People have asked me how to meet friends. I think I would need to dedicate a few posts about this topic.
You’ve probably heard a lot of advice about how healthy it is for you to join groups of like-minded people. So you might have been encouraged to join groups focusing on the same hobby that you like, or the same career, or the same ethnic background, or the same religious beliefs…
But sometimes you may be disappointed with these groups, despite joining them with high expectations!
Finding a “kindred spirit” is sometimes easier in a group which shares common interests with you. But sometimes you may actually never find that “kindred spirit” in the place you expect.
In any group, there are likely to be some people who are more compatible with you, and others who are less compatible. Occasionally, you might feel quite disappointed, when you try a new group experience, with high hopes, but yet end up not feeling included or accepted warmly.
I encourage you to make an effort to meet others with an open heart and an open mind. Be careful not to make assumptions about the people you meet, just because of their membership, or lack of membership, in a particular group. If you have a favourite hobby of painting, but have no interest at all in playing basketball, you are probably more likely to meet a good new friend in a painting class! But sometimes, you might actually feel socially uncomfortable in a new painting class, but meet a wonderful new friend who loves basketball! Always have an open mind! Be flexible!
It is always encouraging and uplifting to meet someone in a group who shares similar experiences or values with you; it is disappointing to meet someone in a group who does not behave warmly.
This is a Chinese saying, which literally means “people who eat at the same dinner table may have different awareness, behaviours, and morality.”
I interpret this to mean that just because people are doing the same things, doesn’t mean that they share the same values or character traits. Similarly, people who attend the same class to receive education, people who have the same degree, people who work in the same environment, or people who have the same religious beliefs, may have very different character or compatibility.
Don’t let someone’s occupation, or some other external characteristic, such as race, ethnic background, or educational or income level, obscure your view of who that person is or change your behaviors towards them. Try to meet every person with an open mind and an open heart. It is often with time and numerous social interactions that you learn who a person is.
This literally means “A long journey proves the strength of a horse, so it takes a long passage of time to know a man’s heart.”
I love this Chinese proverb. Most often, it is only time, rather than your first impression, that would tell you who a person is! It is time that reveals a person’s heart—whether or not you share similar core values with that person and whether or not you could keep that person for a lifetime.
It is, however, important, to observe problems in a person’s behaviour towards you, right from the beginning. If a person is treating you disrespectfully, or harshly, you do not need to wait patiently to see if the person ends up being a good friend. It is ok to quickly move away from relationships in which you are not being treated well.
Time and patience are needed in situations when you are unsure about compatibility, or in situations where people may be slow or cautious about expanding their social circle.
Time is your amazing friend.
Here are a few simple and quick suggestions:
1) Respect others’ boundaries and do not bombard others with questions, especially during the first social encounter.
2) If you would like to meet an honest person who opens up to you, be honest yourself first.
3) Express genuine positive regard for others’ good fortune, success, achievement, happiness, and beauty. Compliment them sincerely!
4) Be humble. Being too boastful is almost always associated with low self-esteem. If you have trouble remaining genuinely humble, then this could be an important issue to work on, possibly with the help of a therapist.
5) Be kind: help and encourage others, with wisdom, respect, and love.
6) Be there for your friend, before he or she asks for it!
7) Put yourself into the other person’s shoes—practice empathy!
8) Strive hard to be non-judgmental.
9) Be generous.
10) Be sensitive! Be sensitive to others’ emotions, needs, stories, struggles, financial situation, etc. Think before you speak or act. Sensitivity is such a beautiful, wonderful trait.
You give a little love and it all comes back to you. (Paul Williams)
I’m very picky with whom I give energy to. I prefer to reserve my time, intensity and spirit exclusively to those who reflect sincerity. (Dau Voire)
Affirmation: I enrich my life when I meet every person with an open mind and an open heart, and I let time guide me.