Watching our two years old grandson interact with people of any age gives me a huge smile. He is a friendly child, waving to people in the grocery store or holding hands with his cousins as they run and jump while making animal sounds. He greets people at the front door by saying, “Hi friends.” Making friends is easy for this two years old child. The world is a wonderful place and his parents have shown him how to show kindness to others.
I remember making friends when I was a young child. Neighborhood ball games, hide and seek, sharing popsicles while sitting in the shade under the crepe myrtle tree and playing outside from morning until night. Great memories.
Then, middle school and high school brought challenges for making new friends. Yes, bullying happened in my youth, too. A close group of friends stayed together while new classmates tried to join in. Some friends stayed in the group and some left.
Becoming an adult and making the journey into the workplace and marriage brought more changes to friendships. Married friends tended to stay with their newly formed families and single adults gathered with other singles.
There are common themes in making friends as a child and making friends as an adult. First, don’t judge a person by their looks. A first meeting can bring a new friendship or an awkward experience. I believe we can learn from young children and their ability to show love to others.
Toddlers and preschoolers can be seen holding hands and sharing toys. (Though there are those temper tantrums in children and adults, too.)
When you meet someone for the first time, do you look them in the eyes and say “Hello”? Do you initiate conversation or stand in silence? I have thought about my adult friendships and how they were formed. I continue to make new friends and enjoy learning about people and their life journey. We all have a unique experience and sometimes people like to share. That doesn’t mean sharing with someone until they are so bored they walk away.
Yet, sharing common struggles and joys can bond people into new friendships. Just know when to share and when to spare the details.
Some things I have learned for making friends as an adult.
- Make eye contact. This shows the person you are ready to listen.
- Smile. A smile can ease the awkwardness.
- Listen without distractions. Put away the cell phone during a conversation.
- Don’t judge a person by their appearance. You might have different fashion ideas.
- Accept differences. You might not have the same opinions.
- Offer another opportunity to get together for conversation.
- Most of all, relax…be yourself…
I often pray before speaking to a possible new friend. A short prayer asking God to help me with my words and actions. Praying gives me comfort.
Think about the people you will encounter today. Are there specific ways you make new friends? Let us know in the comments. We can help each other become better friends and make the world a kinder place.
Melissa Henderson is a writer of inspirational messages through fiction, non-fiction, devotions, guest blogs, articles and more. Her first children’s book “Licky the Lizard: was released in 2018.