How to Be a Good Friend
A great life must be full of great friends. Good friendships can add a lot of perks to life. The sense of companionship, being able to trust someone, and sharing positive life experiences invoke great feelings in our minds. But, friendships are two-way streets. To receive these perks, you must also give many things in return. Thus, more than ever, we need to know how to be good friends with those in our close circle.
What is a Friend?
Time, energy, and commitment are the basic investments people have to make to create strong friendships. But, are those efforts enough to be a good friend? What is a “friend,” anyway? In our current society, the term “friend” is a buzzword. Most descriptions or definitions of this term are either very general or very anecdotal:
- A friend is someone who shares time with you.
- A person who accepts you for who you are.
- Someone you can say anything to.
- Someone you look forward to talking to almost every day.
These explanations are descriptive. However, they don’t identify the essence of friendship. Ultimately, any friendship is a relationship between two people. It doesn’t matter if the two people in this relationship meet all the social “criteria” of friendships. The two parties must recognize their potential, importance, and value.
If you treat your friendships as relationships that have great, long-term potential, you know how to be a good friend. If you treat your friends with importance and value their presence in your life, again – you have good friendships. Sometimes taking these simplest of steps is very hard for people.
Thankfully, it’s never too late to rekindle old friendships or build new ones. If you want to be a good friend, the path is much easier than you fear it is. Here’s how you can nurture strong friendships in your personal and professional lives.
1. Be a Source of Support
A good friend should never be the source of judgment or negativity. Friends must be encouraging towards each other. Of course, most good friends are super-honest with each other. But, this honesty shouldn’t come at the cost of supportiveness or positivity. It’s important for friends to be honest with each other.
But, raw honesty can often come off as negativity or judgment. For example, if your friends want to learn a new skill in their late 30s, don’t discourage them. Your first thought will probably be, “Yeah, you’re too old for that.” But, your friends probably know that. If a friend is sharing something personal with you, don’t discard their thoughts.
They’re probably sharing that idea with your knowing other people may reject or mock them. To be a good friend, you must respect and support your friends’ goals, ideas, and dreams. If their ideas are bad, have reasonable discussions with them and explain your viewpoint. But always avoid being judgmental and unsupportive.
Many people claim they’re judgmental, sarcastic, or unsupportive to their friends by their very nature. That’s true. Some people grow up developing unhealthy communication patterns. But, it’s not impossible to break off from these negative behavioral patterns. Many behavioral science experts teach people how to spread love wherever they go.
Learn these techniques and apply them to your closest friendships. Be the beacon of support for your friends.
2. Try to Be Helpful, Especially When They’re in Need
We all know the saying, “a friend in need….” Many people, unfortunately, learn the meaning behind this adage the hard way. In their toughest times, most of their “friends” disappear. Don’t be that friend. Never give your friends “space” when they need compassion. Don’t assume they’re okay just because they’re saying so.
When the times were good, would you cancel plans if your friends said they wanted privacy or space? No! You would try to convince them to get out of their rut and join you. So, don’t change this attitude when times are bad.
According to author, it’s said:
“A true friend only gets in your when you happen to be going down.”Arnold H. Glasgow
So, when your friends are feeling down, that’s when you need to be present in their lives. Even if you feel your presence is not 100% welcome, don’t give up. For example, after big life events, people often demand space and lone time. Many people refrain from sharing their emotions as well.
In such times, only the casual candor of a friend can help. Hearing your friend’s emotions can be an odd and draining experience. But, always try to be as helpful as possible in these difficult situations. Don’t just make your friend realise that you care. Show you care. Display your need to be helpful, especially in the challenging situations of their lives.
3. Try to be Present as Consistently as Possible
When someone calls and asks about your mood, health, and other problems, how do you feel? Special, right? Give this feeling to your friends as regularly as possible. A five-minute phone call, a two-line text, or a short video call – that’s all it takes to make your friend special.
If you’re unable to meet your friends regularly, learn how to cheer someone up virtually. Communicate as frequently as possible. Don’t annoy your friends but don’t fail to give them that special feeling at least once a week either!
4. Don’t Interfere in Their Personal Matters
A relationship without boundaries is a relationship without any clear direction. This applies to all the relationships in your life, including your friends. Here are some examples of healthy boundaries in friendships –
- Privacy boundaries and how much information you disclose with your friend.
- Intellectual boundaries – both parties should have the right to have different opinions.
- Physical space boundaries and sexual boundaries.
Contrary to belief, friends don’t have to share anything and everything with each other. Yes, trust and closeness build as we share more. Some boundaries even loosen or shift over time. But, there are some boundaries that are crucial for keeping friendships healthy.
Interfering in your friend’s personal matters (unless they’re asking you to) is crossing an important boundary. Avoid making this mistake.
5. Give Compliments More Often
Your new haircut looks good on you. Your last social media post was so spot-on. You’re a very good friend. Simple but honest compliments never fail to make us feel good. According to a recent study, receiving compliments lights up certain sections of the brain. The same sections light up when we receive monetary awards.
Technically, giving compliments and praise to your friends is just as good as giving them treats or tips. Of course, not all compliments have these desired effects. To get better at complimenting your friends, use these techniques –
- Make sure your compliments are sincere and genuine.
- Give specific compliments. Pay attention to your friend. Notice something specific about them and praise that detail.
- If your friend compliments you, receive the praise with grace.
Real kings always compliment their peers and help them grow. Anyone can choose to be king and change the world. The first step? Showing kindness and love to people who are close to you, especially your friends.
6. Celebrate Special Days Together
Building a good friendship requires time and effort, especially on special days. Be present for your buddy on their special days if you truly want to be a good friend. Special occasions are rare yet extremely essential to attend.
Remember to wish your friend first on call and if possible, visit his/her home to their day more exciting and full of fun. Try to combine the occasion with a meaningful present that no one would think to buy. Make the day as special as possible for them.
So, never avoid an opportunity to spend time with friends on holidays, anniversaries, and other special occasions. Receiving and giving positive social support on special days will boost the whole friend group’s self-esteem.
7. Keep a Check on What’s Going On
Want to be a good friend right here, right now? Give your close friends a call now and ask them, “What’s going on?” It’s never too late to show your friends you care. Regular check-ins are required for individuals who wish to perfect the art of being a good friend. Make a brief phone call, text, or video chat with this buddy once a week, or more frequently depending on how close you are.
Make sure you’re up to date on everything going on in their lives. If they’ve been busy with work, keep an eye on their stress levels. All and all, you want to communicate as often as possible (you know, without annoying them too much). So, give your friends a call and start your journey to being a good friend right now. Apply the other steps on this list to your friendship over the next few months. As it is said,
“A friend is one who overlooks your broken fence and admires the flowers in your garden.”
Friendship comes with a responsibility as friends never demand anything but it becomes a duty to understand what they need. The above-listed tips and tricks will guide you to become a good friend.
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