How to Be Friendly in English – 5 Easy Strategies

Feb 21, 2018 | Business Professional English, English Conversation

This lesson on How to Be Friendly in English was originally created in February 2016. It has been updated with newer content and a video lesson. 

Do you know how to be friendly in English? Do you have English-speaking colleagues you want to talk with more easily or become friends with?

In a second language, it can be challenging to:

  • Have friendly, easy conversations with colleagues
  • Show your colleagues that you’re open, interesting, and easy to talk with
  • Express kindness and your desire to help your colleagues
  • Connect easily in everyday conversations to build a friendly relationship

There is no doubt that friendships are important in our lives. Unfortunately, the older we become, the more difficult it can be to have new friendships.

Life is busy. We have jobs to do, children to take care of, family to visit, dinners to prepare, errands to run, work tasks to complete, deadlines to meet, soccer games to attend… it never ends.

But we also want to feel connected to people. We want to enjoy our friends and colleagues. We want to talk and laugh and tell stories and feel close. It makes our life better. It helps us enjoy our work more. It makes us smile.

So, how can you do that in English?

That’s exactly what you’ll learn today with this lesson on How to Be Friendly in English! Use these tips and language expressions to help you get started with making friendly connections in English today!

Use these 5 easy tips to boost your English friendship-making skills.

Lesson by Annemarie

How to Be Friendly in English with 5 Easy Strategies

Strategy 1: Show You’re Listening

Let’s focus on expressions you can use to show you are listening with different purposes.

Sometimes we want to encourage someone to continue speaking or we want to clarify our understanding. Other times, it is helpful to summarize what we heard to check your understanding or be prepared to respond with your opinion.

These language skills are great ways to show you’re listening. In addition to the examples below, be sure to check out my lesson on Powerful Listening Skills in English (How to Know if a Native Speaker Is Listening to You).


Clarifying / Restating

These expressions are used to:

  • Check your understanding
  • Get more information from the speaker
  • Show that you understand

Example expressions:

  • “Are you saying… [repeat what you understand]?”
  • “What do you mean exactly when you say that?”
  • “Would you say a little more about that?”
  • “I thought I heard you say…”
  • “So you are saying that…”
  • “From what I understand, you are saying that…”

Offering Opinions

These expressions are used to:

  • Continue/build the conversation
  • Offer your opinion or ideas

Sample Expressions:

  • “That is very interesting. Have you considered…”
  • “Have you thought about…”
  • “I see what you’re saying. From my point of view, I think…”
  • “If you want my advice, I’d…”
  • “Well, I would…”

Encouraging / Validating

These expressions are used to:

  • Show that you value the other person’s comments
  • Acknowledge that other person and show you heard them
  • Show interest
  • Encourage the other person to keep talking

Sample expressions:

  • “Wow. That is really interesting.”
  • “Could you say a little more about that?”
  • “Thank you for sharing that.”
  • “I appreciate your comments on that.”
  • “Could you tell me a little more?”
  • “I think I understand what you’re saying.”
  • “I understand why you feel that way.”


These expressions are used to:

  • Focus the conversation on the important details or information
  • Review the highlights
  • Remember the important points

Sample expressions:

  • “What I understand is…”
  • “What I hear you saying is…”
  • “From what I understand, the key points are…”
  • “Let me make sure I understand what you said. You said that…”
  • “I want to be clear on what you said…”

“In every language, in every culture, there are some important tips for how to communicate in a friendly way. Use this advice to help you develop friendly relationships in English.

Strategy 2: Verbal Feedback

While the questions and comments we use to show we are listening are a form of verbal feedback, there are many more opportunities to use sounds and words to show you are interested and listening.

Doing so shows you care about what your colleague (or friend) is saying.

Without verbal feedback, your colleagues might wonder if you are listening.
If you are silent, they might think you don’t care. Or you are thinking about other things. You seem are distracted.

Try using these words and phrases next time you are in a conversation with your colleague.
(Note: You don’t need to say these loudly, nor do you need to wait until your colleague is finished speaking. We usually say these – softly – while you are speaking to show interest and to encourage you to continue speaking.)

