How To Be More Friendly And Social

If becoming like this is one of your goals, here are some general pointers on how to act like a more friendly, social person. A quick, good-enough definition of "friendly" could be being nice to, and interested in, others. I'd define "social" as spending a fair amount of time with people and enjoying it.

The points in this article describe behaviors. If someone is already in a headspace where they like people and are interested in everyone, many of the actions below will come naturally. The thing is having a certain disposition is easier said than done. However, regardless of how you're feeling, you can still carry out these friendly and social behaviors in the situations where you've decided doing so is important to you.

The ideas here don't suggest that you need to turn into a phony, or a needy suck up, or an over-the-top caricature of a friendly person. Be fairly low key about implementing the points below. They should also be thought of as a general approach to how you interact with people. A serious macho guy and a more sensitive artist type can use the same basic concepts and still maintain their own style.

These points will be harder to follow if you're wired to be less-social, but still want to act in a more friendly, sociable way in at times. Trying to do everything here, or go all out with each suggestion, may be too draining. Only apply the ideas that seem manageable, and don't feel you have to take them to an extreme.

Here are some things you could try:

Start conversations with new people

If you've recently been introduced to someone, or there are some new people around, see if you can start a conversation. Maybe you have time to get to know them better. Maybe you can only talk for a minute or two about the line you're both waiting in. It's not the deepest interaction, but you made a little connection with someone. That's friendlier than keeping to yourself.

Chat back to people who try to talk to you

Have you ever tried making pleasant conversation with someone you've run into, and they blew you off by giving one-word responses and obviously looking like they don't want to be spoken to? You probably walked away thinking they were pretty unfriendly, even if you intellectually knew they may have had a reason for being brusque. If someone is trying to chat with you, make an effort to give them something back in return. Even if you can't talk for long, engage with them at least a little.

Take time to talk to people you already know

If you see someone you know, then go over and find out how they're doing. Keep in touch with your friends. Stop and chat to your co-workers when they're not too busy. Show you're interested in maintaining your relationships. If you spot an acquaintance while you're running errands, don't avoid them because you don't feel like talking, or pretend not to notice them because you're worried the conversation will be stilted. Say hello and catch up briefly.

Invite people to do things with you/the group

Be fairly loose and generous with your invitations. Be the one to invite people out rather than waiting for them to come to you. Don't feel you have to know someone for a long time before you can hang out either. If you seem to get along then why not ask them to do something? If you like your new co-worker or classmate, see if they want to grab a drink later, or come by your place to lounge around. If you run into a friend downtown, and neither of you is doing anything, ask if they want to grab a bite to eat, or if one of you is busy, suggest you get together later.

If everyone at work is going out on Friday evening then ask anyone who may not know about it if they want to come along as well. If you're meeting some friends later that night, ask your new acquaintance if they want to join in. If you run into a classmate on the street for five seconds, tell her that you're going to be a Dan's place later if she wants to drop by. Of course, when you throw invitations out like this, they won't always be accepted, but that's alright. At least you took a shot.

Make an effort to bring new people into the fold and help them feel included

If you're out with your longtime friends and one of them's brought a new buddy along, take the time to talk to them a bit, rather than being more aloof and expecting them to make the effort of getting to know you. At the end of the night mention, for example, that everyone is going to a concert in the next two weeks if they want to come. If there's a new person at work, fill them in on the general goings on of the office, and let them know everyone in your department usually grabs lunch together at 12:30. Mention that you and three other people usually play football on Thursday evenings if they want to join in.

Go to where the people are

If you're at work and everyone is going out for lunch then go as well. If they all eat lunch at a certain time and place, then eat lunch then too. If you're at a party and everyone is talking on the front porch, go join them. If you're at a bar and everyone is hanging around on the couches downstairs, then you may as well be there too. Show you want to spend time with the friends you came with. And once you're there, join in whatever they're doing. Don't hang back and focus on something else.

Spend more time with people

Spend time with people more often. Spend longer periods of time with them. Spend time with more of them. If when you normally see your friends, you leave after a few hours, try spending half the day with them. If you only visit your friends once a week, try seeing them more often (if they're willing and not too busy). If you usually keep to yourself at work, and only talk to people at lunch, try interacting with your co-workers a little more during the workday. If you only see some acquaintances of yours under specific circumstances (e.g., in particular class, at a club), then try to see them outside of that setting.

If this piece of advice seems like something you'd like to try, but you quickly get drained in social situations, and worry you wouldn't last long, then you may want to look at this article:

When You Easily Get Drained And Tired In Social Situations

Make nice little gestures toward other people

Bring food or drinks to a party when it wasn't expected that you do so. Perform basic courtesies like holding a door open. Buy a friend a drink or a shot if you're out at a bar. However, less is more. If you're overly "nice" and giving you can be taken for granted, taken advantage of, or come across as if you're trying too hard to please everyone and make them like you. It also puts people in an awkward situation where they feel uncomfortable taking so many free handouts.

Offer compliments to people

Don't be afraid to be positive and encouraging. If someone is good at something then tell them. If someone looks nice or is well dressed, then say you think so, in an appropriate way. If you think someone is funny or an interesting, let them know. Again, moderation is essential. The occasional genuine compliment is way better than a constant stream of try-hard ones.

Make sure everyone is having a good time when you're out

Without overdoing it and being a pest, put some energy into making sure everyone is having fun when you're out in a group. If someone seems left out of the conversation, try to maneuver it to a topic they can contribute to. Or if someone seems like they want to say something, but they can't get a word into a lively discussion, casually indicate to everyone that they want to talk. If you're all doing an activity that someone doesn't seem comfortable with, try to gently coax them to join in (if it's harmless and you know they'll have fun once they start), or take some time to explain the basics if they aren't familiar with how to do it, or maybe help arrange an alternative side activity.