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14 Undeniable Lessons About Friendship From Saturday Night Live

14 Undeniable Lessons About Friendship From Saturday Night Live

A truly iconic tv show, Saturday Night Live has been on the air for an incredible 40 seasons. Starting in 1975, this sketch show has always strived to bring the spirit of New York comedy to the world. Not only becoming one of the longest running shows on television, Saturday Night Live has also launched some incredible careers. Eddie Murphy, Adam Sandler, Tina Fey, Julia Louise-Dreyfus and Amy Poehler all found their start on this innovative show, but the magic of SNL reaches even farther than that. Over several decades, SNL has made us laugh and even taught us a few things about life. Since Saturday Night Live players are famous for collaborating together throughout their careers, SNL has particularly strong things to say about the enduring bond of friendship.

1. Fight Through Breaks

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    Everyone experiences times when they struggle to connect with their friends, or have to work through disagreements. In comedy, “breaking” means laughing in the middle of a sketch. Appropriately enough, a performance has to move on, so cast members must fight through the break. Just like real life, our friendships are more important than little bumps in the road, and it’s important to keep going.

    2. It’s Ok To Be Up Front

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      The truest friends will accept you exactly as you are – though that might not mean a speedo to the office.

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      3. Share The Stage

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        Big names and new talents tend to collide on Saturday Night Live, yet the show consistently retains it’s ensemble feel. Much like relationships, if one person is always the centre of attention, the group will be less effective. A strong reminder for all of us to make our friends feel included.

        4. It’s Ok To Be Weird

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          Weirdness is a constant occurrence on Saturday Night Live. Similarly, some of our best friends come from people we first judged to be a little bizarre. A solid reminder that eccentricities shouldn’t stand in your way when getting to know a new friend.

          5. Laugh At Yourself

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            After Saturday Night Live cast members leave the show, many find success in Hollywood. So many cast members making the switch to the West coast led to the rise of The Californians segment. A biting satire of self obsession in the golden state, this recurring segment reminds us that friendships function best when you stay down to earth.

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            6. Stand By Each Other

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              For a show that’s employed so many comedians, impressively few have been rumored to hate each other. With so many strong personalities, this show truly speaks to appreciating everyone for who they are.

              7. Unexpected Situations Bring The Best Rewards

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                Originally brought on to SNL as a writer, Tina Fey didn’t like being on camera, and stuck to background roles in sketches. One year, when the show couldn’t find a cohost they liked for the Weekend Update segment, the show’s producer asked Tina to audition. From there, she became a mainstay on the show. Audiences will remember her spot on imitation of Sarah Palin, but that too is another situation Tina Fey originally shied away from. Days before the first Sarah Palin sketch, Tina’s child mistook the real Sarah Palin on TV for Tina Fey, convincing Tina she could accurately portray the politician. Two career changing decisions that were completely unexpected, show us that our chance meetings can indeed become important friends.

                8. Embrace Creativity

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                  SNL is consistently original, quirky and creative. A winning recipe for success, friendships too are an important place where we should be creative. Gift giving, weekend plans and random outings are all most enjoyable for everyone when you’re not afraid to get a little wacky.

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                  9. Be Welcoming

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                    Saturday Night Live brings in new cast members nearly every season, yet newcomers often rise quickly to the top. Just like SNL, being welcoming with your friends and acquaintances will lead you to better, more developed relationships.

                    10. Love Your Found Family

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                      Bringing in so many different talents from around the country undoubtedly presents challenges for SNL’s production staff. Despite this, cast members regularly give a strong impression of working as one. Being open to new people and fully embracing your friendships is crucial to feeling supported in life. Loving your friends, and treating everyone as family, is another powerful lesson from Saturday Night Live.

                      11. Never Rule Out The Little Guy

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                        Many SNL sketches’ biggest laughs come from cast members who may not be stars of their season. Just like overlooked cast members bringing unforgettable performances to the table, our less outgoing friends deserve just as much attention and care as everyone else in our lives.

