Making Friends 101: Striking Up a Conversation

CONTRIBUTED BY JANAE BURGER

Honestly, I am not sure how I ended up with a couple of rolls of toilet paper that night. But there I was, 27 years old and crouched behind a bush trying not to giggle or move as the cop car rolled by. An attempt which was completely thwarted when I glanced over at my friend only to get a face full of silly string. There is a saying, “A good friend will bail you out of jail, but a true friend will be sitting next to you saying…. Damn, that was fun!”

New years eve

I actually remember the day I first met one of my closest friends. I was moving in and she had just PCSed from Germany, she walked over as I was unloading a couch (DITY move) and announced she had the exact same couch, or did until the movers lost it. No plate of cookies to welcome us, no witty joke or comment- things I have used to initiate conversations and introductions in the past. Slightly startled but pleased I would have to make one less plate of cookies, I introduced myself and that started a wonderful friendship. So how do you go from introduction to huddling together in the dark with rolls of toilet paper (or whatever you do with your closest friends)? Friendships have to start somewhere and we don’t usually stumble into them.

The next time you are at the BX wishing you weren’t shopping alone, take some initiative.

1.    Make eye contact with another lonely customer.

2.    SMILE. Without a smile most people look quickly away.

3.    Start a conversation. Mention the weather, ask for help, compliment them.

4.    Make small talk. Keep it light and cheery

5.    Introduce yourself

6.    Initiate a get together.

Surprising to many of us, there are people out there that this comes naturally to them. They don’t have a hard time striking up a conversation with strangers. But a lot of us might feel out of our comfort zones. Practice and expect an awkward moment or two. It will get better and before you know it you will be talking to strangers with the best of them. And you know what? You’ll be surprised at just how many of these strangers turn into friends.

     Maybe you’ve noticed the first Tuesday of the month is our ‘Making friends 101’ day. We’ve got some amazing “friends” out there. What do you think are the basics to making friends? Do you have any pet peeves- things that people do that turn you off of being their friend? Things that people do that make you want to be their friend? Leave it in the comments below. We’d love to hear from you! 

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3 COMMENTS

  1. Larissa- I completely agree with you. The MOST important thing is to initiate a get-together! I LOVE that you “drag” your friends with you when you go on errands, those spontaneous outtings are usually the most relaxing.

  2. I think your last tip is key – we must initiate the first contact and the get together. Most people will not initiate a conversation or invite you out but they will engage in the conversation or join you in whatever you are doing. I’m not sure why this is but it’s a reality. I haven’t made friends at the BX/PX yet but I have no problem asking people where something is in the commissary so I don’t have to be there any longer than necessary. However, I am famous for “dragging” my new and seasoned friends along to all sorts of errands! People love invitations – start inviting and keep inviting. Friends are worth it and there is no reason to be lonely on this island – we have a captive audience!

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