Solid friendships are some of the most important relationships you can have in life, but they’re also the hardest to come by. I’ve had my fair share of friends over the years who were there for a season, others who are no longer in my life because of betrayal or another reason, and lifelong friends that I still have to this day. I’m always striving to be a better friend myself, and if you are too, here are some tips that might help.
Take care of yourself. There’s a saying that goes “you can’t pour from an empty cup,” and it’s true. I couldn’t be the person who was always giving to everyone else but myself. I discovered that I had to invest time and effort to make myself whole, content, and happy with my life before I could expect to be there for someone else. It is essential to take some “me time” so that when I’m with my friends, I can be there for them fully and in the moment.
Be empathetic. When I was young, I was naive enough to think that some of the mistakes my friends made were silly. Anyone with common sense wouldn’t make the same mistakes. However, as I grew older, I realized that sometimes even smart people could be put in sticky situations and this could make it harder for them to think clearly. So if a friend is going through something or has a problem, I now try and put myself in their shoes and empathize with them instead of being judgmental.
Give tough love. Sometimes it’s hard to be honest with the people we love and care about. But giving tough love and receiving it has been how my friends and I have shown each other that we care because it has helped us to be better people and make changes that have allowed us to live better lives. Of course, we have had to have these tough conversations at the right time and with tact so that we’re receptive to advice. However, I have found that even though my friends might get angry in the moment, when they reflect on the hard truths I share with them, with time, they see that I just want the best for them.
Be a ride or die. Everyone wants someone they can count on, not a flaky person. In friendships, I have found that showing up when it matters most and displaying consistency have been important in proving my loyalty. It’s easy to be there when it’s time to have fun and gossip, but when a friend is going through a hard time and needs a listening ear or someone to show support, that is when the real beauty of friendship is seen, felt, and appreciated.
Be a good listener. When you care about someone, you can think you know them well enough to know what they want out of life. This can be a huge mistake because when someone is talking to you about a problem they’re having or a big decision they need to make, all they need to is for you to listen so that you can be a good soundboard to them. They don’t need you to impose your ideas on them.
Be your friends’ biggest cheerleader. The world is a tough place to be in. Every day you can encounter social media trolls who put you down, a boss who is demeaning, or work colleagues who are nasty. When it comes to my friends, I try my best to be one of their biggest cheerleaders. I champion them towards their goals and celebrate their little wins along the way.
Be a safe place. In life, you have to put on so many masks, such as the confident woman at work, the strong fitness buff, or the happy-go-lucky girl. It’s comforting to know that you have your close circle of friends who you can be your real self with, flaws and all. I have learned to be a safe place for my friends where they don’t need to always be perfect. They can share the embarrassing things that have happened to them or their insecurities and I won’t judge them. Instead, we laugh about our mistakes, cry about things that hurt us, and most of all keep each other’s secrets.
See and encourage the potential in your friends. “You are the average of the five people you spend the most time with,” says Jim Rohn. This statement couldn’t be more accurate. If the friends you spend the most time with are not challenging you and encouraging you to keep growing in your life, career, or as a person, then only time will show the fruits of the relationships you have. It is essential to know that you play an important role in your friends’ lives to push each other to be better, to grow, and to take things to the next level in all ways.
Be a good communicator. Friendships are not perfect. Sometimes you disagree, sometimes you say the wrong thing because you’re hurt, and other times you make mistakes that hurt others. The important thing in all these situations is that you communicate your feelings and intentions so that your friends can understand where you are coming from and you can understand them too. This will help you both to move on and have even stronger friendships.