How to Become a True Friend

Posted by Donald Latumahina 55 Comments

The only way to have a friend is to be one.
Ralph Waldo Emerson

We all want to have true friends, but the quality of our friends depend on us. If you want to have true friends, you should be a true friend yourself. By being a true friend, people will love to be around you and many of them will eventually become your true friends.

In addition, being a true friend is a good way to solve relationship problems. It’s difficult to change other people, but you can always change yourself. You can then solve the otherwise unsolved problems in relationships.

True friend Here I’d like to share 17 tips to become a true friend. It may take years to learn to apply them but they are essential to boost your relationships.

Here they are:

1. Befriend yourself

Friendship with oneself is all important, because without it one cannot be friends with anyone else in the world.
Eleanor Roosevelt

This is an essential first step if you are to be a true friend. If you don’t even accept yourself, how can you accept others? You may have made mistakes in the past that you can’t forget. But forgive yourself for them. You perhaps don’t have the traits you want in life. But accept yourself as you are.

2. Accept others

A friend is someone who understands your past, believes in your future, and accepts you just the way you are.
Unknown

After you befriend yourself, you will be in a good position to accept others. Other people may do you wrong or have some bad habits you don’t like. But you are not perfect yourself so there is no reason for you not to accept them.

3. Make time

At the end of your life, you will never regret not having passed one more test, not winning one more verdict or not closing one more deal. You will regret time not spent with a husband, a friend, a child, or a parent.
Barbara Bush

Sometimes we are too busy to provide time for relationships, even for important people in our life. That most likely happens because we put relationships too low in our priority list. If we regard relationships as high priority, time won’t be a problem. We will make time for relationships.

4. Be a good listener

Friends are those rare people who ask how we are and then wait to hear the answer.
Ed Cunningham

The art of listening is one of the most difficult arts to master. I experience it myself. Sometimes I talk with a friend but don’t carefully listen to what he says. Sometimes I’m introduced to a new person but don’t carefully listen to her name. A true friend doesn’t do that. A true friend is a good listener.

5. Enrich others’ life

Friendship is a treasured gift, and every time I talk with you I feel as if I’m getting richer and richer.
Unknown

A true friend provides value to others. She wants people who meets her to be enriched in their life. If you want to do that, you should live a lifestyle of value. This way you amass value in your life you can then distribute to others.

6. Understand first

Everyone looks at life through his own lens. Often we expect others to see life through the same lens as ours, but that will create a lot of problems. A true friend is someone who is willing to look through other people’s lenses first. He tries to understand why they think and act that way.

One thing I find helpful for this is learning about personality. Learning about personality helps me understand why people behave differently from me in certain situations. A good, easy-to-digest book on this subject is Personality Plus.

7. Find common ground

Finding common ground helps you connect with new friends quickly. The common ground allows you to talk to others about something they are interested in and thereby build relationships with them.

To make it easier to find common ground, you should enlarge your ground. The larger your ground, the easier it is for you to connect with others. Two simple ways to enlarge your ground is reading a lot and listening a lot.

8. Be interested

If you want to be interesting you should first be interested. Be curious. Cultivate interest about many things. If you do that, you can genuinely be enthusiastic when people talk to you about something. People will feel appreciated and love to be around you.

9. Take initiative to help

Make use of your friends by being of use to them.
Benjamin Franklin

A true friend doesn’t wait until someone asks his help. Instead, he takes the initiative to help others. This, of course, is easier said than done. To do this, you should be on the lookout for needs. Be sensitive. Often you can find others’ needs through what they implicitly say. You may also see it through their body language. When you sense a need, think about how you can help them and take the initiative to help.

10. Trust others

Confidence is the foundation of friendship. If we give it, we will receive it.
Harry E. Humpreys

If you treat others as good and trustworthy people, they will also treat you likewise. Believe in your heart that people are naturally good, even when they seem to be the opposite. People will feel how you believe in them and they will be touched by your sincerity.

11. Rebuke when you should

In giving advice, seek to help, not please, your friend.
Solon

A true friend is not afraid of saying the truth, even if it’s not convenient to the ones who hear it. A true friend cares too much about the person’s wellness that he can’t afford to let him live wrongly. Always have others’ best interest in your heart and be honest to them.

12. Know the right time to do things

Sometimes being a friend means mastering the art of timing. There is a time for silence. A time to let go and allow people to hurl themselves into their own destiny. And a time to prepare to pick up the pieces when it’s all over.
Gloria Naylor

A true friend knows the right time to praise, the right time to listen, and the right time to rebuke. She knows when to come and when to stay away. A true friend masters the art of timing.

