Enhance Your Relationships by Giving Friends What They Really Need
Even when you love your friends, it’s sometimes difficult to know what they really need and how to give it to them. Your car and dishwasher come with manuals, but relationships can be more of a mystery.
Consider these steps to use yourself and with your pals to provide the encouragement and validation we all search for.
Steps to Take on Your Own
Take risks. Friendships offer tremendous opportunities to achieve personal growth and experience more joy. It’s easier to take a chance on feeling a little uncertain or awkward when you realize all you have to gain by being willing to share your thoughts and emotions.
- Open up. Speaking of risks, disclosure is fundamental to any friendship. As you reveal more private information to a friend, your connection deepens. They can reciprocate and savor the gratification of feeling understood.
Show initiative. Maybe you’ve fallen out of touch with people just because neither of you got around to scheduling a lunch date or a morning run together. Brighten up someone’s day with an unexpected invitation.
Learn new things. Our relationships introduce us to new activities and knowledge. Forward an article about an upcoming meteor shower to a neighbor who told you they bought a telescope. They’ll be pleased by your interest and you’ll learn more of what interests
Call in an expert. There are times when the wisest thing you can do is refer someone to a qualified professional. Whether the issue is depression or diabetes, let your loved ones know that help is available.
- Cultivate your sense of humor. Laughter makes everything better! Sing off key or go shopping for the most garish sunglasses you can find.
Steps to Take With Your Friends
- Listen closely. Let your friends know they’re being heard. Give them your full attention. Try to see things from their point of view even when your opinions are different.
Ask questions. Become skillful at posing open-ended questions to your friends that provoke thoughtful conversation and generate useful information. Your friends may discover their own solutions as they reflect on the root causes of their dilemmas.
- Spend time together. Friendships take work. Put aside time for regular interaction. Be patient when circumstances call for extra attention.
- Keep in touch over long distances. Technology makes it easier to stay connected regardless of where we live. Video conference calls and cheap plane tickets can help you stay up to date with your old college roommate so you keep a strong connection. And of course, sending greeting cards regularly is a great idea..
Follow through. It’s easy to start taking others for granted when you know them well. Treat your appointments with your friends as conscientiously as any other meeting. Let them know you value their time and their company.
- Manage changes graciously. Friendships ebb and flow. In the long run it may be kinder to be direct and tactful about why you have less time to socialize now that you’re a new parent rather than leaving people guessing.
Apologize promptly. When you’re close to someone, you react more strongly to their moods and actions. Make amends when you get on each other’s nerves. A sincere apology will put your communications back on track.
Share good times. Friendships flourish when we take part in each other’s sorrows and celebrations. Reach out to your companions when they’re going through a rough time. Be ready to rejoice when they’re feeling better.
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