How To Design Your Circle of Friends

How To Design Your Circle of FriendsThere is a lot of talk about time management, career management, project management and even life management. Today, I am going to suggest to you the management of something which I think is very important and very much ignored: your circle of friends. Or better yet, the design of your circle of friends.

Think about it: every week, you spend quite a few hours with your friends.

The proper circle of friends for you can be a lot more than a bunch of people you hang out with or tweet to. Having the right friends can mean:

  • Very fun experiences together, you look forward to every time;
  • A powerful connection, based on your core common points;
  • A deep sense of respect and appreciation for each other;
  • The ability to be comfortable, authentic and open with them;
  • Knowing you have your back covered by great people.

In practice, very few people experience these kinds of things with their friends. I believe this happens a lot because most people build their circle of friends in a reactive way. They happen to meet some people in school, at work, at different activities, they interact because of the context and eventually, they get used to each other and become friends.

These friends are usually not bad, but if you’re only building your circle of friends like this, it’s important to realize they may not be the best friends for you and in a way, you are wasting the potential for much better friendships. What you need to do is proactively build you circle of friend, following a couple of steps:

  1. Decide what you want
    This is the crucial starting point: deciding the key traits you want your friends to have. This step allows you to filter the people you interact with and the time you dedicate to each one, to maximize the positive outcomes.

Pick up a pen and paper, and actually write down these traits, after you think about them really well. But make sure you don’t write too many traits; otherwise you’ll create such a strong filter you’ll end up with no circle of friends.

  • Get out there
    Once you decide what kind of people you want to befriend, it’s time to go out and meet them. Start thinking about the kind of places and activities where you have the best chances of meeting people fitting your desired profile, and get involved. 

If you like people who value self-improvement, go to personal development trainings. If you like people who are passionate and energetic, take a dancing class. If you like people who are fun and sociable, go to parties or sports bars. There are tons of opportunities out there. Pick the right ones, get out there and be sociable.

  • Say yes and no
    Meeting new people and discovering some you enjoy interacting with is usually not enough to make new friends. You need to have more interactions with these people to continue getting to know each other and see where it goes. Take the initiative; ask people out for coffee or lunch, throw a party, talk on the phone if you like it, and so on. 

At the same time, it’s important to cut down on the interactions with people who are already in your social circle and you realize they do not really fit the friend profile you’re looking for. Otherwise, especially if you also need a decent amount of alone time like me, you will have little time for finding and interacting with people you enjoy more.

As you work through this process, some of the people you start seeing less of may judge you or blame you for being distant. Don’t feel bad about doing this. Just move on and keep doing what you’re doing. With time, as you build a truly awesome circle of friends for yourself, all of these little things will no longer matter.

Written on 4/10/2010 by Eduard Ezeanu. Eduard is 80% communication coach and 20% something more. He also writes advice about people skills and personal development on his blog, People Skills Decoded. You can follow him on Twitter at @eduardezeanu. Photo Credit: BrandontheMandon
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