Site icon Tali Shlafer

How to Build Closer Friendships

If you’re someone who has a lot of friends, but your friendships feel very surface level – listen up. In this video we’re going to be covering the three components of creating closer, more meaningful friendships with the people in your life.

Summary:

Building deeper friendships takes time and two-way vulnerability. Here are three things to focus on to start building more meaningful connections with the people in your mind.

#1: Make one-on-one time

#2: Share your struggles

#3: Level up your listening

If you’re someone who has a hard time making deeper friendships because you’re always trying to impress people or you’re afraid of being yourself, make sure to download my free guide on how to stop being a people pleaser. It includes 10 ways to start speaking up for yourself so you can build confidence and build healthier relationships with the people in your lives.

Full Transcript:

If you’re someone who has a lot of friends, but you feel like most of your friendships are very surface level, listen up. In this video, we’re going to be covering the three components of developing closer, more meaningful friendships with the people in your life.

Maybe you’re somebody who has a lot of friends, but you only see them at parties or certain events. Or maybe you feel like you can’t really open up and be yourself around the people in your life because you’re just not that close with them, so it’s hard to be vulnerable.

Whatever the case is, we got to first understand where deep friendship comes from. And it comes from two things. It comes from time spent together (so it takes time to develop deep friendship, it doesn’t just happen overnight), and it takes two way vulnerability (you have to be able to be vulnerable with the other person, and the other person needs to be able to be vulnerable with you).

So what do these things look like in practice?

Number one, make one on one time.

If you have a lot of friends and or acquaintances, but you feel like you’re not close to any one of them, ask yourself, are you spending quality one on one time with anybody? Or are most of your social interactions in groups settings.

Group settings like parties and events and all these great things are fun. They’re awesome. I’m not saying don’t go to them, but they’re not always the best settings for having those deeper one on one conversations that are required to be close friends with somebody.

It’s harder to let your guard down when you’re around a lot of people. You might be worried about getting interrupted by others or being overheard by somebody that maybe you don’t trust as much or you don’t know as well. And also, a lot of times when people are in big group settings, they’re not really in the mental headspace to have those deeper, more vulnerable conversations. A lot of times they just want to have fun.

This past December, I was at a holiday party. I was surrounded by friends and people I knew, and it was going to be this awesome event. But I just felt so anxious and disconnected from people. I just felt completely alone, even though I was around people I knew, people I could have fun with. And it was later that night that I realized that it was because it was the holidays, so I was seeing people at large like parties and group settings, but I wasn’t setting aside time one on one with people to maintain my more intimate relation relationships and connections. So a lot of my friendships were starting to feel surface level because I was only seeing people at parties and I wasn’t having that one on one time to be really able to open up with people and feel connected with them.

So how do we put this into practice? How do we spend more one on one time with our friends?

Well, you got to set aside the time. Put a reminder in your calendar every one or two weeks to reach out with somebody that you want to get closer with. Try to at least meet up with them once a month.

Set aside some one on one time and pick an activity that’s conducive for those deeper conversations and being able to being able to speak uninterrupted.

A lot of the activities we often do are great and they’re fun, but it’s harder to have deeper heart to heart conversations in those activities because they’re prone to interruption or they’re really distracting. These are things like working out, going shopping, watching sports, going to the movies, music events, going to parties, or shopping.

These are all great things. And I’m not saying you don’t stop doing them. By all means, go enjoy yourself.

But what I am saying is that those activities tend to not be very conducive to the deeper conversations that you need to be able to have if you’re developing closer friendships. So you can do those things, but if you want those deeper relationships, make sure you’re also getting one on one time with the people that you want to build those deeper friendships with, doing activities that are more conducive to deeper conversations.

So these are typically things like getting dinner or brunch with a friend, getting coffee or happy hour. If you want to do something active, going on a walk or a hike or maybe going to the dog park together. If you’re limited on the time you have, you can even pick up the phone and give someone a call just to catch up one on one.

If you want to go deeper friendships you got to go the extra mile. That means setting aside time to connect with people individually, not in a group setting, and pushing yourself to have those deeper conversations.

Which leads us to the second element of building deeper friendships, which is, number two, sharing your struggles.