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                        12. New Friends Are Important

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                          Over and over again, the funniest cast members are untested talents. New members of this show have a lot to offer, as do new acquaintances and friends. You never know who will be your closest friends in the future.

                          13. Encourage Each Other

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                            Beloved comedy duos frequently rise to the top of audience’s hearts on Saturday Night Live. From Tina Fey and Amy Poehler to Will Ferrel and Kathryn Hahn, our favourite moments often come from two cast members working together. Don’t forget to encourage your friends and work together – sometimes two heads really are better than one.

                            14. Don’t Be Afraid To Look Stupid

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                              Just like embracing odd characters, we shouldn’t be afraid of being our truest, most stupid selves with our friends. Comedy often requires an actor or actress willing to look silly, but can produce a spectacular moment. Be brave enough to be kooky with your friends, even if you sometimes look a little dumb.

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                              Alicia Prince

                              A writer, filmmaker, and artist who shares about lifestyle tips and inspirations on Lifehack.

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                              Last Updated on October 22, 2020

                              8 Simple Ways to Be a Better Listener

                              8 Simple Ways to Be a Better Listener

                              How would you feel if you were sharing a personal story and noticed that the person to whom you were speaking wasn’t really listening? You probably wouldn’t be too thrilled.

                              Unfortunately, that is the case for many people. Most individuals are not good listeners. They are good pretenders. The thing is, true listening requires work—more work than people are willing to invest. Quality conversation is about “give and take.” Most people, however, want to just give—their words, that is. Being on the receiving end as the listener may seem boring, but it’s essential.

                              When you are attending to someone and paying attention to what they’re saying, it’s a sign of caring and respect. The hitch is that attending requires an act of will, which sometimes goes against what our minds naturally do—roaming around aimlessly and thinking about whatnot, instead of listening—the greatest act of thoughtfulness.

                              Without active listening, people often feel unheard and unacknowledged. That’s why it’s important for everyone to learn how to be a better listener.

                              What Makes People Poor Listeners?

                              Good listening skills can be learned, but first, let’s take a look at some of the things that you might be doing that makes you a poor listener.

                              1. You Want to Talk to Yourself

                              Well, who doesn’t? We all have something to say, right? But when you are looking at someone pretending to be listening while, all along, they’re mentally planning all the amazing things they’re going to say, it is a disservice to the speaker.

                              Yes, maybe what the other person is saying is not the most exciting thing in the world. Still, they deserve to be heard. You always have the ability to steer the conversation in another direction by asking questions.

                              It’s okay to want to talk. It’s normal, even. Keep in mind, however, that when your turn does come around, you’ll want someone to listen to you.

                              2. You Disagree With What Is Being Said

                              This is another thing that makes you an inadequate listener—hearing something with which you disagree with and immediately tuning out. Then, you lie in wait so you can tell the speaker how wrong they are. You’re eager to make your point and prove the speaker wrong. You think that once you speak your “truth,” others will know how mistaken the speaker is, thank you for setting them straight, and encourage you to elaborate on what you have to say. Dream on.

                              Disagreeing with your speaker, however frustrating that might be, is no reason to tune them out and ready yourself to spew your staggering rebuttal. By listening, you might actually glean an interesting nugget of information that you were previously unaware of.

                              3. You Are Doing Five Other Things While You’re “Listening”

                              It is impossible to listen to someone while you’re texting, reading, playing Sudoku, etc. But people do it all the time—I know I have.

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                              I’ve actually tried to balance my checkbook while pretending to listen to the person on the other line. It didn’t work. I had to keep asking, “what did you say?” I can only admit this now because I rarely do it anymore. With work, I’ve succeeded in becoming a better listener. It takes a great deal of concentration, but it’s certainly worth it.

                              If you’re truly going to listen, then you must: listen! M. Scott Peck, M.D., in his book The Road Less Travel, says, “you cannot truly listen to anyone and do anything else at the same time.” If you are too busy to actually listen, let the speaker know, and arrange for another time to talk. It’s simple as that!

