Research shows that as we get older it becomes more difficult to “find” new friends. At least real friends. The kind who you can support and who will support you in return. “Real” friends are defined as those people who you speak to frequently outside of formal settings such as your workplace. People who you have to make in effort to see and talk with are real friends.
That research shows that the average adult hasn’t made one new real friend in the last 5 years.
But there are a lot of friendly people in the world so let’s work on that. The first thing we need to do is decide to make the effort required to find new friends. Then we need to decide that WE will be a great friend. There should be no waiting for the other person to be a better friend first. As the saying goes… if you want a friend then be a friend.
Being a better friend involves a combination of empathy, communication, trust, and mutual support. Here are some key principles to keep in mind in your goal is to have more friends and better friends too.
- Pay attention when your friend is speaking. Show that you’re engaged by maintaining eye contact, nodding, and responding appropriately. Avoid interrupting and truly try to understand their feelings and thoughts. If your Smartphone was really smart it would tell you to put the damn thing down and pay full attention to the human being standing in front of you.
- Put yourself in your friend’s shoes and try to understand their emotions and perspectives. Show that you care about their experiences and feelings by offering comfort, validation, and understanding.
- Foster an environment where your friend feels comfortable sharing their thoughts, concerns, and joys with you. Be honest, express yourself clearly, and encourage them to do the same.
- Respect your friend’s boundaries and personal space. Understand when they need space or time alone, and be supportive without being overly intrusive. Just like you, sometimes people just want to be left alone.
- Be there for your friend in both good times and bad. Celebrate their achievements and offer a shoulder to lean on during tough times. Your support can include kind words, actions, and gestures.
- Make an effort to keep your promises and commitments. Be dependable and show that your friend can count on you when they need you.
- Refrain from being judgmental or critical. Create a safe space where your friend feels free to share without fear of harsh judgment.
- Disagreements and conflicts are normal in any relationship. Approach conflicts with a willingness to understand and find a solution together. Remember that compromise is key, and always strive for a positive resolution.
- Embrace your friend’s uniqueness and differences. These diversities can enrich your friendship and provide opportunities for personal growth.
- Show your appreciation through small gestures like remembering important dates, sending a thoughtful message, or offering help when needed.
- Spend quality time together. Engage in activities you both enjoy, whether it’s going out, watching movies, or simply having a heart-to-heart conversation. This is where it sometimes requires real effort. You have all the time you need to build real friendships…if it is a priority in your life.
- Respect and Trust: Respect your friend’s opinions and decisions, even if they differ from your own. Trust is the foundation of a strong friendship, so be honest and trustworthy.
- Be willing to apologize when you’re wrong and forgive your friend when they make mistakes. Holding onto grudges can damage a friendship. And sometimes you may need to accept an apology from a friend…even when they didn’t actually give one.
Being a better friend is an ongoing process. It’s about continually showing care, understanding, and support as you both navigate life’s ups and downs together. Try to remember, money can only make you wealthy. It’s true friends who actually make you rich.
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