Whether you’re attending a new school or looking for a date, meeting people and making friends can be awkward and challenging. However, it doesn’t have to be so hard. Try a few of these simple tips, and you’ll be on your way in no time.
1. Listen and Ask Questions
Other people like to know they’re being heard and that their ideas are appreciated. By being a good listener, you let others know that you value what they have to say and, by extension, who they are.
You can let others know you’re paying attention by making eye contact while they’re speaking, then asking a question or two about what they’re saying. If the conversation goes well, ask the person for his or her phone number or email, then make plans to hang out.
2. Give a Compliment
Everyone loves an ego boost. Noticing something you like about someone and sharing it with him or her is a great way to forge a connection and start a conversation.
When giving a compliment, be honest and genuine. Even if you’re complimenting something very small—like the color of the person’s shoes—it’s likely to be appreciated. You might even receive a compliment in return!
3. Detach Yourself From Technology — Temporarily
You’re less likely to notice who’s interested in you if you’re constantly checking your email, voicemail and text messages. Being online or on the phone also sends the message to others that you’re unavailable.
Put away your cell phone from time to time and take a look around. Who seems funny or interesting? Which people in the room have you never talked to? Who pays attention to your ideas? Make a mental note and spend a little time getting to know these people face-to-face.
4. Join a Club or Team
Having an interest in common with another person gives both of you something to talk about. No matter if that interest is reading, rugby or rock ‘n’ roll, pursuing it with other people is fun and gives you a sense of meaning and belonging. Clubs, teams and other groups also work toward common goals, which is inspiring, teaches you how to solve problems and helps you bond with others.
Investigate the clubs and activities at your school or place of worship. Check out the course listings at your local community center, YMCA or parks and recreation department. Form a band or a book club, or start an interest group online. You’ll have a circle of friends before you know it.
A strong desire to help others is attractive to most people, whether they’re looking for a friend or a date. It’s also extremely appealing to colleges and scholarship programs. Channeling this desire into a volunteer project is a great way to meet others, build community and work toward common goals.
You can volunteer in your school, community or church. Many teens clean up parks, tutor younger students or help at food pantries, animal shelters or hospitals. Nonprofit organizations always need volunteers as well: Find out if Habitat for Humanity, the Sierra Club, the Red Cross and other nonprofit groups have chapters near where you live. Chances are, you’ll find other teens—and nice people of all ages—volunteering their time.
6. Get a Job
Getting a part-time job at a place where other teens work is another way to meet people and work toward common goals. Even if those goals involve folding sweaters or cleaning toilets, you’ll have something to complain about — and bond over — with others.
7. Form a Study Group
Does your math teacher give super-hard exams? Is your history teacher always giving pop quizzes? Round up a few others from your class to study together each week. Ask your teacher if you could pass around a sign-up sheet or make an announcement about the group after class.
When your group gets together, share notes and chat about class. Find out what your classmates like about the teacher and what they can’t stand. Make flash cards together or quiz one another. Bring snacks and share what’s going on in your life. You’ll have new friends before you know it.
Letting others know that you think they’re funny makes them feel good and shows them you’re interested in what they think. It also shows you have a good sense of humor, which is one of the top things teens look for in a person, whether it’s a best friend or a boyfriend or girlfriend.
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