A new school year is starting with many people off on new adventures to university or college. Not only that, but we as humans are always on the move: we are moving out of our parents’ houses or we are moving to different countries. These are the times when we find ourselves investing much more into friendships because we may not have that family and friend support system close by. I do not want people to become obsessed with analysing their behaviour every time they’re around someone new, but I think it’s important to be aware of our behaviours and psychologies, so that we can become better friends with people and get the most out of friendships. And these are simple if not obvious ways; anybody can be a good friend. These tips are by no means exhaustive, but here are seven ways to build a friendship:
- Being yourselves – you need to make sure that you are being yourself and that you are creating an environment where others are comfortable to be themselves. Being someone you are not around others will only take up energy and the friendship will begin to feel like a chore, because you constantly have to keep up appearances. You won’t enjoy the friendship if you’re not being yourself. You should realise that people will like you for who you are; you don’t have to pretend. Similarly, make the other person feel comfortable in your presence. Don’t constantly laugh at them or criticise them, because if they do not feel relaxed with you, they will not want to hang out with you.
- Friendship is a two-way street – don’t assume that you have to put nothing into a relationship, because people will not always come to you. You need to put time and effort into a relationship. Nobody wants to be in a relationship where they are constantly chasing the other person, because they wouldn’t feel valued by that other person. Be interested in your friend and what they like to do, not only what you have in common or what you like to do. That will show commitment and a willingness to put that friend’s interests and needs above your own. That doesn’t mean you give up on your interests, because the other person will want to do the same for you and then you can bounce off one another rather than creating a follower/leader type situation.
- Knowledge is power but be careful which type of power you are thriving on. If someone has confided in you, do not spread that information to other people or bitch about that person to other people. Some of us may think that that will gain us more friends, and talking about another person may give you a sense of power in front of people who are interested to listen, but all you are really doing is alienating your friend and abusing their trust. And you are breeding that culture that could eventually turn on you. They might end up talking about you and then its just a vicious and horrible cycle. Keeping that friend’s confidence and building on their trust is just as powerful and much more rewarding in the end.
- Follow through on your promises – being dependable doesn’t mean that you have to drop everything for another person whenever they feel like they want to hang out with you, but if you offer to help someone or arrange to meet at a certain time at a certain place, you need to make sure that you keep your promise. Again, it’s about putting in the effort and building the trust that will make people want to arrange another time to hang out and will make you a reliable friend, because you’ve shown interest and investment in the friendship.
- Support them in good times and harder times – people have the same ups and downs as you do. Don’t let jealousy of your friend’s success stop you from congratulating them. Similarly, don’t let your friend suffer alone because you can’t be bothered with their worse days. Listen to the other person, comfort them, encourage them, celebrate with them, and treat them. It is really not as difficult as it might seem.
- Don’t give up on someone so easily – I would never advise someone to stay in a relationship that does not make them feel good about themselves etc., but allow yourself to get to know the person before you judge them too quickly or give up on the friendship. People can be in bad moods, have different priorities and circumstances, and people argue and clash. But that doesn’t mean that the friendship is over or that you cannot work things out. Be honest and open with the person and you can both adapt to one another’s needs.
- Positivity! – you wouldn’t want to be around negative people just like others shouldn’t have to be around negative people. Of course, you can vent to your friends and you can have bad days, but don’t let yourself become a cloud of negativity. People get tired of people who whine, who cannot appreciate what they have, or who cannot see the brighter things in life amidst the darker parts. Be passionate about life and choose happiness and people will naturally be drawn to your positive energy, because it makes them feel good too!
Ultimately, you need to be the friend that you would want other people to be for you. If you have any of your own tips, please feel free to leave them in the comments below!