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New home, new friends

Five tips to make a new friend during PCS season

Friends and neighbors, Stephanie and Gwyn, celebrate 4th of July. Photo credit: Gwyn Nielsen

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Ralph Waldo Emerson said, "The glory of friendship is not the outstretched hand, not the kindly smile, nor the joy of companionship; it is the spiritual inspiration that comes to one when you discover that someone else believes in you and is willing to trust you with a friendship."

In the military, we constantly say good-bye to old friends and welcome the opportunity to make new. It isn't always as easy as sharing a Little Debbie Ho-Ho cake from your lunch pail and suddenly you are BFFs for life. In the military world, we don't have a lot of time to wait around and let friendships grow organically. We must jump in with both feet, put it all out there, and get the ball rolling. Today, I am sharing five tips to approach someone you would like to become friends with.

1. Ask questions: Ask open-ended questions that require feedback. Where are the best places for breakfast? What do you like to do in your spare time? Where is the local gym? Do they offer fitness classes? Are there any fun clubs in the area? What kind of music do you like? These types of questions not only suggest you care about their opinions and interests, they will give you insight into their personality and will set you up for possible things to do together in the future. 

2. Common interests: Once you have uncovered specific information about the potential friend with open-ended questions, you may see that you have things in common. Point them out and share what you love about the same things. This is an opening to spend quality time together. 

3. Light-hearted sense of humor: Add your sense of humor and personality into the conversation. Share a light-hearted story about yourself or share a pun. A sense of humor is crucial in all relationships. It suggests you are easy-going in relationships and can find the best in situations. 

4. Compliments: This is the power tool in the toolbox for making a new friend. Be observant and avoid complimenting the obvious. Look deeper. Compliment their great laugh, an insightful comment they made, or perhaps their passion for a hobby or talent. Go a step further and tell them why you like it and why you were moved by it. Thoughtful compliments make an impact that will not soon be forgotten. 

5. Be candid: Once you have completed one, or all of the previous tips, you will have a good idea if this truly is someone you would like to get to know better. Be forthright. Let them know you are looking for a new friend. Tell them that you have enjoyed the conversation thus far and that you would like to get together to learn more in a different setting. "I just moved to JBLM from Georgia and have been looking for a new friend with common interests. I have enjoyed our chat. Is there any chance you would like to meet for coffee next week or perhaps lunch? If you uncovered a common interest, perhaps you could suggest, "We both love hiking. You said that there is a great trail to the Puget Sound in DuPont and a Starbucks, too. Would you like to have coffee with me next week and hike the trail? How about Tuesday?" 

Emerson is correct. Friendship is the spiritual inspiration that comes to one when you discover that someone else believes in you and is willing to trust you with a friendship. In the military, we have more opportunities for new friendships than most. Challenge yourself this week to put these tips to work. Put yourself out there and make a new friend. 

Gwyn Nielsen is a military wife, volunteer, public speaker, and founder of 

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