Do you know who they really are? Could you be confident they would say the same thing about you? What is it that separates our real friends from the people who happen to be in our social circles? Where can we find them? How do we keep them? How can we be one?
Understanding the characteristics in which humans are consciously and or subconsciously wired to look for is going to assist us become better friends and enable us to uncover who our real friends are. Without giving the idea solid thought, we can find ourselves wasting time not caring for others or being surrounded by people who don’t actually care about us!
Before we run off analyzing whether others make the selection or not, it’s important we take an honest look at ourselves. Humans are incredibly quick to point the finger at others for their faults but deeply hesitant towards believing and changing the same things about themselves. Most of the time we believe we are behaving in an appropriate manner because it makes perfect sense from our point of view. It is here where the inconsistencies occur, we believe we are interacting to our best ability where in fact the other person is not feeling comfortable, when they are not comfortable they are not being themselves, when they are not being themselves the chances for authentic social connections is greatly diminished.
The opportunity to meet a real friend doesn’t even come to the surface, they continue interactions with the defence shields up. This interaction is invisible to many because people simply accept the way we treat them as the way we are and say nothing of it. It is therefore a help to be conscious of the following factors, often a small adjustment in our behaviour can cause polar shifts in the way others treat us.
Respect each other
Do we feel comfortable and confident being the person we were born to be?
Are we able to express all of our ideas without being cut down or ridiculed by the other? Without permission to dream amongst friends we are hit in the face by a huge wall of fear that cripples us from taking the next step in our own unique direction. Understanding if we can feel comfortable being ourselves with our friends is a vital key towards knowing if we are respected for who we really are.
Do we really respect them?
This ones a little more difficult because if we have disrespected others in the past they are most probably not going to be as open towards us today. A great way to see if we in fact have been respectful towards our friends is for us to think of a list of what we respect them for. Call them up or visit and tell them how great they were for doing that thing we respect. See how they respond to it, If they say something like ‘this isn’t like you!’, or ‘thank you for opening up like this’ it’s a signal to say that maybe we haven’t clearly communicated the respect we have had for people. Respecting others in our minds means nothing if the other person doesn’t know about it. How others treat us is often a sign of how we treat them.
Support each other
Do we take an active, authentic interest in the things they do? Do we feel they encourage us to pursue our own goals no matter how different they may appear to be from their own personal goals? Do they know what we are personally working on at the moment? Do they congratulate us when we achieve a personal goal because they know how much it means to us?
When in times of need
Nobody’s perfect, and being a real friend means understanding that we all have our ups and downs. Sometimes even our closest friends can get on our nerves but it’s the tolerance and understanding for each other that allows us to see past the moment they are having. If we’re having a bad day the real friends stick around to help out and it’s the ‘friends’ who magically disappear.
Give and take relationships only work if both sides are giving without expecting the other to do something nice in return. It can be seen as an everlasting fountain and as we leap forward with strides of compassion the other will naturally find a way to return the gesture, possibly in a different form.
Enjoy Life Together
Having a positive outlook on the world acts as a portable shining sun, people naturally enjoy being in the presence of it. Of course not everything in this world needs to be seen as positive and rosey, there are certainly a lot of things that could be improved but it’s how we interpret this information that leaves the warm or cold lasting impression with the people we interact with. Positivity, laughter and smiles are infectious…as is negativity, which would you prefer to spend your time with?
We don’t need to wait for someone else to propose the thing we have always wanted to do, the best way to find fun is to create it ourselves. Search online for ideas, ask friends if they are interested and experiment! People who take initiative and bring people together to form unique social experiences will be rewarded with respect from others.
Trust each other
We are hardwired to be hyper-sensitive to acts of trust and deception, it is this characteristic that would ensure the survival or failure of a tribe so as a result if someone stabs us in the back we seldom forget the occasion. Thankfully we can use this to our own advantage by building credits from within others minds by constantaly proving to them that we are people of our word. If there is a missed call do we return it? If we go on a big night out do we stick together? If they ask for something done do we do it? Are we a person they can tell secrets? Trust is built over time and can be strengthened in unfamiliar situations, here’s a 19 step guide to building trust with friends.
Honest with each other
Honest about others
A friend of mine Gertjan Jacobs mentioned the wise words that “an acquaintance will tell you pleasant lies, a friend will tell you inconvenient truths.” It’s the friend who has the honesty and grace to tell us what they really think that proves real friendship. They care about us more than themselves loosing face for a moment.
Honest about ourselves
Only ever showing our strongest cards to others creates massive barriers for authentic connection. Being honest and showing weaknesses about ourselves is an important element for strengthening of human relations. It’s interesting to note, once we show a card more often than not the other will show a card of their own. The more we know, care for and accept each other’s weaknesses the more comfortable we become in each others presence.
Share with each other
Food & Drink
We are tribal animals and it’s amazing how powerful the subconscious gesture of sharing food & drink works amongst people. It brings us down onto the same level and is an action that proves we trust each other.
If we have a shared interest with another friend it’s a priceless opportunity to develop a bond with the other individual on a much deeper level than just going for beers and talking. Uncover a common interest then create moments to share that common interest together. If we both like cooking, invite the other around to try and create something new. If we both like dancing, find a free trail class and invite the other down. It is these unique moments we remember when we are older, not the mindless same-same conversation down at the pub.
A friend of mine Tony Anagor said “friendship is a verb, it’s a doing thing. It’s an involved thing. It’s earned through two way involvement and engagement with one another”. Sharing authentic time with another person is one of the original ways to allow an authentic connection to flourish.
We all have them, when we share them with others they are reminded that we value the person as close enough to share an inner thought with. People enjoy the chance to comfortably discuss a thought that’s been on the back of their mind. Sharing deeper feelings, fears, concerns is a human ingredient to further develop a mutual understanding.
What does it all mean?
All of the points mentioned above can be summarised by showing the overarching theme of Love to one another. It is this force that doesn’t cost a dollar to show and yet so many of us withhold it only for the people very closest to us. Love doesn’t need to be withheld only for our partners, love can be expressed within all of our friendships and interactions. From meeting a person for the first time, to doing business with a customer, to spending time with old friends, we are able to show our love and appreciation to them just the same. We are able to listen without a judgement, support them in their endeavours, show interest in their ideas, be warm and friendly, joke, help, hug, smile, congratulate etc.
We must lead by example with our constant outward expressions of love. When others feel it’s presence they can’t restrict their own internal love from being released. We humans are hardwired to feel attracted to people who show it so let’s not wait to find real friends, open up and let’s be a real friend.