Our Struggles With Making Good Friends Can Often Be Traced Back to a Flaw or Weakness in Our Friendship Model.
We all have a friendship model that naturally formed in our lives but we are for the most part oblivious to it. Sometimes it is flawed or inadequate to achieve the kind of social success we desire. We need to do something to address these deficiencies. If you are not hardwired for social success then you have to hardwire yourself. One of the areas you need to contemplate is your friendship model.
Optimizing Self for the Best Results
Alas, sometimes we are the obstacle getting in the way of progress. Read my article, “The Need for Change,” and consider if there is anything holding you back from drawing a group of desirable friends to yourself.
The Project Fellowship Track
The friendship model lies on top of the activities model. Try to imagine the activities and friendship models in 3D. In my life there are two distinct social tracks. A Project Fellowship track and a general friendship track. They both are treated differently.
The most important one to me and the one I devoted most of the time to is the Project Fellowship track which is reminiscent of a gold sluice. I positioned myself in a steady stream of humanity and welcomed them into my life.
On their way down the sluice I showed new friends initiative, enthusiasm, warmth and hospitality. I welcome them into my life and encourage them to be a part of it. I consciously and deliberately sent them a clear signal that I was interested in their company and friendship. Those that respond well I kept in my circle.
Clarify the qualities that are most important to you. There are four things that are important to me in a friendship. They are initiative, interest, enthusiasm and warmth. I highly prize the initiative others show me but experience tells me that it is a rare commodity. I will for the most part gladly settle for a little interest, warmth and enthusiasm.
On this track I do have a filter in place that filters out certain types of people and sends them out of the chute. These include obnoxious, overly uptight, unresponsive, disinterested and apathetic people. I simply cease taking initiative with them and experience has shown it’s highly unlikely I will hear from them again. Part of the filtering process is gauging friendships which I have written about elsewhere.
I noticed that a small area naturally tacked itself on to the side of my model later on. I call it limbo land. Here dwell the chronically passive friends that I like. I have decided to put them on hold and maybe revisit them later. The truth is though when you have drawn to yourself good friends as I have already done it’s much less likely to happen.
The next part about protocols may sound a little odd. I make special mention of it for those who find themselves continually troubled about their friendships and have a bias towards friendlessness in their life. This is part of the counterweight you’ll sometimes hear me referring to.
The Vibrant and Fresh Protocol
This is a fairly new protocol that has worked wonders for me and my state of mental health. I go through life now embracing the vibrant and fresh friendships in my life. I let go of the friendships whose cycle has ended and who have become distant and cold. It has made such a difference to my life. I now have a certain lightness of being that I have never had in my adult life.
Scaling Down Protocol
Not all people are going to want to attend the kind of events I hold. Also, many of my events are in direct competition with other things they prefer to do. Rather than pester them with a barrage of invites they aren’t interested in I will scale down my initiative with them. I might invite them to my best or most important events of the year though.
If friendships that are special to me stutter and begin to fade I will try to rekindle them. However, if they continue to be chronically passive I will scale down my initiative with them. If the friendship continues to spiral downwards I will scale down my initiative till it’s only a notch or two above theirs. When I feel the friendship has hit rock bottom I simply leave the ball in their court and walk away.
The Gauntlet Protocol
I sometimes put certain friends through the Gauntlet. That is where I say to myself, “I’ve taken so much initiative with this friend whom I like a lot but he’s responding poorly. I’ll let him take the initiative for a change.” The problem with the gauntlet is that most people don’t make it off the starting line. Those that do usually put in an underwhelming performance. That’s fine, it just validates my decision to let them go. We all do this. It’s also called leaving the ball in someone’s court.
The Dead Zone Protocol
This is where you’ve been with a particular social group for a while and you realize you don’t have one single good friend in the group. Worse, it’s obvious that everyone prefers the company of others in the group and you’ve started to feel like a second rate member especially when the clique forms and starts talking enthusiastically to one another. That’s a dead zone. Time to move on as far as I’m concerned.
The Heart Glaze Protocol
Sometimes I grow tired of taking virtually all the initiative with certain friends I like a lot. My eyes and heart glaze over and I leave the ball in that person’s court and walk away. Most times the ball isn’t even noticed. To me heart glaze is an indicator to move on.
