It takes about 50 hours of socializing to turn an acquaintance to a casual friend, and 200 hours to turn someone into a close friend. Unless you are a 5-year-old, where somebody can be your best friend in 5 minutes. Why does this disparity exist? What can we learn from children when it comes to cultivating friendships?
Firstly, there is getting to know the other person. To know somebody is harder the older they get. With a 5-year-old, you can know a lot about her with a single question:
“What is your favourite toy?”
“What colour is your dress?”
“Which chocolate do you like?”
This is because toddlers are simple creatures. They do not the inflated sense of self that we develop as we grow older.
Secondly, the best catalyst for an honest conversation is one’s childlike curiosity. From this curiosity questions arise that make up an engaging conversation. As children, we are curious about everything – dogs, pigeons, cars, airplanes in the sky and the shapes of clouds. With time, our mind develop filters that prevent us from appreciating the mundane. Our curiosity is increasingly reserved only for the more curious, the more exciting and the more flashy.
Nevertheless, considering how flat the world is today, we are in need of new friendships more than ever before. The people who continue making meaningful friendships are the ones whose minds are free from the filters that inflate our sense of self and inhibit our childlike curiosity.