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How To Be A Better Friend

How To Be A Better Friend
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Bare with me on this sentence: If you could be friends with yourself, would you be? Do you think you’re a good friend to have? Friends play a crucial part in our overall happiness but it’s often trickier than simply spending time together. Knowing whether you are surrounding yourself with good people or if you yourself could be better can be difficult to work out. Vincent Nguyen shares some insight on how you can become the kind of friend you want to be:

To be a good friend, you first need to learn what makes a bad friend. From there, it’s pretty easy to reverse-engineer.

8 Signs You May Kind of Suck as a Friend

1. You project your own negativity onto them.

After a while you start assuming that because you think a certain way, your friends and others do too. For example, if you’re prone to talking about others behind their back then you’d assume everyone else does the same. Eventually, you begin to blame others and talk about how they went and did something even though they never did. This gets annoying and yes, your friends do notice this.

2. You criticize or blame them for everything.

You feel like nothing is your fault and you’re always right. Everything wrong is because of them. Then you start letting them know, even non-verbally, how you feel about the situation. This is how you lose friends.

3. You only reach out when you need something.

When you reach for the phone it’s never to see how they’re doing or to get together and have fun. There is always a reason to call or text. It becomes so habitual that every time you call or text, their response is “What do you need?” If that’s a common response you get from multiple people then you’ve got a clear warning sign.

4. You make them handle everything.

When there’s work to be done or responsibilities that should be divided you just sort of sit in the back and relax. Teamwork goes out the door because you’d rather be doing something else (or nothing) than to help out. What’s worse is when you walk away when the going gets tough. Soon enough, you’ll be the one your friends will be evading.

5. You don’t think about how they feel.

Your words hurt like knives and you might not even know it (or care,) because you have a disregard for how they may feel. You don’t stop to wonder how your decisions, actions, and words may affect what your friends think. Sometimes it’s the lack of action that hurts them most. So many things to be mindful of! Are you losing track?

6. You always have to “one-up” them.

Although this doesn’t always mean you’re a bad friend, it shows some flaws in character on your part. You could begin to wear down the friendship if the other person feels like you constantly show off or downplay their accomplishments. People have enough insecurities and self-esteem issues as is. Don’t make them feel the same way around their own friends.

7. You don’t listen, ever.

Their opinions mean nothing to you and it’s usually drowned out by your own stories. You fight for time to speak and when they are talking you’re usually tapping your feet impatiently for your turn to talk. Oh and they know when you’re pretending to listen. Tossing in a question to make it seem like you care is insincere. What’s worse is when you ask them something only to interrupt them mid-answer so you can start talking.

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8. You don’t keep your word.

Come on. If you say you’ll do something, don’t go back on your word. Punctuality goes into this too. Don’t be the person who is consistently an hour later than promised.

18 Ways to the an Awesome Friend

1. Make sure they’re okay.

It’s easy to go overboard, but when tactful it can mean the world to them when you show you’re concerned. Send them a text, a phone call (even better,) or surprise them by showing up at their front door. Make an excuse to spend time with them. This doesn’t mean you have to shove advice down their throat. It just means showing you want them to be okay.

Unfortunately, there’s no universal method to being caring without being too pushy. Instead, you’ve got to figure out what works best and adjust as needed.

Some people are very good at hiding their negative emotions. Hopefully you’ve learned when they’re wearing a mask. Masks get heavy when you wear them for so long and sometimes you forget how to take it off. I used to put on a brave face when I was going through rough times. It sucked but having good friends around who knew when I wasn’t really okay helped a lot.

2. Know when to be serious or goofy depending on the appropriateness.

When it’s time to be serious, you get down to business. No goofing off. No cheap attempt at being funny to avoid the real issues. You may argue from time to time and that’s alright. It’s natural. Be mature and aim at finding common ground instead of trying to divert the attention elsewhere.

There are times to be messing around, but it gets tiring for others if you don’t know how or when to turn it off. If you can’t then how can others trust you enough to share important things with you?

3. Put in extra to help them.

When they ask for your opinion or help on something that means something. It means they value what you think. If someone hands you an essay asking for you to help proofread or revise it then go the extra mile. Bust out a red pen and start marking it up like crazy. Show them you’re as invested as they are.

This means never half-ass things when it comes to your friends. These are your friends we’re talking about here. It’s a committed relationship and it sucks when the other person doesn’t put in effort to help when needed.

4. Stick with them through the darkest moments.

Going hand in hand with the first point, you don’t give up. If they’re going through really difficult times then they may begin to close themselves off from you and your other friends. They’d say no to going out and hide from the world. This annoys some people and eventually they give up, but good friends keep trying.

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Sure, it sucks to be the one trying to pull a friend out of rough times and it does get difficult to not throw my hands up in the air with frustration, but damn it, I know they’re not going to be able to get out on their own.

5. Make them know you enjoy their company.

This means you listen to everything they say intently. You show you like being around them. Hell, sometimes even say it outright. “You’re an awesome friend,” “It’s not as fun when you’re not there,” or “I like hanging out with you, you know?” You should be comfortable enough together to be blunt about it without feeling weird.

