If you are a man, the chances are slim that you have a tribe of good friends. As men we tend to become isolated. Women, in spite of their natural ability to connect to other women, in our tech age are also losing deep friendships.
You may have hundreds of social media friends. But how many of them can you call at 2 AM to help you in a crisis?
Try the ROC formula: Relax, Open and Connect as part of a strategy to generating close friends.
We live in a world that continues to run faster with more to do. Your nervous system starts to habituate to that pace along with all those around you. You don’t realize how fast your body, or mind are going or their effects on you.
Once you begin to accept and experience your pace, you can start to relax. In relaxing, you may feel anxious. That is okay. That is your body feeling what it couldn’t feel when it was on its treadmill.
This is a lifelong process. You don’t need to be a master at it. You need to start to see results. Mindfulness is a great tool to speed the development of this skill. By slowing down, you are more able to do the next skill.
Once you begin to accept your body, mind and emotional experiences, you have more room to open up to being vulnerable to others. This is THE KEY to close friendships. Without vulnerability, you don’t have a relationship, you have interaction.
Brene’ Brown, the champion of vulnerability, describes how all close relationships–be them romantic or friendship–start with vulnerability. It’s scary. You may be rejected, hurt or shamed.
Without vulnerability, another person has nothing to connect with other than your external mask.
With vulnerability, you are real, you are human. Sure, some will not like you. Though, many more will and they’ll want to be vulnerable with you.
Once you relax and open, you are ready to reach out to connect to another. If vulnerability is the key, connecting is the door. When you step through your fears to reach out to another while being present and vulnerable, you upped your game.
Shifting from being passive to active by moving forward to connect has you give up some control. Sure you can connect from your hyper-persona, but you know what that will get you. If you want more friends sooner, apply these three steps tomorrow.
What exactly does the ROC Formula do to help you surround yourself with positive people? Here’s how it works:
Create a Safe Space
This is critical to the ROC formula and friendships. To the extent you feel unsafe your physiology will shift into its survival state. When your body believes it’s at risk, you aren’t naturally oriented to friendship.
If you feel unsafe, there is a good chance the other person feels unsafe. You can push your way through by denying your physical and emotional feelings. Or you could slow down to allow yourself to feel the lack of safety AS your risk to move forward towards connecting.
When you speak to what’s happened, so it’s not hidden or denied, others can relax. When you say “I’m nervous”, others relax because you admitted to a vulnerable experience. A safe space is the fertile soil for friendship.
Clarify What You Want
When you slow down to connect to the kinds of friends you want, you are more likely to create them. Rather than hoping, you get clear so you can create a plan.
If you want friends that enjoy nature, hanging in bars may not be the place to meet them. Joining a hiking club would set you up to meet nature lovers.
Say No to What You Don’t Want
With clarity comes taking a stand for what you want. That often means saying no to friends that aren’t giving you energy. Sure, a good friend is there for another when he or she is not receiving from the other.
You know what I mean. It’s the friend that always call in a crisis, not willing to listen or do what it takes to shift his or her life. When you see his caller ID, you hesitate to pick up.
If you fill your life with relationships that suck you dry you will have no room for those that can nourish you. Start speaking up. Start saying what you truly feel and want. Sometimes the truth will set one of these people free.
Others speak of having good boundaries. I say fill your boundaries with all of your feelings and wants. Be courageously authentic and the need to work on strong boundaries will be irrelevant. The people you don’t want as friends will avoid you. Those that you would want will be attracted to you.
Go for Something Bigger Than Yourself
We are attracted to people who have a purpose in life. We read books and see movies about people who stand up for something that puts them at risk.
Go for more than finding your passion. Explore what you want to live and die for. Go for it. It’s less that you are achieving it and more you are going for it that will draw people to you.
Enjoy Your Solitude
The more you enjoy your own company, the more others will. When you don’t need others, they will be more attractive to you. We’ve all met that needy person who you don’t want to hang with.
The more you enjoy being by yourself, the less you have misplaced needs. We instinctually and biologically, let alone psychologically, need others. I’m not talking about being the isolated hermit. I am speaking about being okay with your own company.
