Here I am, with today’s topic : friendship.
Discovery is a very exciting moment in friendship. It’s that little light bulb that ignites when you learn something new about a person-a commonality that creates and instant bond. It can be subtle as a similar sense of humor or as solid as a shared opinion. Sudoku, surfing, cooking, anything. Discovering these things requires a little groundwork. Discovery requires being active about seeking out new friends. The secret lies in truly being open to making the connection. If you’re willing to strike up a conversation, you could meet someone in line at the post office, ordering a Frappuccino at Starbucks, and so on. Almost any spot has friend-making potential. The firs step in making friendship is simply to place yourself amongst people you don’t know, or don’t know well and then start talking. Compliments, opinion soliciting, information request, are an effective way to start a conversation or joining them.
To be an active participant in a conversation you must receive as well as give. Allow your conversational partner the opportunity to respond. Because if you don’t the worst could happened is that you might discourage your new friend entirely. You don’t want that do you? Good intentions and halfhearted efforts don’t make connections; a genuine commitment to treating every situation as an opportunity to meet someone new does.
Perhaps the most important component of friendship is trust. Without it, there can be no real confidence in the relationship, and no room for growth beyond the superficial. Building trust requires a leap of faith, but you’ll find it worth the risk. Let your friends know that you accept them just as they are, that you won’t reject them despite the occasional failing. Then trust that they will do dthe same for you. Freely express your regard and affection for your friends, and accept theirs in return. The more you give, the more you are likely to receive. Keep the give and receive in balance, although you may not discuss the balance as openly, but be aware of it.
People constantly pepper their stories with detailed descriptions of specific facts that are often buried by the larger, seemingly more important, aspects of a story. Sometimes, too, a person’s larger-than-life personality can render the small details of a conversation seemingly inconsequential. Yet if you pay attention to the specifics of conversation, you may discover in them that you have things in common that could form an instant bond.
It’s great to learn so quickly that someone’s likes or dislikes may be similar to yours, and it’s also helpful in moving along a friendship. “You mentioned you were biking last weekend,” you might say to someone who talked about it in passing. “I love to mountain bike. Where do you ride?”
In this brief interaction you can see precisely how drawing on the specifis of a conversation enables you to advance the relationship. First, you show that you were really listening. Then you point out a common bond and offer positive reinforcement by saying, “I love to mountain bike.” The final question is perhaps the most important because it leads to extended interaction : “Where do you ride?”
In addition to remembering important details, events, or birthdays, you should look for unique ways to personalize your friendship. Instead of simply meeting a friend for lunch, make a more thoughtful, meaningful gesture. If, for example, an acquaintance has moved into a new apartment in your neighborhood, why not offer to show him around? Taking the time to be thoughtful in this way is away of expressing yourself. The point is to let the other person know that you care, and are willing to do something about it. Correspondence and action-like compliments-mean much more when they are unexpected and supposedly unnecessary, and they give you an easy way to express your true feelings. This is how you can establish yourself as a friend before it’s time to lend and ear at a serious juncture.
With so many potential friends, it’s tempting to load your address book with name after name and collect phone numbers the same way trump makes money-fast and furiously. Calm down and take a deep breath. While there is always room in your life for one more friend each day, do not rush the process and mistake the quantity of your friends for quality. The real goal in friendship should be to enjoy really knowing one another. You can only do that if you spend time together, so why don’t you ask them to share doing yours or their hobbies together?
There are many creative ways for you to be sociable. Creating new and different experiences to share with friends can be as simple as trying a new restaurant together, as substantial as taking a trip or as adventurous as trying something completely new (trapeze classes or a day spent snorkeling). Whatever activity you decide to embark on, give it a creative twist : instead of simply meeting friends, organize a clothing swap where everyone brings a few unwanted articles and gets to make and exchange. Donate any leftovers to a resale shop or charity organization.
Leave some room for spontaneity. If you and a friend are going to a restaurant that also happens to be located in the same neighborhood where another friends lives, give her a call for a spur-of-the-moment invitation. At the very least, you will return with great stories (and, hopefully, a full tummy, too).
A successful friendship is similar : it may look effortless and easy but both parties know how much work is required to keep it afloat. If you are able to go with the flow of a friendship-yielding to it when it needs to be nurtured and patiently overcoming emotional or situational hurdles when they arise, for example-you’ll find that the requisite of work is absolutely enjoyable. Working on something that really matters to you is never laborious or tedious, after all, and friendships are among life’s greatest works!
Let’s take a moment then, with all this talk of ebbing, to be thankful that we can enjoy this labor, and to celebrate and honor all the friendships that make life worth living.