                              4. You Appoint Yourself as Judge

                              While you’re “listening,” you decide that the speaker doesn’t know what they’re talking about. As the “expert,” you know more. So, what’s the point of even listening?

                              To you, the only sound you hear once you decide they’re wrong is, “Blah, blah, blah, blah, blah!” But before you bang that gavel, just know you may not have all the necessary information. To do that, you’d have to really listen, wouldn’t you? Also, make sure you don’t judge someone by their accent, the way they sound, or the structure of their sentences.

                              My dad is nearly 91. His English is sometimes a little broken and hard to understand. People wrongly assume that he doesn’t know what he’s talking about—they’re quite mistaken. My dad is a highly intelligent man who has English as his second language. He knows what he’s saying and understands the language perfectly.

                              Keep that in mind when listening to a foreigner, or someone who perhaps has a difficult time putting their thoughts into words.

                              Now, you know some of the things that make for an inferior listener. If none of the items above resonate with you, great! You’re a better listener than most.

                              How To Be a Better Listener

                              For conversation’s sake, though, let’s just say that maybe you need some work in the listening department, and after reading this article, you make the decision to improve. What, then, are some of the things you need to do to make that happen? How can you be a better listener?

                              1. Pay Attention

                              A good listener is attentive. They’re not looking at their watch, phone, or thinking about their dinner plans. They’re focused and paying attention to what the other person is saying. This is called active listening.

                              According to Skills You Need, “active listening involves listening with all senses. As well as giving full attention to the speaker, it is important that the ‘active listener’ is also ‘seen’ to be listening—otherwise, the speaker may conclude that what they are talking about is uninteresting to the listener.”[1]

                              As I mentioned, it’s normal for the mind to wander. We’re human, after all. But a good listener will rein those thoughts back in as soon as they notice their attention waning.

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                              I want to note here that you can also “listen” to bodily cues. You can assume that if someone keeps looking at their watch or over their shoulder, their focus isn’t on the conversation. The key is to just pay attention.

                              2. Use Positive Body Language

                              You can infer a lot from a person’s body language. Are they interested, bored, or anxious?

                              A good listener’s body language is open. They lean forward and express curiosity in what is being said. Their facial expression is either smiling, showing concern, conveying empathy, etc. They’re letting the speaker know that they’re being heard.

                              People say things for a reason—they want some type of feedback. For example, you tell your spouse, “I had a really rough day!” and your husband continues to check his newsfeed while nodding his head. Not a good response.

                              But what if your husband were to look up with questioning eyes, put his phone down, and say, “Oh, no. What happened?” How would feel, then? The answer is obvious.

                              According to Alan Gurney,[2]

                              “An active listener pays full attention to the speaker and ensures they understand the information being delivered. You can’t be distracted by an incoming call or a Facebook status update. You have to be present and in the moment.

                              Body language is an important tool to ensure you do this. The correct body language makes you a better active listener and therefore more ‘open’ and receptive to what the speaker is saying. At the same time, it indicates that you are listening to them.”

                              3. Avoid Interrupting the Speaker

                              I am certain you wouldn’t want to be in the middle of a sentence only to see the other person holding up a finger or their mouth open, ready to step into your unfinished verbiage. It’s rude and causes anxiety. You would, more than likely, feel a need to rush what you’re saying just to finish your sentence.

                              Interrupting is a sign of disrespect. It is essentially saying, “what I have to say is much more important than what you’re saying.” When you interrupt the speaker, they feel frustrated, hurried, and unimportant.

                              Interrupting a speaker to agree, disagree, argue, etc., causes the speaker to lose track of what they are saying. It’s extremely frustrating. Whatever you have to say can wait until the other person is done.

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                              Be polite and wait your turn!

                              4. Ask Questions

                              Asking questions is one of the best ways to show you’re interested. If someone is telling you about their ski trip to Mammoth, don’t respond with, “that’s nice.” That would show a lack of interest and disrespect. Instead, you can ask, “how long have you been skiing?” “Did you find it difficult to learn?” “What was your favorite part of the trip?” etc. The person will think highly of you and consider you a great conversationalist just by you asking a few questions.

