How do you become a better friend? This is a great question, but not an area that many people think to actively learn within. Which is curious, because we are generally social beings that rely on good connections with those around us to flourish. Thus, intentionally building more meaningful relationships around you can have great benefits – to you and your friends. So why not take these few small learning steps forward to do this?
Why do we need Friends?
Sadly, not all families are functional or healthy. However, friends are essentially the family we choose and can fill a family gap as well as bring us great joy. Friends can enrich your life by celebrating the good times and achievements, while also providing support for the harder paths. Having good friends positively impacts and supports your mental wellbeing. Good friends tend to encourage us to achieve goals by highlighting our potential and helping us to stay motivated. They also give us a space to verbalise stress, unpack concerns and offer solutions to overcoming obstacles we face.
What Makes a Great Friend?
The difference between a good friend and a great friend is honesty. A good friend will have your back. A great friend will have your back and also tell you when you are out of line. Usually, it’s not something that happens instantly. It’s something that grows over time and through experiencing life together.
How do I become a Great Friend?
- It’s a Journey. Be patient, enjoy getting to know someone and their company. Accept them for who they really are. Which means who they see themselves as and what they live out in their lives.
- Be Yourself. This doesn’t mean that you immediately blurt out all your secrets and share your life story. It just means that you are consistently authentic when you are with them and share the real you.
- Practice. Be the friend you want to have. This will require you to think about friendship and then potentially change your own approach within relationships.
It may seem strange at first but friendship has an international element. That’s why coaching principles are useful to use when seeking to be a better friend.
Use Basic Coaching Principles to be a Better Friend
- Coaches listen more than they advise. While at times you may need to act as a counsellor, friendship is more often about being a sounding board and asking the right questions. Thus, not providing solutions but rather helping someone figure out their own pathways.
- Coaches keep the focus on their client. There are times when it is about you. However, when the focus is on your friend, ensure it stays that way while you exercise empathy. Without intending to, many people refocus a conversation when someone else is sharing by giving advice linked to real-life examples. As a result, it becomes about their own experience in a similar situation and not what their friend is currently experiencing.
- Coaches value Integrity and Honesty, while remaining Supportive. It’s important to be kind in how we say things and say them at the appropriate moment. However, whatever you say needs to remain honest and consistent with what you believe as well as see a situation to be.
Choosing and Making Friends
There are different types of friendships. Essentially, as we go through seasons in our lives there will be people we encounter just for that period. And then there are those who weather the changing seasons with us. There are also friends whose advice we should take and those that we should simply enjoy hanging out with to have fun or play sport with.
- Look for the Qualities You Value and Live by. This doesn’t mean your friendship circle isn’t diverse. It just means that your friends are more likely to influence your life in the direction you want to be going.
- Jump into Activities You Enjoy. Join a club, a class or meetup group that shares your passion and/or hobby. You’re more likely to meet people who you enjoy hanging out with if you have a common starting point.
- Think Back. Is there someone you’ve lost touch with? Or someone you’ve always meant to call up to have a coffee with but never did? Take a chance and call them. There’s nothing to lose and a possible friend to gain.
Making friends can take effort and time. As we get older and busier with work and growing personal responsibilities, we tend towards not putting ourselves into situations where we could meet new friends. Additionally, we might be more jaded in our view of others. Experience is a double-edged sword. It teaches us to exercise wisdom and be better at seeing reality. But it can also make us weary and put-up walls to protect ourselves. We are unlikely to again be the optimistic kid that went off to playschool believing that everyone wanted to be our friend. But we also don’t have to be the grinch, who sees the worst in everyone around us. It’s your choice!
Friendships take time and at times can be more effort than fun. They require nurturing and valuing the other person for who they are as well as the life journey they are on. If someone is in a bad space and requires your support – then this could be the time to step-up and support them. However, if they continuously drain you, leaving you feeling disheartened and demotivated then it could be time to step back.
At times you may need to take a step back and evaluate a friendship. People change – including you. Therefore, sometimes taking a look at things to see what’s what is helpful to better ensure all-round happiness for everyone. It can also remind you of why you value someone and are grateful to have them in your life.
Three Friendship Evaluation Questions to Ask
- Is this a healthy two-way friendship, which overall is balanced in sharing personal information, providing and receiving support?
- What does your gut say about your interactions with someone and who they are?
- Do you feel like you are a positive addition to their lives and are they the same to you?
Becoming a Coach
Coaches can assist people in personal and professional goals. If this is something that interests you, then contact SACAP today to find out more about their internationally accredited coaching courses. SACAP allows working professionals to augment their skills or smoothly transition into a new career without a break in employment.