  • “Wow! That’s really interesting.”
  • “That must have been so much fun.”
  • “Crazy. I can’t believe that!”
  • “That’s crazy.”
  • “Interesting.”
  • “Cool!”
  • “That must have been great.”
  • “That must have been really fun.”
  • “That sounds awesome.”
  • “Hmmm”
  • “Uh huh”

Strategy 3: Ask Questions

If you don’t know your colleague or acquaintance well, then what this really means is to use small talk.
You can review an older lesson I provided on Making Small Talk but I am going to provide more information here as well.

The purpose of small talk is to open a conversation. It shows you are interested in a connection, you’re easy to talk to and open.
And everyone loves to talk about themselves, so ask questions about your colleagues. This is the quickest way to get to know them and show how friendly you are!

Not sure what to ask about?
There is a helpful acronym in English: F.O.R.D.

Occupation (Job)
Recreation (hobbies, passions, weekends, vacations)

Generally speaking, these are great topics to ask about.
Here are some sample questions:

  • “How is your family?”
  • “Do you have kids? How old are they?”
  • “How is work going?”
  • “What projects are you working on these days?”
  • “How are things at work?”
  • “Do you enjoy your work/job?”
  • “What made you interested in your profession?”
  • “How was your weekend?”
  • “What did you do this (past) weekend?”
  • “What are you doing this (next) weekend?”
  • “What do you do for fun?”
  • “Any travel plans for the summer?”
  • “Did you always want to be a [name profession]?”
  • “What do you want to do next summer?”

Strategy 4: Be Helpful

When you feel the most stressed at work, wouldn’t you love for a colleague to offer help?

Even if there is nothing for your colleague to do, isn’t it nice to know he or she offered?
And don’t you feel closer or more friendly toward that person?

Here are some great ways to offer help in English:

  • “I’m not sure I can be of any help but I’m here if you need me.”
  • “Can I help you with anything?”
  • “That sounds like a lot (of work)! What can I help with?”
  • “You look stressed – is there anything I can help with?”
  • “Do you need me to take anything off your plate?” — Idiomatic expression
  • “I’m here if you need me for anything.”

Strategy 5: Focus on the Positive

In the video lesson, I said, “Don’t be a Debbie Downer!!”

Debbie Downer was a fictional character on an American comedy TV show called Saturday Night Live.
Now the expression – Debbie Downer – is slang for someone who always gives bad news or always says something negative in conversations, which makes the whole group feel depressed or puts the group in a bad mood.

No one likes a Debbie Downer.
Instead, focus on the positive. Even when work is difficult or stressful, when the weather is terrible or cold, try to find something positive. Smile. Find the humor in different situations. Laugh easily. Share jokes with your colleagues.

Need some help with positive comments to use at work?
Here are a few:

  • When you have a difficult project to start: “Let’s get started!”
  • When your team feels stuck or there is a new problem: “We’ll look how far we’ve come.”
  • When someone is having a really bad or stressful day: “I can help you.”
  • When a team member or colleague does something great: “That was great! Nice job.”
  • Again, to compliment a team member, colleague or client: “I really appreciate you and your work. Thank you.”
  • When you haven’t seen a colleague or client for some time: “Hey, it’s great to see you!”
  • When someone in your office does something awesome: “I was really impressed when you…”
  • When you want to show someone their opinion is important or you want to hear what they have to say: “I’d really like to hear your thoughts on…”
  • When someone gave you an idea or a suggestion and it worked: “I took your suggestion and it worked! Thank you.”
  • And never forget the importance of a simple “thank you.”

For more essential tips on how to build better relationships and have good connections with people in English, be sure to visit my Confident English lesson on How to Be Kind and Polite in English at Work.

Now that you’ve watched the video and review the language you need to be friendly in English, I’d love to hear from you.

  • What are your experiences with being friendly at work? Has it been easy for you to make friends with your English-speaking colleagues? What strategies do you use?
  • What is your greatest challenge in building relationships with others in English? Share with me so we can find the solutions you need.

The best place to share with the community and get feedback is in the comments section below. Thank you for joining me this week.


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