How to Be a Good Friend

Posted by Yohannes Zewde, 21, June 2012

From wikiHow - How to be a good friend

Being a good friend is about being reliable, kind-hearted and thoughtful. In this way you'll develop and maintain a friendship that lasts for years. One good friend is priceless. Taking the time to nurture a friendship is worth every moment.

Steps

Be real:

Connect with people whose friendship you value and see as sustainable long-term. Good friendships don't arise from hoping someone else's popularity or networks will rub off on you. Rather, a good friendship comes about by being with people who connect with you at a basic level. If you're trying to be friends with a person just to be accepted into a certain clique, or because you'd like to get to know someone else that he or she knows, that's not friendship – it's opportunism – and eventually you'll regret the shallow nature of your involvement. Every new person you meet has the right to be accepted (or not) on his or her own merits, so it's better to just be yourself than to let anyone else influence you into being someone you are not. In turn, you have a responsibility to fill their life with good memories and happy moments. Bear in mind it's better to be detested for who you are, than to be liked for who you aren't and good friendships withstand differences of opinion or outlooks anyway and never leave your friends behind

Be honest:

A dishonest person has no chance of having true friends because it's hard to rely or trust a person who doesn't behave in a supportive, consistent or trustworthy way. Keep your promises, do what you say you are going to do, and most importantly––don't lie! Lying happens in those moments when you say "Okay, I will..." but you never do or you only fulfill part of what you promised. Eventually people will figure you out and realize that you don't do what you say you will. If you've found yourself lying about doing things, then not trying to keep your word, start owning up to it and stop doing it. If you can't do something, explain so and trust that the friendship is strong enough for the no's as well as the yeses. And start being dependable when you say that you will do something. Don't tell other people their secrets!

If you know you were at fault for a missed opportunity, own up. Simply talk about it and hope that your friend will forgive you. They'd most likely appreciate it in the future, to look back and say, "Wow! I've had an amazing friend by my side." But, if you're changing, flip-flopping and undependable––that feels like you were not a good friend.

Good friendship is based on trust. If you break a friend's trust, the friendship may be very hard to salvage. Of course, if you have made a promise and planned to keep it, but circumstances beyond your control conspire to prevent it, let your friend know as soon as you find out. Don't wait until 15 minutes after you were supposed to arrive to call and say, "Gee, I'm sorry." Instead, make a quick call to say, "Hey, I know I promised to help you with whatever it is, but my husband is telling me we're going to our country house for the weekend, and leaving tomorrow just after work - that means I won't be able to make it. I'm so sorry. Can we reschedule?" That's just honoring the fact that your friend is counting on you, and respecting the fact that, given a little notice, your friend might just be able to get someone else to help with whatever it was. At least you won't be hanging your friend out to twist in the wind.

Be loyal:

If your friend tells you something in confidence, keep that confidence and don't talk about it to anyone else. It's what you'd expect in return and so be tight lipped about the matter. Don't discuss your friend behind their back and don't spread rumors about the confidences they've imparted to you. Rule out gossip or backstabbing when it comes to friendship! Never say anything about your friend that you would not be prepared to repeat to their face.

Don't let others say bad things about your friend. Until you've had a chance to hear your friend's side of the story, treat comments that are not supportive as hearsay and rumors. If someone says something that shocks you and doesn't seem like a thing your friend would do or say, then respond with something like: "I know him/her, and that just doesn't sound right. Let me talk to him/her, find out his/her perspective on this. If it turns out to be true, I'll let you know. Until then, I would appreciate it, if you didn't spread that around, because that might not be what was really meant or intended…"

Do not tell anyone if your friend has a crush on someone. They would feel bad if you have told someone that they would not wish to tell or a person that would spread a message about them.

Be respectful:

Good friends respect one another and show this by being openly and mutually supportive. If your friend has certain values and beliefs that don't align with your own, respect their choices and be open to listening about them. Don't mock or belittle what they believe in; instead, be understanding and try to keep learning. Over time, the differences will make both of you stronger and better people as well as stronger friends.

Always listen to what your friend has to say. Sometimes your friend will say things that you find boring, uncomfortable or annoying but if you have respect for your friend, you'll override these feelings with the desire to listen openly and give your friend the space to say what is needed and to do so without judgment.

There will be times when you don't see eye to eye with your friend. Rather than demanding that your friend changes their way of seeing things, disagree respectfully and be willing to see things differently.

