found that people on first dates are able to discern compatibility way better by asking questions like, "Have you ever traveled to another country alone?" or "Would you ever consider sailing around the world?" as opposed to the more usual introductory chit-chat like, "What do you do?" And the same holds true for any relationship — including friends. So try to keep your questions interesting and outside the box!

8. Avoid Small Talk

It can be super easy to fall into a small talk trap when meeting people for the first time and never actually get into a real conversation. That's why life coach and founder of the site PuttyLike Emilie Wapnick said to avoid it as much as possible and actually talk about things that are meaningful to you. Instead of talking about the weather, talk about how you're in a great mood because you just booked a trip to Montreal, or that you're super excited because you just adopted a new pet. You'll make a real connection way faster.

9. Stop Worrying What Others Think

Wapnick also stressed the importance of letting go about what others think. "With new people, you worry about the impression you’re making. You’re not sure if the person is going to judge you or accept you, and so the instinct is to protect yourself by not revealing too much, not allowing yourself to be too vulnerable," she wrote. And ironically, this makes it super hard to make friends. Instead, try not to care about if others will like you — if they don't, you don't want to be their friend any way!

10. Be Open

This is another personal tip. So often I've entered a social situation, honed in on someone I wanted to talk to, and realized we didn't have a lot in common. And I'd completely overlooked the quieter, less "flashy," but way more awesome person who had been sitting quietly by themselves. So remember to be open to everyone and avoid making snap judgements when meeting new people.

11. Just Do It

The final piece of advice for making friends is something that I've encountered over and over in articles from experts and coaches on the subject. Just get out there and start talking. Seriously. The more you do it in various groups and situations, the way less intimidating it becomes.

Making friends should never feel like an impossible challenge, and in fact, it's way easier than you probably think. Just put yourself out there and remember that you have a ton to offer!

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