Tuesday, January 29, 2013

It’s the Thought that Counts

Coming to college alone and seemingly friendless is a daunting feeling for anyone, no matter who you are. Don’t disagree with me you naysayers, it’s true!

You've suddenly left most of what you care about behind and high school is a bygone era (for better or for worse), and more often than not, most of your best friends are now in another city. You open the door to new responsibilities every morning and sometimes it’s hard to find out how to relate to the new people in your life.

New classes, new roommates, new co-workers, new date potentials, new people on the sidewalks; how’s a person to start forming a bond with these people you don’t know? Well, the simple answer is that it starts with a thoughtful hello.
(See Megan’s blog about talking to new people here!)

Hellos are hard to do sometimes, but usually the hardest part is just making a decision to commit yourself to the act of getting to know them. The thought you put into that commitment will come out in your words and body-language. If it’s someone who will make a good friend, they will usually reciprocate your gesture and be happy that you came. If not, it’s okay! Keep trying!

One of the biggest successes I have in making new friends is joining a conversation about common interests. For example, if I happen to walk across a couple of people talking about a book or tv series I happen to love, I’ll make sure it isn’t clearly a closed conversation (body language is key here, you don’t want to seem rude if they are huddled together and speaking in hushed tones in a public area) and I’ll mention that I enjoy the same thing. Maybe if the reception is good, I might venture a question as to their favorite part or favorite character. Conversations can be easy if you find common ground.

Once you make a friend though, the task that falls upon you his how to keep it up. How do you nurture something and help it grow? You feed it, of course! Feed it with smiles, little gifts on your favorite holidays (Valentine’s Day is coming up and it doesn't just have to be between couples!), compliments, or even thoughtful favors. The things that people universally respond positively to are actions that show them that you care.

Here are a few things to do to show your new(or old) friends that you care:
  •  Asking them about their day (and meaning it!)
  • Let them know you are glad to see them when you do
  • Ask them to come to an event with you, or just go somewhere together
  • Find out when their birthday is and remember to celebrate with them, even in small ways
  • Get them a little something every once in a while (Bonus if it’s something that means something to both of you)
  • Bring them something yummy or make something for them to eat (check for allergies! If you find out your friend is allergic to something and you make sure you get them something they can eat, they will appreciate that you were being conscious for them)
  • Visit them when they don’t feel well
  • Compliment them if they have something you admire
  • Communicate with honesty!!

Warnings: Remember to always be genuine with the people you are trying to build a better relationship (For romantic relationship don'ts, see Chrissy's blog here!). People generally have a feeling when you aren't ; if they don’t already pick up on it, you can be sure that they’ll figure it out and be hurt when they do. Don’t take advantage of the kindness of others who want to be your friend. If they pick up on feeling used, you will generally not like the reaction that follows. If your friend has habits that bother you, communicate this with them before you get angry enough to explode about it. If they’re a good friend, they will work with you to solve the issue.

Finally, if for some reason the friendship/relationship isn't working out, know when to let it go. Sometimes you and someone else will come to an impasse on your views or values, and if you can’t agree to disagree and leave it at that, you have to know when your limit is. Continuing with a relationship of any kind after you've already discovered irreconcilable differences can lead to poorly thought out words and actions. Ultimately, this is the stuff regrets are made of. Don’t let that be you. Instead, strive to get the relationships that will make you happy in the long run.

No comments:

Post a Comment