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Do you know what it takes to be a good friend? What kind of friend do you think you are? In reality, life is busy, and we can so often take our friendships for granted. We can take those who are closest to us for granted, not taking the time to nurture relationships with these loved ones.
There is nothing more precious than having a network of friends. It is this this network of loved ones who can lift your up when you are weak, set you on the right path when you start to stray, and celebrate life’s joys with you.
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There are things that we can so to ensure that we are doing everything we can to be the best friend that we can be. These things aren’t hard, and many of them you most likely do already. However, if you are like me, these are things that perhaps you have a hard time being consistent and intentional with.
Being aware of what it takes to be a good friend and then doing them will nurture the amazing friends you treasure.
Be a friend first
Just as with your spouse, keeping score when it comes to your friends is never a good idea. Worrying about what your friend does and doesn’t do doesn’t take away from your responsibility as a friend. Being a good friend means that you will always choose to be a friend first. You will be willing to give 100% even if you feel slighted on your end. Rather than worrying about whether you’re always the one to be a friend first, just make the choice to be a friend first.
Be the kind of friend you want to have
This is intertwined with what we commonly call as the Golden Rule: treating others the way you want to be treated. If you put forth the effort to be the kind of friend you want to have, your friend is likely to reciprocate.
Make sure you give more than you take
This is another place where keeping score simply can’t happen. Being a good friend means giving, and then giving some more. Just as in a marriage, both people in the relationship need to be willing to give the other their all.
Be willing to give of yourself
Put yourself out there. Be transparent. Having a friend who we can be transparent with is such a gift. I have a few friends with whom I can bare my soul, but doing so takes risk because I am putting myself out there. Although it can be scary at first, being truly genuine, open, and honest with a friend is so worth the payoff. We all have plenty of acquaintances, but there is nothing like a true friend.
Being fake is never very becoming, but it certainly won’t get you very far when it comes to your friendships. Be genuine in your concern, be genuine in your compliments, and be genuine in the feelings you share with your close friends.
Extend the benefit of the doubt
Conflict a common part of living in the world with others. Of course this would also include conflict with friends. The thing is, most times conflict occurs because of a misunderstanding. Generally, misunderstandings that are completely innocent in nature. Sadly, these misunderstandings often give way to full-out conflict. Being a good friend means that you are willing to give your friend the benefit of the doubt. When conflict occurs, ask questions, get some clarification, and be willing to listen. Extending the benefit of the doubt to another would greatly reduce the amount of conflicts that plague so many of our relationships.
Being there for a friend means that you are there, simply present, to lift them up in their sorrows while also celebrating alongside them in their joys. Sometimes being there for a friend means doing something and sometimes it means doing nothing beyond just simply being present. I wrote about being this kind of friend in How to Help a Friend Who is Hurting.
When your friend does something to hurt or wrong you, give forgiveness. Forgiveness can be so hard, but it is so essential in any relationship. It is easy to withhold forgiveness because we feel like the other person doesn’t deserve it, but in reality, forgiveness really sets the person who grants it free. Once we forgive, we no longer have to harbor hurt and negative emotions. Being willing to forgive is an essential part of being a friend.
Offer unconditional support
Sometimes being a friend means doing the hard stuff. Sometimes we might have to be the one to offer truth when our friend doesn’t exactly want to hear it. Support is easy to give when everything is going well, but it’s when life gets hard that we sometimes have to offer support in a way that will bring harsh words or negative feelings. If you see your friend doing something they shouldn’t, being a good friend means showing them the truth. Sometimes, you may be the only one willing to speak the truth in love. However, doing this very thing is what it means to offer support that is unconditional.
Give unconditional love
We all know that it is possible to love someone but not like them very much. We may have a friend who hurts us, but even in this, being a good friend means giving them unconditional love no matter what. This isn’t always easy, but it is essential in all our relationships including the relationships we have with our friends.
Friends are such a vital part of being human. We were created for companionship, and friends are an amazing way that we achieve that companionship. Take some time to nurture your friendships while taking these 10 things into account. Simply put, be a good friend!