How To Win At Friendship As An Adult
Friendship is a necessary part of a quality life as an adult. When you’re a kid, friendships can be plentiful and easy to work out when you’re surrounded by peers in an enclosed structured environment like school. As we get older, it seems as though quality friendship is hard to come by – especially in this day and age. Friendship amidst the type of online relationships tend to be indirect and pretty dodgy at best.
Intentionally making friends is a worthy pursuit. Motivational coach and author, Dale Carnegie, wrote the bestselling book How To Win Friends and Influence People, a revered source for anyone serious in applying simple principles for life-changing results. There is a golden list of rules he compiles and among some of those rules, the timeless points he makes are genuine markers of a basic friendship.
- Begin in a friendly way.
- Begin with praise and honest appreciation.
- Let the other person do a great deal of the talking.
- Try honestly to see things from the other person’s point of view.
- Show respect for the other person’s opinions. Never say, “You’re wrong.”
- Be sympathetic with the other person’s ideas and desires.
Now those are just a few basics. Other suggestions include throwing down a challenge, letting the other person save face, and don’t criticize, condemn or complain.
Beyond the above list of reminders for starting a good friendship, consider those you know who hold close friendships. There’s usually a healthy desire for reconciliation, and a willingness to be vulnerable to share deep feelings with the other. Finding someone else you really like and admire for their character, personality or achievements can help leverage an emotional tie to them, but make sure they reciprocate that same degree of appreciation or else you’re bound to remain in the “acquaintance zone.”
So what are the three key ingredients to making an adult friendship work?
- Find similarities of values, goals, careers or hobbies and share them. Do life together, getting to know each other better in the context of an activity. Let’s equate friendship to basketball. If friendship was basketball, this is the game you would both be playing in, on the same team. Work together with the goal of holding each other accountable, having faith in that person and cheering him or her on.
- Respect one another’s boundaries. If you are a wife and your new friend is a male, you may want to save more personal issues and extra time for your husband or else you may start to find an attraction develop, and then boundaries may be crossed. Also, new friends need to take it at a pace they are both comfortable with. Rushing a friendship can come across as overbearing, while taking too much time to cultivate it may lay waste the opportunity. Keeping the sport analogy relevant, this is the rules and regulations of the game.
- Respect one another’s differences. You can’t agree on everything, and finding a friend who agrees on the basic values is a great foundation to a good friendship. But when differences arise and your viewpoints are challenged, don’t let it cause a falling out if it doesn’t have to. In other words, is this disagreement worth ending or threatening the end of your friendship? How much do you value your friendship? And maybe that’s not a mutual degree of value for every person. At the very least, try to hash things out and if you agree to disagree, let things be. If friendship was basketball, this aspect would be a passing the ball back and forth – like a give and take.