For those of you who want to focus on making some new friends this fall, here's our list of what NOT to do:
DON'T be a gossip: Spreading gossip and rumors about someone else might seem like a great way to get the attention of new friends, but don't be fooled. Even if they're interested in the dirt you have to dish, they'll probably see you as someone who's not trustworthy. If you're so willing to talk about other people behind their back, what's to stop them from doing the same to you?
DON'T play games: We're not talking about Rock Band and Cranium here...but rather, the games we sometimes play with people's minds to get them to feel or do what we want. If this is usually your strategy, think twice before rolling the dice. The way you act in the beginning of a relationship will lay the foundation for the friendship to come. Stick to honesty and straightforwardness and you and your new pal will be off on the right foot.
DON'T force yourself on anybody: You know those people who insist on hanging around you, maybe even onto you, when you really just need some space? Sometimes when people are desperate to make a friendship work, they'll force themselves into situations where they're not really welcomed. Leave the clinginess to Velcro. Your friends should be just as happy to spend time with you as you are to hang with them.
DON'T forget personal hygiene: These are the years when our bodies start to do some unexpected things that we may not even be aware of. Maybe you're sweating more than you used to, or your hair is getting greasy more quickly. That's normal...but you may want to talk to a parent about bathing habits and products like deodorant. In a perfect world, it shouldn't matter what you look or smell like; but in our world, the real world, these things can keep you from making the new friendships you seek.
DON'T let shyness keep you down: Are you a shy person? If you are, being faced with a challenge like making a new friend can seem scarier than climbing Mount Everest. But believe it or not, one of the best ways to overcome shyness in social situations is to put yourself right in the middle of them. Set small goals for yourself, like saying "hi" or smiling to a different person each day. Paralyzed at the thought of picking up the phone to call someone? Script out what you're going to say first. Lastly, try pretending for a day that you're not shy. What would that be like? You might find that people respond to you in very positive ways, and at the same time, you'll build the self-confidence you need.
In our next post, we'll talk about places where you can meet new friends!