It turns out friends hold the key to our success—and happiness. Friends helping friends is how many business deals are done since we prefer to do business with people we like, know, and trust. The question is, how good of a friend are we to others? Let’s find out. (Check off the traits that apply to you.)
__ I’m a good listener and there to lend an ear when needed.
__ I do nice things for others and don’t ask for or expect anything in return.
__ I’m fun, supportive, and positive—others enjoy spending time with me.
__ I return calls and reply to text messages and e-mails quickly and nicely.
__ I cheer others on and celebrate their success with no hint of jealousy.
__ I’m honest, trustworthy, and reliable—a person others can count on.
__ I remember and acknowledge people’s birthdays and important dates.
__ I’m not judgmental and my friendship is unconditional.
I’m going to guess you scored high on the friendship quiz. That’s why I want to share a few quick and easy ideas you can use to be an even better friend. But first I want to share a short story with you that taught me the true meaning of friendship.
I first met Barbara “Sunshine” Blake in 1994 when she sought me out as an advisor on a project she was working on—a book about her life. Over the years Sunshine and I became close friends. It pains me to say this, but she was a better friend to me than I was to her.
In 2010, Sunshine telephoned to tell me she’d been diagnosed with Stage 4 Lung Cancer and asked if I would be willing to complete the book she had been “working” on all these years. Of course I said, “Yes.” For nearly a year we met every Wednesday at her favorite coffee house and I listened as Sunshine shared her life story with me until the day she died. I turned Sunshine’s story into a novel and released it earlier this year—as promised. In the end, I was able to be the kind of friend to her that she was to me.
Here’s some suggestions to be the kind of friend others would do anything for—because that’s what you would do for them.
• Half birthdays. With social media, it’s easy to remember a person’s birthday. If you really want to show you care, send a card or a note on a person’s half birthday. (Choose a card that shows how well you know them—because you listen.)
• Minute to Win It. We can’t do this for everyone, but for our close friends we should try to reply to them within a minute or two (if it will only take a minute or two) to show them how important they are. *
• Random Acts of Kindness. We should let others know we were thinking about them by sending a small gift out of the blue—or when we know they’re feeling blue. (It really is the thought that counts, not the cost.)
• Celebrate their Success. It’s so easy to click the “like” button or write a quick comment when one of our friends shares an accomplishment on their wall—and we should. A really good friend also shares that same post with other friends.
• Memorable Moments. We can really connect with another person when we show up—we are there for them when they need us. Another way to connect is to find a common bond through something both people are passionate about.
* Not everyone can be a called a close friend—or should be. Does time fly when we’re with them? Do they make us feel better after talking to them? Do they respect us and our time? We should spend our time with the people where time spent feels like time well spent.