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Friday 20 January, 10:25am
Im sure like me youve at times been part of an exercise class, or taken an evening course or joined a group related to a hobby such as a choir, running group or book club. Maybe you thought it might also be a way to make new friends, but thats not always as easy as it may sound.
Some people seem to easily pick up friends, get chatting and turn casual acquaintances into friends, but for those of us who are shyer, its a lot harder. I have made some of my most enduring friends through a shared interest or activity, but it took in some cases years for that to happen. If I was a little braver, could I have speeded things up and maybe have made more friendships along the way? Here are some tips on turning some of your fellow club members into friends.
Its all too easy to dash into a session or meeting at the last minute and zip off as soon as it finishes. Sometimes its because were so busy. Other times, to be honest its because we feel a bit awkward and want to run away. ItÂs obvious that if you dont allow time to talk to other people things wont progress any further and it probably also makes you look a bit unfriendly. Deliberately plan to arrive 5-10 minutes early or stay afterwards.
You need to talk to people! If you find this hard, think up some open questions in advance. Some ideas are to comment on the activity go are doing you have that in common! Talk about what you are doing that evening or weekend. Talk about a local event or hot topic for example a new shop opening. Compliment them on what they are wearing; and if all else fails there is the great British topic of conversation the weather!
Friendships really only develop when you spend time with someone and Ive found theyve started to grow when someone has suggested a meet up or activity outside of the class. I wish I had the nerve to take the first step more often. A good idea could be a related activity eg Âhave you heard about the yoga evening they are holding next month, I was thinking of going or something similar building on a conversation youve had. Or you could suggest a quick coffee Im going to have a coffee now, do you fancy joining me/us?. If you make it sound like something you are doing anyway thats less intimidating and dont feel disheartened if they arent interested they may just be busy.
Depending on the club or activity youre involved in, a way of getting to know people more is by volunteering to help out. Many clubs need committee members or someone to help set up and are really grateful for volunteers. Ive found it a way to break down some of my shyness and is less intimidating as you have a common job to do.
If you see someone outside of the class or club, although it can take a while to recognise them out of context, do say hello! You may have time to have a chat, and the suggestions in no.2 can work here. The suggestion of grabbing a quick coffee can work particularly well.
So be bold and try out one of these suggestions with a couple of people, in different situations. Youve got nothing to lose and it could be the start of a long friendship! And remember you can also find new friends with common interests online through www.togetherfriends.com