Here’s how I make a new friend:
First, locate a person who is as shy or more shy than I am (difficult).
Second, run through a list of compliments I can give so I can start talking (medium).
Third, agree with everything they say (easy).
For whatever reason, that third step is really important. I don’t know where I got the idea, but I’ve always thought that people would only like me if I was incredibly agreeable. If I said yes to everything they said.
I hear myself saying, I can’t believe I found the only other accordion player in the United States! or What a coincidence! I love Nickelback! (I’m just kidding. Everyone would know that I was lying if I said that.)
Now, you have to understand that my intentions are mostly good. People bond quickly when they have something they like (or hate) in common. Which is why I like to be front and center when a person divulges their interests. And really, I’m not trying to deceive them. I’m just trying to establish a friendship. Most of the time, I really do like what they like.
But there are times that I don’t. I don’t know if it’s a fear of confrontation (which I have) or just a fear of being left out (which I also have), but I refuse to let anyone down when they talk about their preferences in that way.
And it’s taken me an entire lifetime to figure out that you don’t have to like everything someone else likes to be their friend.
In fact, discussions and conversations take more interesting turns when there is a difference in opinion. Not that you want to invite conflict necessarily. You should want to offer another perspective. Your perspective.
Because remember, your ideas and experiences are unique. The fact that a person travelled to the same country as you does not mean you’ll have a similar experience. The fact that a person grew up in the same town as you does not mean you’ll have a similar experience. Heck, a person (your sibling, parents, etc.) could have lived in the same house with you, and they still may not have had a similar experience. That’s why you should always be willing to share yours instead of simply agreeing with how someone else sees the world. There’s room enough for everyone to share their stories.
So, I’m still trying not to “yes to death” anyone anymore. But that’s not just an expression–you can really kill a friendship if you don’t have anything else to contribute than a nod and a smile. Push past the “yes.” You may find yourself in surprisingly more agreeable territory.