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How To Be A Better Friend

How To Be A Better Friend

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.

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 January 15, 2021

7 Ways To Have More Confident Body Language

7 Ways To Have More Confident Body Language

The popular idiomatic saying that “actions speak louder than words” has been around for centuries, but even to this day, most people struggle with at least one area of nonverbal communication. Consequently, many of us aspire to have more confident body language but don’t have the knowledge and tools necessary to change what are largely unconscious behaviors.

Given that others’ perceptions of our competence and confidence are predominantly influenced by what we do with our faces and bodies, it’s important to develop greater self-awareness and consciously practice better posture, stance, eye contact, facial expressions, hand movements, and other aspects of body language.

Posture

First things first: how is your posture? Let’s start with a quick self-assessment of your body.

  • Are your shoulders slumped over or rolled back in an upright posture?
  • When you stand up, do you evenly distribute your weight or lean excessively to one side?
  • Does your natural stance place your feet relatively shoulder-width apart or are your feet and legs close together in a closed-off position?
  • When you sit, does your lower back protrude out in a slumped position or maintain a straight, spine-friendly posture in your seat?

All of these are important considerations to make when evaluating and improving your posture and stance, which will lead to more confident body language over time. If you routinely struggle with maintaining good posture, consider buying a posture trainer/corrector, consulting a chiropractor or physical therapist, stretching daily, and strengthening both your core and back muscles.

Facial Expressions

Are you prone to any of the following in personal or professional settings?

  • Bruxism (tight, clenched jaw or grinding teeth)
  • Frowning and/or furrowing brows
  • Avoiding direct eye contact and/or staring at the ground

If you answered “yes” to any of these, then let’s start by examining various ways in which you can project confident body language through your facial expressions.

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1. Understand How Others Perceive Your Facial Expressions

A December 2020 study by UC Berkeley and Google researchers utilized a deep neural network to analyze facial expressions in six million YouTube clips representing people from over 140 countries. The study found that, despite socio-cultural differences, people around the world tended to use about 70% of the same facial expressions in response to different emotional stimuli and situations.[1]

The study’s researchers also published a fascinating interactive map to demonstrate how their machine learning technology assessed various facial expressions and determined subtle differences in emotional responses.

This study highlights the social importance of facial expressions because whether or not we’re consciously aware of them—by gazing into a mirror or your screen on a video conferencing platform—how we present our faces to others can have tremendous impacts on their perceptions of us, our confidence, and our emotional states. This awareness is the essential first step towards

2. Relax Your Face

New research on bruxism and facial tension found the stresses and anxieties of Covid-19 lockdowns led to considerable increases in orofacial pain, jaw-clenching, and teeth grinding, particularly among women.[2]

The National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research estimates that more than 10 million Americans alone have temporomandibular joint dysfunction (TMJ syndrome), and facial tension can lead to other complications such as insomnia, wrinkles, dry skin, and dark, puffy bags under your eyes.[3])

To avoid these unpleasant outcomes, start practicing progressive muscle relaxation techniques and taking breaks more frequently throughout the day to moderate facial tension.[4] You should also try out some biofeedback techniques to enhance your awareness of involuntary bodily processes like facial tension and achieve more confident body language as a result.[5]

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3. Improve Your Eye Contact

Did you know there’s an entire subfield of kinesic communication research dedicated to eye movements and behaviors called oculesics?[6] It refers to various communication behaviors including direct eye contact, averting one’s gaze, pupil dilation/constriction, and even frequency of blinking. All of these qualities can shape how other people perceive you, which means that eye contact is yet another area of nonverbal body language that we should be more mindful of in social interactions.

The ideal type (direct/indirect) and duration of eye contact depends on a variety of factors, such as cultural setting, differences in power/authority/age between the parties involved, and communication context. Research has shown that differences in the effects of eye contact are particularly prominent when comparing East Asian and Western European/North American cultures.[7]

To improve your eye contact with others, strive to maintain consistent contact for at least 3 to 4 seconds at a time, consciously consider where you’re looking while listening to someone else, and practice eye contact as much as possible (as strange as this may seem in the beginning, it’s the best way to improve).

3. Smile More

There are many benefits to smiling and laughing, and when it comes to working on more confident body language, this is an area that should be fun, low-stakes, and relatively stress-free.

Smiling is associated with the “happiness chemical” dopamine and the mood-stabilizing hormone, serotonin. Many empirical studies have shown that smiling generally leads to positive outcomes for the person smiling, and further research has shown that smiling can influence listeners’ perceptions of our confidence and trustworthiness as well.

4. Hand Gestures

Similar to facial expressions and posture, what you do with your hands while speaking or listening in a conversation can significantly influence others’ perceptions of you in positive or negative ways.

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It’s undoubtedly challenging to consciously account for all of your nonverbal signals while simultaneously trying to stay engaged with the verbal part of the discussion, but putting in the effort to develop more bodily awareness now will make it much easier to unconsciously project more confident body language later on.

5. Enhance Your Handshake

In the article, “An Anthropology of the Handshake,” University of Copenhagen social anthropology professor Bjarke Oxlund assessed the future of handshaking in wake of the Covid-19 pandemic:[8]

“Handshakes not only vary in function and meaning but do so according to social context, situation and scale. . . a public discussion should ensue on the advantages and disadvantages of holding on to the tradition of shaking hands as the conventional gesture of greeting and leave-taking in a variety of circumstances.”

It’s too early to determine some of the ways in which Covid-19 has permanently changed our social norms and professional etiquette standards, but it’s reasonable to assume that handshaking may retain its importance in American society even after this pandemic. To practice more confident body language in the meantime, the video on the science of the perfect handshake below explains what you need to know.

6. Complement Your Verbals With Hand Gestures

As you know by now, confident communication involves so much more than simply smiling more or sounding like you know what you’re talking about. What you do with your hands can be particularly influential in how others perceive you, whether you’re fidgeting with an object, clenching your fists, hiding your hands in your pockets, or calmly gesturing to emphasize important points you’re discussing.

Social psychology researchers have found that “iconic gestures”—hand movements that appear to be meaningfully related to the speaker’s verbal content—can have profound impacts on listeners’ information retention. In other words, people are more likely to engage with you and remember more of what you said when you speak with complementary hand gestures instead of just your voice.[9]

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Further research on hand gestures has shown that even your choice of the left or right hand for gesturing can influence your ability to clearly convey information to listeners, which supports the notion that more confident body language is readily achievable through greater self-awareness and deliberate nonverbal actions.[10]

Final Takeaways

Developing better posture, enhancing your facial expressiveness, and practicing hand gestures can vastly improve your communication with other people. At first, it will be challenging to consciously practice nonverbal behaviors that many of us are accustomed to performing daily without thinking about them.

If you ever feel discouraged, however, remember that there’s no downside to consistently putting in just a little more time and effort to increase your bodily awareness. With the tips and strategies above, you’ll be well on your way to embracing more confident body language and amplifying others’ perceptions of you in no time.

More Tips on How to Develop a Confident Body Language

Featured photo credit: Maria Lupan via unsplash.com

Reference

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