Although you’ve most likely created good social relationships over the years, brushing up on your friendship skills can benefit you. Having close friends gives you someone to turn to when you’re feeling lonely, need a listening ear, or want someone to celebrate with you.
If you’ve ever had a really great friend, you’ve noticed all the things they did with you, for you, and on your behalf.
Whether you’re learning to be that kind of a friend yourself or you just want to polish up your “good friend” skills, these ideas will help you establish and maintain positive, fulfilling friendships.
1. Be a good listener. Everyone has times when they just want to vent feelings. When you make the decision to listen rather than offer feedback or suggestions, you’re practicing one of the most important behaviors a good friend can do. Keep your ears and mind open.
2. Support first. Truth, trust and honesty are most surely the cornerstones of any healthy friendship. However, there are times when honesty is less helpful than providing emotional support. Let your friend know you’re there for him and that he can call you at any time.
3. Honor your commitments. Have you ever had a friend who sometimes didn’t show up or showed up 45 minutes late? Be someone your friend can count on. Be dependable and predictable in your friendship. Doing so will ensure you’ll never have a shortage of people who care for you.
4. Spend time together. Make time for you friend: do something fun, have dinner, paint the living room, work on the car, or just hang out. A good friend wants to be together and makes time in a busy schedule to do it. Be creative in the planning of activities and you’ll make great memories.
5. Avoid offering criticism. Providing criticism to someone you care about rarely turns out well. Even though you might have formed an opinion on something your friend said or did, it’s probably best to refrain from telling him of his errors.
- In the event he asks you directly for feedback on a situation where you believe he made a mistake, choose your words very carefully. Acknowledging, “I might have done it another way” sounds less critical and more helpful than, “You shouldn’t have done it that way.”
6. Keep your friends’ affairs confidential. Although this is an obvious point, it is often the most difficult to put into practice. Under no circumstance should you reveal anything about your friend to others who ask, even if one friend puts you on the spot regarding another.
7. Avoid dumping all your life’s challenges on your friends. Although confiding in your friends is important, refrain from using them only for venting about your own negative feelings and situations.
- Moderate your conversations so the friendship doesn’t get too bogged down with frustrating or negative energy. Let them know, “For 20 minutes I’m going to talk about my frustrations with work; then let’s go have some fun.” Respect the time limit you set to discuss your gripes.
Being a great friend will bring you moments of joy, years of comfort, and decades of cherished memories. Implement these strategies in your relationships today. You’ll feel like you’re the best friend ever and those you care about will think so, too!