Being a great friend is something that I have always taken seriously. Once you truly understand the value of friendship, you can really appreciate it for what it is and give it much more importance into your life. If you ever had a friendship that soured or that you feel could be better then you must read this article. Being a better friend is something we all should aim for, because at the end of the day, we only have each other:
Do you listen?
One of the best assets of having a friendship is that someone is there for you when you need it. Someone is all ears when you have to vent. Remember that friendship is a two-way street! You also need to provide that same respect in return. Ever had a friend that always talked about themselves? How quickly did you get fed up? You don’t want this to happen to you as well, so make sure that you are there to listen to your friends. I’ve seen so many friendships unravel because of the selfishness of one party and it’s truly a shame. Don’t take your friends for granted. Yes, they are there to help you, but you must be there to help them as well. For example, I am more of a listener type of person. That’s my nature and that is why I work in this field. I gravitate towards helping others, and to help them, I must listen carefully. However, I cannot stay friends with someone that will not listen to me in return, especially since it’s not that frequent! Even if you are more of the “talker” in your friendship, make sure that when the “listener” finally has something to say, be there and open your ears. This is how you can build a solid foundation for a long lasting friendship.
Do you encourage?
Your friend may not have the same goals or aspirations as you do. They may very well have a completely different way of doing things than you. The important thing is to always encourage your friends with positive reinforcement. One thing that irks me so much when people come to me for counseling or coaching is that they get no encouragement from their closest friends. Seriously, what good is a friend when that friend will knock you down every chance they get? A good friend is one that supports decisions even if they are not what they would do themselves. Sure, you can give your opinion, but if your friend has a dream or an aspiration and that you don’t agree with it, who are you to judge them? Be there for them and support them in whatever makes them happy. You need to understand that your life and your friend’s life are two different paths. Don’t try to make them live the type of life you want. Simply encourage them to live the life that they want.
What are your priorities?
I get a lot of feedback from clients and friends that tell me that they have had a friendship that dissipated due to the fact that their friend got into a new relationship, and thus now choose to spend all their time with their significant other. I was actually surprised at how often this actually happens. Yes, a new relationship can be fun and exciting, but is that a reason to abandon your friends in the process? Who will be there to comfort you and listen to you whenever you go through a rough patch within that very relationship? This is why it is extremely important to set your priorities in order. You just cannot give priority to a new relationship over a multi-year friendship. This is what I would call “bad business”. The same applies with being too involved in your career and the likes. To truly be a better friend, you need to put your friends at the top of your list of priorities. Jobs and significant others may come and go, but a good friend can last a lifetime, so tell me this is not something worth investing more of your time and energy in? This would be “good business” indeed 😉
How loyal are you?
If you hear something negative about your friend, do you stand up for them? If you have another friend that talks behind that other friend’s back, do you avoid to be a part of it or do you join in? I have an example for you. I have this acquaintance that whenever I get a chance to talk to her, all she ever does is complain about her other friends! She seems to get a kick out of putting her friends down and shows absolutely no loyalty whatsoever. So two things came to my mind: 1- why is she even friends with these people to begin with? and 2- what must she be saying about me? 🙂 Seriously, if you can’t be loyal to your friend, then why are you friends with them? Loyalty is so important if you ever want to be a great friend. It’s the glue that can make the friendship stick together for years and years to come. Also, if you keep talking behind your friends’ back, word of this will eventually get around, and you may find yourself out of friends sooner or later.
Do you give them space?
A great friend knows not to invade their friend’s space too much. For that, you need to 100% listen to your friend, which was my point #1, because sometimes it’s not very obvious. By imposing your will or your presence onto a friendship, you are not doing it any favors. You may very well push that friend further away. I know some people that will call up their friend and blab on for hours every day. Did your friend say they were tired? Did they say something along the lines of wanting to do something else? You have to understand that some people are too nice to flat out say what’s on their mind. They don’t want to offend anyone, but that doesn’t mean you can take advantage of that. This is why listening to them carefully will make it very clear to you if you need to give them more space or not. Be a caring, understanding friend and give them the proper space they may require to feel more at ease.
If you have ever wanted to become a better friend, remember these 5 questions. They can guide you into transforming into not only a better friend, but a better human being overall. I hope that this post makes a difference in your life. I have seen so many friendships end, not only with people around me but also within my own experiences, and every time it happens, it’s such a shame. Without good friends, life is just not the same. Of course, it takes two people to make a friendship work and sometimes it’s clearly not your fault, but just stay true to those 5 questions, so that even if a friendship must end, at least you will have nothing to regret.