Disclaimer: I am writing this post because I want to be a better friend. I am not always the friend I could be. I am human just like the rest of you and we all make mistakes, miss opportunities and can become better.
10 Ways to be a Better Friend (that you can do today!) Plus they will make you feel better about yourself by doing them. It is a WIN/WIN!
1. Talk. Email, Call, Text. Get in touch with them. It is easy to get distracted and focus on the “me” point of view. I sometimes leave no room for anyone else. There are many times when I think of a friend, but make an excuse rather than just send them a quick message via email, facebook, or text. Just do it. It will make them feel good and you too.
Have you ever been in the grocery store, or the mall and seen someone you know but avoid them because you don’t want to talk to them? I admit I have sometimes. Part of it is I have this strange gift for remembering names and faces. So I will see someone at Wal Mart who I had a class with in college 4 years ago and can still remember them. When I say “Hey, how are you?” They give me this strange look because they can’t figure out who I am. So moral of the story, maybe they remember you too and are to afraid to say hi so just do it. It will make you and them feel better. It is always great to interact with others.
2. Quit holding that one (or many) things they did to you a long time ago in the back of your mind. Did your best friend in high school steal your boyfriend? Did your friend in fifth grade tell all your deep dark secrets to everyone else? Something similar to this has happened to all of us. Let it go. Have they apologized? Then you need to forgive and forget. PEOPLE CAN CHANGE. If we couldn’t, wouldn’t that be depressing. The world would be full of flawed unchanging people. Good thing we can change. We can learn from our mistakes. As humans in general we do stupid things. We just can’t always keep ourselves together and do the right thing, but we can learn from those things and become better people from it. So forgive. We all need it.
Even if they haven’t apologized show that you have the faith in them that they can improve and change and sill forgive them.
3. Stop others from talking bad about your friends and don’t do it yourself. I love (when I say love, I mean it’s funny) when someone gossip about another person and then say “Bless her heart.” Like this makes it okay to talk about them.
Show true concern for others and their challenges, but leave it there. Don’t criticize or judge. You’ve never been in their mind or understand the multitude of challenges they are hiding than you have no idea about.
I still believe in the adage of even if you aren’t participating in something, but let others do it, you are just as guilty. Stand up for your friends and others. Don’t let someone else drag their name through the mud just because they want to make themselves feel superior.
4. Compliment them. Who doesn’t love a good compliment. We all have strengths and weaknesses. Highlight the strengths, forgive the weaknesses. Slow down and pay attention. Compliments can be very easy, “I really like how you did your hair today.” They can become complex. “You are very talented in the way you handled that sticky situation. You were calm. You were patient, I wish I could do that.”
I can go a long way on a good hair day compliment, but the compliments that stick out to me more are ones that are more meaningful. Those are attributes I am striving to reach, I don’t feel like I am there yet, but someone noticed that I was trying to be a better person.
5. Be genuinely happy when something amazing happens your friend. Isn’t this so hard. It is for me, just saying. Especially when I want something similar to happen in my life. Enjoy these milestones of happiness and be truly happy and supportive. This builds your fan club when you do or have something amazing happen to you. Friends are support networks.
6. Listen. And be interested. Instead of thinking of your response, stop. Collaborate and listen. Just kidding. Stop and listen to what your friends are saying and what they aren’t saying. Read between the lines and then answer. Ask follow up questions if you need to clarify anything. This will create the best conversations.
7. Be grateful. Tell your friends thanks for putting up with your craziness. Appreciate that you have true and loving friends. When you find friends that are true. Hold on to them. Cherish their company. Write them a thank you card every now and then. Maybe written cards are becoming a thing of the past, but I still feel that a card with handwritten sentiments shows time, effort and caring.
8. Keep your word. When you say you will do something for your friend, be true to your word. They trust you and are relying on you. Caring for and helping someone else is more important than helping yourself. I feel that when I strive to uplift, help and serve others that things get better for myself. It is kind of like karma. What goes around comes around. People will be honest and helpful to you if you are to them.
A word of caution, if something is harmful or some way that a friend could get themselves in trouble then find help. Even if you have promised to not tell anyone about something that will hurt them.
9. Find friends in unexpected places. A friend can come in many shapes, sizes, ages and places. Don’t discount any opportunity for a friendship. Even when it is a crusty older neighbor, a free spirit or someone you may have nothing in common with. You never know who is beneath the outer shell that others see. Give people a chance. Try and be a friendly face to those you meet. Smile. Ask questions and get to know others.
10. Treat others how you want to be treated. The Golden Rule. I believe this is the key to having better friendships. When you look at others through the lens of how you want to be treated, others will want to be your friend and will flock to you.
The glory of friendship is not the outstretched hand, nor the kindly smile, nor the joy of companionship; it is the spiritual inspiration that comes to one when he discovers that someone else believes in him and is willing to trust him with his friendship.
~Ralph Waldo Emerson
What ways have you found to improve your friendships?
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