The Lonely Files : Part 5

 Posted by at 4:00 am  Ramblings
Jan 312011
 

[Please consider reading the beginning of the Lonely Files Series: Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, and Part 4, where I discuss being the loss and gain of friendship through out several seasons of my life.]

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If You are Feeling Lonely

If after reading through The Lonely Files series, you find yourself relating to the loneliness, it’s important to remember that you’re not alone.  A lot of people feel this way throughout their lifetimes; especially after finishing school, where you are automatically surrounded by your peer group.  If you look at your week and realize your spending a lot more of your time than you’d like in solitude, here are a few reminders to focus on.

  • Remember that it gets better.  Loneliness truly happens to all of us in one way or another through out our lifetimes.  The good news is that it doesn’t have to last your entire lifetime.  You have the power to move past loneliness. 
  • Take one little step.  Stepping away from loneliness is a choice that you have to make for yourself, no one else can make it for you.  Once you decide you don’t want to be lonely any longer, it only takes a small bit of courage to move forward.

    Even if your step is one tiny, little step, MAKE IT.  Say hello to a stranger.  Find a group you are interested in joining.  Make a list of the kind of friends you’d like to meet.

  • Take another little step.  Once you’ve dipped your toe in the water, dip it in again.  Say hello to another stranger, and another, until it becomes second nature. Consider joining a group. Go to meet up. Take a class at a craft store, gym, or yoga studio; how about a cooking class, or a self defense class? 

yoga class

  • Use your resources.  Look for bloggers in your area through the location pages at Healthy Living Blogs. Check out your local library and book stores for book clubs or other meeting groups that may meet there.  Check out the community section on Craigslist.  Search for classes online that interest you. Check out MeetUp.com, which covers any number of interests. Join a running club. Visit a church. Read the bulletin boards at the coffee shop or Panara. Get involved in community theater. Volunteer somewhere. GET OUT THERE.
  • Be prepared to grow.  Because if you continue to take one step at a time, and make the decision to stop to being lonely, that’s what’s going to happen.  You are going to change- probably over time- until you find yourself giving “how to meet people” advice to others.

 jessica

How to Talk to Strangers [or people you barely know]

  • Think of the most confident, outgoing person you know.  The person who is always starting conversations with the barista, the waitress, the other people in line.  Think about how this person can strike conversation with anyone, and it’s no sweat.  ACT LIKE THIS PERSON.  When you find yourself faced with an opportunity to talk to someone you don’t know, imagine how your confident friend would handle the situation.  How would he stand?  What expression is on her face? Pretend you are your friend and try and handle to situation as if you were as confident and outgoing as he/she.

handshake

  • When you are headed to a social situation, make a mental list of 2-3 talking points.  This is a great trick I use for parties in which I only know the host, and no other guests. [I also used it at the Healthy Living Summit, this past summer.]  Think about subjects you would easy chat with your co-workers about.  A classic movie you recently saw for the first time, a new restaurant in town, or a trip you will be taking soon, are all great examples.  The best subjects are ones that easily lead to other topics; in this example – the conversation can easily move to other movies seen recently or favorites, other places to visit in town, or favorite vacation spots.

hls

  • Have a go-to question you rely on.  A go-to question is a fairly generic question that gets the conversation rolling forward when you find yourself at a dead spot.  My go-to question appeared over time – I didn’t realize I had been using it with several people I had been meeting until I’d already used it at least a dozen times.  When I feel like the conversation needs movement, I often ask, “Are you from this area originally?”  

    This is a great go-to question because, although you can ask it to just about anyone you ask, you will always get a different answer.  Also, the conversation can go in several different directions, as you learn more about the history of the person you are talking to.
    Tip: When you ask your new friends questions, try to stay away from questions that can be answered with a “yes” or “no".   

after panel questions 2

  • Compliment. When all else fails, and you feel like you have nothing to say, compliment the person you are speaking with, and be prepared to ask a follow up question.  “Those are lovely earrings, where did you get them?” or “I love your accent! Where did you grow up?”, for example.
  • LISTEN. Be genuine in getting to know more about the person you are talking to.  Do not think about what you are going to say next; that creates a lot of pressure for yourself and robs you of the pleasure of good conversation. Be attentive to what is being said and the conversation will naturally flow.

katie laughing

  • Embrace Pauses.  Don’t allow them to be “awkward.”  Pauses are not a bad thing.  It’s okay to gather your thoughts and think about what you are going to say before you say it.  Don’t force yourself to say something for the sake of filling space.  Words will come. RELAX.
  • BONUS TIP:  When introducing people, tell them a small tidbit about each person you introduce.  This gives everyone in the group a bit of back ground information to base a conversation on going forward.  For example: “Bill, this Jill. Jill has the most adorable  puppy in the world, Jackson.  Bill studied abroad in Paris last semester.”  Bill and Jill now have two great topics to jump start their conversation.

