In order to be a good friend certain skills must be developed and used in the sharing of life with one another. These skills include . . .
- Being genuinely interested in others,
- Having fun together,
- Trustworthiness (in actions and words),
- Being positive,
- Focusing on the strengths of the person,
- Minimizing weaknesses in your friend,
- Setting and following good boundaries,
- Sharing your own thoughts, feelings and needs on a regular basis,
- and when necessary rebuking and forgiving others in gentleness and love.
This sharing involves having something in common beyond ourselves. These areas are location, interests, needs and feelings. I also look at the other person’s integrity and religious views. The more we have in common across these areas, the more intimate the relationship will be.
In the past my relationships have tended to be one-sided where I did most of the listening and helping. In other words, I was more like a counselor than a friend. People would say that I was their best friend, but I did not have reciprocal feelings because I had not equally shared my needs and feelings. I am no longer content with having these types of relationships for the majority of my relationships. So, I have been forcing myself to take my turn at sharing (with safe people of course).
Instead of always turning the conversation away from me, I’ve been staying on my topic (about a need or feeling) until I am done. Or I take a risk and come back to that topic until it is resolved. My safe people have surprised me with how much they love and like me and encourage me in truth-telling. I have shared my difficulty with some of these people so they help me stay on topic as well. Not only have I felt much closer to these folks, I have found some resolution for some issues as well. In addition, they have said that they feel closer to me too.
Your Turn . . .
- Do you have good friends to share your life with?
- What do you think it takes to be a good friend?
- Which trait(s) do you especially value?
- What are you doing to grow in your ability to be a good friend?
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