Keeping up friendships as an adult can be hard! We love our friends, but life can get so busy. Because healthy relationships are so important, take the time to evaluate your friendships and see how you could improve them. Here are four tips on how to be a good friend.
Be Genuinely Interested in and Happy for Them
“You can make more friends in two months by becoming interested in other people than you can in two years by trying to get people interested in you,” wrote Dale Carnegie, author of How to Win Friends and Influence People. When your friends talk to you, really listen; don’t just wait for your turn to talk. And when they tell you good news, be genuinely happy for them! Listening and being happy for your friends’ successes really help to build a solid relationship.
Proactively Work through Conflict
Part of being human is occasionally butting heads even with the people we care about most! Rather than seeing conflict as a sign of a doomed relationship, see it as a normal part of friendship, and work proactively to solve it. A couple of conflict resolution tips include the following:
- Don’t blame or accuse your friend.
- Focus on the conflict, not your anger.
- Explore the contributing issues.
- Accept that your friend’s perspective is different—not wrong.
- Be ready to apologize and forgive.
Share Your Feelings
An important, but sometimes difficult, part of building relationships is being honest and vulnerable. When you are going through something difficult, don’t hesitate to reach out to your close friends and tell them how you’re feeling. Ask if they would be willing to share how they got through a similar, difficult time. When you talk about the stuff that really matters, you’re better able to rely on each other and even have more fun during lighter conversations.
Understand and Respect Boundaries
“Setting clear personal boundaries is the key to ensuring relationships are mutually respectful, supportive and caring,” says Jane Collingwood at Psych Central. “Boundaries are a measure of self-esteem. They set the limits for acceptable behavior from those around you, determining whether they feel able to put you down, make fun, or take advantage of your good nature.”
Your friends are, of course, wonderful people, but be careful not to rely on them too much or assume you know how they’re feeling. If they’re helping you with a big project, be sure to check in with them and make sure they aren’t burned out. And allow them their space when they need it. When your friendship has good boundaries, you’re both able to feel more respected and comfortable around each other.
If you’re wondering how to be a good friend, start by working through conflict, sharing your feelings, and respecting boundaries. Try implementing one of these tips today to make your important friendships even better!