If you want to become more outgoing and make friends anywhere, there are three mindsets you should:
- Focus on creating a friendly environment for everyone around you
- Be proactive. Don’t be afraid to initiate or break the ice.
- Practice being curious about others and asking questions.
Watch the full video for more details!
Do you ever look at someone who naturally makes friends everywhere they go and wonder what it is that makes them so outgoing? Whether it’s at work, school, or in social events, there always seems to be that one person who knows everyone. Even in scenarios where they don’t know anyone, they naturally make connections and turn strangers into friends.
If this is a skill you want to develop, stick around – In this video we’re going to be covering how to become more outgoing. We’ll go over the three mindsets that help you strike up a conversation and make friends anywhere, and what they look like in practice.
Mindset #1: Focus on creating a friendly environment for everyone around you.
You might be thinking that in order to become more outgoing, you need to become the most interesting or entertaining person in the room. That’s actually not necessarily the case.
You don’t have to be a social butterfly or the center of attention to make friends. In fact, the people I’ve seen who are most naturally outgoing, tend to bring other people out of their shell. They make friends everywhere they go not because they hog the spotlight and wow people with stories, but because they encourage others to share. They’re not the most boisterous people in the room – they’re the ones who are encouraging conversations and making sure others have a chance to express themselves.
Naturally outgoing people worry less about impressing people and more about making others feel engaged. Sure, they don’t want to make a fool of themselves, but they’re more concerned with making sure everyone feels welcome and included. If you want to break out of your shell and be that person who others gravitate towards, shift your focus from just your own personal experience, to creating a friendly environment for everyone else.
When you shift your goal to something external, or a purpose that’s bigger than you, like making sure others feel included, it’s easier to get out of your own head and overcome that fear of feeling awkward. Plus, when you focus on making others feel included and appreciated, it makes you more approachable than if you’re just concerned with your own appearance. People naturally gravitate towards people who make them feel included.
Think about it right now, who in your life is really good at engaging everyone around them? I know for me, it’s a coworker I had, and I often think of her when I’m in a group full of strangers at work. Let me know in the comments who your person is, and keep them in mind as we go through the rest of these points.
Mindset #2: Be proactive. Don’t be afraid to initiate or break the ice.
If you’re worried about being awkward, here’s something to help get you out of your head: Most people are just as worried about looking stupid or feeling awkward as you. So they’re relieved when someone includes them in a conversation, or breaks the awkward silence.
Think about it – have you ever been at an event where you knew nobody, and someone struck up a conversation with you? Didn’t you feel better that you weren’t alone any more, that you had a friendly face to talk with? I don’t know about you, but I’m always grateful for the person who breaks the ice first.
Be that person for others. Make the first move. Get out of your comfort zone. Yes, it’ll feel a little awkward at first, but I promise once you’ve practiced it, you’ll get more comfortable at it… AND you’ll help everyone else feel more comfortable. Most of the time when you break the ice, you’re doing everyone else a favor, too.
My go-to ways of breaking the ice are embarrassingly simple. 99% of the time, I either start with a genuine compliment, or an observation about my surroundings. And I try to always follow up with a question.
Give a genuine compliment. At the gym this might be “Hey nice shoes, I’ve been meaning to try that brand for a while. Do you like them so far?” In class this could be “that’s a cool planner, where did you get it?” Maybe someone is wearing a shirt from a band you like, “Hey that’s a cool shirt, did you see that band when they were in town?”
People often express themselves through what they wear, so a really easy way to break the ice is to compliment someone on a piece of clothing and ask where they got it.
One of my favorite coworkers from my old job would always point out when someone had a fun or interesting profile picture on our project calls. “Hey, that’s a pretty background in your profile photo, where did you take that?” Just make sure you’re being genuine.
When a compliment doesn’t feel natural, go with an observation about your surroundings. This doesn’t have to be fancy. I’ll be honest, most of my conversation starters aren’t even really conversation starters, they’re just me verbalizing my inner dialogue. In this case, I’ll normally ask a followup question after the person responds.
“Man, that workout was hard, I can’t believe they made us do so many burpees!” “Looks like we have some nice weather this weekend, do you have any fun plans?” “The host of this party always does a great job with the food… how do you know Lisa?” You can even share a bit of recent news… “Apparently Elon Musk just bought Twitter, can you believe it?”
Everyone always pokes fun of how adults talk about the weather for small talk but you know what, you don’t have to be super fancy about how you get your foot in the door. Give a genuine compliment, make a somewhat relevant observation, and MORE IMPORTANTLY, follow it up with a question. Help the other person by giving them an easy lead they can follow. Most people are just flattered to be included in the conversation, so it usually doesn’t take much for someone to latch on and continue engaging.
Whatever path you go with, make sure to take a moment before you approach someone to take a deep breath and smile. It’s simple but it goes a long way in conveying warmth and friendliness.
Mindset #3: Practice being curious about others.
Have you ever had a conversation with someone where you realized you were doing most of the talking because you were worried about awkward silences? Maybe you’re someone who worries about starting up a conversation because you don’t want to be in the spotlight. The best way to combat this is to develop a genuine curiosity about other people. Practice being curious about others’ lives and experiences.
Think about it this way. No matter how smart you are, you have no way of knowing everything. Every single person you come across, no matter their age, job, or whatever demographic, they know something that you don’t, whether it’s a perspective, an experience, or knowledge. Make it your mission to figure out what that is, to learn about other people.
Why should you want to learn about other people? Because it’s fun! It’s literally, psychologically fun. We as humans love learning – I’m not talking about formal education, I’m talking about the novelty of learning about new ideas or things we didn’t know about before. Our brains love that shit. We get hits of dopamine any time we get information that’s novel, it’s literally exciting. And just think – every person you meet has something you can learn from.
Practice getting out of your own head and stepping into someone else’s world for a minute. Next time you’re at your workout class, get curious about the person next to you. “I wonder how long they’ve been going to this class. I wonder if they’ve tried any other classes or styles of exercise. I wonder how they learned about this gym. I wonder if they have a favorite coach or a time they like to come during.”
Then, when there’s a good moment, take initiate, give a compliment or observation, and follow it up with a question. Once the conversation gets going, see what you can learn about the other person. “How long have you been coming here?” “Are you from the area?” “How did you get into crossfit?” Remember, your questions don’t have to make you look super smart or put together. They’re just opportunities you’re giving for the other person to share their own experiences and ideas.
Once you’ve chatted a little bit, if the conversation is going well, ask them their name. My go-to is “I’m Tali, by the way. What’s your name?”
Woohoo, nice job! You’ve met a new person. If you guys have a lot in common and really click, you can always ask if they’d want to grab coffee or workout together or whatever and exchange contact info. Even if you don’t become super close – which is what happens most of the time anyway – that’s one more friendly face that you know, which always makes life a little easier.
And, you’ll feel a little more confident knowing that you made the space a little friendlier for everyone around you.
Remember, when it comes to being outgoing and making friends, your mindset matters more than anything in particular you say.
- Focus on creating a friendly environment for everyone in the room
- Be proactive (don’t be afraid to initiate).
- Practice being curious about others and asking questions.
You’ve got this.