I’m writing this short guide for any expat or any other person as they plan on moving to Paris — but it can as well be applied to any situation in whatever city or place in the world and it’s for anyone who wants to connect with others.
I’m writing it for my-30-something-self, who is (at times) shy, awkward and self-conscious. I’m also writing it as a reminder to my future self.
Despite being awkward and self-conscious, I’ve been lucky enough to make a handful of good friends in Paris, amazing guys and girls who are actually sucking the juice out of this life, who wake up every morning with gratitude and energy. I’m blessed and lucky to have these people in my life, and this makes me reflect on what I’ve been able to do right, and what they usually do when making connections with other people.
In this post, I’d like to share the things I’ve learned. This is far from being a comprehensive guide.
It will not work for everyone in Paris though I hope it’s useful for people living in Paris.
Guidelines for Making Friends in Paris.
In my experience, Parisians (generally) want to be friends with other people who follow these general tips:
- Be positive. I know that, while it’s FINE to share your struggles with others (we usually share them at Expats Paris - like when we got hacked), it’s also a bad thing to associate with people that keep on complaining all the time. If you’re negative about Paris, Parisians or French people and life in general, then people will easily get tired of the complaining and negativity. Living in Paris isn’t an easy task in itself. People have already enough trouble in life without having friends who are negative all the time. That being said, a really good Parisian friend will always listen when you’re in need. So don’t take this as “never complain.” Instead, please be as positive as you can, and if you have struggles, also try to show how you’re tackling those struggles with a positive outlook and mindset.
- Show interest & learn to listen. Be and show that you’re interested in other people! Wanting to talk about your stuff only is a mistake you don’t want to make, and being bored, boring and completely unimpressed with what other people are doing or saying is another mistake you don’t want to make. Though it’s not always easy, whenever I meet someone - be it at our usual Expats Paris weekly events or elsewhere - I usually try to find something interesting in that person. Despite the fact that some people might think that they lead a relatively uneventful life, there’s always something fascinating about them. I strongly believe that each and every one of us is unique. This means that we all have something special to offer this world. So, it’s very important to learn to listen when someone is talking. If they only talk about themselves all day long and aren’t interested in knowing or hearing your stuff, then they probably won’t be a good friend, but still, give them a chance and show interest for as long as you can. I tend to think that one of the most sincere forms of respect is actually being able to listen to what another person has to say without necessarily feeling the urge to reply right away. So, here’s the thing; listen in such a way that others will want to speak to you again and again and again...
- Be excited about life, have and spread energy. Who wants an all-the-time-boring friend anyway? A person who is excited about life, interested in museums, art and all sorts of things, has a high dose of energy … that’s someone you’d really want to be with. Well, not necessarily super hyper, but just some good dose of positive energy. See what I mean?
- Do interesting stuff. Believe me, if you’re excited about life, you’ll manifest that by doing new things, learning, creating, exploring, trying out new experiences, meeting new people. And we can all agree that Paris is just an amazing place for that. So, if you are this kind of person, there’s no way you won’t be interesting. If you shut out life, people will go away.
- Be a good storyteller. I tend to get easily bored when someone is telling long and boring stories. After the first two such stories, I generally start thinking of something else. So try to keep your stories shorter, unless you can tell that people are interested. Find something interesting to hook people’s curiosity, and then draw them in with that curiosity until you satisfy it with a good ending. Have you ever thought of practicing your storytelling when you meet people in Paris? I think this might help to make you better at it. Well, to be honest, this isn’t one of my strong points, but I have to acknowledge that I’m fascinated by storytellers and it’s one of the reasons I enjoy watching my friend Robert on stage whenever I can.
- Smile. Oh, don’t get me wrong. I’m not saying you should have a fake smile, but I can assure you that a smile puts you in a friendly mood, versus frowning at someone. Can you smile at all times? Do, if you can and don’t when you feel it’d look inappropriate. Being in a smiling-mood-by default usually sends a strong message. This signals that you like the person (also try to genuinely like the person, moving away from tendencies to judge them or complain about them). Smiling may seem a bit weird to some Parisians, but it won’t hurt. So, here’s the thing: No matter what, don’t you ever forget to smile. Smile every day. Actually, smile and let Parisians wonder why.
- Expose yourself, be willing to try things. Sing in public even if that scares the hell out of you. Try some new French food, new experiences, new ideas. An open-mindedness attitude attracts others who are looking to get the most out of this life. And if you live in Paris, Meetup should be a great resource for any type of new experiences you may want to try out. One of the “sing-in-the-public” scary experiences I’d love to try one of these days is to get involved in or host a Hugathon. A hugathon is basically an opportunity to join a bunch of friends or bring some friends together in a public spot and start to give out Free hugs. A good hug warms relationships between people. This might actually a great way to make friends in Paris.
- Be calm, not overly dramatic. While it’s amazing to have a lot of energy, Parisians know that people who tend to be overly dramatic about very little things can, at times, be a turn-off. So learn to react to most problems in a calm and diplomatic way. Show as if they’re not a big deal (because they generally aren’t), and learn to handle them wisely instead of overreacting.
- Be authentic and don’t show off. All of the above-given recommendations might seem like I’m recommending that you become a person you’re not. That’s not what this post is all about. Instead, all I’m trying to do here is to suggest that you can be a true and authentic version of yourself (there are lots of versions of ourselves out there) — but choose the version that is more in the directions recommended above, in general. If there is a positive and negative version of you, it’s clear that I’d generally choose the positive version. But most importantly, don’t try to impress people — if you’ve got confidence in yourself, you don’t need to impress anyone. Instead, be as genuine as possible and not just the “best you.” When this recommendation is in conflict with any of the above recommendations, choose this one.
- Be happy with yourself & confident. This is just something that’s good to do for yourself. Be happy with who you are, even the flaws. If you are happy, you’ll be confident and that’s good enough when you meet someone else. I’ve realized that Parisians have this tendency of not respecting someone who is constantly harsh on themselves. How can you learn to be happy with yourself? That’s a whole other post and I’m not sure I know what to say about that, but in general, become aware of any tendency to be harsh and critical of yourself, and don’t let yourself stew in those kinds of thoughts. Start to see the good and positive aspects of yourself, the genuine heart and caring nature, and let that be the story you tell yourself about yourself.
I don’t claim to be an expert at any of this (my friend Connie is a much better expert, and has inspiring talks and YouTube tips on how to feel confident and love oneself you should check out), but this is what I believe to be true right now.
I hope this helps, and if you find yourself lacking in any of these areas, please don’t take it as confirmation that you suck, but just as an exciting new way to explore.
Would you be interested in hosting a Hugathon with me in Paris? That’d be fun. I do not know, at this point, where to start from with this scary project but it’s tempting.
Hey, let’s have a chat down in the comments.
Image sources: Pixabay
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