Making friends as a grownup can be an exercise in awkward. Where do you meet people? How do you make a connection? And it’s especially difficult for those of us who are naturally reserved.
“Shy and socially awkward people may be wired as introverts, so it’s more natural for them to stay alone or find solace with their own thoughts,” says Caroline Adams Miller, a life coach and author of "Creating Your Best Life." “While there is nothing wrong with that, the happiest among us have a judicious mixture of being among others and being alone, so we must create it if we’re not naturally that way.”
In other words, you may need to fake it ‘til you make it. How? Try our tips for easing social anxieties and building relationships.
You may feel anxious if you’re pressuring yourself to “meet people”—that’s such a vague, nebulous goal. Hazel Walker, contributing author of the New York Times bestselling "Masters of Networking," suggests focusing on a specific wish, like, “I’d like to talk to two new people today.” Make that your goal, and then once it is reached, you can relax.
Use social media.
Looking at Facebook and LinkedIn doesn’t count as stalking. Use the sites as a way of helping you get to know people better. If you meet a potential friend, connecting with them online is an informal way of staying in touch and possibly pursuing more of a relationship. “Facebook allows us to get to know what people are interested in,” says Walker. “Leave comments for them, congratulate them or just ‘like’ an update.”
Once you’re connected to potential friends online, Walker suggests thinking of the things that you can do for others, like forwarding articles of interest, tweeting useful information or posting comments on peoples’ blogs, like when the heck “Mad Men” is coming back on? People who have shared interests will be organically drawn to you.
Seeing yourself in the third person—such as imagining that you’re watching a movie of yourself—can actually alter your behavior, according to Miller. “Imagine yourself behaving in extroverted, comfortable and relaxed ways with others,” she says. “It can make a huge difference in a social situation because it has been mentally rehearsed.” You may want to rent a few Julia Roberts movies for inspiration—that woman is always making friends.
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