We all want to be a good friend, but sometimes knowing how to be a good friend can be hard.
Friendships occur when two or more individuals develop a connection built from understanding, respecting, and caring about each other’s needs, ideas, concerns, desires, and feelings.
Thus, friendship love is real, with strong relationships growing and flourishing when the parties communicate with each other often and openly, as well as interact with mutual trust and support.
The strength and significance of friendship are not dependent on familial relationships (sometimes friends are closer and more supportive than family or kin).
But, the true nature of friendship does not exclude family. The most robust relationships (whether or not there are blood ties) are often those where the characteristics of bonds are delineated.
Elements of friendship
The elements of friendship can be found not only in platonic relationships—but in plutonic relationships as well. The factors that embody friendship cover and comfort the heart and act as a link to others, creating togetherness, harmony, and peaceful living.
Your ability and willingness to develop and nurture friendships can go a long way to achieving your goals and dreams.
As more and more networking becomes a method for increasing knowledge, gaining experience, and finding opportunities, building friendships is critical to our ability to develop and expand the networks that can help us on our journey to success.
But more important than a business or a job connection, a good friendship can bring great joy to your life.
However, to have and sustain that joy, a good friendship requires significant investment from all parties. Friendships typically operate under a set of behavioral expectations—an unwritten contract or set of policies.
How to be a good friend
To be a good friend, you must be an active participant in a relationship (sharing) with someone where the loyalty, rapport, and camaraderie between the two of you can and has been:
- strong enough to withstand disagreements,
- gentle enough to provide comfort in times of loss, grief, pain, and failure,
- committed enough to support your plans and ideas,
- bold enough to reel you in when you head for trouble,
- kind enough to help you mend your wounds, physically, emotionally, and otherwise,
- blunt enough to point out your shortcomings and tell you when you are wrong,
- willing enough to share their time, thoughts, and resources,
- supportive enough to help each other in our quest to restore, rejuvenate, revive and conquer long-held dreams,
- tolerant enough of each other’s shortcomings,
- forgiving enough of each other’s mistakes and missteps,
- open-minded enough to consider or accept each other’s quest for change or desire for new adventures,
- loving enough to selflessly celebrate a win for the other, even when you are losing
Yes, building and maintaining a friendship is hard work. Learning to be a good friend to those who mean the most to you can seem like a daunting and demanding endeavor.
Being a good friend doesn’t mean accepting any action or communication from each other without evaluating and even challenging them.
Indeed, if you are a good friend, and you have a mere ounce of concern about whether the intent or communication (shown by a friend) is for the greater good, it behooves you to speak up and confront your friend.
Authentic relationships and friendships are not about keeping quiet and accepting questionable behavior, but they are about holding each other to a higher standard—requiring that each one strives to be the best that they can be.
Being a good friend to those who mean the most to you requires that you work on yourself, and the results, in turn, feed into your efforts to develop the friendship/relationship.
Here are a few key areas of self-development you can focus on to increase your friendship skills:
1. Be honest about your likes, dislikes, ideas, desires, strengths, and weaknesses
When you accept who you are, what you like, and what your abilities are, you will not only attract those with whom you are compatible, but you will identify those with whom you are interested in building a relationship.
2. Listen and communicate positively with others
When you are attentive to others, you learn things you otherwise would miss or wouldn’t know. Also, when you speak and interact with kindness and courtesy, others will usually reciprocate these behaviors, and this element lends itself well to friendship building.
3. Display dependability and trustworthiness in all you do
When you build a history of being committed to doing what you say, steering clear of gossip, and not repeating things told in confidence, you create a safe environment to nurture a friendship.
4. Don’t judge and appreciate differences
Don’t judge others based on what someone else says, assumptions, or suppositions. Get the facts of every situation and work to discern the real intent of someone’s actions to fully assess their character and determine if they match your friendship model or not.
Open your mind and heart to understanding others even if they have different interests, personalities, likes, dislikes, or cultures than you do. Sometimes, you find that the differences of others can be useful to you and vice versa.
5. Share! Share your time and your heart
This means sharing your resources. Share your friends.
Yes, friends rely on each other, and so to be a good friend, you must share yourself, your goods, and your friends.
Don’t hold on to your friends and prevent them from developing other relationships. Just as you will have more than one friend, they will too.
6. Respect others and be self-assured
Be secure in yourself and the strength of your friendship bond. If you worry about whom else your friends share a relationship with or how strong those other relationships are, you are losing time and energy that you could use to continue increasing your bond and uplifting each other.
Never try to start a rift between friends so you can get closer to one another. Do not build friendships with competition or backstabbing.
7. Develop your selfless stock
It is a good thing to evaluate the needs of others, be supportive, and balance helping your friends achieve or gain their heart’s desire.
Be wise about the help you give, but do help, grant favors, and show grace.
8. Be willing to face the “ugly” and the “bad.”
So much of the discussion on friendship speaks to the “good.” But, having a successful and lasting friendship means facing difficult situations and maintaining your friendship.
True friendship requires you to confront situations that may be quite uncomfortable, but that is what friends do.
If a friendship is true, then each party must care enough to tell each other when they are wrong or when they need to make a change. So, you must be strong enough to reprimand or correct your friend and yet maintain your friendship.
Don’t take your friendships for granted
Making and keeping friendships provide outlets to share, learn, grow, and enjoy life.
While much of the effort needed to build friendships and relationships is natural, everyone can use some pointers to learn how to develop and nurture better friendships to grow and last a lifetime.
So, don’t take your friendships for granted, do the work first to form them and continue doing the work to make them the best they can be.