Want to know how to be a better friend? Gaining and maintaining friendships connects you with other people and builds you a solid support system. Here are some ways to improve your friendships.
In this article:
- Communicate Honestly, but Tactfully
- Practice Empathy
- Be Yourself
- Listen and Be Present
- Show up for the Good Times and the Bad
- Trust and Be Trustful
- Forgive, Not Judge
- Be Self-Aware
- Don’t Power Trip
- Manage Your Expectations
- Maintain the Balance
- Pick up Where You Left Off
- Lighten Up
How to Be a Better Friend in 13 Steps
1. Communicate Honestly, but Tactfully
When having conversations with friends and romantic relationships, it’s important to express your thoughts and feelings honestly. At the same time, be sensitive to what your friends are going through and speak from a place of genuine love and clear intentions.
When something is bothering you about your friend, talk to them openly and tell the truth, even if it’s something they wouldn’t want to hear. Don’t be that person who keeps things inside and lets resentment fester until you blow up.
2. Practice Empathy
Healthy friendships require empathy to survive and thrive. A lot of people who want to prove to others that they’re right tend to forget to put themselves in other people’s shoes.
There are times when one only thinks of what they get out of something, then are surprised why no one sticks around. You need to nurture your friendships if you want them to grow.
3. Be Yourself
Honesty is important in any relationship, and an important way to be honest is to be yourself. This isn’t an easy feat when society tells you that you must fit in to belong.
Many people conceal parts of themselves due to a fear of rejection. Then, they wonder why they have a hard time making friends.
Real friendships are based on the willingness to show yourself completely. Being open with your flaws and struggles allows others to drop their guard and become more vulnerable.
4. Listen and Be Present
Saying “I don’t have time” is a common cop-out in relationships. When you care about something or someone, you make time for them.
Being a better friend means knowing how to listen without the need to fill the room with a conversation. Often, your friends just want to be heard.
The rule of thumb is: unless your friend is specifically asking for advice, they probably just want to be listened to.
When your friend does need help and support, show up and let them know you care for them. Extend a helping hand.
This goes both ways. When it’s your turn to need that help, they’ll give the same effort for you.
5. Show Up for the Good Times and the Bad
If you find yourself being envious or resentful because you haven’t made the same strides, look within yourself so you can work on removing that jealousy.
6. Trust and Be Trustful
Solid friendships are built out of trust. Stick to your word and your commitments to others to send the message that you’re someone they can trust.
At the same time, trust your friends, too. Not everyone, especially not friends, is out to get you and betray you.
7. Forgive, Not Judge
Your way isn’t always the right way. Being open to multiple viewpoints helps you become more empathetic and less judgmental of other people.
Understand and accept that people move in different paces and wavelengths. Accepting this reality makes it much easier for you to accept other people’s progress and give them the space they need to grow.
On that note, don’t stop being someone’s friend because of one or two mistakes. Holding a grudge is also a form of judgment and can cause unnecessary hurt for everyone involved.
8. Be Self-Aware
So much conflict in relationships happens when people have poor conflict resolution skills and refuse to take responsibility for their actions. Being aware of how your behavior impacts others and accepting the consequences removes the shock when mistakes do happen.
When you do something wrong, admit it, and apologize for your mistakes. Then, strive to make up for it.
Of course, being aware is just one piece of the puzzle. You also have to do the difficult work of striving to improve yourself.
You’re the common denominator in all your relationships. When you can take responsibility for yourself, people will want to be around you more.
9. Don’t Power Trip
True friends are supposed to be on a level playing field with one another. Asserting dominance isn’t a good way of making and keeping friends.
While that may have worked for you when you were younger (especially if you have an alpha personality), adults prefer a more cooperative way of building friendships. Treat your friends as if they’re equals, and they’ll treat you the same way.
10. Manage Your Expectations
Having unrealistic expectations of your friends is a major cause of resentment and disappointment in relationships. Don’t expect your friends to do things you can’t or won’t do yourself.
Focus on being a good friend to other people with no strings attached and create an environment where you truly cherish the good things people do for you.
11. Maintain the Balance
Friendships should be two-way streets. While you do need to vent from time-to-time, make it a point to show interest in your friend’s life first before unloading your problems.
When your friend is venting, listen attentively, and don’t make it all about you. Be considerate to your friends and be open to learning new things about each other.
There are moments wherein the balance is leaning more on one side. These situations happen even between good friends and only becomes a problem when the dynamic becomes a consistent part of the friendship.
In this case, it’s only a matter of time when something happens, and you’ll need to take immediate steps to reassess your relationship.
12. Pick Up Where You Left Off
Even if it’s been quite a while since you last spoke to your friend, don’t hesitate to contact them and try to pick up where you left off. This is now much easier with the prevalence of social media.
A lot of people still think about their friends but are afraid the other person won’t feel the same way because it’s been so long.
Sometimes, life just takes you in different directions. The sooner you both realize this, the better off your friendship would be.
This decreases your guilt for not connecting more often and can push you to reconnect as soon as possible. When you manage to do that, then you’ll have a lifetime friend.
13. Lighten Up
A good friend knows when to laugh at yourself and when to take yourself seriously. Find space for fun, games, and a good laugh.
Even the responsible friend in the group can learn to give space and loosen up a bit.
There’s enough drama in life as it is. Don’t be the source of one among your circle of friends.
Being a great friend and having great ones make you happier and healthier. Learning how to be a better friend isn’t rocket science — you just have to remember that there are two people in the relationship.
When you learn to rely on others and allow others to rely on you, you gain social connections and mutual support that can get you through the good and the bad.
What’s the biggest lesson you learned on how to be a better friend? Share your experiences in the comments section below.