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Making friends

“It is one of the blessings of old friends that you can afford to be stupid with them.” - Ralph Waldo Emerson

You feel a little stupid, silly is probably a kinder word, but at the moment you keep talking to your cat because all your friends are thousands of miles away and starting over seems a mountainous task. No matter who you are and where you live you will be constantly bombarded with new people. Being the new kid in a new school or a new person in a new city, it’s a fact of life; developing “true” friendships takes time and effort.

While friendship styles may be different in every culture the principles of being a friend is universal. Going beyond your natural language comfort zone may result in lifelong relationships that span the globe. Here are a few suggestions.

Realistic expectations: Good friends take time, it is more than sharing your feelings, thoughts and fears, but negotiating misunderstandings. A true friend will be tested, so take it slowly, allow the relationship to solidify step-by-step. Finding a friend takes more than a keyword search.

Fill your calendar: Join various groups or form a group that are of interest to you. You’re much more likely to become friends with someone if you see him or her often.

Smile: Studies show that the amount of time you smile during a conversation has a direct effect on how friendly you’re perceived to be.

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Be positive in your conversation: If you don’t have anything nice to say about someone, don’t say anything at all. Researchers found that when someone attributes positive or negative traits to someone else, the listener will often attribute those same traits to the speaker. They call this spontaneous trait transference.

To offset the stress effect on your health that comes with a major move, friendships boost your immune system. Good friends help you relax because they provide comfort, companionship, laughter and meaning to life. Need a boost of hope and joy? Be a friend. Strengthen your friendship network and get energized.

Wednesday 17 April, 2013 | Donna Willis

Postscript

Researchers, led by psychologist John J. Skowronski, PhD, defined the phenomenon spontaneous trait transference. It has an unrecognized influence on people’s impressions of each other, the psychologists write in the April issue of the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology (Vol. 74, No. 4, p. 837-848).

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