I've got a friend who has a friend who continues to make an epic fail move. Whenever my friend is going through something, rather than her friend asking, "So, what can I do?", instead, she offers up mini unsolicited TED talks about all of the things my friend could and should do to improve her life (sigh). All that ends up doing is irritating my friend and causing her to wonder why she keeps being vulnerable with that individual.
Watching those two with their communication ebbs and flows has amplified for me the importance of not being complacent in my own friendships with other people. Good thing too because I really do think that a lot of us make the grave mistake of thinking—which is more like assuming—that so long as we and another person have solidified a relationship, there's no maintenance—to a certain degree, daily maintenance—that needs to be required. That is also an epic fail perspective because being a good friend requires being nurturing, really learning more about the ones you care about and not waiting until special occasions like their birthday to let them know that you value them. Immensely so.
A lot of trials and tribulations have taught me that one of the best blessings in life is a true friend.
If you've got even one of those in your world and you want to do something to show them that you want them to feel, not just appreciated, but truly known by you, here are some things you can do TODAY that will remind them of just how important they truly are to you.
Tell Your Friend What You Like, Love and Respect About Them
When it comes to keeping a relationship thriving, one of the worst mentalities that any of us can have is, "C'mon. They already know how I feel." Umm, two things about that. One, they don't know if you've never come straight out and told them. Two, think if your significant other only affirmed you twice a year. Would that be copacetic for you?
Just like a romantic relationship needs some verbal praise from time to time, friendships do too. Just think of how good you would feel if, out of the blue, you got a call, text or email from one of your besties that said, "I just wanted to let you know that you are one of the most loyal people that I've ever met," or "Hey Girl, I didn't want anything. I was just thinking about how dope you are and thought I should let you know."
In a world where most of us see and hear criticism and negativity more than anything positive, trust me when I say that you'll do wonders for your friendship, as well as the overall energy field of wherever your friend is at the time, if you make the time to tell them what you like, love and/or respect about them. Don't put it off. Do it now.
Call Them to Schedule a Date
I once penned an article entitled "Why You and Your Friends Should 'Date Each Other' More Often". With the kind of hectic schedules and layered lifestyles that a lot of us have, it can be hard to even get in an uninterrupted 15-minute conversation with one of our homies. One way to remedy that is to schedule some time that is all about the two of you. It can be drinks after work, a date that centers around your love languages or getting together at one of your homes to plan a weekend road trip or a week-long vacation.
Dates aren't just a great way to get some much-needed quality time in. Initiating the date lets your friend know that they are on your mind and you love spending time with them. (Which will really go over well if their love language happens to be quality time.)
Randomly Do Something to Make Their Life Easier
One of my girlfriends is going through a rough time financially right now. Although I'm not rollin' in the dough, by any stretch of the imagination, a motto I have with the people in my circle is, "I'm single with no kids. It's always gonna be easier for me to figure it out than y'all." (The "y'alls" that do have a spouse and children.) Anyway, one day, when she called me to vent, once she was done, all I asked was "So, what do you need?" I think sometimes a lot of us are so used to not being asked that question that our knee-jerk response is to say "Girl, I'm fine." That's just what she did and so I asked again. "If you were 'fine', I wouldn't have heard all of that. What's up?" She took a deep breath and then, per my request, sent me a list of some things that I could choose from to help her with. I was more than happy to do it.
Now watch this. When another friend of mine (someone who doesn't even know my other friend) called to see what I was doing, I told her I was rushing because I needed to help a friend out with some things that she needed. An hour later, a Cash app notification popped up on my phone. My friend had a note that said, "For your friend." Dope.
Something that life is teaching me is a telling sign that you're in a healthy relationship with someone else is the fact that their presence in your life will make things easier. Not harder. Not more dramatic. Not even unnecessarily complicated. Easier.
That's why I can confidently say that I promise you that something that will really move your friend is you offering to do something that will take a burden off of them. It doesn't have to be monetary. Maybe it's picking up her kids from school so that she can get a mani/pedi (or take a nap). Maybe it's helping her complete a project. Maybe it's having dinner delivered to her house so that she doesn't have to worry about figuring it out tonight.
It really does bear repeating—good friendships make life easier to bear. Do something that will convey that for one (or more) of your friends today.
Send Your Friend a Thank-You Note
It really is sad—and by "sad" what I really mean is hypocritical—how many people teach their children the importance of saying "please" and "thank you" when they don't even do it themselves. Hey, don't take my word for it; there's science to back it up (peep "People Rarely Say Thank You When Others Help Them Out, Scientists Say" when you get a chance). It's unfortunate too because not only is not showing gratitude and appreciation low-key rude, it's how a lot of us end up feeling taken for granted in our relationships with other people.
Buck the system by sending your friend a thank-you note. An email is cool, but it is so much more personal to handwrite it and either mail it or give it to them the next time that you see them. Oh, and it will really warm their heart if your thank you is specific. "Thank you for when you treated me to the movies last week," or "Thank you for listening to me cry over him, again, the other night". It's amazing how cherished we feel when someone simply says "thank you" every once in a while.
One of the closest people to me has a gift that I am totally in awe of. She's an amazing listener. I have truly never seen anything quite like her. She doesn't cut me off. If I'm physically in her presence, she rarely breaks eye contact. Sometimes, after I'm done talking, there is an awkward silence. Why? Because she's actually thinking of what to say before she responds. Communicating with her has taught me to be a better listener, by far.
An author by the name of Criss Jami once said something very wise—"It's not at all hard to understand a person; it's only hard to listen without bias." One of the wonderful benefits that comes with listening to someone is they feel understood; with that, they feel truly connected. Be a better friend today by hitting up a friend, asking how they are, and then make it a point to really listen to their answer. An act as simple as this can be extremely impactful. I can certainly vouch for that.
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