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Making Friends With Strangers Remotely

“The True Book of Friends” Yokais never seen of

Zakiy Saputra


Natsume Yuujinchou

This article was written for the purpose of individual assignment for PPL CSUI 2021, and also to educate readers on People Management and Making Friends!


When you graduated from school and went along to your respective jobs, huge chances are, your workplace will be filled with people you don’t know with. You need to know about them now though, you’re part of the team. But how do we get there? If you’re currently just employed in the middle of the pandemic, the hurdles get worse; Everyone is in a sour mood and is struggling; You have less opportunity to mingle with them; Hell, you might not even be to see them at all offline due to working remotely! So, how do we still be able to make friends, with strangers, without possibly any physical contact at all?

The Problem

The start of my project in PPL with my team (PPL Tech), to be very honest, is a Disaster. That’s a capital ‘D’ I put there, just for emphasis. The team consists of 5 people, Me, Aan, Kholish, Algi, and Steven C. I have no prior relationships with any one of my team other than colleagues and have no group project experiences with anyone except for Steven. This doesn’t matter though, as Steven is then forced to drop out of the project due to health reasons. This left me with 3 guys I haven’t connected with, who have their own lives behind the screen, their own interests that I’m not sure if it intersects with mine or not, and I can’t contact them physically. Now, how do we make friends out of it?

Understand The Context

Natsume Yuujinchou

To know your Enemy, you must become your Enemy.
- Sun Tzu

This legendary quote from Sun Tzu in his book “Art of War” teaches us how to win in any war against our enemies. This quote isn’t going to be exactly what I’m planning to use in this article though, but instead:

To know your Friend, you must become your Friend.
- Zakiy

Sounds plausible, right?

Understanding your Partners is the easiest (and fastest) way to be friends with them. This can be done in a lot of ways, either direct or indirect. For direct examples, we can ask them questions on topics we are curious about and create a fact out of it. Indirectly, we can ask them questions on some issues, and do an inference for another conclusion out of answers we get from the question. By creating a list of facts and conclusions of your partners, you will be able to know their interests, hobbies, daily lives, and most importantly, topics and discussions that are guaranteed to make them interested later on. Here are some examples:

Direct Questions:

I really, really, really like sweets.
@Nice PeoPLe, aku pinjem Zafira buat artikel bentar ya.

In the examples shown above, I started by asking others what are their favorite desserts. Asking these questions gives me some information to handle: I really like sweets, so by knowing others' sweet preferences, I can make some conversation out of it if they also like sweets; And I got an idea of what to give them on special occasions, further amplifying my relationship with said person on that moment.

Indirect Questions:

That escalated quickly.

Indirect questions are questions with the primary intention of not understanding your partners, but still can be used to understand them implicitly. In this example, I asked two questions: One, I asked an idea for our group project name. Second, I asked what project topics my teammates aren’t interested in. This question might seem irrelevant at first on understanding your teammates, but sometimes, it does:


Here we learned that Steven has, or is currently watching Netflix TV Series Startup, giving me an idea to talk with him about Netflix Series or K-Dramas to get closer to him in the future.

Communicate! Communicate! Communicate!

Natsume Yuujinchou

So, we learned from our previous examples that asking questions and talks improves our understanding of others, right? That’s why we need to keep the conversation going on with others in order to become friends! Keep a variety of small talks and conversation opener going, slowly offers information about yourself and ask for the same from your partner, and listen to them well when it’s their turn to talk. Most people love to talk about themselves, so when they do, try to listen to them and offer positive responses to inform them that you appreciate them for the information they have given.

No matter how stupid the starter is, do it!

In the above example, I tried to start a discussion of our PPL Project by posting a meme of it. This serves as a good conversation starter for us to discuss our sprint later on.

Texting, And The Art of ✨Emoji✨

Natsume Yuujinchou

Since it is currently a pandemic and the article title clearly states ‘Making Friends Remotely’, I understand that some original rules on making friends don’t work much in online settings. In online messaging, you aren’t able to show your feelings, emotions, and gestures, so people are prone to misunderstanding when you’re talking with them via text messages. In video conferences, technical issues such as hearing problems are also culprits in causing misunderstanding. This can be avoided by correct usage in texting to ensure your message is sent across. Here are some examples:


In the above examples, I accidentally wrote ‘OMG’ in all capitals when responding to a friend when they said that they’re having symptoms of Typhoid. The usage of capitals in ‘OMG’ overblows the context of the original message and makes it seems worse, spreading panic and fears towards everyone. Besides, the capitals make the message look excessive.


In the above examples, a friend asked me to proofread whether a message that is going to be sent towards the client is correct or not. I replied to the question fast, direct and friendly by using stickers or emojis to the asker.


Even though you’ve tried your best, misunderstandings are still prone to happen when chatting with people online. For example, different language style usage such as“Aku-Kamu” and “Elo-Gue”. Since some people have a hard time conveying their feelings via text message (trust me, I used Jaksel language way too much), other solutions are made: emojis. By using emojis, people can express their feelings more freely towards others in an online message, lessening the chances of misunderstandings, giving the sender emotional release in expressing their emotions, and amplify the point of your message towards others. It’s not cringe, it’s fun!

I’m a very expressive person I love using emojis

Don’t Expect Too Much

Natsume Yuujinchou

Before making friends, understands that sometimes, you can’t be friends with everyone. Maybe they just didn’t click on you, are heavily against what you believe for, or just plain awful. It’s okay. When this happens, slowly take a step back and maintain the current relationship you have with this person in a neutral manner. Even though you can’t be friends, it is important for you to manage professionalism in your relationship, especially if you both met in the workplace. Who knows? Maybe you can’t be friends today, but maybe you can tomorrow?


Natsume Yuujinchou

Don’t walk in front of me — I may not follow. Don’t walk behind me — I may not lead; Walk beside me — And just be my friend.
- Unknown

Having a friend in your workplace makes your job easier to handle. Communication between friends is easier than communication between strangers, conflicts can be solved with each other easily due to an existing understanding between each other, and having friends also satisfies your needs as a social being. The pandemic and lack of physical contacts exemplifies the importance of having friends, so, what are you waiting for?

After reading this article, I hope you learned about the importance of friends and how to make friends in a remote condition! See you in my next article!

HCI Course, University of Indonesia
Leadership in Psychological Perspectives Course, University of Indonesia