“True happiness consists not in the multitude of friends, but in their worth and choice.”
– Samuel Johnston
Building strong and lasting friendships is not a task that can be accomplished quickly. Instead it is a lifelong project that will require frequent investments of time and energy.
Although they do require work, strong friendships are well worth it. Through encouragement, correction, and help, true friends will propel each other to greater heights of manliness.
#1 Choose Wisely
Although a man can have many acquaintances, he can only have a few close friends.
A true friendship is a large responsibility. If a man overextends himself, he will be left with a large number of weak friendships instead of a few strong relationships.
Because you can only have a small number of friends, you must be very careful when choosing your friends.
Look for people who…
- are striving toward the same goals as you.
- hold your same basic religious beliefs.
- are an example to you.
- will help you grow.
Although your acquaintances and network contacts do not need to meet these strict requirements, your close companions should.
Your friends will either propel you up or pull you down. Choose them wisely!
#2 Listen Patiently
To be a true friend, you must be a good listener.
Always give your friend your full attention, and be an active listener.
If you are not able to drop everything and listen to them, be honest, tell them you are busy, and plan a time to sit down and talk.
Without listening, you will have no way of knowing what your friend thinks and your relationship will suffer.
#3 Respond Carefully
After listening to your friend, you need to be able to respond properly.
Depending on the situation, you may need to…
The ability to respond with tact and kindness is a skill that is perfected only through practice, but you can make a good start by simply acting naturally and unselfishly.
#4 Give Praise When Due
As in any relationship, your friendships can be strengthened through deserved praise.
Unfortunately, this is a part of friendship that is commonly over emphasized and rendered superficial. False flattery will probably be recognized by your friend and your relationship will be weakened.
Be quick to give praise when it is earned and sincere, but shun any temptations to give artificial flattery.
#5 Correct When Necessary
Criticism, when respectfully given, is an important part of every strong relationship.
However, thoughtless condemnation can destroy even the most firm friendships.Choose your battles wisely and do not quibble over unnecessary issues.
When you do criticize, be respectful, calm, and considerate. As with any debate, be ready to end your discussion if it becomes an emotional argument.
Although it can be uncomfortable and difficult to correct your friend, it is a necessary part of a lasting friendship.
#6 Let Things Go
As selfish humans, it can be difficult to ignore a slight or a perceived slight. In friendships, however, we must be ready to unselfishly forgive any insults from our friends.
If you feel unjustly hurt by your friend, try to resolve the issue through open communication.
If that does not work (perhaps your friend does not think he was wrong), be willing to forgive your friend.
You never know what pressures and difficulties your friend is struggling under. Perhaps he had a relative die, or he lost his job.
Whatever the reason, be careful to not destroy your friendship just because of one small incident.
#7 Invest Time
To build a strong relationship, you and your friend must both invest time.
If possible, try to get together occasionally for some project or event.
Perhaps you could…
- work on a common hobby.
- have lunch together.
- go on a camping trip.
- completing a project together.
If you live farther apart, your options are more limited.
However, you still can invest time by…
- writing letters (and emails).
- talking on the phone.
- “chatting” on the internet (you can even use video chat).
- occasionally visiting.
Although these time investments may seem like a frustrating waste of time, they are absolutely crucial to a truly lasting friendship.
Building strong friendships is not an easy task, but the benefits are well worth the effort.
What relationship building tips would you add?