Being a good friend is a skill we can learn — or just improve upon. Find out how.
8 Ways to be a better friend
1. Like yourself
The first step in having a good relationship with a friend is to have a good relationship with yourself. When we genuinely like ourselves, we become more attractive to other people. We have more to offer others because we are not constantly focused on our own image and reputation.
We become better friends because we don’t cling. We are secure enough to spend time with a friend because we want to, not because we need to.
2. Choose wisely
Relationships among true friends take a steady dose of time and energy — two resources in limited supply for all of us. Identify the friends with whom you wish to create a closer bond. It’s perfectly okay if not all of your acquaintances make the list. The closeness of your connections is far more important than the length of your guest lists.
3. Make the time
Friends are important in many ways — so much so that these relationships often take on a life of their own. You owe it to yourself (and to your friends) to make these relationships a priority. Carve out some quality time for one another.
4. Make the first move
If you want to improve your relationships, put your fear of rejection aside and start taking more risks. Invite your friends to lunch. Organize a new playgroup. Invite them over for dinner.
Too often, we fail to follow up with our friends. Don’t miss out — just make the first phone call. Your friends are just as anxious to get together as you are.
5. The Golden Rule
Treat your friends as you wish to be treated. Stated another way: “To have a friend, be a friend.”
Focus more on being interested than on being interesting. Be enthusiastic and energetic. Avoid complaining, gossiping and criticizing.
6. Sweat the small stuff
Make your friends feel significant by remembering small kindnesses. Notice her new haircut. Remember to ask about her mother-in-law’s surgery. Send flowers or a simple email when you know she needs it most.
Good listeners are hard to find, and honing your skills can be a long-term project.
A few tips:
- Slow down. Try not to finish your friend’s sentences. If you catch yourself planning your response while your friend is still talking, gently remind yourself to focus on the speaker.
- Show her you are listening. Maintain eye contact. Offer nods and murmurs that indicate you understand her point of view.
- Minimize distractions.
- Ask questions.
- Be careful with advice. Assume your friend wants to vent her frustrations, not ask you for a plan of action.
8. Be loyal
We all need someone in our corner. If your friend isn’t there to defend herself against gossip or criticism, speak up — and know she would do the same for you.