Here’s Why It’s Time to Mix up Your Friendship Circle

It’s easy to hang out with like-minded people. They know us, and we know them, so the conversation flows effortlessly. But while it might be comfortable, it’s not necessarily stimulating.

Sticking exclusively with the same group of friends gives you no opportunity for growth. You won’t hear a different opinion, learn about a another way of life or gain a new perspective by hanging out with people who are just like you.

We humans are creatures of habit though; we’d much rather stick with the familiar than step outside our comfort zone. The thing is, avoiding discomfort only results in stagnation. And there’s nothing fun about that.

Very often we don’t even realize that we’re stuck. Eating potato chips and binge-watching [insert fave series] on Netflix counts as stuck, if that’s all you ever do. Hanging out with the same people is another form of being stuck.

Getting comfortable with being uncomfortable builds character and mettle. But how do you get out of your social comfort zone and find those opportunities for growth? One way is by establishing diversity partnerships.

Establishing Diversity Partnerships

In their insightful —at times, irreverent— TEDx talk, Sisa Ntshona and Mike Wood use the analogy of marriage to explain how establishing diversity partnerships is the best way to challenge cultural and racial divides in South Africa, and this lesson can extend to anywhere in the world.

The issue of ‘us and them’ extends beyond race, however. It’s also there when we think about religion, gender, age, sexual preferences, lifestyle choices and so on.

We’re so quick to notice one another’s differences and make our judgements accordingly, that we fail to recognize the person in front of us has hopes and aspirations outside of the ‘label’ society has assigned them.

World Day for Cultural Diversity

Cultural diversity matters. According to the United Nations, three-quarters of the world’s major conflicts have a cultural dimension. If we’re to have any hope for peace, stability and development, bridging the gap between cultures is more important than ever.

With World Day for Cultural Diversity coming up on May 21, we have the perfect excuse to celebrate our differences. Think about it, our individuality is what makes us so interesting. Being the same would be spectacularly boring. How on earth would we learn and grow?

Making Friends Outside of Your Social Circles

Making friends with people from different cultures or backgrounds isn’t that difficult. It’s going to stretch your boundaries, sure, but it’s not hard and it’ll definitely be worth it.

Joining an organization like Toastmasters, for example, is a great way to mix with a diverse group of people. Volunteering your time at an NGO will also expose you to folks from different backgrounds.

Attending events like TEDx, Creative Mornings or Pecha Kucha also provide a platform for networking and meeting new people. You could do a course with the Art of Living Foundation or attend a church service from a different denomination.

So long as it’s not what you usually do, chances are you’ll meet people different than you.

Benefits of Having Friends from Different Backgrounds

Having a diverse group of friends is about more than bridging cultural divides, though. It’s an opportunity for you to break stereotypes, gain new insights and become more aware. Making friends from around the world instills empathy and helps you become more open and accepting.

You learn about different ways of life, you’re introduced to new ways of looking at things and you’re exposed to ideals and lifestyles you likely knew nothing about. Perhaps most importantly, it’s a way to distill prejudice.

Image via Thinkstock.

49 comments

Leanne K
Leanne Kabout a month ago

I love living in a multicultural soceity. People are people. And send your kids to a school with lots of nationalities, their friends will be of all races. Any place that has distinct separation of groups by race such as schools or prison, isnt doing their job correctly

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John W
John Wabout a month ago

TYFST

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heather g
heather gabout a month ago

For the last few weeks, I've been attending a short course once a week. It was an eye-opener to discover that the participants all know each other - also a trifle disturbing - as I am "the novelty" again.

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Louise R
Louise R1 months ago

thanks for posting

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Janis K
Janis K1 months ago

Thanks for sharing.

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Ruth S
Ruth S1 months ago

Thanks.

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Nita L
Nita L1 months ago

I am also an introvert, live in a very small east Texas town and get my cultural diversity via the internet. Thank you for posting.

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Laura H
Laura H1 months ago

The older I get the more I appreciate people who have different ideas and experiences than me; it can be very eye opening and very stimulating intellectually.
Thanks for sharing.

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Jaime J
Jaime J1 months ago

Thank you!!

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Cindy M. D
Cindy M. D1 months ago

I'm a loner, especially since my husband passed. However I do have people with cultural diversities in my life just on a limited basis. I do have some very close friends which I cherish. I love knowing the different cultures and what they are about. Very interesting. Wish I was more of an extrovert.

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