13. Have integrity

There can be no friendship without confidence and no confidence without integrity.
Samuel Johnson

Integrity is the foundation of true friendship. Be sure that you do what you say. You can only build true friendship if you are true to yourself and others.

14. Commend others

Reprove your friend privately, commend him publicly.
Solon

People need appreciation. They need to know that you appreciate them. Often we are quick to criticize but slow to commend. Let’s make it the opposite. Sincerely commend them when they do something right. Even better, commend them publicly.

15. Leverage others’ potential

My best friend is the one who brings out the best in me.
Henry Ford

A true friend wants to see the people around them live up to their maximum potential. You can do this by helping your friends recognize and develop their personal strengths.

16. See the positive side of others

A true friend is someone who thinks that you are a good egg even though he knows that you are slightly cracked.
Bernard Meltzer

A true friend knows you good enough to see your weaknesses but he still believes in your potential. To become a true friend, you should believe that your friends are good on the inside no matter how bad their outward appearance might be. It’s by this belief that you can sincerely encourage them.

17. Be present in difficult times

True friendship isn’t about being there when it’s convenient; it’s about being there when it’s not.
Unknown

This is the test of true friendship. Fake friends will be with you when you are happy since they want to share your happiness. But fake friends won’t be with you in difficult times. Only true friends will choose to be with you in difficult times.

So, to be a true friend, be with your friends in their dark moments. Be with them even if you need to let go your own convenience. It may be the most difficult tip of all, but it’s the mark of true friendship.

***

While learning these tips may take years, we can always grow and become better every day.

Do you have tips to become a true friend?

This article is part of August 2008 theme: Relationships and is my submission to Problogger’s group writing project.

Photo by ninjapoodles


Categories: Relationship

Please use your real name and note that I reserve the right to delete inappropriate comments.

  • http://www.alexshalman.com/ Alex Shalman

    Excellent article Don, I couldn’t have said it better myself. ;)

  • http://www.lifeoptimizer.org Donald Latumahina

    Thanks, Alex :)

  • http://shanelyang.com/blogs/articles/ Shanel Yang

    I have gathered “300 Friendship Quotes” at http://shanelyang.com/2008/08/05/300-friendship-quotes/

    To me, friendships come and go and that’s a natural part of life. To try to force it to stay alive past it’s natural lifespan is awkward and painful to everyone involved. A friendship is not a marriage. But, it’s great when you are married to your best friend! : )

    • mubasah

      for best friend to you

      • Lynda Layton

        Dear Mubasah, Hi! I live in America. I am trying to learn what your name means in English. Can you help me? Thank you. Lynda

    • main

      Hi I’m MAIN
      form- Bangladesh, doing UN job
      now DR Congo for UN job,
      I expect a true friend…..
      r u ?
      my mail- mirahmed1980@yahoo.co.za

  • http://sidsavara.com Sid Savara

    My favorite quote in the list was this:

    In giving advice, seek to help, not please, your friend. – Solon

    It’s true. We don’t need friends who are “yes men” – we need friends who look out for our best interests, even when we don’t want to hear what they have to say!

  • Koen Derks

    Shanel, it’s true that friendship comes and goes for quite some friends. What I love is that even after a few years without contact there can still be the friendship. In my experience this is sometimes more difficult for girls. Once you’re not a friend anymore you’re out :).

  • http://www.thewilderzone.com Lisa Wilder

    You’ve covered some great tips in this article, Don.

    However, I’d disagree with #11. While I do believe it’s important to care enough to be honest when a friend asks for input on something, I don’t believe that it’s appropriate to rebuke a friend.

    No matter how close a friendship we may have with someone, we can never truly know what is going on within them, or in their lives, and it’s not our place to judge whether or not they’re living their life “wrongly.”

    When a friend asks for input or advice, a true friend’s will provide their honest opinion or perspective without expectation that it will necessarily be followed, and will be accepting of the friend’s decision even if they make a different choice.

  • http://www.greatmanagement.org GreatManagement

    Great article, Donald.

    You are so right!

    For me, so many ‘friends’ just do not listen; they just want to do all the talking.

    They ask you a question, are not interested in your response and can’t wait to tell you their story or experience. That does annoy me!

