Pamela is a friendship expert consultant. She resides in London, born and raised in South Africa where she’s trained as a professional chemical engineer and her greatest passion is people, and her most admired strengths are her friendship skills.
You’re on a mission to extend this friendship knowledge with world, and you’ve done a lot of work with the scientists and scholars to explore all of that, right?
Pamela Naidoo: Correct. It’s an area that’s not explored. opposite-sex friendships is not explored in terms of everyday language. There’s research being done, and even the research only extends to a few decades. The big reason for that is that it’s now becoming very popular and a few decades ago it wasn’t. The studies are starting to reveal if it’s becoming popular, how do we interact with each other? My research was to condense that study with the experts and break it down into everyday language and how I can help other people make friends with the opposite-sex.
David Brower: How do you go from being a professional chemical engineer to a friendship expert?
Pamela Naidoo: That’s a very interesting question. Friendship has always been a big part of my life. I think if there’s one thing people ask me what my passion was growing up, it has to be friendship, that was probably my biggest strength. When it came to opposite-sex friendships, my girlfriends would constantly prod me “How is it that you may guy friends, and you’ve got so many guy friends, and they respect you. They make so much time for you, whereas we struggle to make long term friendships with men. How do you do it?” So what really started off as pub conversations ended up being something like, “You should write it down,” and it ended being writing a book.
When I started the book, I realized I didn’t know as much as I thought I knew and I really wanted to have a scientific explanation for why and how people make opposite-sex friends, including myself. Why is it easier for some people? Why do other people struggle? And how are we really wired? In terms of where the book comes from and where the idea comes from, it’s been a journey from my past and life that’s progressed into this arena. It’s just an overall guide, and it’s a case of being forewarned, forearmed and you’re in more control of the situation and friendships.
David Brower: Forewarned and forearmed? That is absolutely well said. You have to have some, I would think, you’d have to have some confidence about yourself, like yourself, be assured of yourself and have a good sense of other people around you to be able to pick up on some of these feelings, don’t you?
Pamela Naidoo: Yeah, I agree with you, David. I think it is largely a case. I mean I go into a lot of detail into my book, and it always starts from within you, because you go to the things you can control. Doing a bit of introspection, who you are? How do you see yourself? And how can you manage those barriers within yourself in terms of trying to make guys as friends? I mean we all do it, we all create these barriers for ourselves in terms of how we portray ourselves, how see ourselves and those become limitations. Those limitations over years hinder us from making long term successful engagements with other people. I think for women particularly, because my study has been a lot about a women’s guide to male friendships, I think as we get older we’ve gone through a few relationships, and our friends are all married and they’re having kids, it can become quite isolating and lonely. I think doing a check-in with yourself about what you actually want? Who you are? Is a very important first step when you’re trying to make men as friends or trying to make opposite-sex friends.
David Brower: Absolutely and you’ve got … We all at some point have some level of boundaries that we respect and trust, and I think some of those boundaries need to break down a little bit in order to be successful in this, is that fair?
Pamela Naidoo: Yeah, I think that’s a fair assessment of how to make friends. These boundaries they are tough sometimes. First impressions … There’s a lot of pressure on getting it right the first time, but I think that pressure, we need to take that off ourselves as well sometimes because it will be easy on yourself removing those barriers. For me the biggest [inaudible 00:04:53] people when it comes to making friends is actually keeping an open mind.
David Brower: Got to also understand that other person is doing the same and so you’re gradually trying to work towards each other and giving each other respect, right?
Pamela Naidoo: I think you couldn’t have said it better David. I think when you recognize and when you come to realize that the other person is feeling no different from the way you’re feeling, it takes the pressure off and it makes it easy if you do say, “Okay, it’s awkward. It’s awkward for me, but at the same time, it’s awkward for her or him too. So we’re both awkward, and we’re both equally awkward now, and that’s fine.” You know so we just continue and try to make the best out of it … Throw away those inhibitions a little bit, throw away expectations. Just see them for who they are and see the best in them.
My book goes into a lot of detail in terms of the friendship model. I talk a lot about the six stages within a friendship, and it is very powerful stuff in terms of how we make friends. The first two stages where we introduce ourselves in a friendship. The first one is in terms of letting people know what your role in society is. You know, where you work, what you do, where you live? That’s just like a placeholder. Okay, David does this, he runs podcasts, and he lives in New York.
Then the second part of the relationship is where I get to know you a bit better. What does David like to do? What does Pam like to do? Then once you find those common boundaries and adding all the elements of trust and time and effort, you grow towards steadily making a good friendship.
David Brower: Absolutely, or trust and time and effort, that is a formula for success, right?
Pamela Naidoo: Absolutely, I’m so glad we’re having this conversation because it’s one of these things that everybody knows when it comes to friendships. I’m sure if you ask people about how to make friends, they can easily tell you what I am telling you. The difference is there is a reluctance as we get older to want to believe in that system. We do it in the playground, kids do it all the time, they’ve got no conditions, no barriers, they just walk up to each other, start a conversation, and they’re friends.
