Coexistence 105: Making Friends

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Coexistence 104: Tact & Charm

Everyone needs friends

  • Friendships keep us grounded in reality
  • Our friends connect us to the world in a greater way
  • There are several major things friends provide that we need in varying degrees
    • Corrects us
      • Kills motivation for bad things by giving you the honest truth
      • Motivates you to good things by pushing you when you’re discouraged
      • Challenges your views of the world through an alternative lifestyle
      • Shows an alternate way of living through having a different income level
    • Supports us
      • Encourages you when you’re down by giving support and love
      • Backs you up and covers your weak spots
    • Connects with us
      • Intimates with you and confides with and from you about personal intimate details
      • Mentored by you and learns from you through observation
      • Mentors you and teaches you through your observation of them
      • Shows us the simplicity of the world through a childlike lens

Friendships are rarely permanent

  • Since shared interests change throughout life, Knapp’s developmental model will always play out
    • Coming Together
      1. Initiating the relationship and making dialogue
      2. Experimenting with what kind of friend the person could be
      3. Intensifying the relationship once there’s a chance of a relationship working out
      4. Integrating life together through lifestyle decisions
    • Relational Maintenance
      1. Bonding by sharing quality time together
      2. Differentiating from each other as life starts changing
      3. Circumscribing by finding other things to do that don’t include that friend
    • Coming Apart
      1. Stagnating from little to no continued contact
      2. Avoiding any contact at all, which may include making major changes
      3. Ending the friendship officially with a tense conversation
  • There are many situations that can change whether a friendship is viable
    • The amount of time possible to be around someone
    • The relative maturities of both people
    • What society thinks or what others think about the friendship
    • How much effort it takes to overlook many of the other’s shortcomings
  • A friendship needs to be both enjoyable and healthy
    • Enjoyable means that you want to be with this person
      • You feel comfortable and natural around them
      • Time with them is usually fun and there’s usually laughter
      • They are stimulating or interesting
    • Healthy means that your relationship brings out the best in both of you
      • Love is the core driving passion
      • There’s a shared optimism
      • Strong feelings of trust, acceptance and support
      • There’s an equal power dynamic between the two of you
      • You’re both making each other a priority

Because of personalities and context, it is impossible for everyone to be our friend

  • Every connection between two people is based solely on trust, and it needs to work both ways
  • Even in the same social circles, there are multiple spectrums for our unique dispositions
    • Extrovert vs. Introvert
      • Extroverts need to accept introverts as being more recharged by alone time
      • Introverts have to look past the callous nature of many extroverts
    • Affected by Negativity vs. Impervious to Negativity
      • Negatively Affected have to set good boundaries when dealing with others
      • Negative Impervious need to be more empathetic to others’ harder time with negativity
    • Agreeable vs. Resolute
      • Agreeable people have to learn when it’s best to make a stand on a conviction
      • Resolute people need to learn what times are best to relax convictions and allow other views
    • Conscientious vs. Relaxed
      • Conscientious people have to learn that not everyone will do as good of a job as they do
      • Relaxed people need to understand that others have a more intricate attention to detail than they do
    • Open to Experience vs. Resistant to Change
      • People open to experience have to accommodate others who like consistency
      • People who want consistency need to be open to experiences when dealing with others

