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How To Become A True Friend

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How To Become A True Friend

Life can be a lonely thing without companionship. Acquaintances are easy to come by but true friends are a whole other story. The best way to develop meaningful connections with true friends we can trust is to become a true friend yourself. Apply these ten steps if you’d like to be a true friend that can be counted on.

1. Be present for their highs and lows.

“If you’re absent during my struggle, don’t expect to be present during my success.” – Will Smith

It’s easy to be there for our friends when they ask us out for fun things like drinks at the bar, dancing in the club, or laughs at the theater. But are you willing to be there for the hard times that are the opposite of fun? You might not feel comfortable while spending time with an emotionally fragile person on the verge of tears, but true friends are readily available when they’re needed the most.

2. Know when to hush.

“When people talk, listen completely. Most people never listen.” – Ernest Hemingway 

The act of vocally expressing our troubles to a trusted friend can offer instant stress-reduction. Give your friend the gift of silence so they can drop their baggage and get on with living.

3. Offer your encouragement.

“Our chief want is someone who will inspire us to be what we know we could be.” – Ralph Waldo Emerson

The four most inspiring words you can speak to another person? I believe in you. 

4. Accept them as they are.

“Happiness can exist only in acceptance.” – George Orwell

If you can’t accept a person as they are, you will never know the feeling of true friendship. Fight the urge to attempt to “fix” them, no matter how crazy their mannerisms might make you.

5. Challenge them to grow.

“Life is either a daring adventure or nothing at all.” – Helen Keller

If a friend tells you they plan to drop 10 lbs, tell them, “10 lbs? Please. I bet you can get so fit that people’s jaws will drop when you walk past them.” Throw down the gauntlet, make sure they know you believe they can do it, and ask: “Challenge accepted?”

6. Be vulnerable.

“I found that the more truthful and vulnerable I was, the more empowering it was for me.” – Alanis Morissette

Hiding your flaws might be appropriate in a job interview, but it’s not something you should do in a conversation with a friend you trust. Never hesitate to speak your thoughts and feelings in their raw and unfiltered form. Who knows? They might open up and disclose a surprising secret in return. Full disclosure will strengthen your friendship and make you both feel at ease in each other’s company.

7. Forgive the past.

“Holding onto anger is like drinking poison and expecting the other person to die.” – Buddha

Have you ever hurled an insult at a person when you were feeling stressed and wished you could take it back? If so, you should understand that even the best of us suffer from the occasional slip of the tongue. Holding onto a grudge over a minor slip-up will make you look petty, so let it go.

8. Watch out for jealousy.

“The worst part of success is trying to find someone who is happy for you.” – Bette Midler

Your friend landed his dream job and you feel stuck in a rut. Your friend scored a hot date with Mr. Perfect and you feel down and depressed. Jealousy is a nasty feeling that can take hold of our thoughts without warning.  If a friend achieves something you aspire to do, channel that jealous feeling into an “if they did it, I can too” attitude.

9. Speak the truth (even if it hurts).

“The truth is rarely pure and never simple.” – Oscar Wilde

Have you ever watched a friend damage her self-esteem by staying in an emotionally abusive relationship? I have, and it hurts more than words can express. Confronting a person about an inconvenient truth isn’t easy, but sometimes it needs to be done. If you have something to say and can’t find the nerves to do it, ask yourself, “How would I feel if it was me making a very bad decision and my friend said nothing about it?” While speaking out doesn’t guarantee you’ll change their mind, staying silent does guarantee you’ll regret not speaking up sooner. If you feel the need to confront your friend about a particular issue, please click here to find out how to give constructive feedback and avoid ugly confrontations.

10. Make it special.

“We are all special cases.” – Albert Camus

The greatest friendships have quirks and qualities that are exclusive to them. Search for a special activity, gesture, or saying that is reserved for your true friend only. That could be a song you belt out on every car ride, a goofy handshake or gesture that no one else understands, or a weekly ritual just for the two of you.

Your Turn…

Do you have a true friend who has changed your life for the better? Are there any funny special quirks exclusive to a friend of yours that you’d be willing to share? What qualities do you look for in a friend? Tell us all about it in the comments!

More by this author

Daniel Wallen

Daniel is a writer who focuses on blogging about happiness and motivation at Lifehack.

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Last Updated on November 18, 2021

10 Proven Ways to Judge a Person’s Character

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10 Proven Ways to Judge a Person’s Character

We all fall into the trap of judging a person’s character by their appearance. How wrong we are! All too often, the real character of the person only appears when some negative event hits them or you. Then you may see a toxic person emerging from the ruins and it is often a shock.

A truly frightening example is revealed in the book by O’Toole in Bowman called Dangerous Instincts: How Gut Instincts Betray Us. A perfectly respectable, charming, well dressed neighbor was found to have installed a torture chamber in his garage where he was systematically abusing kidnapped women. This is an extreme example, but it does show how we can be totally deceived by a person’s physical appearance, manners and behavior.