David Brower: Absolutely.
Pamela Naidoo: And as adults, we tend to struggle. It’s mostly those barriers we put in ourselves, and it’s also the barriers we put for other people. So, trust, time and effort are really important to long term friendships.
David Brower: That will be the title of your next book right? [laughter]
Pamela Naidoo: That could possibly be the title of my next book. [laughter]
David Brower: You mentioned judgment being an issue with you and I’m thinking about that, because not only judgment but also overthinking. Those two things co-exist in my brain and cause me a little more angst than I would like.
Pamela Naidoo: I think it’s varying degrees for different people, and it’s how … I could feel a lot more than you would feel, but possibly I overcome that barrier quicker than other people would. Some people are better at not being so judgmental, everyone’s got their different levels in terms of what appeals to them, then we make choices from there. But, you’re absolutely right, in terms of these barriers, I think keeping an open mind. Ultimately, we’ve got nothing to lose and lots to gain.
David Brower: You bet. I come from a totally different place. My dad was on the road a lot, so I was raised by a single mom and her five sisters. So getting in touch with my female side and being comfortable around women has never been an issue. My best friends growing up were always women. When I was divorced maybe 20 years ago, my five best friends were all women. So when I met my current wife Karen, I told her, I said … and she had met all my friends and I said, “The thing that I like most about each one of those five friends, the individual single thing that I love most about them, all five of those things are in you, which is why I was attracted to you.”
Pamela Naidoo: Mm-hmm (affirmative) you’re the full package.
David Brower: Oh my god it was fabulous. Caught me off guard.
Pamela Naidoo: Yes, that’s very interesting David because you can actually the reverse of my book can’t you? It could be Just Friends, the Ultimate Males Guide to Female Friendships.
David Brower: There you go. I’ll write the addendum to your book. [laughter]
Pamela Naidoo: Similar to you, I’ve had the same upbringing. I grew up with two brothers. My neighbors were guys. I’m the only daughter at home. I would like to think that’s contributed but I also do not believe that it is the only thing that allowed me to make male friends. I’d like to inspire women to “You don’t really need that to make opposite-sex friends. It’s great that you’ve had that experience from young, but it’s a skill that you can learn.”
David Brower: Absolutely and those six steps help people do that, right? Help women do that in particular?
Pamela Naidoo: Yes, so the friendship model is just a generic friendship model that’s been undertaken by a scientist called Bill [Rowlands 00:10:23], and he developed this for all ages, all groups, all types of friendships.
In my book I go into a lot of detail in the context of where do I find these guys and how do I initiate friendships? I think what women needs to understand, and men as well, is that when we talk friendship, we need to remove the element of dating because whenever we talk opposite-sex, dating becomes like a priority. We tend to see men as dating partners, and they see you as dating partners. So there’s this question of “Shall I talk to him first, or it is his place to talk to me first?” Because his a guy. Those are the rules for dating, that’s not the rules for friendship.
David Brower: Oh, that makes perfect sense. I like that, I’ve never heard expressed that way. That makes a lot of sense.
Pamela Naidoo: I thread bound and I breakdown those barriers in terms of how we make friends and why those rules don’t apply. There’s a reason why we’re ingrained with those rules. The big reason is same-sex friendships and dating relationships, they are what we are use to. Two people of the opposite-sex must be a couple. They must be dating. Movies and the media has portrayed that, ever since from the beginning of time. There’s always the possibility of romance, or it ends up in romance.
As a society, we struggle to separate the two. We struggle to say “Okay but we do the same with same-sex friends, why can’t we do this with opposite-sex friends.” That’s the large reason for my book. It’s because it’s a new age thing. It’s becoming the quickest social interaction on the planet because times are changing and we want to make opposite-sex friends and how do we do this? It’s no different from making same-sex friends, obviously there are differences, but in terms of initiation and maintenance and stuff like that, those areas they all stay the same.
David Brower: But it would give you I would think much better balance in your life.
Pamela Naidoo: Absolutely David. I mean, having opposite-sex friends will make you a lot more wholesome and have a more fulfilling life. Obviously, I say that subjectively but anyone that has had an opposite-sex friend has had the benefit of listening to both sides of the story and have the ability to have perspective on their situation, on their life. You’re forced to keep a more balanced view. If I have an issue that I need to discuss with my girlfriend and my guy friend, the approach is more times than often it will be different. Guys are pretty much, and obviously, this is stereotyping, but this is also my observations. They would give you something that hasn’t got too much emotions, it’s clear, and it’s a way of dealing with things. Men look at it differently they are more rational. Women will tend through a process of feelings, and they come to a result by that.
