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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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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