Culture, language, religion and politics are what divide this world but that doesn’t mean you can’t befriend the people among the divided.
“There’s nothing so well worth having as friends, never lose a chance to make them.” -Francesco Guicciardini
“I have people everywhere…” That statement is mine and it’s hardly an exaggeration. I have friends, colleagues and connections in more countries in the world than not.
Not internet friends I’ve only encountered in the digital world but real people I’ve exchanged with in the physical world. Actual and meaningful human relationships.
It takes a bit of personal effort and a basic formula anyone can follow, even on a worldwide level.
This is how…
The power of “hello”. Not necessarily a “hi”, but any initial greeting or opening. A “do you know what time it is?”, “where are you from?”, “what’s up?” or just a head nod.
It’s the first move that’s the hardest to initiate but the easiest to complete. Any type of friendship to all business relations start somewhere and someone has to start.
We all want (although not all the time and with exceptions) to feel connections with other people, that’s part of the human condition. We want to communicate, relate and exchange with our fellow specie.
In my experience, I’ve found this to be particularly more apparent when I’m abroad as well as with how other foreigners are in countries not of their own.
When it comes to locals in their own country, in most cases than not, they tend to be genuinely friendly. And what’s surprisingly common is that some are eager to bond and befriend foreigners to great lengths.
“There are no strangers here; Only friends you haven’t yet met.” -William Butler Yeats
The point is that there are potential friends everywhere. The world is not as lonely and as divided as it may seem, at least not on a face-to-face level, where it really counts.
The first lesson is knowing that there are always prospects, regardless of culture clashing, language barriers, religious prejudices or political divisions.
Just because we have differences of opinions and contrasting beliefs, doesn’t mean you can’t connect with them. In fact, with an open mind and a willingness to listen, you can connect with strangers on a much deeper level through non-combative conflict that turns into intelligent debate and mutual understanding:
The key is being able to momentarily let go of your opinions and preconceptions. So that you can understand another person by thinking and seeing like them.
Do that and you have to ability to befriend almost anyone and gain their trust to even their respect.
How to Befriend Strangers Anywhere: Part 1