You’ve got to be able to open up and share the things that you’re uncomfortable with yourself or things about yourself that you’re worried about being judged for.

That means sharing things like your fears, your insecurities, your worries, hurt feelings, problems, or issues that you’re going through. It also means sharing your hopes and dreams and all these positive things in life, but a lot of times when we’re feeling like we’re stuck at these surface level friendships, it’s often because we’re putting on a show and only sharing the great things, we’re not really sharing what’s beneath the surface… which is where, by the way, humans connect best. Push yourself to have those deeper conversations, to share what’s really going on, to be vulnerable.

And remember, this takes time. It’s not something that happens overnight. So don’t just jump into oversharing the next time that you get some dinner with somebody.

And also keep in mind, not everybody will always reciprocate. Some people are content with having surface level friendships there, or maybe they don’t realize that they actually need something deeper. Don’t go oversharing or forcing things if the other person feels closed off to it or they’re not reciprocating.

Remember, by sharing these things, you’re opening the door to deeper friendship, but you both have to walk through it together and make sure that the other person is actually being receptive and that they’re engaging with you.

And that takes us to the third element of creating deeper friendships, which is level up your listening.

Close friendships require two way vulnerability. So you have to be able to open up to somebody else, and the other person needs to be able to open up to you. You can’t just dump all your problems and all your life issues on this other person and expect to be best friends. That’s just taking advantage of someone who’s nice and is willing to lend an ear.

You have to reciprocate and create a space and time for somebody to be able to open up to you. So that means asking the important questions. A lot of times when we have surface level relationships, we’re not talking about the deeper things in life, we’re just talking about surface level topics.

So you have to be proactive in asking about those touchier subjects like stress, health, relationships, family stuff, job satisfaction. Obviously, you can’t force somebody to talk about these things. You have to be respectful of their boundaries and what they’re comfortable with. But what we’re trying to do here is encourage the other person, and let them know, “Hey, I care about how you’re doing, and I want to know what your real life experiences like.”

“Hey, I’ve been meaning to ask you about X, Y, Z…”

“By the way, how are you dealing with this thing that happened? I heard this happened, and it sounds like it was really hard to go through…”

“How’s work doing? Is it something that you’re still enjoying? Do you plan to be there for a while? What are you looking to get out of it in the long term?”

Remember, when somebody is opening up that it’s not about you. It can be really tempting to try to relate to somebody’s story, especially if they’re going through some challenges or struggles. It can be really tempting for us to try to relate by sharing our own stories.

This oftentimes backfires because it makes it seem like you’re just looking for a reason to talk about yourself. It doesn’t make the other person feel like they necessarily have the floor to be able to talk about their stuff, because you keep bringing in your own stories. Let the other person talk without making it an opportunity to share your own struggles, especially if this is someone who doesn’t share pro-actively a lot.

You don’t want to ask somebody about their experiences and then the minute that they tell you what’s going on, you talk about yourself again. That doesn’t feel very good for the other person, and it’s not a really great way to build trust.

When you’re responding to somebody when they’re opening up or sharing with you, try not to shift the focus away from what they’re talking about. Focus on them. Ask follow up questions about their experience. So you can say something like, “Hey, that sounds really frustrating,” or “what do you think you’re going to do next?”

And also, don’t try to problem solve. Unless somebody asks you for advice, try not to offer it. Often when people are sharing, especially if they’re sharing for the first time, they’re not really looking for you to solve their problems, at least not right away.

They just want to feel heard. They want to process their feelings. They want to have their feelings acknowledged, have their experience acknowledged. Be with them as they process. Don’t just hurry or jump into trying to fix their problems, especially if they haven’t asked you about it. Level up your listening by keeping the focus on the other person while they share and you’ll be a lot more likely to be seen as somebody that they can trust.

Close friendships take time and to a vulnerability, so you have to be able to open up to the other person, and the other person needs to be comfortable sharing with you. That looks like making one on one time with with people. It looks like sharing your struggles, and it looks like leveling up your listening.

If you’re struggling to make closer friendships because you feel like you’re always trying to impress people or you’re worried about what people think and you can’t really be yourself, be sure to download my FREE GUIDE on how to stop people being a people pleaser.

Let me know what thoughts or questions you have in the comments below!

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