One of my favorite childhood song lines is, “Make new friends, but keep the old. One is silver and the other gold.” Its great advice aligned with a catchy tune, aptly named “Make New Friends.” In my column this month, I’d like to look at key ways in which we can help the back-to-school crowd grow their network of positive friendships. Before we explore effective ways to make these connections, let’s highlight the purpose and value of establishing connections in the first place.
You Are Who You Seek
Many of us know that a key component of professional success is directly related to the effective, reliable peer relationships we have today. Therefore, it’s important to remind ourselves that these links are equally important for academic success. No matter what stage of education — elementary school, high school, college, etc. — having positive, healthy relationships with classmates can reinforce better performance and academic achievement.
I stress the term “healthy” because healthy relationships are designed to teach us virtues such as love, compassion and support along with life lessons about dealing with conflict, adversity and isolation. Most likely, the most meaningful and long-lasting friendships are the ones that provide us refuge from our moments of discomfort and weakness. But more importantly, friendships should influence our lives for the better. That’s why back-to-school prep should include effective ways to coach students on the right way to meet new chums. If asked why, simply share that great peers can help us stay engaged, inspire us to do better and challenge us to set and achieve educational goals.
Nice to Meet (the real) You
Let’s review five tips to keep in mind when helping others or yourself to establish a back-to-school plan.
Be Yourself. Relax. Try not to be nervous and don’t put too much pressure on yourself. Everyone is looking for friends, so take it slow. Friendships take time to develop, and they can’t be artificially created.
Identify Goals. Most people tend to form cliques because their unique personality and interests fall into a specific group. Purely for example, athletic students may find they have more in common with the jocks and creative students may find their artistic interests more in line with members of the choir, drama or band. Be open to a diverse group of classmates that may have contrasting interests.
Be Engaging. Ask questions. Take an interest in what they like and don’t be so quick to advocate your own hobbies. Be thoughtful and try to understand what someone else is about; you may be surprised at what you learn about yourself.
Be Approachable. Keep your head up and make eye contact with other people. If you see a group of people, don’t only say hi to only the folks you know: acknowledge everyone within your purview.
Get Involved. Stir up conversation and look for activities that you can join. You never know where you can find a nice friend or what you and a friend can discover together.
Visualize the Outcome
As you work or coach others to make these new connections, make sure to keep a positive mindset. See your self-worth and how handy of a friend you are. Don’t worry about not finding friends; instead, concentrate on what you will do once you make new friends. Looking back to the song that I loved so much, it is a splendid example of positive thinking. As a child, I would always repeat the lyrics of the song repeatedly, reminding myself of the treasures that I could gain and give in my friendships.
While this article is highlighting the bond between schoolmates, the spirit of the message can apply to anyone that is looking to improve their overall quality of life through meaningful relationships. I’ll end this topic the same place that I began: “A circle is around, it has no end. That’s how long I will be your friend.”
Good Luck, students!