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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 August 6, 2020

6 Reasons Why You Should Think Before You Speak

6 Reasons Why You Should Think Before You Speak

We’ve all done it. That moment when a series of words slithers from your mouth and the instant regret manifests through blushing and profuse apologies. If you could just think before you speak! It doesn’t have to be like this, and with a bit of practice, it’s actually quite easy to prevent.

“Think twice before you speak, because your words and influence will plant the seed of either success or failure in the mind of another.” – Napolean Hill

Are we speaking the same language?

My mum recently left me a note thanking me for looking after her dog. She’d signed it with “LOL.” In my world, this means “laugh out loud,” and in her world it means “lots of love.” My kids tell me things are “sick” when they’re good, and ”manck” when they’re bad (when I say “bad,” I don’t mean good!). It’s amazing that we manage to communicate at all.

When speaking, we tend to color our language with words and phrases that have become personal to us, things we’ve picked up from our friends, families and even memes from the internet. These colloquialisms become normal, and we expect the listener (or reader) to understand “what we mean.” If you really want the listener to understand your meaning, try to use words and phrases that they might use.

Am I being lazy?

When you’ve been in a relationship for a while, a strange metamorphosis takes place. People tend to become lazier in the way that they communicate with each other, with less thought for the feelings of their partner. There’s no malice intended; we just reach a “comfort zone” and know that our partners “know what we mean.”

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Here’s an exchange from Psychology Today to demonstrate what I mean:

Early in the relationship:

“Honey, I don’t want you to take this wrong, but I’m noticing that your hair is getting a little thin on top. I know guys are sensitive about losing their hair, but I don’t want someone else to embarrass you without your expecting it.”

When the relationship is established:

“Did you know that you’re losing a lot of hair on the back of your head? You’re combing it funny and it doesn’t help. Wear a baseball cap or something if you feel weird about it. Lots of guys get thin on top. It’s no big deal.”

It’s pretty clear which of these statements is more empathetic and more likely to be received well. Recognizing when we do this can be tricky, but with a little practice it becomes easy.

Have I actually got anything to say?

When I was a kid, my gran used to say to me that if I didn’t have anything good to say, I shouldn’t say anything at all. My gran couldn’t stand gossip, so this makes total sense, but you can take this statement a little further and modify it: “If you don’t have anything to say, then don’t say anything at all.”

A lot of the time, people speak to fill “uncomfortable silences,” or because they believe that saying something, anything, is better than staying quiet. It can even be a cause of anxiety for some people.

When somebody else is speaking, listen. Don’t wait to speak. Listen. Actually hear what that person is saying, think about it, and respond if necessary.

Am I painting an accurate picture?

One of the most common forms of miscommunication is the lack of a “referential index,” a type of generalization that fails to refer to specific nouns. As an example, look at these two simple phrases: “Can you pass me that?” and “Pass me that thing over there!”. How often have you said something similar?

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How is the listener supposed to know what you mean? The person that you’re talking to will start to fill in the gaps with something that may very well be completely different to what you mean. You’re thinking “pass me the salt,” but you get passed the pepper. This can be infuriating for the listener, and more importantly, can create a lack of understanding and ultimately produce conflict.

Before you speak, try to label people, places and objects in a way that it is easy for any listeners to understand.

What words am I using?

It’s well known that our use of nouns and verbs (or lack of them) gives an insight into where we grew up, our education, our thoughts and our feelings.

Less well known is that the use of pronouns offers a critical insight into how we emotionally code our sentences. James Pennebaker’s research in the 1990’s concluded that function words are important keys to someone’s psychological state and reveal much more than content words do.

Starting a sentence with “I think…” demonstrates self-focus rather than empathy with the speaker, whereas asking the speaker to elaborate or quantify what they’re saying clearly shows that you’re listening and have respect even if you disagree.

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Is the map really the territory?

Before speaking, we sometimes construct a scenario that makes us act in a way that isn’t necessarily reflective of the actual situation.

A while ago, John promised to help me out in a big way with a project that I was working on. After an initial meeting and some big promises, we put together a plan and set off on its execution. A week or so went by, and I tried to get a hold of John to see how things were going. After voice mails and emails with no reply and general silence, I tried again a week later and still got no response.

I was frustrated and started to get more than a bit vexed. The project obviously meant more to me than it did to him, and I started to construct all manner of crazy scenarios. I finally got through to John and immediately started a mild rant about making promises you can’t keep. He stopped me in my tracks with the news that his brother had died. If I’d have just thought before I spoke…

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