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9 Moments in Friendship that Highlight Its Vital Importance

9 Moments in Friendship that Highlight Its Vital Importance

I tend to think of friendship as its own unique form of love and friends as family. I don’t mean to start this article with a walloping dollop of cringe-worthy sap right from the get-go. All I want to do is emphasize just how important friendship and friends (human and non-human) are to us as human beings. They are the lifeblood of happiness, health, safety, security, community, family, and a liberated sense of well being.

As you go about that all important life-task of building your community of friends and loved ones, here are 9 moments in friendship that highlight it’s vital importance and the winding path to true friendship (grounded in reality of course, not the beautiful, well-moisturized, social scenes of the umpteen sitcoms apparently featuring friendships in their narratives.)

1. The spark of bonding

This is that moment when you know, you just know, that there is a connection. It’s really awesome. If it were an intimate partnership or a dating scenario, you would call it a crush, or chemistry, or maybe even falling in love. Who cares what you call it? It’s that spark of bonding (see, now you’ve got me labeling it), and it can only happen at the level of the soul. It is that instantaneous moment that, whether realized or not, there is a bond between the two of you and the likely potential for a beautiful friendship.

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2. Building the relationship

This is the slightly longer-term phase of building the friendship that can provide a steady, solid supply  of happiness. The relationship begins with activities together, lots of conversation, good amounts of fun, and more. But do remember that real loving friendship prioritizes healing, care, and nurturing just as much as laughter and joy. It’s important to find that balance to ensure that the relationship is built across multiple emotional planes – joy, sadness, care, solidarity, pain and so on – and not just the ones that are easy social highs (but by all means, have those too.)

3. Figuring out imbalances

All relationships have imbalances. They are imbalances based on differences of gender, race, national identity, ethnicity, colonial norms, economic status, access to education, and a myriad other social structures. We can choose to ignore them like dysfunctional sociopaths or deal with them like healthy people who care for each other. A great example is going out to a restaurant and splitting the bill, if one friend is better off financially they will not make their friend shell out for a place they can’t afford. Instead, they will visit a place that is good for everyone’s price range.

4. Dealing with friction

In a healthy way. Not by sweeping it under the carpet or, worse, backbiting and pretending to like each other while in each other’s presence. Friction needs to be seriously addressed it by affirming the care you have for each other, while being honest about differences and how much each can give to navigate those differences in a healthy, loving way. It’s not all hunky-dory mind you (indeed, I think the term “hunky-dory” itself should never be used by a human being ever again.)

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5. Hurting one another

Real hurt can develop and be inflicted within friendships remarkably easily in our alienated, commercialized society. Even relatively healthy, safe friendships are not immune to this. It is worth remembering — the hurt has to be minimal at times or very quickly smothered with affection, tears, and caring laughter in truly nurturing friendships. But sometimes, the hurt lingers, even getting reproduced ever so frequently. Then there are some problems. And that means that either the friendship has to be over and done with (yes, sometimes the healthiest thing one can do is end a friendship.) Sometimes though it might just be worth fighting for it

6. Struggling together

This is the trial by fire. The rite of passage. The struggle for friendship together is probably the richest, most deep-rooted phase of the relationship. In truly healthy friendships, this means one and only one thing in my mind. We need to commit to the well being, happiness, and liberation of our friend and ourselves in equal proportion. If there isn’t a more or less 50:50 meeting point in the mutual support and care, efforts must be sought to arrive there.

7. Fighting for each other

When we fight for each other’s happiness, freedom, independence, well being, health, families, lives even, it establishes a mighty strong foundation for friendship. It doesn’t have to be a big deal either. Just the little things even. Whatever is possible within the limitations of your respective lives. But fight for each other. If you don’t know how. Talk to each other about the different life problems you’re going through with honesty and care. Try and figure out how you can help mitigate each other’s problems. If one friend is really in the doldrums, it’s the responsibility of the other to help as much as possible, not out of charity of altruism, but out of solidarity.

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8. Laying a permanent foundation

You both know that you’re friends for life. Soul mates even. Once you lay that permanent foundation, it’s a great place to be in. Lots of fun, tears, shared joy, care for each other, even the occasional fight (or not, conflict is sometimes over-rated in a patriarchal world – why fight and argue when you can affirm each other’s humanity while agreeing to disagree if needed?). Then you move on, almost spiritually, dare I say it, to a space in your friendship where you are committed to and nurturing…

9. Love and liberation

I am of the firm belief that when humanity is truly liberated from all the forms of oppression we see around us, we will know the truest love and the most awe-inspiring happiness. In particular this means committing to the liberation of our loved ones from all-encompassing forms of oppression that vast majorities of the global population experience. Thus, a commitment to destroying oppression is ultimately the truest commitment one can make to love and happiness, in our lives and the world around us.

