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10 Secrets to Making Lifelong Friends

10 Secrets to Making Lifelong Friends

Ever since college, it has been harder and harder to meet and keep friends. But with these ten secrets to making lifelong friends, you’ll be rocking new and deeper friendships before you know it. Here they are:

1. Say, “Yes”

Be open to connection. When your friend calls, pick up. Get a message? Call back. If it’s texting, respond reasonably quickly if at all possible. When invited over, go. It takes time and energy to build a deep and lasting connection. So put in the time and say, “Yes,” as much as you’re able. If you’re over-scheduled and often find yourself saying, “No,” to invitations from friends, re-assess your priorities and clear some time and space for your social connections.

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2. Reach out to connect more often

Phone calls, emails, texts: if you’re keeping track of whose turn it is, give it up and reach out more. But here’s the trick, you can’t expect anything in return. If you’re giving to get, you’ll get nothing. People are very sensitive to our unconscious desires, and even though they don’t understand why they don’t want to call back, they won’t. On the other hand, if you make lots of invitations with no strings attached, you’ll eventually get a yes, and after dropping your attachment to a specific outcome, you’ll probably be surprised at how often people say, “Yes,” to your invitations.

3. Bring a gift

Doing the little extras can be really fun and can help deepen your friendship. Did you know that some people’s primary love language is gifts? The cost of the gift doesn’t much matter, it really is the thought that counts. If you’re far away, sending a package is a super sweet way to reach over the miles and connect. If you’re going to dinner, bring some flowers or a bottle of wine. If you’re invited to a party, same thing. When you’re thoughtful and generous toward your friends, you’ll be the one that they want to stick around.

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4. Get curious

Being inquisitive and listening to others is the hallmark of a good friend. If you find yourself constantly talking about yourself and your own life, or asking for advice, take a moment to consider switching that dynamic so that your friendship can be an equal partnership of mutual support. Ask questions about your friend’s life, their dreams and desires, and their struggles. And instead of jumping in to fix their problems for them, try asking clarifying questions and listen to their process as they figure things out for themselves.

5. Share something vulnerable

Again, there must be heartfelt sharing in order to foster a strong and healthy friendship. If you’re too scared to tell your friend how you truly feel, you’re not allowing your friendship to mature to the next level. Instead, be brave and be willing to risk the friendship. We can only foster a deep and lasting connection if we’re able to share our true thoughts and feelings. And if your friend doesn’t like it when you vulnerably share your deep truth, then it’s time to put your friendship energy elsewhere. This doesn’t mean you can use your friends as emotional dumping grounds, it’s important to get permission to share something deeply emotional, but a true friend will be there for you and feel even more connected when you share your unedited truth.

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6. Offer a hug

Physical touch is incredibly nurturing and, personally, I can never get enough hugs and snuggles. Not everyone’s a hugger, but if you are, you can certainly find others who also enjoy hugs by offering them. Sometimes it’s as simple as opening up your arms as your friend is about to leave (or when they arrive). I haven’t found too many people who will refuse to hug when one is offered. This can be a great way to get your needs for physical touch met, but do be careful not to hang on too long. It’s creepy to be hugged for a super long time by someone you hardly know. Super short hugs can also be off-putting, so my rule of thumb is to squeeze, take a deep breath and then let go with a smile.

7. Gratitude and acknowledgments

Different from compliments, which only go skin deep, offering gratitude and acknowledgment is a way to share your heart and deepen your connections with everyone in your life. Take the following example: “I like your new haircut,” is a nice thing to say, but it’s not deeply impactful. On the other hand, “I really appreciated it when you called to invite me to lunch. I love spending time with you, and life gets so busy. I’m grateful that our friendship is important to you, too,” has a far greater emotional impact. If that’s too sappy for you, try this, “Hey bro, playing basketball with you last week was the highlight of my week. You rock!”

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8. Provide a service

Help out, do the dishes, fix the sink, offer to run to the store. These acts of service are also perceived as love. Also, begin to see other people’s acts of service as love and notice how much more loved and appreciated you feel. And when your friend says, “Thank you,” try to fully receive the gratitude without minimizing your contribution. If that’s tough for you, try shutting your mouth, taking a deep breath through your nose and making eye contact. After a moment of silence, simply say, “You’re welcome,” and mean it.

