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How to Make a New Friend

I recently had coffee with a new friend – I’ll call her Iris. Unlike the beautiful women with me in the photograph, with whom I have shared the joys and pains of growing up, moving out, finding independence, becoming wives, mothers, and professionals, I have NOT known Iris for close to 30 years. At the time of writing this, I have known her for about 12 hours, plus 10 minutes we spoke on the street, plus the dozens of times I have seen her walking to or from the subway in my neighbourhood over the past several years.

Iris lives down the street from me – far enough away that she is not an immediate neighbour. Most of the times I saw her, she looked serious, in a hurry, carrying a heavy knapsack, and with great focus – perhaps on her thoughts, or simply on getting to where she needed to be. She didn’t seem open to connecting (at least that was my assumption) – and I never had the opportunity to catch her eye and smile in acknowledgement that we passed each other almost every day. In my own hurry to get to my destination or think my own thoughts, I let it go.

Something changed a couple of weeks ago. I don’t know what exactly… perhaps we were both moving a little more slowly, in the same direction, and on the right day. I felt inspired to say something. “I have seen you so many times and never said hello, so I’m doing that now”, I said. She smiled a great big smile – her face lit up, opened, and welcomed the contact. We walked the rest of the way to the subway together, sharing some information – her recent downsizing and experiences since, my journey into self-employment, both of us in the position to reevaluate our options and interests, and reinvent ourselves.

I suggested we meet for coffee sometime. I thought perhaps I could be of help to her – me being a coach, her being at a crossroads… Or simply an opportunity to connect with another person in my busy neighbourhood. She took my card and promised to email me. And she did!

Today, we met and talked for about 90 minutes – stopping only because I had another appointment. It was so easy to share personal information, to find common perspectives, learn from each other, and see a little about ‘who’ the other person really is. What a gift. We have already committed to getting together again to continue to conversation.

This is not the first time I have made a new friend just by saying hello to a stranger, or by responding to a similar overture, and it won’t be my last.Connecting with others is what motivates and nourishes me – personally and professionally. One never knows what will come of it – one conversation, an insight or lesson, a long-lasting friendship, a business partnership, and so on.

What ALWAYS comes of it is connection, enrichment, and often enough, joy. Lucky me.

“The greatest gift of life is friendship, and I have received it.” ~ Hubert H. Humphrey

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