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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 April 6, 2020

10 Powerful Ways to Influence People Positively

10 Powerful Ways to Influence People Positively

Most discussions on positively influencing others eventually touch on Dale Carnegie’s seminal work, How to Win Friends and Influence People. Written more than 83 years ago, the book touches on a core component of human interaction, building strong relationships. It is no wonder why.

Everything that we do hinges on our ability to connect with others and formulate deep relationships. You cannot sell a house, buy a house, advance in most careers, sell a product, pitch a story, teach a course, etc. without building healthy relationships. Managers get the best results from their teams, not through brute force, but to careful appeals to their sensibilities, occasional withdrawals from the reservoir of respect they’ve built. Using these tactics, they can influence others to excellence, to productivity, and to success.

Carnegie’s book is great. Of course, there are other resources too. Most of us have someone in our lives who positively influences us. The truth is positively influencing people is about centering the humanity of others. Chances are, you know someone who is really good at making others feel like stars. They can get you to do things that the average person cannot. Where the requests of others sound like fingernails on a chalkboard, the request from this special person sounds like music to your ears. You’re delighted to not only listen but also to oblige.

So how to influence people in a positive way? Read on for tips.

1. Be Authentic

To influence people in a positive way, be authentic. Rather than being a carbon copy of someone else’s version of authenticity, uncover what it is that makes you unique.

Discover your unique take on an issue and then live up to and honor that. Once of the reasons social media influencers are so powerful is that they have carved out a niche for themselves or taken a common issue and approached it from a novel or uncommon way. People instinctually appreciate people whose public persona matches their private values.

Contradictions bother us because we crave stability. When someone professes to be one way, but lives contrary to that profession, it signals that they are confused or untrustworthy and thereby, inauthentic. Neither of these combinations bode well for positively influencing others.

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2. Listen

Growing up, my father would tell me to listen to what others said. He told me if I listened carefully, I would know all I needed to know about a person’s character, desires and needs.

To positively influence others, you must listen to what is spoken and what is left unsaid. Therein lies the explanation for what people need in order to feel validated, supported and seen. If a person feels they are invisible, and unseen by their superiors, they are less likely to be positively influenced by that person.

Listening meets a person’s primary need of validation and acceptance.

Take a look at this guide on how to be a better listener: How to Practice Active Listening (A Step-By-Step Guide)

3. Become an Expert

Most people are predisposed to listen to, if not respect, authority. If you want to positively influence others, become an authority in the area in which you seek to lead others. Research and read everything you can about the given topic, and then look for opportunities to put your education into practice.

You can argue over opinions. You cannot argue, or it is unwise to argue, over facts and experts come with facts.

4. Lead with Story

From years of working in the public relations space, I know that personal narratives, testimonials and impact stories are incredibly powerful. But I never cease to be amazed with how effective a well-timed and told story can be.

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If you want to influence people, learn to tell stories. Your stories should be related to the issue or concept you are discussing. They should be an analogy or metaphor that explains your topic in ordinary terms and in vivid detail. To learn more about how to tell powerful stories, and the ethics of storytelling, take a look at this article: How To Tell An Interesting Story In 4 Simple Steps

5. Lead by Example

It is incredibly inspiring to watch passionate, talented people at work or play. One of the reasons a person who is not an athlete can be in awe of athletic prowess is because human nature appreciates the extraordinary. When we watch the Olympics, Olympic trials, gymnastic competitions, ice skating, and other competitive sports, we can recognize the effort of people who day in and day out give their all. C

ase in point: Simone Biles. The gymnast extraordinaire won her 6TH all-around title at the U.S. Gymnastics Championships after doing a triple double. She was the first woman to do so. Watching her gave me chills. Even non-gymnasts and non-competitive athletes can appreciate the talent required to pull off such a remarkable feat.

We celebrate remarkable accomplishments and believe that their example is proof that we too can accomplish something great, even if it isn’t qualifying for the Olympics. To influence people in a positive way, we must lead by example, lead with intention and execute with excellence.

6. Catch People Doing Good

A powerful way to influence people in a positive way is to catch people doing good. Instead of looking for problems, look for successes. Look for often overlooked, but critically important things that your peers, subordinates and managers do that make the work more effective and more enjoyable.

Once you catch people doing good, name and notice their contributions.

7. Be Effusive with Praise

It did not take me long to notice a remarkable trait of a former boss. He not only began and ended meetings with praise, but he peppered praise throughout the entire meeting. He found a way to celebrate the unique attributes and skills of his team members. He was able to quickly and accurately assess what people were doing well and then let them and their colleagues know.

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Meetings were not just an occasion to go through a “To Do” list, they were opportunities to celebrate accomplishments, no matter how small they are.

8. Be Kind Rather Than Right

I am going to level with you; this one is tough. It is easy to get caught up in a cycle of proving oneself. For people who lack confidence, or people who prioritize the opinions of others, being right is important. The validation that comes with being perceived as “right” feeds one’s ego. But in the quest to be “right,” we can hurt other people. Once we’ve hurt someone by being unkind, it is much harder to get them to listen to what we’re trying to influence them to do.

The antidote to influencing others via bullying is to prioritize kindness above rightness. You can be kind and still stand firm in your position. For instance, many people think that they need others to validate their experience. If a person does not see the situation you experienced in the way you see it, you get upset. But your experience is your experience.

If you and your friends go out to eat and you get food poisoning, you do not need your friends to agree that the food served at the restaurant was problematic for you. Your own experience of getting food poisoning is all the validation you need. Therefore, taking time to be right is essentially wasted and, if you were unkind in seeking validation for your food-poison experience, now you’ve really lost points.

9. Understand a Person’s Logical, Emotional and Cooperative Needs

The Center for Creative Leadership has argued that the best way to influence others is to appeal to their logical, emotional and cooperative needs. Their logical need is their rational and educational need. Their emotional need is the information that touches them in a deeply personal manner. The cooperative need is understanding the level of cooperation various individuals need and then appropriately offering it.

The trick with this system is to understand that different people need different things. For some people, a strong emotional appeal will outweigh logical explanations. For others, having an opportunity to collaborate will override emotional connection.

If you know your audience, you will know what they need in order to be positively influenced. If you have limited information about the people whom you are attempting to influence, you will be ineffective.

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10. Understand Your Lane

If you want to positively influence others, operate from your sphere of influence. Operate from your place of expertise. Leave everything else to others. Gone are the days when being a jack of all trades is celebrated.

Most people appreciate brands that understand their target audience and then deliver on what that audience wants. When you focus on what you are uniquely gifted and qualified to do, and then offer that gift to the people who need it, you are likely more effective. This effectiveness is attractive.

You cannot positively influence others if you are more preoccupied by what others do well versus what you do well.

Final Thoughts

Influencing people is about centering your humanity. If you want to influence others positively, focus on the way you communicate and improve the relationship with yourself first.

It’s hard to influence others if you’re still trying to figure out how to communicate with yourself.

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Featured photo credit: Wonderlane via unsplash.com

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