They say friendship is a lost art. I don’t know if that’s an overstatement, but as a social confidence coach, I do know that many people don’t truly grasp how to be a good friend.
Their friendships are frail and superficial. They don’t last and they don’t provide the positive experiences they could. I think it’s important for most of us to learn on our own how to be a good friend.
It’s not something we learn in school, it’s not something our parents teach us past a certain short point. Considering this, I want to share with you 7 key principles I believe it’s crucial to follow in order to be a good friend.
1. Make an Effort to Meet
Many of us are so busy and far from each other today that it’s hard to keep in touch. Nevertheless, a good friend will always make an effort to meet with their friends; simply because they are important enough.
Don’t just wait for your friends to give you a call and invite you to hang out. Take the initiative yourself.
Don’t look at the fact you don’t have a lot of time or they live 500 miles away as an insurmountable obstacle. Look at it as a mere logistical setback that you’ll have to work around. And try to find ways to overcome them.
2. Be Honest
From my perspective, honesty is one of the central pillars of friendship. The fact you’re honest with a person is what makes them trust you.
They know they can rely on you to give them an honest opinion and to be genuine with them. This kind of reliance is what makes people bond and develop strong friendships.
I know sometimes it can be hard to be honest, because you may hurt a person’s feelings or make them feel bad. Nevertheless, even in these situations, honesty is the way to go if you want to be a good friend. Don’t make compromises in this area.
If you lack the confidence to be open and honest with others, check out this presentation I created. It will show you exactly how to deal with this problem.
3. Be Constructive
There’s almost nothing worse than chatting with a friend and listening to them complaining non-stop, or putting down any positive idea you have. This kind of an attitude can completely take the fun out of an interaction.
A big part of learning how to be a good friend is developing a constructive conversation style.
It doesn’t mean that you never say anything negative. It means that overall, you focus on the positive rather than the negative during a conversation, and you keep it fun and upbeat. When this is your default attitude, you’re the kind of person others always look forward to meeting again.
4. Treat Your Friends as Your Equals
Nobody likes people with a condescending attitude, who constantly tell you you’re wrong and “this is the right way to do it”.
Treat your friends as your equals. Keep in mind that you have your flaws and your strengths, just as they have theirs. You are not superior to them, and they are not superior to you either. Come from this place when interacting with them, and they’ll adore your demeanor.
And if sometimes you absolutely believe that you are superior to somebody, then perhaps they’re not the kind of person you want to build a solid friendship with in the first place.
5. Keep Your Promises
Keeping your promises is the other essential component for building trust besides honesty.
The trick is whenever you have the impulse to make a promise, to first ask yourself: “How hard will it realistically be for me to keep this promise?” so you become fully aware of the realism of the promise.
If it’s very hard or unlikely that you’ll keep your promise, then don’t make that promise to begin with. And if you do make it, then do everything in your power to keep it. Once you go on the path of breaking promises, it’s hard to regain that trust you will have lost.
6. Remember and Take Into Account Your Friends’ Preferences
It’s always nice when a friend invites me to a party with a lot of Latin music, since I like that kind of music, and not to one with a lot of rock music, since I don’t like it.
Besides the fact it creates a better experience for me, it shows that my friend knows my preferences and takes them into consideration. I know my needs and wants matter for them, and this makes them a good friend.
You shouldn’t constantly sacrifice your needs for those of your friends, but you should seek to make an experience positive for them as well as you.
7. Help Them
Last but not least, discovering how to be a good friend means willing to provide help for your friends when they need it.
This help can range from something small but meaningful such as a few words of encouragement, to something that requires more of an investment, such as lending them your car for a day.
These kinds of gestures ultimately prove how strong a friendship is. If two people frequently help each other and they are willing to go to some length to do so, they are not just friends, they are good friends.
Now that you know how to be a good friend, I invite you to take one step further and put this know-how into practice. Actually be a good friend to the persons you want to be to. It will be worth it.
As a final thought, bear in mind that a friendships goes both ways. So, everything you do for a person to be a good friend to them, it’s only natural to expect in return. If they do not reciprocate, you may want to reevaluate your relationship.
In my experience, it’s those win-win friendships where both parties show a lot of respect, positivity and appreciation for each other that are the most fulfilling. These are the friendships that you’ll always think of fondly and you’ll treasure forever.
Image courtesy of jonandesign