Do you find it easy to make new friends? Tell us how you’ve mastered the art of befriending a new person.

Friendship is rarely instantaneous. It takes time and cultivation by both parties. Befriending a person is not the same as being his or her friend; it is a kindness or interest bestowed that may develop into a friendship. The same with making new friends — I can chit-chat with the best of ’em, but that is only the first step in building a possible longer relationship.

The secret to “making new friends”, is showing genuine interest in them, learning about what they do and like, how they think, what opinions they hold. That makes the other person feel comfortable, and hopefully they’ll take an interest in you, too. Certainly there are people whom I’ve met and after conversing for a while, I find that we have so much in common, or stimulate ideas in one another, that I could probably become good friends with them. Recently I again met someone in a social setting who I had really enjoyed talking with probably two years ago, and we fell easily into conversation like we knew each other pretty well. It’s just strange how that happens.

On the other hand, there is a group of people we frequently meet in social settings because of common interests and goals, and while I have talked to several of those people before, I don’t feel any bonding potential that would lead to friendship. Sometimes I’ve felt like “small talk” is a waste of time and can be a bit wearing. To enjoy these events more, I try to be genuinely interested in other people when I’m talking with them. I’m not expecting a lasting friendship, but I can still learn something new or different from other people’s views, experiences and opinions.

“One of the most beautiful qualities of true friendship is to understand and to be understood.” This is as true now, as it was when expressed by Roman philosopher Lucius Annaeus Seneca (3 BC-65 AD). That’s why being a good listener and honest in relationships is important, and builds the kind of trust that is the essence of a true friendship. There are only a few people I really trust with anything I want or need to say, and those with whom I can truly empathize when they’re feeling down or low, or proud or happy.

One of the first poems I memorized as a child — probably because I had to for school or something was:

Friendship is a treasured gift we cannot sell nor buy,
Nor loan nor borrow or obtain, no matter how we try,
Yet friendship is a thing that’s owned by folks like you and me
Because God loves us everyone and gives it to us free.

I treasure my few good friends and accept them just as they are, and they must accept me too if they’re still there!