When you’re a kid, making friends is pretty easy. From school, sports, and your mom setting up play dates for you, friends were always just kind of there for me, falling in my lap, so I never even thought about how to make friends. They were always present. Those friends carry through to middle school, then you drop and gain some along the way to high school, but still, making new friends may have been somewhat intimidating when first learning the dynamics of a new school, but it was never a question or challenge.
So how does such a natural, often thoughtless, process become such a struggle as an adult? Whether you moved after college, are starting a new job, or are looking for those lifetime adult friends you always see on TV shows, you might have felt it’s not as easy to make meaningful connections after college. How do you break through the dull pleasantries of, ‘Can you believe it’s only Tuesday?;’ ‘Ugh, it’s so cold out;’ ‘Is it lunch time yet?’ and into actual life ‘stuff’ that you care about and matters?
What I learned from my hair stylist about making friends
It wasn’t until I saw two new stylists at my local salon that I thought about the process of adult friend-making. Have you ever realized how easy it is to connect with your hair stylist, even a new one who’s a total stranger? With all of the stylists I’ve gone to, men and women of all ages, I have come home excited, feeling like I made an instant new friend that I just hung out with for the last few hours. Then a big part of why I love getting my hair done is not just for the pampering but for the social aspect of the salon – but why is that?
Here’s what I’ve come up with – the 7 lessons my stylists taught me about making friends as an adult.
You don’t have to go far from home to find a great salon or stylist; in fact, my favorites are minutes away from my home – after an internet search, reading online reviews, and asking around in local mom groups, you’ve found the place. Now all you just have to pick up the phone and make an appointment. (My local favorites: Hair to Stay & Icon Salon.)
Your future friends are right in your community, too – you just have to find them. While there’s no Yelp for friends (although wouldn’t that be interesting??), you can use online resources to start finding people in your neighborhood.
- Join community Facebook groups and be active in them.
- Join Meetup and start going to some interesting new classes, join a book club, try a new fitness class, or do something completely adventurous. You’ll already have something in common with the others who show up.
Everyone (should) know it’s a big faux pas to fail to show up to an appointment. When you’re in the market for a new friend, it can be really easy to make tentative, vague plans so you actually never have to commit. To fight through any hesitation or nerves about getting together with someone in person and pushing past a surface texting relationship, make concrete plans – set a date, time, and location and treat it like an actual appointment that you can’t miss…or you’ll get charged a no show fee.
Be a good listener
When you’re getting your hair done, you have to be a good listener for many reasons. 1. You can’t feign interest like you can at a party or in a group and give a general head nod or mm hmm, mm hmm and artfully slip away. You’re stuck in a chair with one person to talk to, so you have to be actively engaged. 2. You actually have to really listen because you may have a blow dryer humming and whooshing in your ear, and when you give a generic ‘uh huh’ or ‘yes, good!’ reply without actually hearing what your counterpart said, you may look really silly. “Are you doing anything fun this weekend?” “Yes, good!”
Be open to trying something new
From what I’ve heard from my stylists, they love when their clients are open and willing to try something new, but where does that willingness come from? Trust – for many people, it takes years to establish any degree of trust in someone new, but with a good stylist, you can establish trust very quickly, even in a few minutes.
How can you establish trust so quickly? When your stylist exhibits confidence, shares their knowledge, acts him or herself, and talks to you with their personality shining through, it’s easy to feel comfortable right away. Take a cue from your stylist and practice the same traits with your prospective new buddy to give instant good vibes.
Start with the basics
In order to eventually dig deeper in a conversation, you start with the basics. This could include the standard pleasantries at first and then it usually goes into getting to know the basics about one another – where you live, your career, family life, etc. After a quick run-down, you’ll have meaningful basics to build upon for a more substantial conversation.
Share something personal
If you ever need inspiration to write a novel or soap opera script, spend the day in the salon. People open up more quickly and divulge more personal information to their stylist than their therapist. Once one member shares something personal, the other will feel at ease and motivated to share something too. That’s how you break through the boring, pointless pleasantries – you just DO it.
My first year at a new job, I really kept to myself. There was a girl next door that I wished to be friends with but couldn’t get past those surface-level conversations. It wasn’t until I shared a problem with her that she shared one with me and before I knew it, she became one of my lifelong best friends.
Just be you
Chic. Sassy. Glam. Flamboyant. Sarcastic. Hipster. Just plain cool. It’s easy to describe your hair stylist, even after just one visit. Why? Because they’re acting their totally true selves. There’s no elusiveness, shyness, acting a certain way, or weird games going on, which makes hair stylists the best. What you see is what you get, and that’s why you can leave a chair feeling like you’ve known your stylist forever.
So there you have it, 7 things I’ve learned about making adult friends from my hair stylists. If you’ve ever had that instant best friend connection with your stylist, now you know why! Take a tip from the salon chair and practice in your life to take a stranger to a tried and true friend.
Photo credit: Laurel and Prairie
Hair styling: Hair to Stay Salon