Photo Credit: Jewish Press

Q: It’s so easy to make friends as a kid when you are stuck in school together with other children every day. But, how can you make friends as an adult?

 

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A: In his new book, The Like Switch: An Ex-FBI Agent’s Guide to Influencing, Attracting, and Winning People Over, former FBI agent Jack Schafer explains that there is a friendship formula that people can use to make friends, assume leadership positions at work, and even get the job in a high pressure interview.

When still in school, it’s easier to make friends because you are forced into social situations. As an adult, making friends can be harder – especially because your life is busy. That being said, there are steps you can take toward making true friends even later in life. That’s where Jack Schafer’s Friendship Formula comes in.

 

The Friendship Formula

Friendship = Proximity + Frequency + Duration + Intensity

Let me explain what Schafer means by each of the different friendship factors:

  • Proximity is the distance between you and another individual, and your exposure to that individual over time. The more you see the person in a non-threatening environment, the more likely that person will be to consider you a friend – or in essence – start liking you. It’s an interesting part of human nature, but just being with a person a lot is critical to the development of a relationship. Therefore, if there is someone you would really like to befriend, spending more time with that person (at shul, at the gym, in the supermarket, or at work) is the first step toward completing the friendship formula.
  • Frequency is the number of contacts you have with another individual over time. Frequency goes hand in hand with proximity. The less distance and the more frequent that those meetings, chance encounters, or quick conversations are, the stronger the friendship.
  • Duration is the length of time you spend with another individual over time. If you spend more extended time with the person, your relationship has the opportunity to blossom and grow.
  • Intensity is how strongly you are able to satisfy another person’s psychological and/or physical needs through the use of verbal or nonverbal behaviors. If you run into the same person every other day at your local market and spend an hour shopping together (proximity, frequency, and duration), but you never have any meaningful conversations, your friendship will not necessarily develop. Intensity is the final element of the friendship formula.

Therefore, you need proximity, frequency, duration, and intensity to make a friendship work. Incidentally, Schafer also points out that you can also extricate yourself from unwanted friendships by slowly decreasing the elements of the friendship formula. This way, it will not feel like an extreme break, but will be a gradual growing apart.

The Like Switch also has some great suggestions for how to react when meeting people for the first time to let them know that you are open to friendship. Below are his FBI-proven tips:

  • Make eye contact. Don’t prolong your eye contact, as that can be read as a threat, but a quick glance and then a look away can let people know that you are open to a conversation.
  • Do an “eyebrow flash.” The quick up and down movement of your eyebrows expresses curiosity and flexibility, letting others around you know that you are not menacing.
  • Tilt your head. When you tilt your head to one side, you expose your carotid artery, which tells the person you are speaking to that you are not threatening them, rather you are friendly.
  • Smile. When you smile, your body releases endorphins that make you feel good. When you genuinely feel good, the people around you feel good too!
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An acclaimed educator and social skills ​specialist​, Mrs. Rifka Schonfeld has served the Jewish community for close to thirty years. She founded and directs the widely acclaimed educational program, SOS, servicing all grade levels in secular as well as Hebrew studies. A kriah and reading specialist, she has given dynamic workshops and has set up reading labs in many schools. In addition, she offers evaluations G.E.D. preparation, social skills training and shidduch coaching, focusing on building self-esteem and self-awareness. She can be reached at 718-382-5437 or at rifkaschonfeld@gmail.com.