9. Communicate when there’s trouble

If you feel there’s something wrong, talk about it. Most often, there’s been some sort of miscommunication and by bringing it up, you can resolve it quickly before too much upset builds. You may want to learn some communication skills like Nonviolent Communication. But they key is not to let your upset or confusion fester. Find out what’s really going on by asking for clarification and share your feelings using “I” statements and describing your experience, rather than “you” statements, which infer blame and may cause your friend to become defensive.

10. Ask for support

Asking for help when you need it can be incredibly hard and feels very vulnerable, but if you want to deepen your friendships it’s important to allow your friends to help you out. Maybe you need help moving, or a ride to the airport. Or perhaps you need someone to listen to you about how messed up your relationship with your mom is. Maybe you even need a wing man or woman to go out and help you get laid. Whatever it is that you need and are afraid to ask for help with is the exact thing that will help to deepen your friendship. Consider how good you feel when you’ve helped a friend with something. Do you really want to deny your friends the opportunity to contribute to you?

Some of these tips may be easy for you and others might be harder. But if you keep them in mind and practice them often, you can’t help but build stronger, longer lasting, and deeper friendships.

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Last Updated on April 11, 2019

How to Improve Communication Skills for Workplace Success

How to Improve Communication Skills for Workplace Success

Possessing strong communication skills will help you in every phase of your life. This is especially true in the workplace.

I have personally worked with several leaders who were masters of communication. A few were wonderful speakers who could tell a great story and get everyone in the room engaged. Those of us in attendance would walk away feeling inspired and eager to help with what came next. Others were very skilled at sharing a clear direction and job expectations.

I knew exactly what was expected of me and how to achieve my goals. This was the foundation of an energized and vibrant role I was in. What I have found is strong communication skills are incredibly helpful and sometimes critical in how well we perform at work.

Here we will take a look at how to improve communication skills for workplace success.

How Communication Skills Help Your Success

Strong communication skills pave the way for success in many ways. Let’s look at a few of the big ones.

Create a Positive Experience

Here are two examples of how well developed communication skills helps create a positive experience:

When I first moved to the city I now live in, I began a job search. Prior to my first live interview, I was told an address to go to. Upon arriving at the address provided, I drove around and around attempting to find the location. After 15 minutes of circling and looking for the address, I finally grabbed a parking spot and set out on foot.

What I discovered was the address was actually down an alley and only had the number over the door. No sign for the actual company. The person that gave me those very unclear directions provided a bad experience for me.

Had they communicated the directions to get there in a clear manner, my experience would have been much better. Instead the entire experience started off poorly and colored the entire meeting.

As a recruiter, I frequently provide potential candidates with information about a job I’m speaking to them about. In order to do this, I also provide a picture of the overall company, the group they might be joining, and how their role fits in and impacts the entire company.

Time and time again I have been told by candidates that I have provided the clearest picture of a company and role they have ever heard. They have a positive experience when I clearly communicate to them. Even when the position does not work out for them, often times they will want to stay in touch with me due to the open communication and beneficial experience they had during the interviewing process.

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Strong communication skills will provide a positive experience in virtually any interaction you have with someone.

Help Leadership Skills

It’s certainly a skill all its own to be able to lead others.

Being a mentor and guiding others towards success is a major hallmark of great leaders. Another characteristic of effective leaders is the ability to communicate clearly.

As I referenced above, having a leader who can plainly articulate the company’s mission and direction goes a really long way towards being the Captain of the boat that others want to follow. It’s like saying “here’s our destination and this is how we are going to get there” in a way that everyone can get on board with.

Another critical component of everyone helping to sail the boat in the right direction is knowing what your portion is all about. How are you helping the boat move towards its destination in the manner than is consistent with the leaders’ vision?

If you have a boss or a manager that can show you what it takes for not only you to be successful, but also how your performance helps the company’s success then you’ve got a winner. A boss with superior communication skills.

Build Better Teams

Most of us work in teams of some sort or another. During the course of my career, I have led teams up to 80 and also been an individual contributor.

In my individual contributor roles, I have been part of a larger team. Even if you are in business for yourself, you have to interact with others in one manner or another.

