If you’re an introvert, then you naturally spend lots of time by yourself, but still have the need to meet people and make friends. Many introverts think that it’s a black or white area; either you’re a social star or an introvert.
This is not true at all; you can be naturally introverted and still make time for friends and fun. In this article, I want to share with you four strategies on how to make friends, without changing who you are. The common mistake is to learn a few techniques, and only use them when you’re motivated to meet people. We all know that that motivation is hard to get for introverts. What you can do instead is adopt a series of social habits that don’t require a lot of motivation. Let’s talk about two habits to get you started:
Habit #1 – Go Out To Meet New People Once A Month
If you want to build a social life, you need to constantly be meeting new people. Not everyone you meet will be a good fit for you, and not all your friends will be around forever. This is why you need to be supplying yourself with new faces, but not necessarily more than what you’re comfortable with.
You can dial it up or down, but don’t stop it; people won’t come knocking on your door to meet you.
What I recommend is to commit to helping some sort of social community that has the kind of people you want as friends. When you find a good community or group, go to the organizing team and offer to help, and get involved.
Most of them love to have more people involved, even if they don’t need that much help. They just appreciate your presence and will be grateful. You’ll instantly be in a position of a value-giver.
This works very well for two reasons. First, it’ll be more than easy for you to meet new people; many members of that community will come to you and get to know you, as one of the hosts. Second, this commitment will somewhat force you to go out and attend their social events, which means that you won’t need any more motivation to do it. It’s like beating procrastination before it even starts.
Habit #2 – Do Something Social Once A Week
Again, if you have to remember to be social, you probably won’t do it. This is why I suggest that you focus on building the habits, once and for all.
First, let’s make sure you don’t forget to keep in touch with people. What you do here is mark in your calendar an hour of time where you usually don’t do anything important. Block that hour, every week, for reaching out to people, calling, sending texts, etc. Something like Wednesday at 7 pm works great.
When you make that decision, you won’t have to remember to call people, you’ll just do it for one hour and enjoy the week without worrying that maybe you’re ignoring people.
During that hour, contact new and old friends, and try and make plans to meet with some of them. If you have one social activity per week, that’s far better than having no clarity and no consistency.
To make this even easier, start introducing people to each other, even if they’re both new friends. This will create a group effect, and they will start to call and make plans as well, you won’t be the only one doing it.
This works because people naturally call their friends who they know in the context of a group, especially around the weekend. It’s more fun to be inside a group, even if it’s just a group of three people.
Habit Three Ritualizing your social activities, instead of doing them only when you feel the motivation. Ritualization is the evolutionary process whereby a signal behavior is established or improved in such a way that it becomes a more effective or efficient means of communication. Any attribute-behavioral, physiological, developmental, or morphological traits--can be the basis of a communicative signal.
The key attribute of the trait is that it in some way conveys information, usually about one individual to another. This information then makes the world of the recipient more predictable, less chaotic. If your world is more predictable, it is easier to navigate and as an introvert you will feel more comfortable communicating with others, which is a key to making new friends.
Habit Four Start thinking in terms of groups of friends, instead of individual friends.
Remember thaat most of the time the group isn't purposely trying to mean and exclusive. They just all know each other and it's easier for them to talk among themselves. They may also be a bit lazy and see getting to know someone new as work, when they could just hang out with their buddies instead. Some of the group members may be a bit shy too, and feel a bit inhibited about engaging someone unfamiliar.
Below is some advice on handling these situations.
Take the initiative and throw yourself in there
Since it's easy for the group to benignly overlook you it's important to take the initiative to try to get to know everyone. Basically, whatever the group is doing, put yourself in there and attempt to join their conversation. The biggest barriers to doing this are feeling too shy to put yourself in the middle of things, and feeling like you don't know what to say to everyone.
It can help not to think of throwing yourself into things in Either-Or terms, i.e., you feel you have to be ultra-outgoing or there's no point in trying. Even pushing yourself a little bit more than usual may be all that's needed. Or maybe you'll only take a little initiative one day, but go further the next. Another thing you can try to do is find a friendly person or two and try talking to them, and not pressure yourself to make the rounds and chat up every last individual. At a larger gathering that may not be realistic anyway.
Don't feel like you're at an audition
I think a lot of people put too much pressure on themselves when they hang out with a new group the first few times, because they feel like they have to show their best side and win everyone over. This sometimes backfires. Act the way you normally would around people. Don't try to be more energetic than usual, or joke around more than you typically would. Basically, if the group is going to like you, they're going to like you.
Don't get discouraged if things don't go perfectly the first time
Another important thing to keep in mind is that the first time you meet everyone usually doesn't make or break you. We often have to hang out with a new person a few times before we know how the relationship is going to develop. Hanging out with someone once, and maybe only getting to actually talk to them for ten minutes, isn't long enough to judge.
You don't have to make everyone love you
Getting along with everyone is something to shoot for, but you can probably hang around a group again even if they all don't want to be lifelong friends after meeting you on a handful of occasions. In many social circles some people like and hang out with each other more than others.
Give everyone a chance even if your first impression of them isn't perfect
When you first meet a new group of people you're not going to like everyone instantly. One person might come off as a bit aloof, another may seem too boring, another you don't have much in common with, and so on. Ignore those first impressions and make an effort to be friendly with them all anyways.
Groups are often quite obvious about what you need to do be accepted
If you pay attention you can often pick up obvious signs of what you need to do for the group to take you in. Signs could be as blatant as someone inviting to join them on a certain activity or mentioning the group often hangs out at a particular place on Friday nights.
Get into a larger group one sub-group at a time
Larger groups naturally take some time to find your place in, and it can be discouraging if you don't realize this.