Healthy Relationships


Making New Friends

1. Make the small gestures. You don’t have to barge into a group conversation, introduce yourself, and do a song and dance. You don’t have to make a big show. But you can take small steps. You can make eye contact with one person. You can smile at someone. You can say “hi” as you’re walking into practice together. You can pay someone a genuine compliment. If you’re all standing around waiting for something to happen, tell another team member you like her shirt or that she did a good job on a particular skill.

2. Speaking of standing around, when that’s happening, don’t park yourself 10 feet away from the rest of the group. You don’t want to invade everyone else’s space—you’re trying to break down walls, not run roughshod over personal boundaries—but you can and should stand close enough to let them know you want to be part of their interaction.

3. And speaking of letting people know you want to be a team player, show with your body language that you’re interested in friendship and connection. Here again, make eye contact. Stay in the vicinity of the rest of the group. Hold onto a water bottle or a piece of equipment from what you’re doing if you need something to do with your hands, but keep an approachable posture. You can’t expect your classmates or teammates to think you’re open to conversation if you’re standing apart from them with your hands folded across your chest and your eyes on the ground.

4. And speaking of letting people know you’re interested in friendship, remember that others are hesitant, too. You’re not the only one who’s unsure about taking a chance on interaction. If you want to make new friends, you need to show that. Don’t make everyone guess whether or not you’re interested in conversation. Don’t keep your desire to be more than just a name on the roster a secret. You need to put the “open for business” sign in your window if you want someone to walk in the door of a relationship.

5. And speaking of opening the door, don’t always wait for someone else to do that first. The people on your team or in your class who already know each other might be comfortable with their circle as it is, but that doesn’t mean they aren’t willing to expand. And other newbies might also be waiting for “someone else” to make the first move. You just might have to be the one to ask the ice-breaker question or make the initial gesture or send the opening message.

All this isn’t about becoming someone you’re not; it’s about letting people know who you are. It’s not about looking needy; it’s about showing what you want.