                              5. Just Listen

                              This may seem counterintuitive. When you’re conversing with someone, it’s usually back and forth. On occasion, all that is required of you is to listen, smile, or nod your head, and your speaker will feel like they’re really being heard and understood.

                              I once sat with a client for 45 minutes without saying a word. She came into my office in distress. I had her sit down, and then she started crying softly. I sat with her—that’s all I did. At the end of the session, she stood, told me she felt much better, and then left.

                              I have to admit that 45 minutes without saying a word was tough. But she didn’t need me to say anything. She needed a safe space in which she could emote without interruption, judgment, or me trying to “fix” something.

                              6. Remember and Follow Up

                              Part of being a great listener is remembering what the speaker has said to you, then following up with them.

                              For example, in a recent conversation you had with your co-worker Jacob, he told you that his wife had gotten a promotion and that they were contemplating moving to New York. The next time you run into Jacob, you may want to say, “Hey, Jacob! Whatever happened with your wife’s promotion?” At this point, Jacob will know you really heard what he said and that you’re interested to see how things turned out. What a gift!

                              According to new research, “people who ask questions, particularly follow-up questions, may become better managers, land better jobs, and even win second dates.”[3]

                              It’s so simple to show you care. Just remember a few facts and follow up on them. If you do this regularly, you will make more friends.

                              7. Keep Confidential Information Confidential

                              If you really want to be a better listener, listen with care. If what you’re hearing is confidential, keep it that way, no matter how tempting it might be to tell someone else, especially if you have friends in common. Being a good listener means being trustworthy and sensitive with shared information.

                              Whatever is told to you in confidence is not to be revealed. Assure your speaker that their information is safe with you. They will feel relieved that they have someone with whom they can share their burden without fear of it getting out.

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                              Keeping someone’s confidence helps to deepen your relationship. Also, “one of the most important elements of confidentiality is that it helps to build and develop trust. It potentially allows for the free flow of information between the client and worker and acknowledges that a client’s personal life and all the issues and problems that they have belong to them.”[4]

                              Be like a therapist: listen and withhold judgment.

                              NOTE: I must add here that while therapists keep everything in a session confidential, there are exceptions:

                              1. If the client may be an immediate danger to himself or others.
                              2. If the client is endangering a population that cannot protect itself, such as in the case of a child or elder abuse.

                              8. Maintain Eye Contact

                              When someone is talking, they are usually saying something they consider meaningful. They don’t want their listener reading a text, looking at their fingernails, or bending down to pet a pooch on the street. A speaker wants all eyes on them. It lets them know that what they’re saying has value.

                              Eye contact is very powerful. It can relay many things without anything being said. Currently, it’s more important than ever with the Covid-19 Pandemic. People can’t see your whole face, but they can definitely read your eyes.

                              By eye contact, I don’t mean a hard, creepy stare—just a gaze in the speaker’s direction will do. Make it a point the next time you’re in a conversation to maintain eye contact with your speaker. Avoid the temptation to look anywhere but at their face. I know it’s not easy, especially if you’re not interested in what they’re talking about. But as I said, you can redirect the conversation in a different direction or just let the person know you’ve got to get going.

                              Final Thoughts

                              Listening attentively will add to your connection with anyone in your life. Now, more than ever, when people are so disconnected due to smartphones and social media, listening skills are critical.

                              You can build better, more honest, and deeper relationships by simply being there, paying attention, and asking questions that make the speaker feel like what they have to say matters.

                              And isn’t that a great goal? To make people feel as if they matter? So, go out and start honing those listening skills. You’ve got two great ears. Now use them!

                              More Tips on How to Be a Better Listener

                              Featured photo credit: Joshua Rodriguez via unsplash.com

                              Reference

                              [1] Skills You Need: Active Listening
                              [2] Filtered: Body language for active listening
                              [3] Forbes: People Will Like You More If You Start Asking Follow-up Questions
                              [4] TAFE NSW Sydney eLearning Moodle: Confidentiality

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