“I get by with a little help from my friends.”
Could your friends say that about you?
We all need to support each other, especially our friends and family, and we need that support to be mutual. We must give and expect the following if we can count on them as friends:
- No fear of talking openly about emotions, moods and feelings.
- No reluctance to ask for help when needed. It can be a practical chore, advice or just someone to listen.
- No lack of empathy or trust.
Here are ten good reasons why we should be doing these things every day of our lives.Advertising
1. Because you are prepared to help when tragedy strikes.
I am going to take an extreme example for this one. In the South East Asia 2004 tsunami, thousands of Swedish tourists were involved. There were 2,000 Swedish deaths. Those who survived had to face post traumatic stress and the social support they received was an important factor in helping to reduce the negative impact of the suffering, pain, loss, and bereavement.
Friends and relatives played an important role. It is also interesting to note that the authorities were present too and met survivors at the airport and continued to support them. There was a correlation between the caring and helpful support they received and their recovery rates, it seems.
“Lean on me, when you’re not strong and I’ll be your friend, I’ll help you carry on.”
2. Because you will tell the truth, even if it is harsh.
“Faithful are the wounds of a friend, but deceitful are the kisses of an enemy.”
Can you give advice about a dangerous and rocky relationship which might lead to abuse? Very often, you have to stick your neck out and express your anxiety and worry. Your friend may not accept the advice at all, but whatever happens, you will always be there to support him or her. Telling the truth can often be hard, but it is the sign of a true friendship.
3. Because you will lighten the burden.
Talking about a problem is wonderful therapy. It can really assist you in coming to grips with it and help lighten the load. It may be a problem at work, a family quarrel or an argument with your partner. You can offer advice and support.
4. Because you are always positive.
Maybe your friend has ambitions about a new venture or wants to change his/her job. You do not say:
- “You haven’t got the experience.”
- “You wouldn’t stand a chance in hell—it’s far too competitive.”
- “It is going to cost you an arm and a leg.”
Instead, try to be positive and encouraging. You can tell him that you are aware of the problems, but shooting down an idea like that is not how real friends operate. The Bible of positive thinking and how to achieve life’s goals is The Magic of Thinking Big by David Schwartz. It’s no surprise to learn that it has sold 4 million copies.Advertising
The only way to get something you have always dreamed of is to do something you have never done. You can expect a reciprocal approach from your friend when you want to reach your goals and objectives.
5. Because you are accountable.
You know yourself well and you are not in denial about any defects you might have. You never play the blame game and try to defend a gaffe, a bad move or a screw up by blaming others or even to bad luck. You have no problem in being accountable for all your actions, including your mistakes. Your ability to show your friends compassion and empathy is living proof of all this.
6. Because you know how to nurture friendship.
“The only way to have a friend is to be one.”
—Ralph Waldo Emerson
Friendship is rather like a delicate plant. It needs watering, pruning and tender, loving care. You have to look after it. Try these to make sure it remains in great shape:Advertising
- Keep in touch.
- Remember important dates like birthdays and so on.
- Be thoughtful. Send a supportive text when your friend is down and out.
- Never exploit the friendship to gain money, prestige or other friends.
- Never give the impression that you know more or are superior.
- Never gossip about your friend to others.
- Celebrate successes and commiserate when failures happen.
7. Because you do not have exclusive rights.
Friendship is strange sometimes. Some people guard it jealously and allow no one else in. I remember twin sisters who lived together but had separate apartments. They agreed that they would invite each other when they had their friends to dinner. This happened on a regular basis, but the golden rule was that after dinner, the sister who was the guest had to leave before coffee was served. That left the other sister to chat away with her friends. When one sister broke the rule and stayed on for coffee, chatting merrily to her twin’s friends, there was a terrible row afterwards! Learning to share and not being possessive are prime qualities in a friend.
8. Because you will live longer.
All the studies now show that people who live in isolation die younger. They have more health problems and are at risk of heart disease and also mental disorders. Those people who have an active network of friends who are mutually supportive and loyal will live longer and also be healthier.
9. Because you never forget the small stuff.
You know when to be there if the going gets tough. A message, a phone call, or a visit are worth their weight in gold. That’s when you can tell whether you have a real friend. No excuses or procrastination.
