Steps To Being A Better Friend
Aristotle suggested that friendship is the key to one’s happiness.
However, friendship is not a given. We may think it is with tools like Facebook and Twitter allowing us to “friend” or “follow” people we know. May even want to become friends with in real life. However, the act of really creating and developing a friendship isn’t nearly as automatic as that.
There is a definite line between friendship and simple acquaintance. Alarmingly most people don’t take the time to understand there’s is a difference and it’s a big one.
Friendship only happens when you take steps to insure the relationship you have with another person continues to grow, expand and prosper – not just in the beginning but continually. That requires some hard work and effort on your part which is where most people fail. Friending that person on Facebook and occasionally liking their pictures isn’t building a friendship. It’s not meaningful, it’s not memorable and it doesn’t make the social deposit necessary to sustain and grow a friendship.
To build a true friendship you have to make a real invest in the relationship in order to create something of any real meaning. That investment requires time, focus and action. Only through these demonstrable and recognizable efforts will the other person begin to feel and sense your level of commitment towards them and hopefully they will see the same value in you and will reciprocate.
Friendship is like a dance. You may have to lead initially but if you find the right partner the dance becomes more fluid and beautiful. The process is seamless, rewarding and something both you and your friend will find great joy in.
Here are a few easy steps to help you develop a friendship:
- Be Up Front – When I meet people I really like and want to develop a friendship with, I tell them. I share how much I respect and admire them and what I believe they bring to my life and career. I ask for them to keep being a part of my life and that I would very much be honored to call them a friend. Yes this may seem weird, like asking someone to go steady, but it is upfront, honest and lets people know you think enough of them to want to build a friendship with them. They’ll appreciate you for saying so, trust me!
- Stay Engaged – You can’t simple declare you are friends with someone and assume that is enough. You have to show up and play a role in their lives. Good friends are there in good times and in bad and you need to be engaged and active enough in the other person’s life to know which they may be going through right now. And no, waiting for them to post about their mood, a bad day at work or some other “life status” update on social media and then reaching out to them doesn’t count.
- Share New Adventures – Experience bonds you. Whether it’s trying horseback riding, planning a weekend getaway to drink wine in Napa, Valley or simply going on a long hike, activity is one of the single biggest things you can do to build and grow a friendship. New adventures give you and your friend time away from the chaos of normal life and make experiences together. And if that experience is memorable enough it will be an anchor for many great stories for years to come.
- Be The Best Friend You Can Possibly Be – There is a line in country singer Tim McGraw’s song “Live Like You Were Dying” that says, “Be the kind a friend a friend would like to have” that pretty much sums this one up. Why can’t you be “that person” for your friend? Be your friend’s greatest champion, supporter and #1 fan. Be there for them in every conceivable way to shine light on them when they need it, pick them up when they get knocked down, be their shoulder to cry on when things don’t go well and give them space to allow them to be who they really are without judgement. And be the kind of a friend you would like to have and you will lay the foundation for that other person to be just that.
So, how good a friend are you? Are you putting in the necessary steps to really build true and lasting friendships in your life? Or are you just going through the bare minimum motions. It might be a good time to really look at who your true friends are. Then just how much more effort you need to invest in order to keep them that way.
P.S. For all of my friends reading this, I know, I will try harder myself!