True friends are hard to come by in life. Despite the interconnectedness of the world today, the irony is that many people do not have close friends. Most friendships are shallow and unfulfilling. Therefore, we must cherish and nurture the friendships that are important to us. When you have found friends who have your back through thick and thin, you have found friends worth keeping. But to receive, you must first learn to give. Only by being a good friend can you hope to have true friends. Read on to find out how to be a good friend.
Treat Friends with the Proper Respect
Mutual respect is the foundation of true friendships. While the respect may have been strong at the start, familiarity breeds contempt. As your friendship grows closer, it is vital that you pay attention to your words and actions with friends. Why, you might ask, must I be careful in word and deed with my true friend? The answer is simple. Just because they are your true friends, does not give you the right to abuse, disrespect or take advantage of them. How would you feel if your friend did not accord you the proper respect? In all things, it is prudent to consider the feelings of your friends in what you say and do. This shows your friend the consideration you have for them.
Accept Your Friends
The greatest gift you can give your friend is acceptance. Accept them for who and what they are without reserve. Do not judge them for their thoughts, words, deeds or eccentricities. Look beyond the surface to understand the true motivations behind what they do. Use your compassion to feel their pain. When you are able to have a deep understanding and acceptance of your friend and vice versa, you will have a true and lasting friendship. Not only will your friend feel comfortable and relaxed in your presence, they can also be themselves without worry.
Look Out for Your Friend’s Interest
Accepting your friend does not mean condoning harmful actions or behaviour on their part. If your friend really matters to you, try to find tactful ways and means to help them. Changing a bad habit is not easy. But if you can help them to find the motivation for doing so, they will be more willing to change of their own accord. When they wish to change, it becomes easier for you to help them to change.
Open and Honest Communication
Friendships need open and honest communication to grow strong and healthy. This is the first step in building trust between friends. Speaking openly does not mean doing so without tact. The way you deliver your message is as important as your message itself. Done well, your friend will be more willing to listen to whatever it is that you have to say. Done badly, your friend will only ignore you even if your advice is sound and prudent. Never put down or ridicule your friend for the ideas or problems they share. If there are some mistakes in their views or actions, try to correct them gently and tactfully. Always do unto others what you would want them to do unto you.
Actions Speak Louder Than Words
Actions speak louder than words. When you make a promise to your friend, be sure to keep it. If you are not confident of keeping your word, do not make the promise in the first place. Always have your friend’s interest at heart and do not be afraid to show or act on it. This includes looking out for ways to help them to achieve their goals. Do not hesitate to offer your help if it is needed. Ask your friend how you can help if you do not know how to. If there is no way to help, give them your full support and encouragement. Good friends are amongst the first to know and act when something happens to their friends.
Share the Tough Times
Be willing to share your friend’s burden whenever you can. Sharing your friend’s burden is a sacred responsibility. Nowadays, people are so afraid of burdening their friends with their problems that they keep it to themselves. This only creates barriers in a friendship. True friends do not shun you or your problems. Even if they cannot help you directly, they can listen and let you know you are not alone. You cannot fake sincerity. If you are truly open and sincere about sharing your friend’s problems, they will have no qualms about confiding in you. With each storm your friendship weathers together, the stronger it will become. True friends are like battle-hardened comrades who are able and willing to go through thick and thin by each other’s side without hesitation.
Cherish the Good Times
Cherish and share the good times with your friend. When good fortune befalls you, do not forget the friends who have stood by you through the darkest of times. When there are no upheavals, hang out and have fun. This allows you to unwind and catch up while strengthening the bonds of friendship. Each moment that passes will never return. The good times we have with our friends will not last forever. Cherish every one of them.
Do Not Take Friends for Granted
Having a true friend does not give you the right to take them for granted. Friends are not obligated to do anything for you. You should always acknowledge whatever a friend chooses to do for you out of friendship. Whether it is a thank you or a return of a favour later, you should always show your appreciation. Not only is this good manners, it also lets your friend know that his or her efforts are valued and treasured. At the same time, this helps to reinforce the bond you two share.
Nip Problems in the Bud
Any relationship in life is bound to face problems and hiccups at one point or other. If a problem is weighing heavily on your mind, it is not too trivial to ignore no matter how silly it may seem. The important thing is to nip the problem in the bud early. If you choose to ignore it, what may have been a small problem could easily blow up into a big one. So before that happens, address the issue early and openly. State your feelings about the matter in an objective manner and try to reach a compromise or solution that is agreeable to both parties. Always focus on the solution and not the problem. Doing so helps to strengthen the bond and understanding between friends.
Being a good friend takes effort on your part. But if the friendship you painstakingly nurture and cherish is worth it, you will not feel the effort. In return, you will gain a true and loyal friend who will stand by you even when things go badly. So start today and try to implement the suggestions that are easiest for you. Then slowly try those that are a little harder. In the end, you will become a good friend and have true friends in return.
What are the other ways of being a good friend that I have missed out? Feel free to share your thoughts and comments.