How to Be a Good Friend

group of friends happily smiling talking in public train station
by Vivian Harte

Once you’ve met people and discovered you have some things in common, the next step is to arrange to meet again. If that’s satisfying to both of you, you’ll need to continue to meet. Ideally, you and the other person will take turns initiating contact. But if you initiate more at the beginning and your actions are responded to, that’s fine. The problem comes when you’re the only one who is initiating contact. If that happens for an extended period of time, it’s time to back off. The other person may not be looking for a friendship. They may have enough friends already, or they may be too busy to put attention into developing a friendship.

Show Interest in Your Friend

Make sure you show interest in the other person so they talk about themselves often. Listen to their stories.  Find out how they are doing. Ask questions, make appropriate comments, and remember what you’re told.  When you meet again, include some of the details you heard before in your conversations to follow up on what they talked about before.

Meet regularly and, if possible, frequently. This can include talking either in person or over the phone, engaging in a physical activity such as walking together, going to the gym, or doing some sort of similar interest.  Although you may want to be spontaneous on occasion, most people need notice a week or two in advance.  This helps avoid being disappointed if your friend can’t do something at the last minute.

two friends laughing together

How to Get Closer to a Friend

There are several ways to get closer to a friend, both in good times and in difficult times.

If your friend is going through a stressful time, such as a death in the family, an interview, having their home remodeled or moving into a new home, it’s nice to send a thoughtful card or note to express sympathy, congratulate them on the interview or new job, or let them know you’re thinking about them. Be sensitive about when your friend may need either emotional support or practical support. Offer to help when the occasion arises.

Stay positive and upbeat. Of course, if you’re having a difficult time, you can disclose this to your friend. But don’t allow this to become a pity party where all the attention is on you over and over again. Share your enthusiasm about what you both are interested in and about life in general. Even though we all have unhappy times on occasion, as a general rule, focus on talking about the good in life and what makes you happy.

Keep your word and commitments. If you say you’re going to meet them at a certain time and a certain place, make sure you do it. If you’re going to be late, give them a call or text them to let them know you’re running late and when you’ll arrive. This builds trust as the other person knows you say what you mean and mean what you say.

Give compliments generously. Look for things to appreciate about them and comment on them. Be sure to be sincere when you do so. You can say such things as, “That’s a lovely dress you’re wearing!” or “You did a great job leading that team meeting. I was impressed!”

How to be in a healthy friendship

Remember their birthdays. Almost everyone loves to have others celebrate their special day with them. Even if it’s a phone call across the distance, let them know you’re thinking of them. Send them a special card with a handwritten note that mentions something that only the two of you share. And of course, presents are appreciated.

Dealing with Problems in Friendships

If the other person doesn’t follow through with what they say they will do or hurts you in some way, discuss it.  Get it out in the open and clear up any misunderstandings there may be. If your friend shows regret and makes changes to take your needs into consideration, reaffirm your friendship, forgive them, and then let it go.

On the other hand, if your friend continues to treat you poorly after you’ve spoken about it, then it’s time to find another friend who is more respectful.

If you hurt your friend through forgetting something or doing something thoughtless, do something to make it right, such as mailing them a card or note, offering to do them a favor, or taking flowers to them. Don’t feel embarrassed to apologize. This may be necessary to get the relationship back on track again.

Friendship is so valuable that it’s crucial to concentrate on creating them and maintaining them. Friends can help you in difficult times, and they can help bring you joy.

To learn more about making friends see: Secrets to Making Close Friends

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