Having the ability to have both sides of the coin, male friends, and female friends makes you more wholesome, because even when you have to make that decision by yourself, you’ve got years of experience of what a guy would say to you and what a girl would say to you, very beneficial especially if you’re dating. Probably the number one benefit of having opposite-sex friends is this premium advice that you would get from them.
David Brower: Absolutely. Guys again, just stereotype a little bit or maybe a lot, Guys are coming into the conversation to fix it, and women are coming into the conversation to process it.
Pamela Naidoo: Absolutely. Two different responses, maybe even the same conclusion. One’s not better than the other.
David Brower: No, it’s just different.
Pamela Naidoo: They’re different. At the end of the day, you’ve got that option to do what you’re comfortable with. It is your life, and you can choose.
David Brower: One of things that you mention in your bio and some of your blog posts and those kind of things are the friend zone. Tell me about that, what is the friend zone? And how do you define that?
Pamela Naidoo: Friend zone is a commitment mismatch between two people in the same friendship. Two people … This is quite interesting in a way because two people in the same friendship can experience the friendship differently. When there is a commitment mismatch between these two people, then technically especially when there is attraction in the way, and one’s expecting this to move to a sexual relationship or to a friendship, then you’re technically in the friend zone. Ultimately the friend zone is a holding pattern. You can’t really stay in there permanently. It’s just a stepping stone for a relationship or a friends with benefit relationship.
If you want to stay in touch with me, you can visit my website, which is www.platonicplanet.co.uk, and I have a Facebook page of the same name and an Instagram page of the same name Platonic Planet.
David Brower: And all those links are on your website?
Pamela Naidoo: All the links are on my website so-
David Brower: It’s very easy to get in touch with you and find the social links there. You’ll also find some great reviews on the book as well. It’s going to be available, or it is available as we speak at Amazon.com, and again the book is “Just” Friends, the Ultimate Guide to Male Friendships, by Pamela Naidoo. That’s fascinating, welcome to Platonic Planet.
How did you come up with the name of your website, that’s pretty cool?
Pamela Naidoo: Yeah, because I just thought Platonic … Well, opposite-sex friends is platonic, but then I wanted brand for the book because this could be the first book of many books. When I started this book, the guys were saying, “That’s great that you have a book for women, but we need, one for men.” You know, it will probably branch off into maybe understanding platonic friendships for both sexes, or it could be the next book just dealing with the friend zone. Depending on the topic so I’m trying to brand the future books in terms of Platonic Planet and also in terms of coaching and speaking and writing. Those are the other services I offer. So in terms of coaching. I think friendship is very understated but so rewarding and we always go for advice for dating and we always for advice for grieving but why not something positive. We should go ahead and try and learn how to make friends and how to make opposite-sex friends, how to maintain friendships. So I offer coaching one to one personal service.
It’s a really, really interesting chapter because I’m a chemical engineer and I’ve worked with men and traveled with them pretty much around the globe, that type comes with a lot of perspective and experiences as well.
But you’re absolutely right. Friendship is what we’re born to do. We’re born to connect with other human beings more than anything else. It’s like a survival skill. You’re right this could easily go into the workplace in terms of how do we manage friendships at work and what is the [inaudible 00:17:52]. How can we create a more friendlier working place?
David Brower: The cool thing about your branding, Welcome to the Platonic Planet is it gives you the whole world as your canvas so you can really touch a lot of people worldwide just with the one brand. That’s brilliant.
Pamela Naidoo: Yes, I just think it’s so close to my heart, and I believe that it brings so much value to my life in terms of how I’ve achieved things … People do sometimes things, and it’s just luck, but it’s also … I know so many people who’re willing to reach out and help. Friendship is a big part, and I want to help other people do the same.
David Brower: Well, you’re panning forward.
Pamela Naidoo: Absolutely,
David Brower: You’re panning forward, that’s a huge deal. Pamela this has been one of the quickest 20 minutes in history, I’ve really enjoyed it.
Pamela Naidoo: Absolutely David, thank you for this lovely conversation.[crosstalk 00:18:41]
David Brower: You’re very welcome. Thank you my pleasure. So again the book is “Just” Friends, the Ultimate Girls Guide to Male Friendships by Pamela Naidoo. You can catch her on her website platonicplanet.com connect with her there socially and learn more about yourself than you ever thought possible.
Pamela Naidoo: David, it’s platonicplanet.co.uk
David Brower: Oh, that’s right, my bad. Thank you. Platonicplanet.co.uk.
Pamela Naidoo: Thank you very much, David.
David Brower: That’s what happens when you talk to somebody in Colorado. They don’t know the difference. You take care. Thank you.
Pamela Naidoo: Thank you very much for your time David.
David Brower: You’ve been listening to your 20-minute podcast with David Brower and our special guest Pamela Naidoo. We hope you enjoy the conversation as much as we did and be sure to follow us on Facebook at facebook.com/your20minutepodcast.