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Qualities That Build Strong Friendships

By Andrew Burgon /
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August 21, 2014



Want to take your friendships up to the next level? How about being a better friend to those you treasure in life?

Embracing certain qualities can not only build strong friendships but maximize our chances of making friends as well.

Before we have a look at these qualities I want you to imagine that there is a large semi-sphere around you. People who come in contact with you are within the sphere and sense or feel the qualities that your life is imbued with. So if you are honest, generous, appreciative and friendly that’s the way you will come across. That’s the positive vibe that will be radiating from you.

Contrast this with people who have fallen into depression and feel nobody cares about them. They may begin to withdraw into themselves. The sterling qualities they may have exhibited before now fade or disappear entirely. They may start giving off a negative vibe that causes some people to leave them alone. They may even start palming people off because they are filled with such hopelessness and feel that any new friendship they encounter will just turn out to be another underwhelming friendship.

Contrasting the two helps us realize how vital it is to embrace and exhibit positive qualities that optimize our chances of making friends.

Some people may be thinking, “Andrew, I’ve done this before but failed.” Maybe, but this is in conjunction with the many other strategies and ideas on my site. You must give off a positive vibe. People are too easily discouraged and you don’t want to give yourself an unnecessary handicap.

Consider if any of your friendships could do with a dose of the following.

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Be Appreciative

If your friends have done or said something that you have benefited from let them know that you appreciate it.

I have a friend who has blown me away twice by not only telling me how much he appreciates my help when he first came to Taiwan but also telling others we’re with how much he appreciates it.

At least once in your life have a heart-to-heart with your close friend letting them know how much you appreciate their friendship. Then touch on it briefly every now and then. It might be a short toast when drinking. A note on the yearly Christmas card or on a special occasion.

Be Available

If possible meet with those friends you’re close to on a regular basis even if it is just once a month. Keep in touch via email, text or phone calls.

Many friends have been made to feel uncomfortable when their close friendships gradually become more and more distant. Be alert to signs that your friends may be upset or missing you a lot and consider if there is a way to involve them more in your life.

Be Considerate

Respect the boundaries in your friendships.

Your friend may have a part of their life they don’t want to talk about so keep your nose out of there.

If you are much older than a friend it may become apparent they have a strong preference to hang out with people around their own age on the weekends or their lifestyle may just be very different. Scale down your initiative with them on the weekends but see if there are other times and things that you can do on a regular basis.

Be Dependable

If you say you’re going to do something, do it! Whether it’s helping a friend with their website or bringing the meat to the barbecue. Do your friends know they can count on you?

Be Direct

There are times when friends may need to be direct with each other especially about something that’s bothering them. Often these things can be handled in a subtle way. If not though, handle it gently in a calm manner and preferably in person.

If you can’t pay back the loan don’t make your friend follow you up. Ask for an extention of the loan.

If a friend’s email or text message upsets you call using a pleasant voice to try and deal with it.

Be Encouraging

If your friend is trying to achieve something tell them what you like about what they’ve done and cheer them on.

If they’re working on a blog tell them what you like about the site or one of the articles they wrote.

Be a Facilitator

Be a facilitator of good and memorable times.

If you’re hosting an event help shy people ease into conversations, prepare a great meal and provide fun entertainment.

Take your friends to new restaurants, new places and find some new activities to do together.

Be Forgiving

Knowing that you are forgiven can have a wonderful effect on your state of mind and heart.

If a friend is obviously deeply troubled by something that involves you and profusely apologizes be understanding and forgiving. Don’t just make light of it and send some smiley faces their way.

If you are in need of forgiveness be worthy of it. No point in apologizing if you continue the kind of behavior that caused the problem in the first place.

Be Friendly

Greet others with a smile, with warmth and be approachable. Being friendly is like rolling out a red carpet for others.

Be Fun & Light

Being fun to be around and light-hearted in your communication are qualities to be truly appreciated in a friend.

Come up with fun things to do with friends. Invest in things like a badminton set, board games or even a pool table. Lace your conversation with humor.

Be on your guard not to constantly slip into depressive talk or constant complaining.