There are four “layers” of friendship

  1. Close Friends
    • The most important people in your life
    • Very high risk/reward with them
    • You will only have up to 2-3 of these in your life at any given time
  2. Good Friends
    • Fairly important as well, but not a part of daily life
    • Might be invited to your wedding or help you move, but they’re living their own life
    • They are fully safe to be with, but there is little risk/reward
  3. Peers
    • They may be friends on a social network, but that’s basically it
    • You might spend time with them, but the followup for a future time together never seems to happen
    • For many people, these are the closest friends they have
  4. Acquaintances
    • These are people you know by name only
    • Often the 3rd category will blur into this one
  • The distribution of friendships brings out several types of people
    • Well-adjusted person
      • 2-3 Close Friends, a dozen or so Good Friends, lots of everyone else simply from being involved in events and activities
      • This is very uncommon, but is the best person to get to know
      • Being this vulnerable requires being well-adjusted, happy and successful
    • Close Friends with everyone
      • Makes every single friend a Close Friend almost immediately
      • Usually out of a desire to be accepted and a fear of loneliness
      • Tries to please everyone and has a hard time with boundaries
    • Takes many secrets to the grave
      • They have tons of Good Friends, but zero Close Friends
      • This usually comes from trust issues and a fear of connecting
      • Tends to care about others, but will often give more than receive
    • Anti-social
      • Doesn’t have any friends except Acquaintances
      • Has not learned the social skills necessary to build friendships

The less friends you have, the harder it is to make friends

  1. Social skills, like any other attempt at success, have an initial frustration from starting off
    • To add to that, it’s hard to get enough self-esteem to risk engaging with others, especially with an anti-social background
  2. Making friends is a matter of sifting through many people until you find a good fit
    • Each friend technically contains a list of potential future friends, so few friends means few opportunities to make friends from their friends
    • Social awkwardness is necessary, and it’s most easily managed with more exposure to it
  3. Coming from a bad family background will make you believe lies about how to make friends
    • We will often self-reinforce those lies by doing the same things that our family members had done
    • Unfortunately, many dysfunctional people will revert back to coexisting with a dysfunctional family instead of persevering for better friends
  4. To have friends, you need to be a friend, and the required changes are too much work for most people
    • You are guaranteed to make friends who are just like you, but everyone else is based on your ability to connect
    • The ability to sacrifice your own expectations is necessary to get along with others

