How To Make Friends With Anyone

Just because you have friends, doesn’t mean you know how to make friends. There is an art to making friends, and not everyone learns it. Fortunately, even if you never learn the art, you can wind up with friends anyway. There are some disadvantages, however, to just winding up with friends. You limit the range of people you can befriend; you tend to just have friends who are a lot like you; and you lose out on the excitement of deliberately pursuing a friendship with someone new.

Luckily, deliberately making friends is easy! Here are my three simple steps for making friends with anyone, even people who are very different than you:

  1. Assume they want to be friends.
  2. Meet them where they’re at.
  3. Shower them with love.

Watch the video for details on how to take each of these steps, and to meet a very cool friend I made by taking them!

View Video Transcript
How To Make Friends With Anyone
Steve Bearman
January 22, 2014

Not everybody knows how to make friends. We all wind up with friends, which is a good thing because we all need friends. But not everyone knows how to deliberately make friends, to find somebody that you’re interested in being friends with and deliberately pursuing a friendship. Here’s my simple, three-step process for making friends with anyone. Step 1 is: assume that they want to be friends with you. Assume that people all want friends and that you’re the right person to be friends with them. This is not easy because some people don’t seem, to you anyway, as if that’s what they want. They may be men who have learned to appear as tough, dangerous, or cool as an exterior, show, or front. But, underneath that, they want friendship. They may be people who have over time learned to be so defended or shut down they just look as if they are not interested in contact, but everyone is. If you start with the assumption that you’re friendly and everyone else is friendly and wants to be friends with you, that’s the place to begin. Step 2 is: you’ve got to meet people where they’re at. That means that if someone is shy and introverted, don’t be extroverted and “huge” on them, instead meet them where they’re at. If someone is being expressive in a particular way, don’t judge or try to change them. Rather, find a way to join them in it. I’m reminded of this nowhere more than when I try to make friends with little kids or with animals. You’ve got to start slow. Pay attention. They’ve got to be able to tell you’re paying attention to them. You’ve got to sense into their energy: notice where they’re at what, what they seem to be up to, what they want. And then you can slowly get them interested in you. Start with a little flirt, get a little contact, and get a little closer. As a result, slowly over time, you can start to be friends. So you’ve got to meet them where they’re at and then find a way to make contact on their terms. Step 3 is: shower them with love. Once you establish contact, figure out how to love whomever it is you’ve decided to love. That’s different for different people. Some people just really want to be seen, recognized, noticed for who they are, and appreciated. Some people want to be given affection and contact, the kind of touch that everybody wishes they could get more of. Some people want to play, other people want help with something, there’s just something that they need that you can offer them in order to be of service to them. Having met them where they’re at, figure out how to shower them with love that’s appropriate to them, you’re now friends. What you do with that friendship from that point is up to you. That’s my simple three-step process for making friends with anyone. If you manage to do this, you can make friends with people who are very different from you instead of just winding up with people who are a lot like you. And that means you can make friends with people who look different, have different races, ages, personalities, cultures, and even different species!

About the Author

Steve Bearman, Ph.D., earned his doctorate in Psychology from the University of California, Santa Cruz. He founded Interchange Counseling Institute in 2002 and is the lead teacher of Interchange's San Francisco-based year-long counseling and coaching training. When he's not counseling people, leading workshops, and advocating for social justice, Steve climbs mountains, adventures in the urban wilderness, explores the edges and limits of what's possible, deconstructs everything, and finds new ways to put it all back together.