Ways to Maintain Connections with Others
Connection with others is critical if you want to develop and maintain deep relationships. To do so, here’re some important lessons for you to learn:
We Are Trained to Understand, Diagnosis and Fix a Problem.
That’s a great strategy for fixing code. It doesn’t work well for developing friendships. We are social animals; we are hungry for connection. We want to be heard and witnessed, not analyzed and lectured to.
The next time you find yourself not being heard, or see yourself go into problem-solving mode, slow down. Use the ROC formula to reorient. Back away from seeing the person as a problem. Ask open-ended questions such as, “What did it feel like when your boss told you that?”
Listen less for understanding and more for connection. Encourage the person to express vulnerable feelings with your actions and words. If it feels right, you may touch the person. Research proved that touch is a powerful connector that can immediately tell someone they are okay.
Shared Moments of Heighten Connection.
When a situation has intensity and possibly perceived danger, we will move beyond our hesitations to reach out for help. Studies were down during the bombing of London in the Second World War. Rather than people fighting each other for the limited resources, they bonded together to share.
Going on a strenuous hike with another can cement a friendship. Maybe you got lost. Once you rediscover the trail, you start laughing at all the mistakes you both made. Those mistakes become your shorthand to remind each other about the experience and how good it felt.
Creating Connection Rituals Can Be Repeated Shared Moments.
We need predictability in our lives. When the predictable is planned, it’s a ritual. In lieu of no positive rituals, our unconscious will use negative rituals. My best friend and I have a beer together once a week to share updates and also seek advice.
Listening May Be the Best Quality of a Deep Friendship.
Your ability to listen allows another to go deep into their experience. But how many people do you have that can sit with you for an hour and listen?
When you look at listening as a mental task, it looks boring. When you look at listening as emotional intimacy, it can be scary or exciting.
As the person speaks, feel your response. Notice how your body responds. Notice how you are opening up. You can reflect back to the person the impact what they are saying is having on you.
When is the last time you were truly heard? When is the last time you got someone else’s world?
Fun Is the Magnet That Draws Others to You.
Laughter is a social phenomenon that opens us up. To have fun, you need to relax and express.
For many of us, we don’t know how to generate fun or laughter. I was one of them. It was when I started being like a kid that I started having fun. When I teased people in a loving way and laughed at myself that I started having fun.
We are drawn to those who are fun. To be one of those people, you need to risk making a fool of yourself. You will at first do or say something that is not fun. Write it off as learning. Keep putting yourself out there. Your failures will feel worse for you than others. Others will appreciate the risk-taking.
Be Your Own Friend First.
Practice the above behaviors with yourself. Have a weekly fun activity. Use the ROC formula with yourself.
If you are doing a lot of negative self-talk, go to the underlying emotions. Feel them so you can release them. Shift your state, get your body moving. It’s less talking yourself out of a negative state and more accepting your experience.
Often as kids, when we had no one to console us, we did it for ourselves. Now as an adult, you have more choices. Choose to feel and express as you move through life. Give yourself the voice you didn’t have as a kid. Stand up for yourself, as you would for a good friend.
Others will sense how you take care of yourself which sets them up to believe you could do it for them. They will naturally trust you more.
Give—to Others Knowing You May Not Get Anything in Return.
Give the most precious gift, gift of yourself in vulnerable ways. Reveal not to get attention. Reveal to be the first to take the emotional risk.
Give a compliment when it doesn’t benefit you. Tell the woman at the checkout she looks good in her dress. The more giving becomes a habit, the more you will be the person others want to be around.
You want to have good friends in your life, first be a good friend to others. Take risks when others don’t. Be real, be vulnerable when others aren’t.
Be willing not to have others like you. Like in business, when they say a product for everyone is a product for no one; so is trying to be everyone’s friend can turn people off. Have your focus be less on making friends and more on relaxing, opening and connecting.
Take on one of these skills every day. Play with them. Go out of your comfort zone. Put yourself in new, possibly mildly scary, situations to expand your repertoire of friendship skills. Importantly, you have to try. No venture no gain as my father says.
Check out my related post: Have you done the big move?