Remembering how to be a good friend can be a challenge. Almost like a marriage, it takes real commitment and work. And, let’s face it, some of us are not so great at it, having a bit of an introvert personality or just being in a grumpy spell, so stressed about our own lives that we forget to make time for even our bestie. So, don’t you think it’s time to reconnect? Here is a quick guide of eight bits of helpful advice for being a better friend.
1. Lend an Ear
One of the best things you can do to be a better friend is to lend an ear. Listen to their problems and worries and be a shoulder to cry on during those particularly bad breakups or even about their stressful day at work.
Listening without judgment is also quite important. It’s perfectly fine to ask questions about the event or thing that’s troubling them, but keep any urges to lend advice to yourself, only offering it if they truly ask your opinion on a matter. For example, you may not have been thrilled with their latest partner, but this is not the time to bash them merely to take sides and prove your friendship loyalty. Doing so will only prove that you distrust your friend’s personal life choices (or their taste in a companion).
2. Be Honest
When it comes to trust, honesty is the best policy. If your friend asks if that hat looks good on them (and oh, my gosh, no it does not), it’s important to be honest. This type of honesty is less about letting your friend step out looking like a fool and more about developing trust. Depending on your friendship dynamic, you may straight out tell them it’s hideous. Or, if you’re not yet quite that close, try a gentler method and hand them a different hat, smile, and say, “Let’s try this one.”
Honesty goes a long way, but it can also get tricky. You want an unbreakable bond of trust between you and your friend, but sometimes this means voicing concerns, speaking up, and being the messenger, so to speak. Although it’s going to be a tough conversation, what you may need to confess and tell a friend is something they may not want to hear, but it can strengthen your bond in the end. It lets your friend know you’re only looking out for their best interests.
Honesty only gets easier over time as your relationship grows. You may even adapt to your friend’s personal body language (like a quick glance) and recognize when your advice or honesty is uninvited. But, until then, remember: Honesty is the best policy.
3. Give a Helping Hand
Sometimes a friend just needs a helping hand, whether it’s moving apartments or needing a last-minute babysitter. If they find themselves in a bind, and you can help relieve some of the stress, by all means, do so! Do so willingly, without the expectation of a return favor. Do so just because that’s what friends do. Maybe your friend will remember the good deed, maybe not. But don’t hold them to it like you expect some kind of repayment. Instead, think of it more like friendship karma points, knowing they’ll have your back one day too.
4. Send Thoughtful, Spontaneous Gifts
Send a spontaneous and cute gift to show how much you care. It may seem trivial, but it really is the thought that counts. Flowers are a wonderful way of expressing appreciation for your friendship. Have a bouquet delivered or simply stop by with a vase and single flower you picked from the park you love to hang out in together for deep, meaningful conversations.
Gift baskets also make a thoughtful gift, and there are oh-so-many things you can put inside! Think of homemade cookies or even an old photo of a fond memory. It doesn’t have to be super elaborate (but it can be if that’s your style), just as long as it shows you care.
5. Rehash Fond Memories
If a fond memory of you and a friend floats to the surface, let them know you’re thinking of them. Call them up and tell the story again, laughing (or crying) until you’ve practically relived the experience.
Maybe it was a memory from that time you took a trip together and stumbled upon a few misadventures. Or it could even be a memory of a running joke or prank you used to play on each other. Whatever the method, it’s sure to let your friend know you value your enduring relationship.
6. Boost Their Confidence
You already know how talented, beautiful, and kind your friends are, but it doesn’t hurt to remind them every once in a while. It can be a real confidence booster, especially on a day when they’re feeling a bit low.
And make it a genuine compliment too. A compliment about the clothes or the weight they’ve lost can come across as shallow. Instead, make it about their personality or their hospitality and graciousness. In other words, make it about their talented flair for fashion, not specifically what they’re wearing.
7. Reach Out to Long-Lost Friends
For multiple reasons, we sometimes lose touch with our friends. Maybe they moved away or perhaps life, in general, has just gotten crazy busy with the “kids ‘n’ all.” But just remember—it’s never too late to reach out! Pick up the phone and call or send a message or text. Heck—even write a snail-mail letter. However you reach out to a long-lost friend, let them know you are thinking of them and miss them like crazy. And if there was an initial reason you and your long-lost friend have not spoken in some time, like an event that caused some bad blood or hard feelings, remember to let that go, too, and apologize.
8. Apologize and Let Go of Grudges
If your friend has upset you, it’s important not to bottle it up inside. Respectfully tell them what they did or said that has hurt you. You may have grown up together since you were kids, but it’s now time to act like an adult and discuss certain triggers that bother you. If not, especially if they’re seemingly insignificant and small, resentment can build up into a bigger argument or fight.
In the same vein, also learn to forgive and let go of a grudge. Once you have or your friend has owned up to their mistake and apologized, move past the event and continue your friendship.