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Are You Wasting Time with Bad Friends? Here Are 5 Traits of True Friends

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Are You Wasting Time with Bad Friends? Here Are 5 Traits of True Friends

As we go through life, we have the opportunity to meet a variety of different people. Some become casual acquaintances who we just smile and wave at when we see them and others don’t merit a second thought after they walk out the door, but a select few will make it into the inner circle and become friends.

There are different types of friends, however, and it often takes a while to determine whether the person you enjoy spending time with is a true friend or not. Sure, it’s great to get to know new people, and you might really enjoy hanging out with a particular group on weekends, but how do you feel when you’re around them? Do they elevate your spirits, or put you down? Would the person you go clubbing with on Friday nights come and visit you if you were really sick? What about bailing you out of jail? Would they come with you to break terrible news to your family, or be willing to go for a picnic in the middle of the night just because?

Let’s take a look at a few traits of solid, amazing friends.

The Ability to Listen

“A friend asks, ‘Tell me one word which is significant in any kinds of relationship.’ Another friend says, ‘LISTEN!'” – Santosh Kalwar

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When we communicate with other people, we can usually tell whether they’re listening to us, or just waiting to speak. Their body language speaks volumes about whether they actually care about what we’re saying. If they interrupt us, text to other people while you’re talking, change the subject, or turn the conversation back to something about them, then they aren’t really paying attention, are they?

A true friend will focus entirely on you and actually hear what it is you’re saying. If you need to just rant away about a shitty situation, they’ll shut up and let you vent. If you need advice, they’ll listen to what you need, repeat back to you some key points to ensure they got all the information, and then give you some tips and pointers. Whether you’re heartbroken, elated, or just in need of a sympathetic ear, you can be sure that when you’re talking, your words are being heard.

Honesty/Sincerity

“We are all travellers in the wilderness of this world, and the best we can find in our travels is an honest friend.” – Robert Louis Stevenson

If you upset an acquaintance by saying or doing something unpleasant, they’ll likely just pretend it never happened and then bitch about you to everyone else behind your back. A true friend will call you on your behaviour and let you know that it was hurtful/upsetting/offensive because your relationship is important to them and they want to ensure that all snags are worked through. An acquaintance will pretend that everything’s okay and then whines about you to anyone who’ll listen doesn’t care about ensuring that everything’s okay. You’re replaceable to them, and if they don’t smooth things out with you, they can just hang out with somebody else from now on.

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Complete Acceptance

“A friend is someone who gives you total freedom to be yourself-and especially to feel, or not feel. Whatever you happen to be feeling at any moment is fine with them. That’s what real love amounts to: letting a person be what he really is.” – Jim Morrison

Do you find that your friends are constantly trying to make you into something that you’re not not, deep down? This could be as innocuous as someone continually urging you to wear clothes that you’re not wholly comfortable wearing, or more unnerving, such as pushing you to drink more, or behave in ways that you feel embarrassed about the next day. Some might do these things out of a desire to “help” you, in that they want to “improve” something about you to better fit their idealized view of you, while others might want to justify their own behaviour by getting you to join in with them. Either way, it’s not much fun for you, and doesn’t allow you to really be yourself around them, does it?

A real friend loves and accepts you exactly as you are, and doesn’t care if you live in overalls and striped socks, eat cheese and pickle sandwiches on raisin bread, or dress like you stepped out of a Renaissance Faire. They accept you as you are, “warts and all”.

Dependability

“You need not wonder whether you should have an unreliable person as a friend. An unreliable person is nobody’s friend.”
– Idries Shah

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Have you ever had an experience in which you made sure you were there for a friend when they needed you, but when you needed them in turn, they weren’t available? If you have, you might remember how much that hurt, and how betrayed you may have felt at the time. It hurts like hell when you go out of your way to take care of someone, and then when you’re vulnerable and in need, find out that they’d consider it inconvenient to reciprocate. They might say that they’re too busy, or they might even “accidentally” miss your calls/texts, but there’s usually some excuse they come up with in order to get out of whatever it is you need from them.

A true friend is the person you can call in the middle of the night if you’re sick or heartbroken, and they’ll offer to come over to help you out however they can. They’re the ones you can turn to in crisis, or will keep secrets absolutely safe if you’re planning something spectacularly wonderful. There’s never any doubt as to whether they’ll be there for you when you need them to be; you can depend on them as well as they depend on you, in a perfect balance of giving and sharing.

Presence

“The warmth of a friend’s presence brings joy to our hearts, sunlight to our souls, and pleasure to all life.”  – Author Unknown

If you were to delete all of your social media accounts today, how many people do you think would still be in touch with you next week? If you no longer subscribed to anyone’s “feeds” for information about them, who would email you in order to keep you apprised of goings-on in their lives, or to check in on how you were doing? Who would text or call you? Or (dare I ask) even write you a letter? It might be worth doing a social media fast for a week or two just to see how many people would still reach out to contact you.