Share:

Being selfless is an important part of being a good friend. Accommodate your friend's wishes whenever you can provided this is done in a balanced way in your friendship. Be there when you're needed and go the extra mile if it's going to make a big difference for your friend. Reciprocate in kind with caring deeds and help and your friendship will be strengthened.

Watch out for your friend:

If you sense that your friend is getting into some sort of trouble over which they have little control, such as taking drugs, being promiscuous or getting too drunk at a party, help him or her to get away from the situation. Don't assume that they're big enough to care for themselves; this may be the very time that your voice of common sense is needed to wake them from their fugue.

Don't allow your friend to drive drunk - take their keys and/or drive your friend home personally.

If your friend begins talking about committing suicide, tell someone about it. This rule overrides the "respect privacy" step, because even if your friend begs you not to tell anyone, you should do it anyway. Suggest a help line or professional to your friend. Talk to your and your friend's parents or spouse first (unless those were the ones causing the problems) before involving anyone else.

Pitch in for friends during times of crisis:

If your friend has to go to the hospital, you could help pack his or her bags; if her/his dog runs away, help to find it, if he/she needs someone to pick him/her up, be there. Take notes for your friend in school and give homework assignments when you know that one is absent and sick at home. Send cards and care packages. If there is a death in his/her family, you might want to attend the funeral – or cook and take a dish or a meal over to your friend. Care about your friend enough to help him or her open up and let the tears roll. Give a tissue and listen. Really listen openly. You don't have to say anything, just don't be too upset by hearing sadness or anger, or deep grief. Stay calm and reassuring.

If your friend is going through a crisis, don't say: "Everything is going to be all right" if it's not going to be. This goes right along with keeping it real. It's hard not to say that sometimes, but false reassurance can often be worse than none, and it may undermine your friend's ability to get through the crisis as well as one might. Instead, tell your friend that "Whatever you decide or need, I am there for you." If the need is to talk: talk; if it's to sit quietly: sit there. If the need is to relax and get your minds off of things, offer to take in a movie or concert "together." Give a sincere hug. Stay honest, but upbeat and positive. Even a stranger would appreciate a sincere word or possibly a gesture of a quick hug, or a hand rubbed across the back for just a moment, but don't overdo it. 

Give thoughtful advice:

Give thoughtful advice when asked, but don't insist that your friend does as you say. Don't judge your friend, simply advise them when they reach out for advice or when they need to hear a little tough love to keep them out of dangerous situations where they might harm themselves or others. Tell your friend how you perceive their situation using factual information, and suggest what you might do in the same circumstances. Don't be offended by your friend listening to your advice and then deciding to ignore it. Your friend must make their own decisions.  

Avoid giving unsought for advice. Allow venting where needed and be willing to offer advice if it's clear that it's sought. Always ask before assuming you can give advice.

Avoid saying "You should..." That may feel like you are imposing "shoulds" upon your friend and they're much less likely to listen.

Listen:

You don't have to agree––just listen to what is being said. Make sure to stop talking for a moment and listen. Some people don't really find it interesting listening to someone talk about your or their feelings 24/7. If you're monopolizing every conversation with your feelings, your friend isn't getting anything out of the relationship. For example, don't sigh and groan like the world is against you. Seek help elsewhere and try to stop being paranoid. Listening opens space between the two of you and reassures your friend that you're not judging them.

Step back and give your friend space:

Understand if your friend wants to be alone or to hang out with other people. Allow it to happen. There's no need to become clingy or needy. Friendship doesn't require that you always have to be paired together. Allowing one another the time to hang with other friends gives you much-needed breathing room, and allows you to come together fresh and appreciating each other even more.

Don't be selfish:

Grabbing, stealing, envying and/or begging are big nos in the rules of friendship. The friend will soon get tired of this and eventually move toward more selfless people who are willing to give the same as one gets, but a good friend will not demand it, yet one might mention being tired of it. Even if you are a total wreck , don't expect constant sympathy.

Don't expect, demand or abuse generosity or wear out your welcome. When your friend does something nice for you, then reciprocate quickly. Money isn't, or doesn't have to be, an issue.

Go home when it seems like the time is right; don't be like furniture. Reach for the door knob and say "Bye." Turn the knob, leave...no one wants to be friends with a moocher or to feel used.

Be forgiving:

Be forgiving when things go wrong in your friendship. Hate the act, not the person. If your friend has done something wrong, don't judge them too harshly. If you really are a good friend, you'll never take anything against him/her. Everything can be talked about, anyway.

Don't use your friends as a measure of your worth––you have value.