Making friends is simply a matter of mastering a few techniques

  • Keep learning boundaries and mastering your social skills to master the art of friendship
    • After about 34 minutes of conversation, most people already know if there’s any potential for a long-term friendship with someone
    • You do have something to offer, but you have to actively believe it
  • Get into a state of routine happiness
    • Being happy and positive is absolutely necessary because you can face a lot of rejection in the process
      • Nobody likes being around depressed and miserable people
      • Many times, the best thing to do is to learn to be happy where you are before you risk making friends
        • Thankfully, your own feelings of worthlessness are worse than anyone else is able to see
        • Learn to have zero tolerance for self-criticism unless it points to a solution
      • Find fun things to do while you wait for the friendship to develop
      • Ironically, if you feel you need friends, it’s more than likely you haven’t had some social needs met
        • It is perfectly natural to be a bit “clingy” to a new friend, since it will be tempting to look to that person
        • The best thing to do is to make multiple friends, which will ensure that you won’t become overly dependent on one
        • Don’t pursue a romantic relationship just because that person is a good friend, that’s a whole different level than friendship!
    • There are definite benefits to being alone, and success means life alone becomes a luxury
      • You can listen to any music you want wherever you are
      • You can walk around your home without clothes and can take your time doing chores
      • Your free time and vacations are filled with precisely whatever you feel like doing
      • You save money while shopping from not having to deal with peer pressure
      • You can work more diligently by not being distracted by others
  • Learn to be proactive
    • In some ways, making friends is a bit like dating, and has similar components of experimentation and trial-and-error
    • Being passive will drastically shrink the number of people you can enjoy time with
    • People don’t care about you as much as you think, especially if they don’t know you
    • Most people passively look for friends, which ironically means that nobody makes the first move
      • If you want to talk to them, make the first move
    • Don’t be afraid to ask for their number or to connect on social media
      • Take a picture of them and ask for their number to send it to them
  • Do uncomfortable and new things
    • The reason you have the number of friends you do is because of the lifestyle you maintain
      • If you feel you need more friends, you need to make a physical change to what you do
    • Go out of your way to start conversations
      • Get to know the people you work with
      • Bring gum so that you can offer it to people
      • Wear a funny T-shirt to invite others to start conversations
      • Keep your door open if you live in a dorm or apartment
      • Take out your headphones/earbuds and put away your mobile device
      • Have a big umbrella when it rains and invite others to walk with you under it
      • Take mass transit over driving or biking and find small talk items to chat with strangers on the bus about
      • If you live in a place like a college campus, keep your door open all the time
    • Go out and explore anywhere you can find others that share a common interest
      • Choose exciting and unique places to go with others to make others emotionally connect fun with you
      • Go to public events like concerts and clubs
      • Never decline an invitation you ever get for something, it is always worth the experience
      • Connect with a church or volunteer organization
      • Find social hobbies or things to do with others on Meetup or Heyevent
      • Find friends of friends and connect with them
      • Use social media to connect with people in real life
    • Be a leader of inspiration and connection with those around you
      • Bring a power strip to a coffee shop, cafeteria or airport
      • While eating with friends, make everyone place their phone face down and whoever checks it first pays the bill
    • Learn to be cool at a social event
      • Be interested in the event and the culture around the event
      • It helps to be at least somewhat savvy about different parts of the culture
      • Contribute to the group conversation in a positive way
      • Resist to peer pressure unless it’s something actually worth doing
      • Be willing to try out something that could be potentially embarrassing, especially if everyone else is doing it
    • Learn to be likable in a workplace
      • Respect and communicate what is important, and keep the rest of the communication moderated
      • Avoid taking things personally
      • Go above and beyond what you are requested to do
      • Be straightforward and open with others
      • Pay attention to unspoken rules of the workplace
      • Learn sensitivity for others’ feelings and thoughts
      • Steadily improve in your conduct and work-related skills
  • It can be easy to fall into the mistake of thinking you’re socializing when you’re online
    • Though the internet is great for communicating, it doesn’t provide the one-on-one experience that in-person does
    • Posting on the internet should only be for things that benefit the reader, anything else is harming your reputation and wasting their time
      • Ask yourself these questions before you post anything on the internet:
        • Is it interesting or informative?
        • Is it amusing, entertaining or funny?
        • Does it add to anybody else’s life who will read this?
  • You can’t expect anything from anyone
    • Some barriers will keep you from connecting with someone
      • Their own life has so many stressors that another friendship is more stress
      • The venue you meet the person in is too uncomfortable to open up
      • There is a language/cultural barrier that can’t be reconciled
      • They see you in a negative way, maybe from your reputation or from your conduct
      • You’re breaking the norms of the culture you’re in by making a friendship with them
    • Don’t always try to involve yourself in their lives
      • Before you met them, they had a life of their own, and you need to respect it as the friendship develops
    • Someone that you think will be a great friend might seriously let you down
      • It takes a while to get to know someone, and it takes time to build trust and intimacy
      • Though you’ll run across a lot of lame people, it’s always worth the experience

To have good friends, you need to be a good friend, which means learning to be a loving person