Insecurity kicks in even when it shouldn’t. It doesn’t take a lot to show you care and re-assure them from time to time.

6. Outright tell them you’re there for them.

Remind them that you’re friends for life by making sure they know you’ll always be there. This means keeping in touch or being there to cheer them up when they’ve got it rough.

If you’ve never told your closest friends this then make sure you do next time your friends tell you about a problem they’re hung up on.

7. Respect boundaries.

Know that you don’t have to be together 24/7. I need my space to recharge and I don’t always feel like hanging out with others. That doesn’t mean I don’t like them. Good friends aren’t pushy and don’t get upset because of an occasional “no.” In fact, good friends know how to pick up right where they left off no matter how long it’s been since they last saw each other.

8. Be honest and offer constructive feedback when asked.

There’s a difference between being conscious of their feelings and letting them ruin themselves in the long-run. If they’ve developed a bad habit then kindly point it out and show you’re concerned. They’re picking up smoking? You care about their lungs. Drinking too much? Let them know you’ve noticed.

For less serious examples, imagine their breath smells and they’re going on a date. Do you want them to crash and burn later or would you rather let them suffer an ego hit, fix their act, and get out there in full confidence? If you feel like criticisms are harsh, offer them tips on how to improve.

9. Introduce them to other people.

Your social circle might be tightly knit, but there’s always room for expansion. Introduce them to people they don’t know just to show you’re not afraid of being seen with them. Remember, you want to be proud of being in public with them.

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It’s up to them to decide if they want to start hanging out with these new people in the long-run. In fact, it doesn’t even matter if they do. Fun is what you’re aiming for here.

10. Always say yes when they need help.

We all get in unexpected trouble and it’s good to know people who would jump to your rescue. My car’s battery died in a parking lot at 3 in the morning last month. I called people I knew would come to my aid because they were the type to help. Guess who I didn’t bother calling? Those who I knew would have an excuse.

11. Don’t do things that would make them uncomfortable.

This doesn’t mean avoiding subjects that are important and possibly life-changing. I’m talking about bringing up things that serve no constructive purpose but to annoy them or to just fill the silence. Which brings me to my next point…

12. Embrace silences with them and enjoy their company.

Silent gaps will naturally occur in a conversation. Be comfortable with them. Don’t feel like you absolutely have to fill every single second with a sentence. It’s okay to be comfortable and just enjoy each other’s company.

Especially as an introvert, I need time to recharge after spending time with a lot of people. I really enjoy my time, but I need to recharge my batteries on occasion. With that in mind, learn the real differences between introverts and extroverts. You may have the wrong idea.

13. Be dependable and punctual.

When you say you’ll do something, be a person that sticks to your word. That means being punctual, not going back on your promises, and ensuring that you’re viewed as a reliable friend.

Being unreliable will make your friends think twice before asking you for something.

14. Apologize when you should.

It takes a lot to admit you did something wrong. Don’t be afraid of admitting to your friends that you messed up. It happens to the best of us. Someone who can swallow his or her pride and admit they’re in the wrong is a great friend.

Don’t know how to apologize? Check out this article, courtesy of The Art of Manliness.

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15. Show you’re happy for them.

We all get too caught up in our own lives and forget how to show appreciation. Sure, we know we care, but it’s difficult for the other person to know you do if you don’t show it.

It’s easy to tell when someone is dishonest. “Wow, I’m so happy for you,” with an non-eager face isn’t very convincing. Be invested in their successes and show in your facial expressions that you really are happy.

16. Remember to make small gestures on occasion.

It can be as simple as buying them something you thought they might like. I’d be thrilled if a friend of mine bought me a Sonic Screwdriver from Doctor Who. That would tell me a lot of things. First, I know they remember what I enjoy. Second, they were thinking of me. Third, they spent their hard-earned cash to let me know they like me. Awesome feeling.

17. Make time for them and say yes more often.

It’s not a good feeling to be turned down by your friends. Sometimes life gets in the way and that’s okay. After all, remember the point about boundaries. However, I know how easy it is to say no. It becomes habitual. It’s just so easy when you’re “not feeling it.” Make it a point to say yes more often to your friends when you can.

You’re not that busy. Unless you’re absolutely certain there is no possibility of making room for your friends, you have no reason to have no time for your friends. It’s easy to convince yourself you’re too busy. Don’t buy into your own stories. Always make time for them because it’s easy to drift apart.

18. Make sure you don’t drift apart.

Life goes on and everyone has their own thing to do. Sure, picking up where you left off may be easy for you, but it’s just as easy to completely lose contact. It takes effort, especially when there’s a lot of physical distance, to maintain a good friendship. It’s a relationship that takes both sides to work.

Share this article with your friends and let them know you think they’re a good friend.

Or… Passive aggressively pass this onto someone you’re mad at.

This is a guest post by Vincent Nguyen, the founder of Selfstairway.com. Vincent teaches people how to form genuine self-confidence and think unconventionally. Learn how to be confident with his upcoming free eBook.

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Original Base Article: How To Be A Good Friend (And Signs To Avoid Being A Bad One) | Self Stairway

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Siobhan Harmer

Siobhan is a passionate writer sharing about motivation and happiness 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)

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