At this point in your life, you probably have a core group of friends that have seen you through the good times and the bad. But sometimes, you just want to branch out a little.
Maybe you’re looking for a new buddy or two to do some activities that your other friends aren’t into. Maybe you moved to a new town and want to find some new friends in your area, or maybe you just want to expand your social circle a little. Whatever it is, making new friends as an adult can be… kind of hard.
Of course, some people seem to make friends effortlessly, which is great for them. For the rest of us, it takes a little more work. With that in mind, we consulted several experts on the habits of people who make friends easily and collected a list of habits you should steal for yourself.
They reach out instead of waiting for others to come to them
Whether you’re at a party, waiting in a dressing room line or taking your kid to the playground, talking to the people around you guarantees you’ll at least have a conversation — which could lead to a friendship. “Reaching out to others is a necessary first step to making new friends,” Dr. William Chopik, a social-personality psychologist and assistant professor at Michigan State University, tells SheKnows. “Some of the most superficial relationships — which later grow into more meaningful ones — start with people sharing basic interests, hobbies, opinions or aspirations. You won’t know any of these things without first talking to people.”
So, walk up to someone who looks interesting and start talking. You may be surprised where it leads.
They stay off their phones in public
Clearly, sometimes you’ve got to take a call or answer a text. But if you’re constantly using your phone as a social crutch, it sends a message to other people that you’re occupied, relationship psychologist Dr. Karin Anderson Abrell tells SheKnows “It tells everyone else in the room, ‘I don’t need to be here, and I have no interest in connecting with you people,’” she says.
It’s also a good idea to keep your phone away when you’re having a conversation, Chopik says. “There have been a few studies on how annoyed and upset people get if you are on your phone while trying to engage in a conversation with them,” he says.
You’ve probably experienced this yourself: Talking to someone who is repeatedly negative is kind of a turn-off and makes you automatically feel like you have to cheer them up. “Being positive is just huge,” Anderson Abrell says. That doesn’t mean you have to be fake, but striving for a warm, friendly attitude — when talking to people and about yourself — can go a long way, she says.
They’re good listeners
“Everyone wants to be heard, to share their intimate information and to feel understood by another,” Dr. Gail Saltz, a psychiatrist and host of The Power of Different podcast, tells SheKnows. So ask questions and actually listen to the answers.
“Just listen and then reflect back on what you heard and maybe even the emotion that you heard,” Anderson Abrell adds. “People end up feeling validated and heard.”
They have an easy familiarity with people
Sure, you want to be polite and respectful, but being friendly and warm right off the bat “creates an easy sense of familiarity,” Saltz tells SheKnows.
Anderson Abrell concurs. Oftentimes, it can help put the other person at ease and help them feel more comfortable around you too, she notes. It can be as simple as wearing an easy smile, walking up to someone and saying, “Hey – how’s it going?”
They try new things on their own
This does a few things, Saltz says: It shows you’re confident (which people are drawn to), it shows you want to engage with people (since you’re not holed up in a corner with a friend), and it shows that you’re curious about things, which is appealing. You’re also just more likely to meet like-minded people you’ll click with when you hit up a workout class you’re interested in or art group, Anderson Abrell says.
They smile a lot
This is bigger than you think. Smiling and being genuine about it “has a contagion [effect] and makes the other person feel a little happier,” Saltz says. “That feels good to them and therefore makes them attracted to you.”
A smile “can disarm a lot of people,” Anderson Abrell adds. “It’s a powerful tool.”