    You earn extra points if what you share about your friends is relatable to one another.  For example: “Mandy, this is Stephanie. Stephanie recently moved here from Texas.  Mandy’s parents have lived in Houston the last few years.”  Bingo – I tip my [cowboy] hat to you, introduction superstar!

 

Thanks to Arnold and Oroweat for sponsoring the 2010 Healthy Living Summit and sharing these photos.

  18 Responses to “The Lonely Files : Part 5”

  1. Such good tips! I think this whole series is genius–meeting new people post-college is really difficult (at least, it was for me). And I love all the HLS photos.
    Emily @ Relishments recently posted..Highlights- Cheesy Blog Posts

  2. LOVE these tips. I am SO shy around strangers, and often find myself in need of strategies to get me through situations (weddings where we don’t know people, work events, etc.). Really, thank you SO SO much. I have a feeling I’ll return to this over and over as stressful situations arise!
    Bethany @Bridezilla Bakes recently posted..January Goals- Review

  3. i spy me!

    great run down, heather. i’m not big on putting myself out there. i prefer not to have attention on me, which is odd considering i ramble on about my daily mundane goings on to anyone who will listen. at any rate, i find bloggers to be the easiest people to meet for the first time (yourself included!) perhaps because we all kind of feel that way.

  4. I love you. And I love this. :)
    Kelly recently posted..Southern Corn Bread

  5. [...] This post was mentioned on Twitter by AliSue, ThenHeatherSaid. ThenHeatherSaid said: How to Talk to strangers & people you barely know – http://bit.ly/harOae [...]

  6. I think it’s intimidating to meet new people, but they’re always super nice so we really just scare ourselves. You are awesome :)
    Runeatrepeat recently posted..Confession Thursday– Taco Stuffers

  7. these are awesome tips. i really love the last one about introducing people. i was in a sorority in college and during recruitment we were taught to do that with the potential new member when another active member would come over to say hi.
    Sarah (Sarah Learns) recently posted..making the leap from knowledge to motivation

  8. These are SUCH useful, practical tips! I’m usually okay in social situations, but sometimes I am just nervous and get stuck – I’m saying awkward things, not allowing for natural pauses, not really listening and just thinking about what to say, etc. I like the go-to question of “are you originally from around here” because you can get a brief version of someone’s life story right from the start, and then for the rest of the conversation you can kind of fill in the pieces. I am really benefiting from this series as I try to make more friends, Heather. It’s really made me think (and act)!

  9. Talking to strangers still scares me! I’m pretty shy- not as shy as I used to be, but I still feel awkward around people I don’t know.
    Kate (What Kate is Cooking) recently posted..Getting Organized- Part Deux

  10. Great post! I will definitely be using some of these tips, I’m usually so shy around strangers!
    Shelley recently posted..A Sneaky 5k

  11. I read this last night before bed and I was almost in tears going through your series :-( It’s so hard for me to make friends anymore especially because I just moved to a new area. I have done many of the tips you suggested but I still don’t have a core group of friends. This is even harder for me because I “broke up” with my best friend last year (she was long distance) and since that, I just feel lost. Also, the blogging community still and always will intimidate me. Even though, I have met people in real life, I still feel awkward. Maybe I have some kind of social phobia? Anyways, I wish you lived closer! :-) You seem very approachable. Thanks for this series! It really spoke to me.

    • I wish we lived closer, too!

      also, i just want to encourage you – don’t give up! Remember in Part 2 – it takes TIME. I continued to feel uncomfortable and lonely for MONTHS of spending time with a group of people – but through it all, eventually, I started to see little glimmers of hope of friendships being built. And, through persistance and determination, and a very slow, very gradual opening of myself to these new friends, I had finally reached a place where I considered many of these people very good friends.

      Keep putting yourself out there. Keep stepping outside your comfort zone. Keep seeking people and relationship and growing. You will get there – and it will be a beautiful journey! I am sure of it!

  12. I love this post, Heather! Seeing the HLS photos from last year is really pumping me up for this year, which will be my first!

  13. [...] from Heather: Want some tips on how to talk to strangers and near-strangers?  Check out The Lonely Files: Part 5! Add comments Tagged with: blogger meet up, blogging, cdny eat drink blog, healthy living [...]

  14. What a great post- I can’t wait to reread the series!!
    Alicia recently posted..How to get off the back pain train!

  15. THANK YOU so much for your tips! they are all fantastic reminders! I have moved twice since graduating college and have found it so hard to find meaningful relationships with other women. I have my girlfriends from school but we don’t live close enough. It gets frustrating because you have to “date” your friends and sometimes it takes a while to find the right fit!
    I’m so bummed because I was going to try to go to Summit because I just started a blog and I can’t due to a friends baby shower. :( Maybe next year!
    Thanks again for the tips! :)
    eiren recently posted..A High Resolution Experience

  16. [...] How to Make Friends as an Adult [...]

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