What’s the secret to making new friends?

It’s easy when you’re still in school, or you’ve worked with the same people for years. But it’s awkward when we strike up a conversation with a stranger at the coffee shop, or at a dinner party – and then try to take it to the next level, and develop a lasting friendship.

The problem is that a lot of us think good friendships take years to develop. But know this: New research shows that it IS possible to forge meaningful friendships in as little as 45 minutes! According to psychologist Dr. Arthur Aron, the key is to reveal personal information gradually, and equally. Meaning, after you share something personal about yourself, wait until the other person shares something personal too, before you reveal more. Otherwise, Dr. Aron says if you reveal too much, too fast, you’ll risk coming on too strong, and you’ll scare people off.

So, what’s the “sweet spot” between revealing just enough information, and T-M-I? I’ll share some tricks from Dr. Aron’s proven “fast friends” method.

How does it work? Psychiatrist Dr. Arthur Aron says the key is to reveal personal information gradually. So, in a typical “fast friends” session, pairs of people start by asking each other something slightly personal, like, if you’re at karaoke, you might ask: “When did you last sing in public?” Then, after you take turns answering that question, you move on to something more personal, like “What’s your most terrible memory?” Or, later you might ask: “Is there something that you’ve dreamed of doing, that you haven’t?”

Dr. Aron says the goal is to slowly lay the foundation for a new friendship.  And you’ll know you’re on the right track if the conversation doesn’t become one-sided. Because the most common red flag that you’re over-sharing is if the person you’re talking to seems tense, fidgety, or at a loss for words, which, if you think about it, is exactly how you may have felt the last time a complete stranger talked your ear off on an airplane.

Of course, it’s not always easy to get other people to open up. So, don’t feel discouraged if some people resist talking to you.

Dr. Aron says one trick to get past that is to reveal something about yourself that’s both personal and a little embarrassing. For example: You might talk about how you love to cook, but you always have terrible luck baking cakes that don’t explode in the oven, because people tend to be more open when we show that we can poke fun at ourselves.