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How To Become A True Friend

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!

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Daniel Wallen

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

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Last Updated on May 21, 2019

How to Communicate Effectively in Any Relationship

How to Communicate Effectively in Any Relationship

For all our social media bravado, we live in a society where communication is seen less as an art, and more as a perfunctory exercise. We spend so much time with people, yet we struggle with how to meaningfully communicate.

If you believe you have mastered effective communication, scan the list below and see whether you can see yourself in any of the examples:

Example 1

You are uncomfortable with a person’s actions or comments, and rather than telling the individual immediately, you sidestep the issue and attempt to move on as though the offending behavior or comment never happened.

You move on with the relationship and develop a pattern of not addressing challenging situations. Before long, the person with whom you are in relationship will say or do something that pushes you over the top and predictably, you explode or withdraw completely from the relationship.

In this example, hard-to-speak truths become never- expressed truths that turn into resentment and anger.

Example 2

You communicate from the head and without emotion. While what you communicate makes perfect sense to you, it comes across as cold because it lacks emotion.

People do not understand what motivates you to say what you say, and without sharing your feelings and emotions, others experience you as rude, cold or aggressive.

You will know this is a problem if people shy away from you, ignore your contributions in meetings or tell you your words hurt. You can also know you struggle in this area if you find yourself constantly apologizing for things you have said.

Example 3

You have an issue with one person, but you communicate your problem to an entirely different person.

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The person in whom you confide lacks the authority to resolve the matter troubling you, and while you have vented and expressed frustration, the underlying challenge is unresolved.

Example 4

You grew up in a family with destructive communication habits and those habits play out in your current relationships.

Because you have never stopped to ask why you communicate the way you do and whether your communication style still works, you may lack understanding of how your words impact others and how to implement positive change.

If you find yourself in any of the situations described above, this article is for you.

Communication can build or decimate worlds and it is important we get it right. Regardless of your professional aspirations or personal goals, you can improve your communication skills if you:

  • Understand your own communication style
  • Tailor your style depending on the needs of the audience
  • Communicate with precision and care
  • Be mindful of your delivery, timing and messenger

1. Understand Your Communication Style

To communicate effectively, you must understand the communication legacy passed down from our parents, grandparents or caregivers. Each of us grew up with spoken and unspoken rules about communication.

In some families, direct communication is practiced and honored. In other families, family members are encouraged to shy away from difficult conversations. Some families appreciate open and frank dialogue and others do not. Other families practice silence about substantive matters, that is, they seldom or rarely broach difficult conversations at all.

Before you can appreciate the nuance required in communication, it helps to know the familial patterns you grew up with.

2. Learn Others Communication Styles

Communicating effectively requires you to take a step back, assess the intended recipient of your communication and think through how the individual prefers to be communicated with. Once you know this, you can tailor your message in a way that increases the likelihood of being heard. This also prevents you from assuming the way you communicate with one group is appropriate or right for all groups or people.

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If you are unsure how to determine the styles of the groups or persons with whom you are interacting, you can always ask them:

“How do you prefer to receive information?”

This approach requires listening, both to what the individuals say as well as what is unspoken. Virgin Group CEO Richard Branson noted that the best communicators are also great listeners.

To communicate effectively from relationship to relationship and situation to situation, you must understand the communication needs of others.

3. Exercise Precision and Care

A recent engagement underscored for me the importance of exercising care when communicating.

On a recent trip to Ohio, I decided to meet up with an old friend to go for a walk. As we strolled through the soccer park, my friend gently announced that he had something to talk about, he was upset with me. His introduction to the problem allowed me to mentally shift gears and prepare for the conversation.

Shortly after introducing the shift in conversation, my friend asked me why I didn’t invite him to the launch party for my business. He lives in Ohio and I live in the D.C. area.

I explained that the event snuck up on me, and I only started planning the invite list three weeks before the event. Due to the last-minute nature of the gathering, I opted to invite people in the DMV area versus my friends from outside the area – I didn’t want to be disrespectful by asking them to travel on such short notice.

I also noted that I didn’t want to be disappointed if he and others declined to come to the event. So I played it safe in terms of inviting people who were local.

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In the moment, I felt the conversation went very well. I also checked in with my friend a few days after our walk, affirmed my appreciation for his willingness to communicate his upset and our ability to work through it.

The way this conversation unfolded exemplified effective communication. My friend approached me with grace and vulnerability. He approached me with a level of curiosity that didn’t put me on my heels — I was able to really listen to what he was saying, apologize for how my decision impacted him and vow that going forward, I would always ask rather than making decisions for him and others.

Our relationship is intact, and I now have information that will help me become a better friend to him and others.

4. Be Mindful of Delivery, Timing and Messenger

Communicating effectively also requires thinking through the delivery of the message one intends to communicate as well as the appropriate time for the discussion.

In an Entrepreneur.com column, VIP Contributor Deep Patel, noted that persons interested in communicating well need to master the art of timing. Patel noted,[1]

“Great comedians, like all great communicators, are able to feel out their audience to determine when to move on to a new topic or when to reiterate an idea.”

Communicating effectively also requires thoughtfulness about the messenger. A person prone to dramatic, angry outbursts should never be called upon to deliver constructive feedback, especially to people whom they do not know. The immediate aftermath of a mass shooting is not the ideal time to talk about the importance of the Second Amendment rights.

Like everyone else, I must work to ensure my communication is layered with precision and care.

It requires precision because words must be carefully tailored to the person with whom you are speaking.

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It requires intentionality because before one communicates, one should think about the audience and what the audience needs in order to hear your message the way you intended it to be communicated.

It requires active listening which is about hearing verbal and nonverbal messages.

Even though we may be right in what we say, how we say it could derail the impact of the message and the other parties’ ability to hear the message.

Communicating with care is also about saying things that the people in our life need to hear and doing so with love.

The Bottom Line

When I left the meeting with my dear friend, I wondered if I was replicating or modeling this level of openness and transparency in the rest of my relationships.

I was intrigued and appreciative. He’d clearly thought about what he wanted to say to me, picked the appropriate time to share his feedback and then delivered it with care. He hit the ball out of the park and I’m hopeful we all do the same.

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Featured photo credit: Kenan Buhic via unsplash.com

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