And of course, with our friends.

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Featured photo credit: Happy Friendship Day by Premnath Thirumalaisamy via flickr.com

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Last Updated on March 14, 2019

7 Questions to Ask in a Job Interview That Will Impress the Interviewer

7 Questions to Ask in a Job Interview That Will Impress the Interviewer

Recruiters might hold thousands of interviews in their careers and a lot of them are reporting the same thing—that most candidates play it safe with the questions they ask, or have no questions to ask in a job interview at all.

For job applicants, this approach is crazy! This is a job that you’re going to dedicate a lot of hours to and that might have a huge impact on your future career. Don’t throw away the chance to figure out if the position is perfect for you.

Here are 7 killer questions to ask in a job interview that will both impress your counterpart and give you some really useful insights into whether this job will be a dream … or a nightmare.

1. What are some challenges I might come up against this role?

A lesser candidate might ask, “what does a typical day look like in this role?” While this is a perfectly reasonable question to ask in an interview, focusing on potential challenges takes you much further because it indicates that you already are visualizing yourself in the role.

It’s impressive because it shows that you are not afraid of challenges, and you are prepared to strategize a game plan upfront to make sure you succeed if you get the job.

It can also open up a conversation about how you’ve solved problems in the past which can be a reassuring exercise for both you and the hiring manager.

How it helps you:

If you ask the interviewer to describe a typical day, you may get a vibrant picture of all the lovely things you’ll get to do in this job and all the lovely people you’ll get to do them with.

Asking about potential roadblocks means you hear the other side of the story—dysfunctional teams, internal politics, difficult clients, bootstrap budgets and so on. This can help you decide if you’re up for the challenge or whether, for the sake of your sanity, you should respectfully decline the job offer.

2. What are the qualities of really successful people in this role?

Employers don’t want to hire someone who goes through the motions; they want to hire someone who will excel.

Asking this question shows that you care about success, too. How could they not hire you with a dragon-slayer attitude like that?

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How it helps you:

Interviewers hire people who are great people to work with, but the definition of “great people” differs from person to person.

Does this company hire and promote people with a specific attitude, approach, worth ethic or communication style? Are the most successful people in this role strong extroverts who love to talk and socialize when you are studious and reserved? Does the company reward those who work insane hours when you’re happiest in a more relaxed environment?

If so, then this may not be the right match for you.

Whatever the answer is, you can decide whether you have what it takes for the manager to be happy with your performance in this role. And if the interviewer has no idea what success looks like for this position, this is a sign to proceed with extreme caution.

3. From the research I did on your company, I noticed the culture really supports XYZ. Can you tell me more about that element of the culture and how it impacts this job role?

Of course, you could just ask “what is the culture like here? ” but then you would miss a great opportunity to show that you’ve done your research!

Interviewers give BIG bonus point to those who read up and pay attention, and you’ve just pointed out that (a) you’re diligent in your research (b) you care about the company culture and (c) you’re committed to finding a great cultural fit.

How it helps you:

This question is so useful because it lets you pick an element of the culture that you really care about and that will have the most impact on whether you are happy with the organization.

For example, if training and development is important to you, then you need to know what’s on offer so you don’t end up in a dead-end job with no learning opportunities.

Companies often talk a good talk, and their press releases may be full of shiny CSR initiatives and all the headline-grabbing diversity programs they’re putting in place. This is your opportunity to look under the hood and see if the company lives its values on the ground.

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A company that says it is committed to doing the right thing by customers should not judge success by the number of up-sells an employee makes, for instance. Look for consistency, so you aren’t in for a culture shock after you start.

4. What is the promotion path for this role, and how would my performance on that path be measured?

To be clear, you are not asking when you will get promoted. Don’t go there—it’s presumptuous, and it indicates that you think you are better than the role you have applied for.

A career-minded candidate, on the other hand, usually has a plan that she’s working towards. This question shows you have a great drive toward growth and advancement and an intention to stick with the company beyond your current state.

How it helps you:

One word: hierarchy.