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A true friend is one who makes a point to not only touch base with you on a regular basis, but also takes the time to be with you in person whenever possible. In some instances where distance is an issue, there might be Skype or Gtalk Hangouts instead, but it’s still face-to-face time wherein you can connect with them, and they with you. If someone is always too busy to dedicate time to you, or considers anything other than a Facebook “like” to be inconvenient, it might be worth re-evaluating your friendship with them.

The traits mentioned above are just a few that are associated with good, true friends, but there are many others. Keep people in your life who enhance your life, who make you feel appreciated and boost your spirits, and whom you would truly miss if they were gone. Life is far too short to spend with those who aren’t worthy of your time, or your friendship.

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Catherine Winter

Catherine is a wordsmith covering lifestyle tips on Lifehack.

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Last Updated on July 20, 2021

How to Overcome the Fear of Public Speaking (A Step-by-Step Guide)

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How to Overcome the Fear of Public Speaking (A Step-by-Step Guide)

You’re standing behind the curtain, just about to make your way on stage to face the many faces half-shrouded in darkness in front of you. As you move towards the spotlight, your body starts to feel heavier with each step. A familiar thump echoes throughout your body – your heartbeat has gone off the charts.

Don’t worry, you’re not the only one with glossophobia(also known as speech anxiety or the fear of speaking to large crowds). Sometimes, the anxiety happens long before you even stand on stage.

Your body’s defence mechanism responds by causing a part of your brain to release adrenaline into your blood – the same chemical that gets released as if you were being chased by a lion.

Here’s a step-by-step guide to help you overcome your fear of public speaking:

1. Prepare yourself mentally and physically

According to experts, we’re built to display anxiety and to recognize it in others. If your body and mind are anxious, your audience will notice. Hence, it’s important to prepare yourself before the big show so that you arrive on stage confident, collected and ready.

“Your outside world is a reflection of your inside world. What goes on in the inside, shows on the outside.” – Bob Proctor

Exercising lightly before a presentation helps get your blood circulating and sends oxygen to the brain. Mental exercises, on the other hand, can help calm the mind and nerves. Here are some useful ways to calm your racing heart when you start to feel the butterflies in your stomach:

Warming up

If you’re nervous, chances are your body will feel the same way. Your body gets tense, your muscles feel tight or you’re breaking in cold sweat. The audience will notice you are nervous.

If you observe that this is exactly what is happening to you minutes before a speech, do a couple of stretches to loosen and relax your body. It’s better to warm up before every speech as it helps to increase the functional potential of the body as a whole. Not only that, it increases muscle efficiency, improves reaction time and your movements.

Here are some exercises to loosen up your body before show time:

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  1. Neck and shoulder rolls – This helps relieve upper body muscle tension and pressure as the rolls focus on rotating the head and shoulders, loosening the muscle. Stress and anxiety can make us rigid within this area which can make you feel agitated, especially when standing.
  2. Arm stretches – We often use this part of our muscles during a speech or presentation through our hand gestures and movements. Stretching these muscles can reduce arm fatigue, loosen you up and improve your body language range.
  3. Waist twists – Place your hands on your hips and rotate your waist in a circular motion. This exercise focuses on loosening the abdominal and lower back regions which is essential as it can cause discomfort and pain, further amplifying any anxieties you may experience.

Stay hydrated

Ever felt parched seconds before speaking? And then coming up on stage sounding raspy and scratchy in front of the audience? This happens because the adrenaline from stage fright causes your mouth to feel dried out.

To prevent all that, it’s essential we stay adequately hydrated before a speech. A sip of water will do the trick. However, do drink in moderation so that you won’t need to go to the bathroom constantly.

Try to avoid sugary beverages and caffeine, since it’s a diuretic – meaning you’ll feel thirstier. It will also amplify your anxiety which prevents you from speaking smoothly.

Meditate

Meditation is well-known as a powerful tool to calm the mind. ABC’s Dan Harris, co-anchor of Nightline and Good Morning America weekend and author of the book titled10% Happier , recommends that meditation can help individuals to feel significantly calmer, faster.

Meditation is like a workout for your mind. It gives you the strength and focus to filter out the negativity and distractions with words of encouragement, confidence and strength.

Mindfulness meditation, in particular, is a popular method to calm yourself before going up on the big stage. The practice involves sitting comfortably, focusing on your breathing and then bringing your mind’s attention to the present without drifting into concerns about the past or future – which likely includes floundering on stage.

Here’s a nice example of guided meditation before public speaking:

2. Focus on your goal

One thing people with a fear of public speaking have in common is focusing too much on themselves and the possibility of failure.

Do I look funny? What if I can’t remember what to say? Do I look stupid? Will people listen to me? Does anyone care about what I’m talking about?’

Instead of thinking this way, shift your attention to your one true purpose – contributing something of value to your audience.

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Decide on the progress you’d like your audience to make after your presentation. Notice their movements and expressions to adapt your speech to ensure that they are having a good time to leave the room as better people.