Live by the golden rule:

Always treat a friend as you would want to be treated. Don't do or say anything that you wouldn't want done to you. Be there through thick and thin as long as that is how you feel as a true friend. Don't begrudge everything as a favor that has to be repaid immediately.

Seek to deepen your friendship over time:

The more you are with one another, the less you idealize each other and the more you accept one another for who you really are. This is what being a truly good friend is really about––caring deeply for each other, warts and all.

Tips:

Make sure your friend doesn't have to spend a birthday alone. You can hold a party for them (even a surprise party if you can keep a secret) or take them out to dinner and pay for their meal.

Tease friends about something they're proud of. "Hey skinny," to someone who's dieting is a good example. The better you know your friend, the easier it is to find the things they're sensitive about and use teasing to pick them up instead of tearing them down.

Enjoy one another's company. It's not all about bleeding hearts and advice to the lovelorn––or at least, it shouldn't be. Be sure to have fun together and do spontaneous activities now and then. Be a positive force in your friend's life.

You don't have to spend a lot of money to be a good friend. The best gifts are often handmade and come from the heart, or are simply about giving of your time and skills.

Don't set too many expectations and rules. That's just trapping other people in your dimension. Allowing your friendship to evolve and change naturally is really best - it allows your friend to be as unique and individual as you are, and for both of you to enjoy one another in that light.

If your friend is in any difficulty and behaves in a way that's very hurtful (like a put-down) to you, don't be overly angry. Try to understand their problems.

Take initiative. When your friend is in need, reach out and do the things that will make their experience easier.

A friend who is only available at school or work is still a friend. Be very glad for that special kind of friendship associated with the place you share time together.

Have respect for your friend and yourself. Respect grows relationships and maintains them.

Good communication is a basic foundation in a friendship. If you and your friend can't talk to each other freely then you are set up for a difficult and possibly doomed relationship.

Don't let your friend pay every time you go out, even if it's offered. Don't help yourself to things at your friend's house without asking, unless you are willing and that is desired. And practice this advice at your house too.

If you borrow something from a friend, take good care of it and then return it without being asked.

If you end a friendship, consider returning any special gifts bought for you; it's good etiquette, so act in good faith.

Always keep time when you are to meet, even if it is for just a coffee appointment and always have the courtesy to call if late with a reason. Sending a text message is simple way of passing simple, important information as you will be late. This consistency will one day prove vital when, if you are late without reason, your best friend will surely inquire of you whereabouts and surely check if all is well with you. Invite them more to your house. Cook their favorite meal if they are having a lunch in your house. They will feel the warmth that you are being nice to them. Play their favorite games instead of yours. You will not want to have a fight with your friends in your house.

Warnings:

Don't take up all your friend's time. Relax and trust in your friendship, and allow each other the freedom to be with each other, or with others, or just alone. You can't decide for them just as you don't want your friend deciding for you.

When you leave, don't stand in the doorway for up to an hour talking. Close the door and come in or say goodbye and leave. Especially if your friend mentions "Don't let the cat out." You could be giving your friend a lot of trouble for just a few more moments of conversation. If you remember something you wanted to say, come back in and close the door.

Don't hang out with somebody because you're both "nerds" or you're both "geeks" or "party-goers." That may be a good way to meet acquaintances but you don't have to hang out with people just like you. Sometimes the weirdest friend combos make the best of friends because you can see really different aspects of one another and bring out the best in each other. Any person can transcend a stereotype to be the most wonderful person you've ever met in your life - keep your mind open and form your own opinions.

If your friend doesn't treat you well while you treat them well, then there's no reason to stay friends. Don't stay close friends with anyone who doesn't treat you well.

No one likes an insulting friend, be careful when you tease them! If your friend asks you to stop, heed the request.

Never start a fight or a big argument because you're bored.

Don't expect instant or life-long friendship; realize that, if it is to be something special, it may develop quite gradually.

If your friend is starting to make new friends, don't turn jealous. No one likes a jealous friend. Have faith in your friendship. And if your friend is talking to someone else, don't crash their conversation. You'll seem needy and pathetic.

When spending time with your friend, whether having a meal together or just hanging out, both of you should turn your cell phones off. It's very off-putting to have a conversation constantly interrupted by a ringing phone. Even asking your friend to "hold that thought" while you read a text message is rude. He or she may feel that you're not paying attention to them or don't value your time together.

Do not yell at them if they ditched you. Maybe you will make some new friends instead of losing one.

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