If you have strong communication skills, it helps to build better teams. This is true whether you are in an IT department with 100 other fellow programmers or if you own your own business and have customers or vendors you communicate with.

When you showcase your robust ability to communicate well with others while interacting with them, you are building a better team.

Now let’s jump in to how to improve communication skills to help you pave the way for your workplace success.

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How to Improve Communication Skills for Workplace Success

There are many tips, tricks, and techniques to improve communication skills. I don’t want to overwhelm you with too much information, so let’s focus on the things that will provide the biggest return on your time investment.

Most of these tips will be fairly easy to become aware of but will take time and effort to implement. So let’s go!

1. Listen

Ever heard the saying you have two ears and one mouth for a reason? If you haven’t, then here’s the reason:

Being a good listener is half the equation to being a good communicator.

People who have the ability to really listen to someone can then actually answer questions in a meaningful way. If you don’t make the effort to actively listen, then you are really doing yourself and the other person a disservice in the communication department.

Know that person who is chomping at the bit to open his or her mouth the second you stop talking? Don’t be that person. They haven’t listened to at least 1/2 of what you’ve said. Therefore the words that spill out of their mouth are going to be about 1/2 relevant to what you just said.

Listen to someone completely and be comfortable with short periods of silence. Work on your listening skills first and foremost.

2. Know Your Audience

Knowing your audience is another critical component to having strong communication skills. The way you interact with your manager should be different than how you interact with your kids. This isn’t to say you need to be a different person with everyone you interact with. Far from it.

Here is a good way to think about it:

Imagine using your the same choice of words and body language you use with your spouse while interacting with your boss. That puts things in a graphic light!

You want to ensure you are using the type of communication most relevant to your audience.

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3. Minimize

I have lunch with a business associate about 3 times a year. We’ve been talking for several years now about putting a business deal together.

He is one of those people that simply overwhelms others with a lot of words. Sometimes when I ask him a question, I get buried beneath such an avalanche of words that I’m more confused than when I asked the question. Needless to say this is most likely a large portion of why we never put the deal together.

Don’t be like my lunch business associate. The goal of talking to or communicating with someone is to share actual information. The goal is not to confuse someone, it’s to provide clarity in many cases.

State what needs to be stated as succinctly as possible. That doesn’t mean you can’t have some pleasant conversation about the weather too.

The point is to not create such an onslaught of words and information that the other person walks away more confused than when they started.

4. Over Communicate

So this probably sounds completely counter intuitive to what I just wrote about minimizing your communication. It seems like it might be but it’s not.

What I mean by over communicating is ensuring that the other person understands the important parts of what you are sharing with them. This can be done simply yet effectively. Here’s a good example:

Most companies have open enrollment for benefits for the employees in the fall. The company I work for has open enrollment from November 1 to 15. The benefits department will send out a communication to all employees around October 1st, letting them know open enrollment is right around the corner and any major changes that year. There’s also a phone number and email for people to contact them with any questions.

Two weeks later, we all get a follow up email with basically the same information. We get a 3rd communication the week before open enrollment and another one 1 day before it starts.

Finally we get 2 emails during enrollment reminding us when open enrollment ends.

There’s minimal information, it’s more of a reminder. This is effective over communication.

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5. Body Language

The final critical component to how to improve communication skills for workplace success is body language. This is something most of us have heard about before but, a reminder is probably a good idea.

When I am in a meeting with someone I am comfortable with, I tend to kind of slouch down in my chair and cross my arms. When I catch myself doing this, I sit up straight and uncross my arms. I remember that crossing arms can many times be interpreted as a sign of disagreement or conflict.

In general, the best rule of thumb is to work towards having open body language whenever possible at work. This means relaxing your posture, not crossing your arms, and looking people in the eye when speaking with them.

When you are speaking in front of others, stand up straight and speak in a clear voice. This will convey confidence in your words.

Conclusion

Possessing strong communication skills will help you in many facets of your life and most certainly in the workplace.

Good communication helps create better teams, positive experiences with those we interact with, and are critical for leadership.

There are numerous tactics and techniques to be used to improve communication skills. Here we’ve reviewed how to improve communication skills for workplace success.

Now go communicate your way to success.

More Resources About Effective Communication

Featured photo credit: HIVAN ARVIZU via unsplash.com

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