Be Giving

A generous spirit is well regarded. It might be contributing some great wine and cheese to the next party. A birthday gift, taking your friend out to dinner to celebrate his promotion or helping him move house.

Consider giving a gift when it’s least expected. “I was in the department store the other day and I saw something that I knew you would love. It’s my gift to you.”

Be Honest

Be honest with your friends.

It might be the honest appraisal of a situation or a project with ideas sprinkled in of how it could be better.

Express how you feel though tread carefully. Sometimes in life we wish friends would be more forthright and honest about something that we are doing. They let us down by zipping their lips and making us feel we may be on the wrong path.

Be Inspiring

Few things are more inspiring that someone achieving their heart’s desire.

If you need to lose weight pair up with a friend you know who needs to lose weight even more than you do. Your discipline and conscienous efforts to lose weight may give your friend the tipping point she needs.

Be Interesting

Live a rich and full life. You will have more to share, will likely make more friends because of it and will share common ground with more people.

Be a Listener

Intently listen to what your friend has to say. Show your listening by the thoughtful questions you ask and the answers you give.

Be Loving

Show you care. Be demonstrative with your love. Step out beyond the veil and touch a friend’s life with it.

Good friends do this in a number of ways without even thinking about it. The warmth in their voice when speaking to one another. The giving of gifts. Cooking up a great dinner in honor of a friend. Then there are those moments of truth when they express their appreciation for your friendship.

Be Loyal

Be there with your friend through thick and thin. From the depths of despair to the glorious heights that life has to offer. Love and loyalty are at the core of any good friendship.

Be Nurturing

Help your friends grow. Grow in character, in their abilities and in resolving situations.

If they are starting on a project that you know a lot about meet up to have a look over their plans and suggest some ideas that could really make a difference.

If your friend has no fashion sense but wants to look good point out things to her that would look good on her. Impart to her some of your knowledge on the subject.

Be Present

One of the things I appreciate most is a friend who has a real presence in my life.

Call your friends up out of the blue if you haven’t contacted them in a while. Go over to their place and visit. Throw them invites to join you in whatever you’re doing.

Keep in mind those friends who live far away. There is a tendency for long-distance friendships to go in hibernation and be covered by a ton of mothballs. It’s so nice when one of these friends takes a moment to touch base with you.

Be Respectful

Be respectful of not only your differences but those things your friends value.

Never question in an interrogative way the value of something someone obviously prizes like a painting and don’t say you’re completely disinterested in something someone is obviously passionate about.

Be Mindful

Be mindful of what your friends are trying to achieve and the trials and tribulations of their lives. Be each others hero.

If your friend is struggling with his blog sign up for his newsletter, leave comments on his site and check out some of the pay per click advertising.

If there’s a big test next week and he’s dreading it invite him over to your place on the weekend and help him.

Be Uplifting

If your friend is down in the dumps be uplifting. Invite them out to dinner. Listen to them. Be their sounding board and relief valve. Cheer them up.

Be uplifting in word. Encourage, help resolve issues and be a guiding light if you can.

Be uplifting in deed. When someone is bogged down in something give him or her a hand.

Be Yourself

Your authentic self can’t be beat. Any friend worth having will want to see you as you are anyway.

Affectation and lies are hard to maintain, can create tension within yourself and those around you and some will easily see through them. Save yourself the embarrassment.

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Two Exercises

Here are two things you might like to do to take what I’ve written here to the next level.

The first is to write the names of the people you want to be friends with or become closer to onto a piece of paper. Draw a rectangular box under each of their names and one-by-one consider which of these qualities you wish to exhibit to a friend. Write the quality in the box. So for Alex you might have chosen “Be Appreciative” and for Mary it might be “Be Respectful.”

The second is to write the qualities above onto flat sticks or cards. At the beginning of the month draw one of them randomly. If a friend’s name pops into your head exhibit that particular quality to that friend. If no name comes to mind, draw another one.

Any other ideas on how to build strong friendships? Let me know in the comment section below and I’ll consider adding it to my list.


My thanks to Cynthia Hughes Lynch and Lori Deschene. They both wrote articles similar to this one. After having read them I felt compelled to tackle the same subject.
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