How not to
“That’s a really nice outfit” is a nice compliment and may win you a smile and a short conversation. “I’ve been watching you for the last hour and I really like how your outfit accentuates your eyes, which are blue like the ocean, iridescent and flecked”, would probably win you a furrowed brow and a hasty escape (unless it’s a pick-up line you’re trying).
Offer unsolicited advice
Nobody likes a know-it-all, especially if it makes them feel stupid. Quinoa may be pronounced keen-wa, but you don’t have to correct someone if they’re calling it key-know-ah. That is until they ask or you’re BFFs—unless you’re telling them they have broccoli stuck in their teeth!
Stay at home
Saying No to social invitations all the time is a sure-fire way to get you that express pass to a solo life in a cave. Even if you’re an introvert at heart, if you want to make some friends, you have to at least sometimes attend a function where there are people around to befriend.
Whether it’s a big favour like moving house or a small one like holding an item for them while they tie their shoelaces, constantly shying away from helping others will likely land you on the proverbial deserted island. And since we are a community and no man (or woman) is an island . . .
Talk—all the time
You may indeed be awesome and intelligent, but it doesn’t work to tell people that. Don’t force people to listen endlessly to your dreams, fears, joys, sorrows, desires and defeats. Extra demerit points if you bring out your phone and make someone look at every single photo from your recent holiday or of your child since they were born.
Making a new friend is about finding something in common, right? So what better way to do so than attending Meetups based exactly on your interests? You’ll know you definitely have at least one thing in common with a new friend-to-be. And even if you don’t end up befriending anybody, at least you spent that time doing something you enjoy.
You don’t want to be creating a culture of gluttony here, but who doesn’t like homemade scones with a bit of jam and cream on top? As the saying goes, “Feed them, and they will come” (OK, it really was, “If you build it, he will come”).
Shower them with gifts
It doesn’t have to be all the time or anything extravagant, you’re not buying a friendship here. We’re talking little thoughtful gifts to show you’re thinking of them, such as giving them a sugar-free chocolate bar when you hear they’re trying to cut sugar from their diet.
Look them in the eye
Your mum was onto something when she demanded you look her in the eye when talking (especially when she knows you’ve done something wrong and is waiting for a confession). So ditch those shifty eyes and you’ll come across as more reliable and trustworthy, excellent criteria for being a friend. Don’t do it for too long though; it’ll get freaky.
Remember their lives
Related to not talking all the time is getting your friend-to-be to do the talking. Ask them meaningful questions about their lives and remember the details. Do they have particular preferences or hobbies? What are their children’s names—or if you’re really bad with names, how many do they have? Maybe don’t reveal something you found out about them while Facebook-stalking that they haven’t actually told you though.