10. Because you communicate with each other easily.
With real, supportive friends, you never have to worry about communication and how you are getting your ideas across, because these will come naturally. You both feel at ease about opening up and there is never any need for being assertive or aggressive. If there is ever any disagreement or argument, you are both mature enough to listen to each other’s opinion, without getting hot under the collar.
Are you helping your friends and getting enough support from them? Tell us about them in the comments below.Advertising
Featured photo credit: Amigas/Dani-vr via flickr.com
The Gentle Art of Saying No
It’s a simple fact that you can never be productive if you take on too many commitments — you simply spread yourself too thin and will not be able to get anything done, at least not well or on time.
But requests for your time are coming in all the time — through phone, email, IM or in person. To stay productive, and minimize stress, you have to learn the Gentle Art of Saying No — an art that many people have problems with.
What’s so hard about saying no? Well, to start with, it can hurt, anger or disappoint the person you’re saying “no” to, and that’s not usually a fun task. Second, if you hope to work with that person in the future, you’ll want to continue to have a good relationship with that person, and saying “no” in the wrong way can jeopardize that.
But it doesn’t have to be difficult or hard on your relationship. Here are the Top 10 tips for learning the Gentle Art of Saying No:
- Value your time. Know your commitments, and how valuable your precious time is. Then, when someone asks you to dedicate some of your time to a new commitment, you’ll know that you simply cannot do it. And tell them that: “I just can’t right now … my plate is overloaded as it is.”
- Know your priorities. Even if you do have some extra time (which for many of us is rare), is this new commitment really the way you want to spend that time? For myself, I know that more commitments means less time with my wife and kids, who are more important to me than anything.
- Practice saying no. Practice makes perfect. Saying “no” as often as you can is a great way to get better at it and more comfortable with saying the word. And sometimes, repeating the word is the only way to get a message through to extremely persistent people. When they keep insisting, just keep saying no. Eventually, they’ll get the message.
- Don’t apologize. A common way to start out is “I’m sorry but …” as people think that it sounds more polite. While politeness is important, apologizing just makes it sound weaker. You need to be firm, and unapologetic about guarding your time.
- Stop being nice. Again, it’s important to be polite, but being nice by saying yes all the time only hurts you. When you make it easy for people to grab your time (or money), they will continue to do it. But if you erect a wall, they will look for easier targets. Show them that your time is well guarded by being firm and turning down as many requests (that are not on your top priority list) as possible.
- Say no to your boss. Sometimes we feel that we have to say yes to our boss — they’re our boss, right? And if we say “no” then we look like we can’t handle the work — at least, that’s the common reasoning. But in fact, it’s the opposite — explain to your boss that by taking on too many commitments, you are weakening your productivity and jeopardizing your existing commitments. If your boss insists that you take on the project, go over your project or task list and ask him/her to re-prioritize, explaining that there’s only so much you can take on at one time.
- Pre-empting. It’s often much easier to pre-empt requests than to say “no” to them after the request has been made. If you know that requests are likely to be made, perhaps in a meeting, just say to everyone as soon as you come into the meeting, “Look guys, just to let you know, my week is booked full with some urgent projects and I won’t be able to take on any new requests.”
- Get back to you. Instead of providing an answer then and there, it’s often better to tell the person you’ll give their request some thought and get back to them. This will allow you to give it some consideration, and check your commitments and priorities. Then, if you can’t take on the request, simply tell them: “After giving this some thought, and checking my commitments, I won’t be able to accommodate the request at this time.” At least you gave it some consideration.
- Maybe later. If this is an option that you’d like to keep open, instead of just shutting the door on the person, it’s often better to just say, “This sounds like an interesting opportunity, but I just don’t have the time at the moment. Perhaps you could check back with me in [give a time frame].” Next time, when they check back with you, you might have some free time on your hands.
- It’s not you, it’s me. This classic dating rejection can work in other situations. Don’t be insincere about it, though. Often the person or project is a good one, but it’s just not right for you, at least not at this time. Simply say so — you can compliment the idea, the project, the person, the organization … but say that it’s not the right fit, or it’s not what you’re looking for at this time. Only say this if it’s true — people can sense insincerity.
Featured photo credit: Pexels via pexels.com