Having a good friend is one of the most valuable things you can have in your life. A true friend is someone to turn to when you’re feeling lonely, need a listening ear, or want someone to celebrate with you. It is also one that, over time, can get so comfortable that we take it for granted.
If you’ve ever had a really great friend, you’ve noticed all the things they did with you, for you, and on your behalf. Are you doing the same for your friend? If your answer wasn’t a quick “yes” maybe it’s a good time to tune up your friend skills. Here are some ideas to help with your tune up:
Work on your listening skills. Listen to hear what the person is actually saying – stay focused on their words, emotions, and body language. Avoid letting your mind drift. Don’t formulate your response while the person is speaking. It detracts from your ability to truly listen with and open mind.
Be there for your friend. There are times your friend needs to chat, but there are also times when they just need you to be there. They may not need to hear any opinions, advice, or other response. They just may need your support. If you are able, let your friend know it’s okay to call at any time if they really need you.
Be dependable. If you make a commitment, be sure to honor it. Show up on time. Be respectful of your friend’s time and don’t make them wait or wonder if you are going to be there. If there is a reason you can’t keep your commitment, be sure to let your friend know right away – the sooner the better.
Honor your commitments. Have you ever had a friend who sometimes didn’t show up or showed up 45 minutes late? Be someone your friend can count on. Be dependable and predictable in your friendship. Doing so will ensure you’ll never have a shortage of people who care for you.
Make the time for your friendship. Do things together – have dinner, paint the living room, work on the car, or just hang out. A good friend wants to be together and makes time in a busy schedule to do it. Be creative with what you do together and you’ll make great memories you can share over and over again.
Choose your words carefully when asked for advice. No one likes to feel criticized, especially a good friend. You may have your opinions already formed, but unless you are asked, it’s usually better not to offer. The exception is, of course, if you think your friend is in danger or harms way of any kind. If asked to offer your opinion, be diplomatic. Instead of saying something like “I think you were wrong,” you may consider a kinder approach like, “I may have done it a little differently.”
Keep confidences confidential. This one sounds easy, but it can be challenging. If you have mutual friends, it may seem tempting to discuss what’s going on, or to assume that they already know about it as well. If a mutual friend asks you about something you were asked to keep confidential, be kind, yet firm in your response telling them you really can’t talk about it.
Be positive! We all have hard days, and it’s tempting to dump your difficulties on a friend when you are comfortable with the friendship. It’s important to be brief if you have something negative you need to share, and to not let it become a habit. Good friends are there for each other in the good times and the bad times, but you want to minimize the negative energy that can easily come along with complaints or frustrations. If you really need to vent, ask your friend if you can vent for ten minutes, and then move on to something more fun.
Being a great friend will bring you moments of joy, years of comfort, and decades of cherished memories. Keep your friendship skills tuned up and ready at all times. You’ll feel like you’re the best friend ever and those you care about will think so, too!
Find your purpose – find your joy!
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Did you find a few more ideas of your own? If so, I’d love to hear about them in the comments, and as always please reach out with your thoughts.
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