    Andrew

  • http://www.lifeoptimizer.org Donald Latumahina

    Shanel,

    To me, friendships come and go and that’s a natural part of life.

    Interesting thought. I guess it’s helpful to be a true friend ourselves during the process.

    Sid,
    Yes, having friends that are willing to tell us the truth is invaluable. We need to be open though. Otherwise, we may resent toward them.

    Koen,

    What I love is that even after a few years without contact there can still be the friendship

    This is also what I love about friendship. Often the emotional bond is still there even after years of not meeting.

    Lisa,
    Thanks for your thoughts.
    What if the friends don’t ask for our input but are doing something that’s harmful for them? In my case, I will still warn them (even rebuke, if necessary). It’s not because I judge them, but because I care about them. The closer I am to them, the more willing I am to warn them.
    I admit that the word “rebuke” could cause misinterpretation. But I think we both have similar perspective, that is to have the best interest of our friends in our heart.

    Andrew,

    They ask you a question, are not interested in your response and can’t wait to tell you their story or experience.

    You give a good warning for us (or me, at least). I definitely don’t want to be the annoying friend :)

  • http://www.coloryourlifehappy.com Flora Morris Brown, Ph.D.

    Donald,

    Love this list. All the rest is dependent on #1.

  • Leighna

    I really liked this. It applies at any stage of life.

  • http://www.iwillnotdie.com/ Dereck Coatney

    This is priceless.

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  • http://www.lifeoptimizer.org Donald Latumahina

    Flora,

    All the rest is dependent on #1.

    #1 is indeed essential. I can’t think of other ways of how we can become true friends.

    Leighna and Dereck,
    Thanks!

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  • http://www.google.com Eunice

    I loved this so much!! Thank you thank you. I’m trying to be more patient and understanding with my loved ones. I never really learned how to do this and have always been selfish. This is going to be hard but i’m going to visit this page everyday ahha. Thanks again, Donald!!

  • http://www.lifeoptimizer.org Donald Latumahina

    Eunice,
    I’m glad you find this article helpful. I wish you all the best and I’m sure you will be a true friend :)

  • http://Yahoomail.com Chritian rufus

    Hi don,
    indeed all u wrote about bein a good friend is really true i luv rank order and i think #1 is the killer key.

  • http://spectravite.webs.com Shenny Jeah Velarde

    i knew i had no friends. TRUE FRIENDS for sure!

    i knew i wasnt good. but i think this was the time to give up!

  • cameron

    well this is all true !!

  • sonya

    thanks so much!
    really help me so well.. i’m very bad in social life, but your advices are good and logic.. :D i’ll try to practice it

  • http://www.lifeoptimizer.org Donald Latumahina

    Sonya,
    Glad you find them useful. Good luck :)

  • http://Tipsonhowtobeafriend Hana

    These tips will help many good people

  • tong jing xian

    I wish the girl im trying to be friends with can see im willing to try all these steps just to get our friendship back. im so sorry to her.

  • Ria

    Great article, I experienced this a couple days ago. I now wonder even though that I may be on good terms with someone at school or at work does that consider someone a true friend if they do not do anything outside of the workplace? I had someone whom I thought was a friend that sent an open invite on facebook to a christmas party, he then emails me and uninvites me. That tells me he was not a true friend so I deleted him from my contact list. From this point on, I am questioning who my true friends are.

  • shakthi khanna(power)

    really these quotes inspire friends &make them long leave friends

  • sariya

    love it !!! it really helps me

  • Nancy

    We dont have to change ourselves to get the approval of the other person or pretend to be someone we are not. We dont have to do anything fancy or out the ordinary to win their friendship and neither do we…we can just be ourselves. We can talk and share at a heart level but keep our own separate selves. It doesnt matter whether they are the same sex, age or anything else, it doesnt matter, it is built on a mutual respect and a bond of caring, respect and mutual sharing. When you think about it, a true friend is one of the greatest gifts of all.

  • manish azad

    today i was angry with my friends i don’t know whose fault is there so i studied this article and really its the best. i am used to say that i will prove myself as a true friend but today i found problems in myself.i have some true friends as pavan shubham asish shivam rajnish but i was unable to manage all but these tips are very useful.i was used to order them but not from today so these tips are best thank you very much.

  • Vanessa

    I just wanted to say that u have covered a lot of things but my friends are all ways mean to beand I just wanted to say that u made me fill god about myself and I am going to try all these steps and see if my friends do it to

  • http://www.twitter.com/MontaJAZ MontaJAZ

    I can say that you’re a true friend!!! Thanks for the tips.. :D

    • mubasah

      i want real friendship

  • Zak

    that’s amazing.

    all 17 of those traits apply with me and this girl i know called Camille.

