Do you sometimes feel like your friends are fair-weather friends or more like acquaintances? Perhaps they don’t realize that you desire a closer relationship. To have a true friend, you have to be one yourself.
Cultivating these attributes will help you strengthen your friendships:
1. Develop the art of listening well. Sometimes, just listening attentively to your friends will make them feel better about the challenges they’re facing. To listen well is to imbibe what is being said without thinking of what you’re going to say in response.
* Perhaps when you listen, you’re even thinking of how you’re going to offload your own troubles onto your friend after they stop talking about theirs. That may be the last thing your friend needs. Listening well means refraining from interrupting your friends and giving them your full attention.
2. Be truthful. True friendship isn’t dependent on your saying “yes” all the time and overlooking your friend’s faults. Of course, while you’re tolerant of their idiosyncrasies, you’ll also want to support your friends in their personal development.
* For instance, if you feel a friend drinks or smokes too much, you can tell him so. Offer some words of wisdom. Most of all set a good example.
* Love can be both tough and gentle in its attempt to further the welfare of a friend. If your motives are pure, your friends will always be grateful, even if they initially seem to resist your efforts.
3. Be loyal. Loyalty is one of the hallmarks of great friendships. Avoid gossiping about your friends and keep the secrets safe that were given to you in love and confidence. Trust is the basis of true friendships. Treat your friends like you’d want to be treated.
4. Be supportive. Help uplift them in their time of need. If your friend wants to achieve a worthy goal such as losing weight, giving up smoking, or taking up a new skill, offer them your whole-hearted support. Tell them it’s a good idea and go out of your way to provide them with the information or assistance they need.
* For example, if your friends want to lose weight, you can help by not indulging when you’re around them and tempting them. You could even join them in their exercise classes.
5. Avoid arguing to win. Trying to prove that we are right is the root of much of the disharmony we see around us. Arguments can make us feel angry and resentful. Instead, just say what you have to say calmly and let it go. Letting go isn’t the mark of weakness. It’s a sign of greatness and humility.
* Agree to disagree. If you must argue, ensure the issue is important and your motives are correct. You’re not out to prove you’re right. You just want to discover the other person’s point of view and share your own. Most of all, you want your relationship to be better off for having had the conversation, just like they do.
6. Say “Please,” “Thank You” and “I’m Sorry.” Be polite to your friends. Thank them for their company and their help. Don’t be afraid to say “sorry,” or “please,” when required. These three magic words can really help create harmony. They also show that you don’t take your friends for granted.
7. Avoid taking advantage of your friends. If you call them only when you need help or if you keep asking them for impossible favors, you’ll come across more as a pest than a friend.
* When they do help you, ensure that the assistance they give you doesn’t compromise them in any way. Show them respect and appreciation.
Watch your friendships blossom when you follow these strategies. Being a good friend is not only kind to those who have chosen to be in your life, but also will yield more satisfying friendships!