So, what can you do? You want to be able to assess personal qualities when you come into contact with colleagues, fresh acquaintances and new friends who might even become lifelong partners. You want to know if they are:

  • honest
  • reliable
  • competent
  • kind and compassionate
  • capable of taking the blame
  • able to persevere
  • modest and humble
  • pacific and can control anger.

The secret is to reserve judgment and take your time. Observe them in certain situations; look at how they react. Listen to them talking, joking, laughing, explaining, complaining, blaming, praising, ranting, and preaching. Only then will you be able to judge their character. This is not foolproof, but if you follow the 10 ways below, you have a pretty good chance of not ending up in an abusive relationship.

1. Is anger a frequent occurrence?

All too often, angry reactions which may seem to be excessive are a sign that there are underlying issues. Do not think that every person who just snaps and throws his/her weight around mentally and physically is just reacting normally. Everyone has an occasional angry outburst when driving or when things go pear-shaped.

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But if this is almost a daily occurrence, then you need to discover why and maybe avoid that person. Too often, anger will escalate to violent and aggressive behavior. You do not want to be near someone who thinks violence can solve personal or global problems.

2. Can you witness acts of kindness?

How often do you see this person being kind and considerate? Do they give money to beggars, donate to charity, do voluntary work or in some simple way show that they are willing to share the planet with about 7 billion other people?

I was shocked when a guest of mine never showed any kindness to the weak and disadvantaged people in our town. She was ostensibly a religious person, but I began to doubt the sincerity of her beliefs.

“The best index to a person’s character is how he treats people who can’t do him any good, and how he treats people who can’t fight back.”

Abigail Van Buren

3. How does this person take the blame?

Maybe you know that s/he is responsible for a screw-up in the office or even in not turning up on time for a date. Look at their reaction. If they start blaming other colleagues or the traffic, well, this is an indication that they are not willing to take responsibility for their mistakes.

4. Don’t use Facebook as an indicator.

You will be relieved to know that graphology (the study of that forgotten skill of handwriting) is no longer considered a reliable test of a person’s character. Neither is Facebook stalking, fortunately. A study showed that Facebook use of foul language, sexual innuendo and gossip were not reliable indicators of a candidate’s character or future performance in the workplace.

5. Read their emails.

Now a much better idea is to read the person’s emails. Studies show that the use of the following can indicate certain personality traits:

  • Too many exclamation points may reveal a sunny disposition
  • Frequent errors may indicate apathy
  • Use of smileys is the only way a person can smile at you
  • Use of the third person may reveal a certain formality
  • Too many question marks can show anger
  • Overuse of capital letters is regarded as shouting. They are a definite no-no in netiquette, yet a surprising number of  people still use them.

6. Watch out for the show offs.

Listen to people as they talk. How often do they mention their achievements, promotions, awards and successes? If this happens a lot, it is a sure indication that this person has an over-inflated view of his/her achievements. They are unlikely to be modest or show humility. What a pity!  Another person to avoid.

7. Look for evidence of perseverance.

A powerful indicator of grit and tenacity is when a person persists and never gives up when they really want to achieve a life goal. Look for evidence of them keeping going in spite of enormous difficulties.

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Great achievements by scientists and inventors all bear the hallmark of perseverance. We only have to think of Einstein, Edison (who failed thousands of times) and Nelson Mandela to get inspiration. The US Department of Education is in no doubt about how grit, tenacity and perseverance will be key success factors for youth in the 21st century.

8. Their empathy score is high.

Listen to how they talk about the less fortunate members of our society such as the poor, immigrants and the disabled. Do you notice that they talk in a compassionate way about these people? The fact that they even mention them is a strong indicator of empathy.

People with zero empathy will never talk about the disadvantaged. They will rarely ask you a question about a difficult time or relationship. They will usually steer the conversation back to themselves. These people have zero empathy and in extreme cases, they are psychopaths who never show any feelings towards their victims.

9. Learn how to be socially interactive.

We are social animals and this is what makes us so uniquely human. If a person is isolated or a loner, this may be a negative indicator of their character. You want to meet a person who knows about trust, honesty and loyalty. The only way to practice these great qualities is to actually interact socially. The great advantage is that you can share problems and celebrate success and joy together.

“One can acquire everything in solitude, except character.”

Stendhal

 10. Avoid toxic people.

These people are trying to control others and often are failing to come to terms with their own failures. Typical behavior and conversations may concern:

  • Envy or jealousy
  • Criticism of partners, colleagues and friends
  • Complaining about their own lack of success
  • Blaming others for their own bad luck or failure
  • Obsession with themselves and their problems

Listen to these people talk and you will quickly discover that you need to avoid them at all costs because their negativity will drag you down. In addition, as much as you would like to help them, you are not qualified to do so.

Now, having looked at some of the best ways to judge a person, what about yourself? How do others see you? Why not take Dr. Phil’s quiz and find out. Can you bear it?

Featured photo credit: Jacek Dylag via unsplash.com

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