Top tips for making friends

Updated: 19 May 2021

There are lots of things that get in the way of us making friends. Not knowing how to start or where to look can be an issue. For many of us it’s lack of self-confidence. We’re shy. We don’t feel interesting enough. We’re afraid. This is completely normal! We’ve pulled together some tips to help you feel more confident.

Three ladies having fun playing cards round a table.

What are you afraid of?

It’s good to acknowledge your fears. What do you think might go wrong? Now try to think about other possibilities and the best-case scenario. Focus on the positive outcomes and aim for these.

Focus on finding solutions – not problems

We can find ourselves in negative loops, dwelling repeatedly on our problems. Try to concentrate on solutions instead. If one isn’t immediately obvious, think about what steps you can take to find a solution.

Think positive

We all have inner voices that tell us things like “I can’t do this”, “I’m boring”, “It’ll go wrong”, “I’m not good enough”. The following exercise can help you train your brain to think differently.

Another good way of staying upbeat is to take regular moments to think about all the good things in your life and the things that have happened most recently to be thankful for.

Four older men sta having a coffee together in a cafe.

Set achievable goals

Just as people can be hard on themselves, they can also set themselves targets that are too high – and then get disappointed when they fail to reach them. Set goals you know you can achieve (don’t measure yourself against others). Pause to pat yourself on the back when you’ve hit your target. The more small goals you achieve the better you’ll feel about yourself. You might soon find yourself setting bigger (but still achievable) goals.

Big jobs are always dealt with better if you take them one step at a time. Alan Hyatt, Severn and Trent Branch

Be kind and helpful

As well as thinking about what other people can do for you, think about what you might do for them. It could be helping a neighbour put the bins out or doing some volunteering. People who give lots often find they receive even more in return.

Look after yourself

Food and exercise can make a big difference to how we feel. You don’t have to cut out all those tasty treats or start doing six-mile jogs every morning. It can be part of your small goals target – eating a healthy meal a day and doing a short walk or some yoga.

Adults should ideally do five half-hour sessions of moderate activity every week, such as walking, dancing, cycling, gardening or swimming. The results are potentially life-changing. Research from the British Heart Foundation shows that being active a few times a day, even for just 10 minutes at a time, can be as good for you as giving up smoking or maintaining a balanced diet. It can lower your chances of a stroke, type 2 diabetes, some cancers, depression and dementia.

Whatever you try, keep it achievable and don’t pull a muscle!

Chairobics exervise session

Look good, feel good

What’s on the inside is what really matters, but how we look on the outside can help boost our self-confidence. At some time most of us have had a favourite item of clothing that made us feel good, which we kept for those days when we were going out and needed that extra boost. You may still have it! Have a delve in your wardrobe to see what forgotten treasures you might find. Go out and find something in the shops that makes you feel special. You don’t have to spend a lot. A fresh haircut, polished shoes, dressing a bit smarter – simple things like having a shower and a shave or putting on a bit of make-up can help energise us too.

Just ask

Friendship can ripple. You start with one friend and then you meet that friend’s friends and so on. Before you know it you’re building your own social network. One of the best ways to find new friends is to talk to the people you meet and know already. They needn’t be good friends. Find out more about them. Ask if they belong to clubs or societies that you might like to visit. They might invite you to join them. You never know where it might lead. Asking questions is a powerful way of communicating and easily underestimated.


Smiling – even if it’s forced at first – relaxes the facial muscles and sends “happy” signals to the brain. Try it!

Line drawing of a pencil Try this exercise

1. Write down your negative thoughts on a piece of paper. Now take another piece of paper. Look at your negative thoughts list and write the opposite — “I can do this”, “I’m interesting”, “It can go well”.

2. Write down five things you’re good at. These could be baking, listening, playing music. Think about the qualities that you can bring to a friendship, like companionship, loyalty, a good sense of humour.

3. Now bin your negative list. Keep your positive list, look at it regularly. Use it to help you silence your negative thoughts and replace them with positive ones.

Oddfellows friendship groups

We're always ready to welcome new members to our local Oddfellows friendship groups. You can find your nearest by using our Branch Finder, or use our Events Finder to search for social events and activities happening near to where you live.

Give the Oddfellows a try. There's no obligation to join. Contact us to request your free information pack and local events diary.

Read more advice on making friends and building social confidence in our friendship guides section.