The Fireworks Ball Protocol
Keep in mind that Project Fellowship was in part a social experiment and I kept experimenting till I got the results I wanted. I found myself replacing the gauntlet with the fire works ball with some of the people I truly liked but who were becoming more and more distant and the initiative in the friendship becoming a one way street. It’s where I go into their court, slam dunk the ball accompanied by fireworks and leaving the ball well and truly in their court walk away. By fire works I mean I will invite them to a special event, wine and dine them and impress upon them subtly that I value their friendship. Alas, their is so much chronic passiveness in the world that it usually ends up being the last supper! LOL If I stop taking the initiative like I usually do that’s often the last I hear from them. The one consolation is that if I do it on top of all the initiative I have already taken with a friend I’m likely to reduce the amount of times a friend I haven’t seen in a while saying, “Hey, dude, where have you been? Haven’t seen you in ages. Don’t you like us anymore!” It unfortunately does happen on the odd occasion and urks me. I think to myself, “Are you for real? You’re chronically passive and couldn’t even be bothered to send me a text message!”
* I have learned from lots of experience that the moment I think of doing the Gauntlet or the Fireworks Ball with a friend that it’s a pretty good indicator that I shouldn’t even bother and just move on in my search for better friends.
The General Friendship Track
The general friendship track is the one where I continue to be friends with people regardless of how they respond to me. When I was growing up they were my classmates or members of the church I went to. Now, for example, they are the mums and dads of the children my son befriends.
If you are say with a group of students for two years in senior high school, a closed kind of friendship model is probably best especially if you want to be on the best possible terms with everyone in the class. If that is the case then you will want to come up with a model that constantly positively charges the friendships in that particular circle.
Sometimes a group on the Project Fellowship track goes out the chute and lands on this track. What happened? Things change. People change. Everything may have been rosy till a good friend left the group and another promising friendship fizzles out. In addition to this you have gotten to a point where you have sounded everyone out and found the friendships to be a little on the underwhelming side. The group, however, is fun to be with and they share your same passion so you just keep them on your general friendship track. With such a group though I would reduce the amount of time I spend with them while I check out if there are better social options available.
This track is also where my co-workers are. I like a friendly work environment and I have noticed time and time again that if I invite co-workers to a party and socialize with them a bit they respond to me differently at work. I’m greeted with more warmth and a bigger smile. I’m all for that.
Just for the record, I think casual friends can be very pleasant and enjoyable. In fact, I was just thinking the other day now that I’m extremely busy how nice it is to have casual friends I can meet up with for some fun. Friendships that I have no strong ties or commitment, too, thus allowing me to return to my work. I was surprised to think that. The reason I talk so much about drawing into your life good friends is that in my life the needle swung violently to the right where casual friendships were and snapped off. Everything in moderation …
The Rule of 30
For a long while I adhered to a personal rule of mine, the Rule of 30. The 30circle is another way I express this. This rule states that I must have 30 friends in my circle. These are people on the Project Fellowship track that I’m interested in being friends with and have added to my active friendship list. Such a large list of friends gives me a sense of abundance and I feel like I’m thriving. When I want to have a party of say 15 friends that 30 goes a long way to ensure I can get the numbers I want.
It gets me to consciously and deliberately maintain the size of my circle. If I take one person off my friendship list I replace him or her with someone new. In 2010, I had 36 friends in my circle. There were lots of nice people in that circle then and we had many good times together.
Club Deluxe Model
The Project Fellowship track in my life is currently not in active use. I am content with the friendships I have and it has served it’s purpose. In it’s place is a Club Deluxe track.
It will come as no surprise that many people who come across as really passive towards you are actually pro-active to a select group of people. It’s what I call their ‘Exclusive Club’ (EC).
In the Club Deluxe strategy, I’m simply attentive to any new people who show interest in me and welcome me warmly into their life, into their exclusive club. At this point, I can afford to be a lot more discerning and selective.
How is this friendship model different to the one that naturally formed in my life? How is it superior? There are so many things that are improved on.
The biggest and most important difference was gauging friendships and actively filtering out what I didn’t want. I use to have a docile mind that was unable to gauge and let go. I was stuck in a loop with no chute. As a result the social slots of my life would fill up with mostly indifferent people inhibiting good friends from entering my life.
I also set a conscious standard for what I wanted in friendships. Having a standard will prompt you to move on in your friendship search and reach out more to others.
Maintaining the circle of 30 was also an important feature. It brought new people into my life regularly some of whom became good friends. It gave me a greater sense of abundance in friendships than I had ever felt before.
The Scale Down protocol helped deal in particular with troubling friendships. Admittedly, friendships that went from warm to cold did bother me more than I like to admit. To work well it has to be tempered with the right kind of experience. I’ve now got it greased down so if people really become indifferent and apathetic it will help them along their way.
The treasure book which I have written about elsewhere helped me make a systematic and determined effort to find friends. It helped me increase my efforts greatly.
Giving your efforts structure and protocols for dealing with people can go along way in bringing the friendships you desire into your life.
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Be Active : Engage Others
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