This could keep your friendships shallow

Can you relate to these readers’ comments?

“I have friendly acquaintances, like this co-worker I really like to be around, and someone in my guitar class. But, I always seem to keep them at arm’s reach. I can’t seem to get from that small-talk stage to real, true friendship.”

“I feel like this one parent from my kid’s team has a ton in common with me. But I don’t know how to get from casual friends to close friends with them and I don’t want to miss this opportunity.”

In my next few emails, I’ll share common mistakes that keep your friendship dial set to “Acquaintance” instead of turning it up to “Close Friend”. I’ll also give you easy tricks for moving your friendship along.

Do you keep conversations “all business”? 

If you only discuss work with your friendly co-worker, you box yourself into the “Work Friend” trap. You subtly signal that you’re only interested in being “Work Friends”. Not close friends who hang out on weekends, call each other with questions or news, and deeply bond.

There are all sorts of traps like this one:

– If you only talk about project strategy with a project partner, you cast yourself into the “Project Friend” trap. 

– If you only talk “weights” with your friendly gym acquaintance, you throw yourself into the “Gym Friend” category. 

– Do you only discuss soccer drills with that soccer parent you like? You become their “Soccer Friend”.

To deepen your friendships, climb out of these traps. 

Become, simply, “Friends”. 

Here’s how:

1) Follow up on a conversation unrelated to work/soccer/gym/project.

Good friends keep up with each other’s lives.

If your Project Friend mentioned last week that their new puppy barked all night, ask if the puppy is letting them get a bit more sleep these days.

If your Work Friend has mentioned an upcoming vacation, bring it up and ask what part of the trip they’re most excited for. If you’ve been to the place their going, tell them what you loved most.

2) Mention things about yourself unrelated to the project/gym/work/soccer.

Good friends share about themselves.

Did you get a bad sunburn in the garden and can’t lift your arms today?

Has the pollen been driving your allergies crazy?

Maybe you’ve decided to try one of those meal delivery programs to learn some new recipes.

Friends share these things. So, to break out of the Work Friend trap and become a Friend, and then a Good Friend and maybe eventually a Best Friend, share about yourself.

“But David, I don’t feel comfortable asking or sharing those things because maybe the other person doesn’t want to have a personal conversation with me.”

This is an objection that has come up again and again among our members. But when they’ve tried it out, they’ve made a powerful realization: People usually prefer to have a bit of a personal conversation. It feels natural because it’s part of the process of becoming better friends. In fact, if you redirect all of your discussions back to the task at hand, your acquaintances may get the sense that you dislike them.