  • One of the most important parts of friendship is trust, and that can only be done through openness
    • Learn how to express your feelings openly and sincerely
      • This is much harder than it sounds, since we all are irrationally obsessed with what everyone else thinks of us
      • Get to know your authentic self-talk, then express it with others
        • To know your actual voice inside the other voices we hear, track where your feelings go
          1. Look at your fears and what drives them
          2. Pay attention to the abnormally good feelings that come from others’ approval
          3. Look for anywhere that you don’t feel comfortable making a decision without having “permission” from others
        • To express your authentic self, it requires understanding how irrational and silly you and every other human being truly is
    • Ask your friends for consistent small favors to ensure that they know you trust them
  • Devote quality time together with them, and make it a priority
    • When in a group with a new friend, call out your other friends by name to give them a chance to memorize them
  • Give affirmations to them about how they matter to you or who they are
    • When you first meet them, express true excitement about seeing them
    • Like their social media posts to affirm that they matter to you
  • Keep track of their birthdays, wedding anniversaries, children’s birthdays, and anything else that matters to them
    • Set recurring events in your calendar to remind yourself to congratulate them
    • Don’t just send them social media congratulations, call them or text them
    • If you want to get them something for their birthday, give them 3 guesses to figure out what it is to get ideas
  • Focus more on how you can give than how you can take
    • You will often never receive from many people, but that’s perfectly okay since it was worth the lessons learned
    • Giving selflessly to make others feel good will always work better than making them feel sorry for you
    • Make a note of what others do when you’re sick or need help, since that’s often how they want to be helped or supported
  • The Five Love Languages will all work on anyone, but each person has a couple that stand out more impactfully for them
    • Kind words – compliments or expressing care verbally
      • This seems extremely easy, but a bad background can make it very challenging to express
    • Quality time – undistracted and uninterrupted time together
      • This doesn’t count if someone is using the phone or watching television
    • Gifts – being surprised by a meaningful gift
      • The cost of the item usually doesn’t matter as much as how much meaning it has to the recipient
      • Keep in mind what that person can actually use and what they already have purchased in their current lifestyle
      • The monetary value of the gift shouldn’t go too high or too low for the context or it will make the circumstances awkward
      • If you can’t find the right gift, give 3 smaller ones: one serious, one humorous and one homemade
    • Acts of service – actions taken to make life less stressful or more enjoyable, like chores or planning
      • This requires vulnerability and openness by the recipient, so be careful with how you approach it
      • Sometimes listening without judgment is the best service you can give someone
    • Physical affection – holding hands, hugging and sharing physical contact to show connection
      • There are entire books about this in respect to cultures, so watch for the context and background of the other person
      • In many places, such as a workplace, this will be easily misconstrued as sexual harassment
    • 5 languages
  • Keep your friends around by not letting anything get in the way of the friendship
    • Friends will inevitably hurt you somehow, forgive them immediately and move on without holding it against them
    • Always keep in touch with them, even after they move
    • If you borrow anything from them, be prompt in giving it back
    • Hold onto great friends, no matter the cost, but keep assessing whether they’re worth having as friends