  • Zak

    that’s amazing.

    all 17 of those traits apply with me and this girl i know called Camille.

  • william e.cote

    should a friend charge you money
    to help with small chores to help my mom out when i am gone my mom is 95yrs old blind and deaf

  • http://kai-elan.com Kai Elan

    This article is great. I like the fact you pulled quotes and then wrote your own interpretation. It is my kind of style.

  • Saima

    amazing words
    well said
    they mean exactly what i couldn’t put into words
    i like the way u have used quotes

    thank you, really very helpful

  • Nek

    Truth is there are no true friends.

    Naturally, no one here will agree with this cause they, also quite naturally, would like to believe.

    And so people will call me a pessimist and come up with even more apologetics: anything to save their dream from being eternally shattered.

    Deep down however, only a few are so naive, and most know this is the truth.

  • Jeannie

    Donald,
    This helped me so much with me and my friends! I used to be a very bad social person. But now thanks to you, everybody loves to hang around me at school!

    • kenneth cole omonuwa

      have being a good person to all my friend but they are not been go to me as i am to them and not been open to me has i am to them.how we i have a go friend thet we love me as i have been

  • swarali desai

    i like it

  • Dude

    I suggest everyone read the definition of narcissism. Having Toxic friends can drain your energy and waste alot of your time on someone who only cares about themself, and will slander you to others if you dare make a cross comment against them ,even if you are rebuking them to point out a mistake/lie/unhealthy attitude privately in order for them to grow and mature as a human being. Avoid these Toxic relationships with haste.Distance yourself from the narcissist and choose your playmates and playgrounds carefully.

  • Me

    I have a friend that follows that same steps because he stays with me on hard times, and he just is a true friend. He is not afraid to help me out in my tough decisions. I need to work harder on this though. I stay with him in bad times and I see the positive side of him (but he is positive). He is the best friend I or anyone could have. I think these tips are a good idea to use, cause my friend does them, and he is a good true friend to me. So just remember to stay with them and never give up and your friendship will last a long time.

  • j&n

    this made me and my friend become a lot closer and also a great song to held the friendship is true friends by miley cyrus

  • Liyah

    I wonder if this can apply with me and my friend. I pushed him away, I assumed that he was no longer interested in keeping in touch do I gave up and said goodbye… We are far away and not sure if I will see him again.

    I sent 8 emails in 2 months and I wonder if they do really care they will respond back, but I guess he’s not,..

  • Andri

    good article..thanx

  • http://haftasemane.com Baran

    A person who truly knows and loves you – a real friend – is someone who stays with you when you have a problem, who sees the pain in your eyes while everyone else still believes the smile on your face. Don’t look for someone who will solve all your problems
    thank you so mach

  • Mohammed Al-Marri

    I had a LOT of True friends, but as I move on with life those friends left(because of school change and such reasons), but I have the same feelings for them till now and I bet they still have the same feelings for me too, but ever since they left… I can’t do 1…..
    :(

  • casandra

    You did a really good job with this article. I think it is a very good read. Especially for optimistic people.

    I believe that what you wrote is actually the way things should be in an ideal world. But, hate to be the reality bringer here, but this is not an ideal world. All of these things, if taken in the right context, are right and a excellent way to be a true friend to your already made true friends.

    I just worry that some of these like #10 and #16 taken out of context could cause major problems for people who don’t know any better. If for example they think because of the way it sounds though the article, that they should be practicing #10 and #16 with people who they just gave their phone number to yesterday, then, they follow your article to a tee and will also be using #2 and #9 as well. So if that is the case, they will ignore all the warning signs that they may be taken advantage of, trusting people they just meet completely, believing they have good in them and giving help to them based on what they ask for as well as anything else.

    As I said this article was informative to me and I enjoyed reading it. I just think it is important for your readers sake, in order to be a “true friend”, to say that you only use certain numbers such as 10,16 for the most part after you are already good friends and want to keep growing in friendship and to use 9 on a sliding scale based on how the friend acts towards you and increasing the longer you are friends without . I think #2 is a excellent idea by itself you can’t be a true friend or make friends if you are not accepting of others, but together with some of the others taken out of context it could be bad.

  • Vlad

    really good article, so you a good writer :)

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