Building Worthwhile Friendships

You have friends right? Who are they? Mentally come up with a short list of your besties. Now let’s try something. Think about how you guys met. Where exactly? Do you recall who spoke first?

Engage your mind and experience those memories all over again. Do you remember your first visit to their house? What about your first ‘misunderstanding’? Who apologized first?

Now think about this question: “what overall effect has (insert your friend’s name) had on me since we became friends?” Also flip the question and ask yourself “what effect have I had on (your friend’s name)?”

Close, genuine friendships don’t leave us the same. They always change us in definite (though not always profound) ways. Think about how your friends have affected your life. For example, did they affect your choice of school? What about your course of study? Do they influence your sense of style? Do you think about what they’d think if they saw you in a particular outfit? What about your romantic relationship? Did they play a role by ‘giving their blessings’? (*smiling*)

If friends play such sensitive roles in our lives, how can we make the best of this gift? How can we ensure that we don’t just have great friends, but we become/remain an asset to those dearest to our hearts? A few quick tips.

1. Build on shared values.
So you both love the same designers or follow the same football team. Is that enough reason to get all cozy? Friendships that add value must be based on values. They go beyond a surface connection. Now I’m not saying those things can’t be part of the attraction, but they shouldn’t be the base- at least not for a close friendship.
However, to build a friendship on values, you first have to know YOUR values. What are the non-negotiables in your life?

2. Be interested and interesting.
Look for friends and you’ll find none. Become one and you’ll find so many- good ones too. Learn to initiate contact. Don’t always wait to be spoken to. Be interested in getting to know others. Among other things, learn to smile genuinely and introduce yourself clearly. Don’t be so bothered about who’s looking at you (believe me, NO ONE is!) or what others are thinking (you’d be shocked just how far away you are from their thoughts).

Be accessible. Smile and have a hospitable demeanour. Cultivate a lively personality. That doesn’t mean you’re always all over the place. Just ensure you carry a bright attitude; an aura of happiness, satisfaction and confidence-people pick up on those things and they make it easier for others to relax and open up to a possible friendship.

3. Take your time- don’t rush things.
Most good things in life need time to develop. Be patient and don’t be overly ‘forward’ in trying to establish a connection. That might just spook the other person and make them question your motives, especially when dealing with the opposite other gender (ask me how I learned this…lol).
Even after exchanging contact details, don’t become a stalker overnight. Keep your cool and just let things to go through the natural growth process. Give the other person some breathing space. That way, you’ll always have fresh stuff to swap when you do reconnect.

4. Develop a sense of humour.
We all love to hang around those who make us laugh. Everyone loves that. You don’t have to be a comedian or put on a show. Just learn how to see the funny side of things. I so wish I could teach you how to do that, but I can’t (at least not here). However, check out those around you. There should be at least one person with a great sense of humour- observe and learn.

5. Be real.
Personally, this is one of the first things I look for in prospective friends. How real is this person? You know your friend is for real if they retain their basic personality irrespective of the situation or environment. Study your (prospective) friend’s character by observing how they treat people with whom they have absolutely no emotional connection. How do they relate with people they aren’t trying to impress? And how do they talk about people especially in their absence?

While it’s good that you put your best foot forward, know when to stop trying too hard. Let people get a feel for who you really are. When you’re uncomfortable with something, speak up. Don’t compromise in a bid to build/retain a friendship. In the long run, such concessions do more harm than good.

6. Be knowledgeable.
Quality friendships need more than just a collection of good times to stay meaningful. Yes, we all like to have friends that are fun to hang out with and just have a blast; but we also need friends who can think with (not for) us and help us out of a fix every now and then. While there’s no need to become the next Einstein, it helps if you’re not a bungalow- ensure you have something upstairs.
Friendships go deeper when you’re able to share the ‘good times’ and ‘serious times’ with one and the same person. Build yourself to be THAT person.

7. Lose the fear
Just over a year ago, I was at a youth event and the choir sang the popular song, I need you, you need me, we’re all a part of God’s body… well, since it was a youth event and yours sincerely was the one leading the song, I decided to have a lil’ fun (afterall, in the presence of the Lord, there is fullness of joy, abi?). Just somewhere in the middle of the song, I asked everyone in the congregation to look the person sitting next to them straight in the eye and sing those words.

Come and see reaction! Lollzz…some guys (and girls) almost fainted! Since I was feeling a bit mischievous on the day, I made them sing the WHOLE thing twice.
The fear of opening up to another person is normal. But you cannot let it control you. Once you’re sure there’s a possibility of a worthwhile friendship, I’d simply say, “do it afraid”. Move forward with it.

8. Be ready to forgive.
Eventually, there will be some misunderstanding. Whether it’s a minor tiff or a major blowout, someone will eventually offend the other. This is where the depth of friendship is tested. The question is: what will YOU do when this happens? Pretend like nothing’s wrong all ‘for the sake of peace’? Blow up and spew thoughtless remarks? Or clearly (firmly but calmly) express your anger and work things out?

On the otherhand, also be ready to apologise when you’re wrong. Don’t trivialize your friend’s hurt (“are you angry because of just that small thing?”). That’s the fastest way to deepen resentment. Understand that just because an action or word wouldn’t upset you DOESN’T mean it won’t offend others. Be sensitive to the feelings of your friends and don’t hesitate to make amends when you step out of line.

Someone once quipped that “the problem with human beings is being human”. Building worthwhile relationships take time and right effort. But if you’ve ever had a great friend (and I hope you have!), you’d agree that the benefits far outweigh whatever seeming ‘difficulties’ pop up along the way.

Cheers to friendship!

Live by Design.

Image Credit : Google Images

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2 thoughts on “Building Worthwhile Friendships

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  1. Though its been a long time you posted this, i had to read it again to refresh my memory.

    Its a great piece Bro,(had to chuckle a few times as i read through). Ndeewo!

    Like

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