Remember when you were a kid, maybe even an older kid, and making friends was easy. Anyone you came across was a potential new friend. We didn’t prejudge them, heck, we didn’t even judge them after we knew them.
Sometimes it turned out we didn’t like them so they didn’t stay friends for long. But that was determined by how we got along with them, not how they looked, dressed or talked.
It seems like with every passing year it becomes more difficult to make new friends. Research shows most adults haven’t made a new friend in over five years. A friend is defined as someone you willingly share a good deal of time with outside of work experiencing common interests.
That lack of new and varied relationships tends to make us stale. It also makes it difficult for us to accept new concepts and thinking that is different than our own.
When we do make new friends they tend to be people who think, talk, act, and even look like us. That just solidifies our stale thinking.
So push yourself out of what people who know about this kind of stuff would call your comfort zone. Push yourself to strike up a conversation with people you normally wouldn’t. The opportunities to do that are limitless if you’re open to them. In line at the grocery store. Waiting at the doctors office. A networking event…speaking of networking events I’m always amazed at people who go to networking events and only talk to people they already know. Stop that!
Don’t worry about looking like a knucklehead, remember, they don’t know you so it really doesn’t matter.
Make yourself listen to different opinions. Really really listen. Then consider them. Don’t automatically dismiss them because they may be different than your own. People with “fresh” thinking are always willing to consider the possibility that they could be wrong.
Expanding your point of view doesn’t come from knowing more people. It comes from knowing more people who are not your philosophical identical twin.
Expand your circle of acquaintances until your next social gathering looks like a mini United Nations meeting. You’ll know more and even if your opinions haven’t changed they will be better informed opinions.