“Names are the sweetest and most important sound in any language.”
–Dale Carnegie, How to Win Friends and Influence People
As we get older, one of the things we become really bad at is making new friends. As children, we used to do it all the time. We’d make new friends in the classroom or at the playground. And we used to do it quite naturally. But for one reason or another, as we get older, we tend to make friends much slower. Perhaps it’s because of past relationships that have hurt us. Or perhaps we’ve been deceived before and so we’re more cautions now. Or perhaps we’re just more suspicious of strangers. Whatever the reason may be, we can safely say that we’re not as good at making new friends as we once were.
This is a tragedy since making new friends on a regular basis opens up fresh opportunities to share good news to people. Making new friends is a vital and vibrant way to obey Christ’s mandate to go and make disciples of all nations (Matt. 28:19). As we read in Scripture, Jesus was making new friends with various people all the time.
For the past year, I’ve been exploring various ways of making new friends especially with random strangers. I’ll share some of my insights throughout this blog. But for now, one of things that I’ve found to be incredibly important in making new friends is simply introducing myself by name to another person with the hope that they’ll introduce themselves too.
When you know a person’s name, it opens up a world of opportunities. In a sense, you have access to a person’s life (although it might be about superficial things at first). On the other hand, if you don’t know a person’s name, their life will remain relatively closed to you. Whenever I talk to random strangers, I try to introduce my name as early as I can. If they introduce themselves back (which has always happened so far) I jot down their name when I have the time so that I hopefully won’t forget it later. The next time I see that person, I’ll be able to call them by name which often opens up a nice dialogue between us.
Months ago, I noticed that there was a new worker at the coffee shop that I usually go to. When he was near enough to my table, I waved at him and introduced myself. I welcomed him to the coffee shop and I also welcomed him to Canada (he was quite new to the country). Since then, I’ve had several deep conversations with him and have even been able to tell him about the Jesus that I believe in.
Making new friends shouldn’t be as complicated as we make it out to be. I find that a good majority of people desire to make that human connection. They’re just afraid or embarrassed to. But if you open up and introduce yourself first, I have a feeling that good things will follow.