“One loyal friend is worth ten thousand relatives.” Euripides.
Do you have a lot of friends, each of whom you share different interests with? Or do you have a few close friends with whom you spend most of your time? One way or another, being a good friend goes way beyond just spending evenings at bars or coffee houses together. You laugh, cry, dance, sing, and travel together. Read on to find out more about how you can be a good friend and maintain some of the most important relationships of your life.
Be there for your friend, and not just during the good times – It’s easy to laugh and make merry when things are going well. But the true test of your friendship is when the road gets a little rocky. Show your support, both verbally and through your actions. If your friend is going through a tough patch, do whatever you can to help him or her through it. If it’s a medical problem she’s dealing with, drive her to the hospital to show that you care for her. If it’s a work issue that he needs to vent about, listen without interrupting him. Listening is often misunderstood. We don’t mean that you just stay quiet long enough for them to finish and then jump in with your story. Truly listen. Try and understand what your friend wants to tell you and offer advice only if he or she asks for it.
Be Consistent. Nobody Likes A Flake – Don’t we all get irritated when someone says they would do something and never gets around to it? If you’ve promised to help your friend with gift-shopping or simply just meet for coffee, do it. Don’t phone at the last minute and make excuses each time. People recognize a flake easily, and soon you won’t even be asked. Keep your promises, unless there’s something very urgent that you can’t avoid. In that case, your friend will be mature enough to understand that you didn’t intend to let her down.
Honesty really is the best policy – When you think an issue needs addressing, definitely talk about it even if it’s a touchy topic. Of course, be tactful and don’t hurt your friend with excessively blunt language. Know when you should talk about it. For example, if you want to talk to your friend about a relationship that you think is doing him more harm than good, then don’t dive into it when he’s had a tough day at work. Don’t lie to your friend about what you really think about important stuff. Be sincere.
Be Loyal – Such a simple one, really. However, loyalty is one of the most difficult things to come by in today’s world where “Friends Lists” on social networks run into thousands. Don’t talk to someone about your friend in a way that you would never talk to him directly. And if someone says something negative about him, don’t immediately jump in and join. You can tell them that you will speak to him to understand his perspective.
Accept and Respect Differences – Don’t force your point of view on your friend. Everyone’s entitled to his or her views and opinions. It’s nice to have a fresh perspective sometimes, and even if you don’t agree with something, don’t let that come in the way of your friendship.
Give your friend space – All of us need time alone, or to be with other people. So if your friend turns down an invitation to hang out together once in a while, don’t be a baby about it. Don’t be jealous if your friend is spending time with another friend. Give her the space she needs instead of going all passive-aggressive on her and cancelling your coffee plans with her the next time. Space is an important factor for any relationship to grow and stay healthy.
Make an effort to stay in touch – Sometimes it becomes inevitable that our friendship with someone becomes “long distance” due to a job or other reasons. Remember that a true friendship evolves over time, and doesn’t diminish. But it takes effort to make it that way. Schedule a monthly Hangout video call, and visit your friend when you’re back in town for a few days. A quick text to ask her how she’s doing and whether she’s watched the latest flick of your shared Hollywood idol will put a smile on her face.
Give as much as you can – Friendship is about give and take. That said, I don’t mean it in the sense of a transaction. So you don’t have to say, “Oh, since you bought me this purse for my birthday, I’m going to have to get you something that costs exactly the same.” But give just because you want to. It could be as simple as bringing her a latte from her favorite coffee shop or picking her up from her salon appointment.
Apologise, and resolve conflict – If you’ve done something to hurt your friend, even if unintentionally, apologise. Tell him or her that you are truly sorry and mean it. Even if your friend is angry, he or she will realize that you’re mature enough to apologise and that you really want to make it up to them. This also means that when your friend apologises for something that she’s done, accept it gracefully and move on. Don’t hold a grudge.
Respect your friend’s time – In line with the “make an effort” and “keep your promise” point, it can’t be stressed enough that you should respect your friend’s time without taking him for granted. Be punctual, and don’t make a habit of showing up late because “anyway he doesn’t have anything else to do.” That just doesn’t fly. Turn your cellphone off or put it on silent mode so that your conversation doesn’t get interrupted repeatedly when you’re meeting after a long time. Resist the urge to keep checking your phone for messages. It’s basic etiquette and it will let your friend know that you truly value him.
Good friends offer invaluable support, emotional and otherwise, and should be held on to dearly. Maintaining friendships require understanding and effort and I do hope that some of the points that I have outlined above will help you forge long term ties.
Visual courtesy: https://www.flickr.com/photos/josefseibel/