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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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The Gentle Art of Saying No

The Gentle Art of Saying No

No!

It’s a simple fact that you can never be productive if you take on too many commitments — you simply spread yourself too thin and will not be able to get anything done, at least not well or on time.

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But requests for your time are coming in all the time — through phone, email, IM or in person. To stay productive, and minimize stress, you have to learn the Gentle Art of Saying No — an art that many people have problems with.

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What’s so hard about saying no? Well, to start with, it can hurt, anger or disappoint the person you’re saying “no” to, and that’s not usually a fun task. Second, if you hope to work with that person in the future, you’ll want to continue to have a good relationship with that person, and saying “no” in the wrong way can jeopardize that.

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But it doesn’t have to be difficult or hard on your relationship. Here are the Top 10 tips for learning the Gentle Art of Saying No:

  1. Value your time. Know your commitments, and how valuable your precious time is. Then, when someone asks you to dedicate some of your time to a new commitment, you’ll know that you simply cannot do it. And tell them that: “I just can’t right now … my plate is overloaded as it is.”
  2. Know your priorities. Even if you do have some extra time (which for many of us is rare), is this new commitment really the way you want to spend that time? For myself, I know that more commitments means less time with my wife and kids, who are more important to me than anything.
  3. Practice saying no. Practice makes perfect. Saying “no” as often as you can is a great way to get better at it and more comfortable with saying the word. And sometimes, repeating the word is the only way to get a message through to extremely persistent people. When they keep insisting, just keep saying no. Eventually, they’ll get the message.
  4. Don’t apologize. A common way to start out is “I’m sorry but …” as people think that it sounds more polite. While politeness is important, apologizing just makes it sound weaker. You need to be firm, and unapologetic about guarding your time.
  5. Stop being nice. Again, it’s important to be polite, but being nice by saying yes all the time only hurts you. When you make it easy for people to grab your time (or money), they will continue to do it. But if you erect a wall, they will look for easier targets. Show them that your time is well guarded by being firm and turning down as many requests (that are not on your top priority list) as possible.
  6. Say no to your boss. Sometimes we feel that we have to say yes to our boss — they’re our boss, right? And if we say “no” then we look like we can’t handle the work — at least, that’s the common reasoning. But in fact, it’s the opposite — explain to your boss that by taking on too many commitments, you are weakening your productivity and jeopardizing your existing commitments. If your boss insists that you take on the project, go over your project or task list and ask him/her to re-prioritize, explaining that there’s only so much you can take on at one time.
  7. Pre-empting. It’s often much easier to pre-empt requests than to say “no” to them after the request has been made. If you know that requests are likely to be made, perhaps in a meeting, just say to everyone as soon as you come into the meeting, “Look guys, just to let you know, my week is booked full with some urgent projects and I won’t be able to take on any new requests.”
  8. Get back to you. Instead of providing an answer then and there, it’s often better to tell the person you’ll give their request some thought and get back to them. This will allow you to give it some consideration, and check your commitments and priorities. Then, if you can’t take on the request, simply tell them: “After giving this some thought, and checking my commitments, I won’t be able to accommodate the request at this time.” At least you gave it some consideration.
  9. Maybe later. If this is an option that you’d like to keep open, instead of just shutting the door on the person, it’s often better to just say, “This sounds like an interesting opportunity, but I just don’t have the time at the moment. Perhaps you could check back with me in [give a time frame].” Next time, when they check back with you, you might have some free time on your hands.
  10. It’s not you, it’s me. This classic dating rejection can work in other situations. Don’t be insincere about it, though. Often the person or project is a good one, but it’s just not right for you, at least not at this time. Simply say so — you can compliment the idea, the project, the person, the organization … but say that it’s not the right fit, or it’s not what you’re looking for at this time. Only say this if it’s true — people can sense insincerity.

Featured photo credit: Pexels via pexels.com

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