If your own focus isn’t beneficial and what it should be when you’re speaking, then shift it to what does. This is also key to establishing trust during your presentation as the audience can clearly see that you have their interests at heart.[1]

3. Convert negativity to positivity

There are two sides constantly battling inside of us – one is filled with strength and courage while the other is doubt and insecurities. Which one will you feed?

‘What if I mess up this speech? What if I’m not funny enough? What if I forget what to say?’

It’s no wonder why many of us are uncomfortable giving a presentation. All we do is bring ourselves down before we got a chance to prove ourselves. This is also known as a self-fulfilling prophecy – a belief that comes true because we are acting as if it already is. If you think you’re incompetent, then it will eventually become true.

Motivational coaches tout that positive mantras and affirmations tend to boost your confidents for the moments that matter most. Say to yourself: “I’ll ace this speech and I can do it!”

Take advantage of your adrenaline rush to encourage positive outcome rather than thinking of the negative ‘what ifs’.

Here’s a video of Psychologist Kelly McGonigal who encourages her audience to turn stress into something positive as well as provide methods on how to cope with it:

4. Understand your content

Knowing your content at your fingertips helps reduce your anxiety because there is one less thing to worry about. One way to get there is to practice numerous times before your actual speech.

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However, memorizing your script word-for-word is not encouraged. You can end up freezing should you forget something. You’ll also risk sounding unnatural and less approachable.

“No amount of reading or memorizing will make you successful in life. It is the understanding and the application of wise thought that counts.” – Bob Proctor

Many people unconsciously make the mistake of reading from their slides or memorizing their script word-for-word without understanding their content – a definite way to stress themselves out.

Understanding your speech flow and content makes it easier for you to convert ideas and concepts into your own words which you can then clearly explain to others in a conversational manner. Designing your slides to include text prompts is also an easy hack to ensure you get to quickly recall your flow when your mind goes blank.[2]

One way to understand is to memorize the over-arching concepts or ideas in your pitch. It helps you speak more naturally and let your personality shine through. It’s almost like taking your audience on a journey with a few key milestones.

5. Practice makes perfect

Like most people, many of us are not naturally attuned to public speaking. Rarely do individuals walk up to a large audience and present flawlessly without any research and preparation.

In fact, some of the top presenters make it look easy during showtime because they have spent countless hours behind-the-scenes in deep practice. Even great speakers like the late John F. Kennedy would spend months preparing his speech beforehand.

Public speaking, like any other skill, requires practice – whether it be practicing your speech countless of times in front of a mirror or making notes. As the saying goes, practice makes perfect!

6. Be authentic

There’s nothing wrong with feeling stressed before going up to speak in front of an audience.

Many people fear public speaking because they fear others will judge them for showing their true, vulnerable self. However, vulnerability can sometimes help you come across as more authentic and relatable as a speaker.

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Drop the pretence of trying to act or speak like someone else and you’ll find that it’s worth the risk. You become more genuine, flexible and spontaneous, which makes it easier to handle unpredictable situations – whether it’s getting tough questions from the crowd or experiencing an unexpected technical difficulty.

To find out your authentic style of speaking is easy. Just pick a topic or issue you are passionate about and discuss this like you normally would with a close family or friend. It is like having a conversation with someone in a personal one-to-one setting. A great way to do this on stage is to select a random audience member(with a hopefully calming face) and speak to a single person at a time during your speech. You’ll find that it’s easier trying to connect to one person at a time than a whole room.

With that said, being comfortable enough to be yourself in front of others may take a little time and some experience, depending how comfortable you are with being yourself in front of others. But once you embrace it, stage fright will not be as intimidating as you initially thought.

Presenters like Barack Obama are a prime example of a genuine and passionate speaker:

7. Post speech evaluation

Last but not the least, if you’ve done public speaking and have been scarred from a bad experience, try seeing it as a lesson learned to improve yourself as a speaker.

Don’t beat yourself up after a presentation

We are the hardest on ourselves and it’s good to be. But when you finish delivering your speech or presentation, give yourself some recognition and a pat on the back.

You managed to finish whatever you had to do and did not give up. You did not let your fears and insecurities get to you. Take a little more pride in your work and believe in yourself.

Improve your next speech

As mentioned before, practice does make perfect. If you want to improve your public speaking skills, try asking someone to film you during a speech or presentation. Afterwards, watch and observe what you can do to improve yourself next time.

Here are some questions you can ask yourself after every speech:

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  • How did I do?
  • Are there any areas for improvement?
  • Did I sound or look stressed?
  • Did I stumble on my words? Why?
  • Was I saying “um” too often?
  • How was the flow of the speech?

Write everything you observed down and keep practicing and improving. In time, you’ll be able to better manage your fears of public speaking and appear more confident when it counts.

If you want even more tips about public speaking or delivering a great presentation, check out these articles too:

Reference

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