All organizations have levels of work and authority—executives, upper managers, line managers, the workforce, and so on. Understanding the hierarchical structure gives you power, because you can decide if you can work within it and are capable of climbing through its ranks, or whether it will be endlessly frustrating to you.

In a traditional pyramid hierarchy, for example, the people at the bottom tend to have very little autonomy to make decisions. This gets better as you rise up through the pyramid, but even middle managers have little power to create policy; they are more concerned with enforcing the rules the top leaders make.

If having a high degree of autonomy and accountability is important to you, you may do better in a flat hierarchy where work teams can design their own way of achieving the corporate goals.

5. What’s the most important thing the successful candidate could accomplish in their first 3 months/6 months/year?

Of all the questions to ask in a job interview, this one is impressive because it shows that you identify with and want to be a successful performer, and not just an average one.

Here, you’re drilling down into what the company needs, and needs quite urgently, proving that you’re all about adding value to the organization and not just about what’s in it for you.

How it helps you:

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Most job descriptions come with 8, 10 or 12 different job responsibilities and a lot of them with be boilerplate or responsibilities that someone in HR thinks are associated with this role. This question gives you a better sense of which responsibilities are the most important—and they may not be what initially attracted you to the role.

If you like the idea of training juniors, for example, but success is judged purely on your sales figures, then is this really the job you thought you were applying for?

This question will also give you an idea of what kind of learning curve you’re expected to have and whether you’ll get any ramp-up time before getting down to business. If you’re the type of person who likes to jump right in and get things done, for instance, you may not be thrilled to hear that you’re going to spend the first three months shadowing a peer.

6. What do you like about working here?

This simple question is all about building rapport with the interviewer. People like to talk about themselves, and the interviewer will be flattered that you’re interested in her opinions.

Hopefully, you’ll find some great connection points that the two of you share. What similar things drive you head into the office each day? How will you fit into the culture?

How it helps you:

You can learn a lot from this question. Someone who genuinely enjoys his job will be able to list several things they like, and their answers will sound passionate and sincere. If not….well, you might consider that a red flag.

Since you potentially can learn a lot about the company culture from this question, it’s a good idea to figure out upfront what’s important to you. Maybe you’re looking for a hands-off boss who values independent thought and creativity? Maybe you work better in environments that move at a rapid, exciting pace?

Whatever’s important to you, listen carefully and see if you can find any common ground.

7. Based on this interview, do you have any questions or concerns about my qualifications for the role?

What a great closing question to ask in a job interview! It shows that you’re not afraid of feedback—in fact, you are inviting it. Not being able to take criticism is a red flag for employers, who need to know that you’ll act on any “coaching moments” with a good heart.

As a bonus, asking this question shows that you are really interested in the position and wish to clear up anything that may be holding the company back from hiring you.

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How it helps you:

What a devious beast this question is! On the surface, it looks straightforward, but it’s actually giving you four key pieces of information.

First, is the manager capable of giving you feedback when put on the spot like this? Some managers are scared of giving feedback, or don’t think it’s important enough to bother outside of a formal performance appraisal. Do you want to work for a boss like that? How will you improve if no one is telling you what you did wrong?

Second, can the manager give feedback in a constructive way without being too pillowy or too confrontational? It’s unfair to expect the interviewer to have figured out your preferred way of receiving feedback in the space of an interview, but if she come back with a machine-gun fire of shortcomings or one of those corporate feedback “sandwiches” (the doozy slipped between two slices of compliment), then you need to ask yourself, can you work with someone who gives feedback like that?

Third, you get to learn the things the hiring manager is concerned about before you leave the interview. This gives you the chance to make a final, tailored sales pitch so you can convince the interviewer that she should not be worried about those things.

Fourth, you get to learn the things the hiring manager is concerned about period. If turnover is keeping him up at night, then your frequent job hopping might get a lot of additional scrutiny. If he’s facing some issues with conflict or communication, then he might raise concerns regarding your performance in this area.

Listen carefully: the concerns that are being raised about you might actually be a proxy for problems in the wider organization.

Making Your Interview Work for You

Interviews are a two-way street. While it is important to differentiate yourself from every other candidate, understand that convincing the interviewer you’re the right person for the role goes hand-in-hand with figuring out if the job is the right fit for you.

Would you feel happy in a work environment where the people, priorities, culture and management style were completely at odds with the way you work? Didn’t think so!

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Featured photo credit: Amy Hirschi via unsplash.com

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