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How to Become a Better Friend

By Andrew Burgon / phoenix@projectfellowship.com
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October 23, 2013

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Creating a Great Mother-of-Pearl Friendship Seal is One Avenue to Becoming a Better Friend

At least once during your life sit down and have a good long hard think about the kind of friend you are and whether some fine-tuning is in order.

As someone who has been through severe depression I found that once I reached the threshold of pain in my life great change took place. Not only did I begin to rebuild a better friendship engine in my life block-by-block but I also began to examine and define my friendship.

The Great Mother-of-Pearl Friendship Seal is my special seal on how I interact with other people. How can I make these interactions positive? How will I respond or take the initiative with other people in certain situations? It is my hope that people will find my company a pleasant experience. I don’t want people making negative mental notes about me and deciding not to have anything to do with me.

I think a minor reason why I did this exercise is because at the time I had gotten to the point where I was wondering, “Why am I having trouble finding good friends? Is something wrong with me?”

A Simple Exercise to Help Define Your Friendship

When doing this exercise I considered what I liked about the way I interacted with people and the positive ways people have interacted with me. I also thought about all the mistakes I and others have made in the arena of friendship. If I liked the way I was in that department I wrote it down. If I wanted to handle it differently I wrote down how I wanted to be. I was mindful of the ways I wanted to change and worked on those areas.

There are two articles you may find helpful if you decide to do this exercise.

* Qualities that Build Strong Friendships and Optimize Our Chances of Making Friends

* A Negative Vibe can be a Hindrance in the Search for Friends

There are definite benefits of doing this exercise. In my case, I realized that as a friend I already had many sterling qualities. That was reassuring and comforting to know as I picked myself up from the ashes of depression and went in pursuit of friends. Other people may encounter a number of areas to improve from being on time instead of always being late to becoming a more thoughtful and supportive friend.

The written description of my seal is many pages long. Below are some excerpts from it.

My Friendship

The hallmark of my friendship is my loving, caring nature and initiative, enthusiasm, warmth, thoughtfulness and hospitality. I send a deliberate and clear signal that I’m interested in my friends, desire their company and have time to meet up. I will greet and thank everyone with a warm smile. I confidently take the initiative to greet new people. I look for ways to be of help to my friends. I will make the effort to organize many memorable, good times with them.

Communication

I am a good communicator. I will use my speech to build up, encourage, empower, heal, bring hope, support, counsel, console, nurture and praise my friends. I refuse to tease incessantly, put people down, speak rudely, shout, annoy and complain too much.

Likewise, I won’t be overly negative or uptight, profane, tell dirty jokes or be cranky in my speech. I will make an effort to be a stimulating, knowledgeable speaker. I will refrain from mentioning in the presence of other people anything negative about someone. Neither will I rehash in the presence of friends anything one of them has negatively said about himself or herself in the past.

I will endeavor to have a good telephone manner. If a friend calls me to ask some questions before coming over to my party they will hear warmth, enthusiasm and interest in my voice. I will not send angry or upset text messages, letters or emails to anyone. If anyone is upset with me I will at the very least call them.

Positive Vibes

I will do my upmost to be calm and easy going as opposed to being angry and uptight. I am a pleasant person to be around. I will love, respect and nurture my friendships and in so doing send out positive vibes.

Hosting

I will make sure that I am completely ready for an event before the first guest arrives. That way I can spend time with that guest rather than have him sitting around twiddling his fingers waiting for another guest to arrive.

Signature Acts

My signature acts are all about leaving my distinctive personal mark on the things I do. At a party, I’ll have a big pot of hot beef potato stew and/or apple crumble and vanilla ice cream available.

At a board games tournament I’ll put on the walls relevant posters for the game I’m playing as well as giving out medallions to those who come first, second and third.

On a hike I’ll bring some pineapple pieces to share with others.

Events

I go to the trouble of sending people good directions to my place or other places we meet up at. I’ll text them the directions to their cell phone for convenience sake.

Excuses

I only offer decent excuses as opposed to the lame excuses I sometimes hear people come up with.

Friends Who Move

When friends from my inner circle leave to go to another city or country I will write to them within the next six months just to let them know I’m thinking of them.

I am Attentive

If someone sends me a written message I read it carefully and keep it till I don’t need it any longer. When someone is giving instructions like in a board game I’ll listen to the best of my ability and refrain from unnecessarily interrupting them.

Responding Well

If someone is showing initiative to befriend me it won’t go unnoticed. In particular, in the unlikely event someone has taken the initiative with me a few times but I haven’t been able to accept an invitation I will arrange a time to meet up with this person.

I respond promptly. If someone invites me to a party I’ll let them know if I can make it as soon as possible. I don’t leave people wondering if I got their message or not. Neither will I give people the impression that I’m waiting to see if there is anything better to do before I confirm if I’m coming or not.

Even if someone has sent me a text message or email that doesn’t contain a question I’ll hit reply and make a comment like, “Great news!” “Congratulations!” or “Glad to hear it.” If my cell phone indicates that a friend called I will call them back the same day.

Personalize

I personalize my communications. For example, if I’m sending out invitations by text message rather than just sending it to everyone I will take the time to add a friend’s name to each message and send it out.

Reliable

I am reliable. My friends can count on me to do the things I say I will do. Whether that’s bringing the meat to a beach barbecue, helping someone move house or turning up to an event. If I can’t make it I will call the person to let them know.

Punctual

If there is an event that requires people to meet up at a certain time I will be there on time.

Loans

If I ever need to borrow money I will repay loans that friends have made me promptly and on time. If I can’t, I will ask for an extension. Under no circumstances will I avoid a friend or fall off the grid because of money owed.

If a friend has provided me with a safety net like accommodation and/or a loan I’ll make sure he knows I’m making a real effort to get back on my financial feet and pay off the loan. As for loaning money to friends, I will consider it. For friends who are known to be generally sloppy and unreliable I won’t hesitate to set conditions and loan money in installments.

Social Networking

When I’m trying to expand my circle of friends on a social networking site I do not automatically send strangers a friend request. I always message them first.

When adding friends on facebook I will always write a little message to them when sending them a friendship request. I make sure my profile has enough basic information about myself to help someone determine whether I’m of interest or not. This includes making it clear which city I live in.

Follow Through

If I tell someone I’m going to invite them to something I go ahead and do so.

Hospitality

I will be mindful of my guests comfort. If hosting isn’t too demanding I will offer drinks when friends come over. Otherwise, I will arrange things so they can help themselves. At times I will refill my friend’s glass.

Besides drinks I will provide some snack food. If I’m hosting a long event going for more than 4 hours I’ll have a hot pot of stew available or some other kind of food that they can help themselves to anytime they like. I will place disposable hand towels in the bathroom and place indoor slippers near the door. (I live in Asia where people take off their shoes before coming into a house.)

Celebrate

If some good fortune happens to a friend I will seek to celebrate it with him or her.

Farewells

If one of my closer friends leaves I will either treat him to a farewell dinner or seek to join a farewell dinner he might be arranging himself or herself. In the latter case, I will pay for his or her meal.

There is one caveat I will mention here. The world and even friends in general can overlook even the most dazzling array of sterling qualities that a person possesses. Don’t worry so much about the friends who fail to value your qualities and who so readily walk out of your life. The focus should be on the friends who do notice and appreciate your qualities and who are mindful of you.

Writing your own Great Mother-of-Pearl Seal can be act of love and devotion towards your friends. It can also be revealing and an avenue for growth. Consider whether doing something like this would be of benefit to you and indirectly to your friends as they may benefit from any growth that occurs.

Got any ideas to add on how to become a better friend?

 
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