Watch how the relationship develops

  • How the relationship develops is determined by the context it was built within
    • Pay attention to who you know the person through
      • Most friendships are grounded on common interest, so look for shared values through the shared experiences
      • Work relationships typically only last as long as your work engagement lasts
      • You will likely sabotage a friendship if you decide to date someone that one of your friends had dated, though you may be able to by asking permission
    • To get along with people you live with
      • Always communicate openly about household responsibilities
      • Take initiative in maintaining the living area
  • There are some clear signs that a friendship is a good one
    • After the time with them, you feel energized and encouraged, and they feel the same
    • There is a mutual level of trust over respective talents and abilities
    • Both of you share a mutual respect for one another
    • Both people take individual responsibility for words and actions
    • Differences of opinions and thought are considered healthy and are encouraged
    • There is plenty of open and honest communication
    • Both of you see the friendship as an opportunity for both self-interested goals and the interests of the other
  • Success requires being very picky about who you spend all your free time with
    • Watch for lopsided friendships
      • This is when a friend sees you as more important to them than they are to you, or vice versa
        • This can show in the desire to spend time or in how much each side is listening to the other one
      • Listen to the “weird vibes” you get, and look at where they’re coming from
        • They take hours to text you back, but always have their mobile device with them
        • Their schedule always seems to be full, or they keep cancelling things at the last minute
        • They seem busy with everything but you
        • When people laugh, they instinctively turn to the person they are most comfortable with, so watch who they trust the most
        • Look at their feet when they’re talking to you, they will be interested if they’re pointing toward you
    • Once you get to know the person, you’ll observe that everyone has 3 levels of identity
      1. How they appear
        • The comfort level they bring to people just meeting them
        • How nice or friendly someone appears to be
        • Pleasantness in public
        • Kindness to strangers
      2. How they are once you’ve gotten to know them
        • How much they gossip about others vs. saying things to those people
        • How much they’ll stand up against an injustice
        • How petty or judgmental they are
        • The amount of time they talk about themselves
        • Their ability to keep a secret
        • Their ability to tell the truth vs. exaggerating or lying
        • The ability to return borrowed items or pay others back quickly
      3. Their deepest motivations and values
        • Willingness to let strangers die for personal gain
        • Meanness or cruelty towards others
        • Selfishness vs. altrustic
    • You’ll have a good understanding of who they are if you observe them in a few specific instances
      1. How they treat small children or animals
      2. How they are in the middle of a group of strangers
      3. The way they manage conflicts with others
      4. Who their closest 5 friends are
    • Your ability to judge others on all 3 levels will determine very clearly whether they are a worthwhile person to be around
      • Often, the people who appear the worst can have some of the most redeeming qualities
      • Conversely, some of the most charming people are self-serving and evil
    • Many unhealthy relationships can be salvaged if you know how to do it
      • Some people are difficult to be alone with in a group setting
        • This is natural if you and the other person don’t share anything in common with
        • Look into it further, since they will often have interests you have that they haven’t brought up
      • Some people have a genuine fear of authenticity or openness
        • They are terrified of having an intimate and genuine interaction
        • Often they’ll become clingy or overly identify with something
        • To disagree with these people is to destroy your connection with them
        • Break through the ice, sometimes they will respond with genuineness and other times they will despise you, but it is unhealthy to stay around them for long
      • Some people will never let you bring up your own life and always change the subject
        • If they are doing it because they are self-absorbed, stay away
        • If they have intimacy issues, let them stay as a friend but avoid bringing them into your inner circle
        • If they suspect you of being self-absorbed, then learn about yourself before continuing

Avoid or cut off bad friends immediately

  • Many friendships have clear irreconcilable issues
    • Friends who are always trying to “fix” you
      • Telling you to calm down or relax when you’re upset instead of listening to you
      • Making a quick judgment and giving advice before hearing the entire story
    • People who lead you on
      • The promises they make and attention they give are for power and control, not out of genuine interest
    • People who don’t like you, since they’re never worth the time to win their affections
      • This includes “frenemies”, people who keep up a facade to closely watch your downfall
    • Morally sketchy and unrestrained people
      • Foolish and extremely insensitive people
      • Violent or constantly angry people
      • Drunks, over-eaters, alcoholics, substance abusers and anyone who loves excess
      • Gossipers, liars and cheaters
      • Thieves and con-artists
        • If someone borrows a little money and you never see them again, it was worth the expense
    • Friends who talk badly about others, since they’re going to talk badly about you elsewhere
  • As you demote friends, replace them with new ones
    • Don’t go back to find old former friends who haven’t fulfilled what you expect out of a friend
    • On the other hand, keep in mind that you and others change, which means that the past might not be connected to the present if enough time passes

Family can be friends, but be careful when around them

  • With family, it can be very costly to cut off friendships, meaning it’s a risk to engage in a friendship with them
  • If you do cut off a family member, be ready for a complicated dynamic with other family members
    • Negative remarks and slanderous gossip about you circulating around the rest of the family
    • Members that interject their own opinions and “peacemaking” to bring the family together
    • Other family that choose to not talk to you without explaining why
  • Severing family is only worth it if you have built up your friendship-building skills to support your needs elsewhere

Keep your long-term goals in mind

  • Eventually, your skills in making friends should direct towards gaining a positional advantage of more influential individuals
    • Even if you’re concerned about others’ benefit solely, the ability to influence is directly tied to your ability to connect with the right people
      • The more diverse a group of friends you have, the more opportunities you have and the more connections you can pull from
      • Try to be friends with a police officer and a law student to ensure you’re legally safe
  • Learn to be friends with everyone to never be short of happy and fulfilling life experiences
Next: Coexistence 201: Lying