But mom said, “Don’t talk to strangers!?” (7 in 7)

Last night, I was at a mixer chatting in a circle with 3 or 4 people I had just met. In the corner of my eye, I see a young woman who we’ll call Jane. Our eyes met, I smiled, and said hello. What happened next surprised me. But first, here are my 7 elements to becoming good friends in 7 minutes.

Comfort. Any relationship starts with comfort. I learned this the hard way. I was single and would approach a lady with a smile, hello, and non-creepy eye contact (fella’s). I would make the approach short and quick because for some reason or another I was really shy around really gorgeous women. I would learn a valuable lesson…

Common ground. When you first meet someone, find common ground in a hurry. Establishing comfort with someone is when he or she realizes that you both have shared interests/experiences. The lesson I learned with any relationship is to find common ground because no matter how fun or charming you may be, people need to relate to you in order to trust you.

Be real. Open up and share the real you. I actually felt this about 2 months ago. I was chatting with a friend over dinner. We began catching up and I started to open up about some hard times I had been through in my past. Little did I know, we’d been through a lot of the same tough times. Our relationship has never been tighter based on the bond and connection we made that night. Be real and share a personal story or funny life experience that ties in with your shared common ground and feel what happens.

Feelings. People buy feelings. People are moved by your passion, not skill. Don’t impress them but move them. We want to feel loved no matter how hard we hide it. Make the person feel important. I read a recent study about peoples tipping habits at a restaurant. It said, “ People don’t tip based on service; they tip based on how you make them feel.” The easiest way to evoke feeling is through the power of touch. One of the most memorable things I remember from my conversation with Jane last night was how she touched my arm while our conversation progressed. I felt our conversation.

Face: eyes & ears. Eye contact and listening are tried and true keys to good communication. Don’t talk to, talk with. Communicate. Listening makes you captivating. Listen to the words but importantly watch what they’re saying. For example, I transferred to Saint Mary’s College my sophomore year not knowing anyone at my new school. Within 7 months, I ran for an elected student body position and won against 3 qualified candidates. It was never my plan to run for office but me being me was all it was. I would walk around campus daily smiling and saying hello to strangers. I would constantly engage in conversations with new people and actively listen to them because I cared about them. You see, I grew up as an only child and dealt with many times feeling lonely. As I grew older, my outgoing personality and charismatic positive attitude developed me into a social butterfly because I desired friends and people to be with.

Be memorable. People remember how you make them feel (like the touch I received last night). People remember stories. The easiest way for you to be memorable if you’re struggling with this is to wear something unique and different. For example, a friend of mine in high school used to wear loafers everyday. When you share your real story and/or show you care by listening and engaging in conversation you will be memorable

Extra credit. The bonus, glue, and most important element that encompass all 7 keys to becoming friends in 7 minutes is your smile. Your smile is everything. It’s welcoming and ultimately brings your conversation from head level of thinking to a heart level of feeling. So, what happened next with Jane? After establishing comfort, sharing common ground of our passion for kids and expressing real stories about why we do what we do, she asked, “Wait, do I know you?” We’d been chatting like we knew each other for years and just met. “Can we be new best friends!?”

What holds us back from making new friends like this? Getting uncomfortable, afraid of putting ourselves out there, lack of trust in others to share our real story, and/or worried that people may judge us. From hearing many speakers, I’ve learned to truly thrive one needs to learn what makes them uncomfortable and embrace it. In addition, elders tell us not to worry about what others may think of us because people that truly care about you will respect you for who you are. Be real. Be memorable. Be you!

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