Friendship Tips

Just like any other relationship, friendships require some work to maintain them and to help them grow. Read on for some steps you can follow to be a great friend and continue nurturing your friendship.

Show Up
A big part of friendship is showing up. Whenever you have the chance to see other people, take it. Go to the party. Stop by someone’s desk. Make the effort. Also, the mere exposure effect describes the fact that repeated exposure makes you like someone better – and makes that person like you better, too. You’re much more likely to become friends with someone if you see him or her often.

Join a Group
Being part of a natural group, where you have common interests and are brought together automatically, is the easiest way to make friends: starting a new job, taking a class, having a baby, joining a congregation, or moving to a new neighborhood are great opportunities to join a group. If those situations aren’t an option, try to find a different group to join. Get a dog, for example. Or pursue a hobby more seriously. An added advantage to making friends through a group is that you can strengthen your friendships to several people at once which is very helpful if you don’t have a lot of free time.

Form a Group
If you can’t find an existing group to join, start a group based around something that interests you. Studies show that each common interest between people boosts the chances of a lasting relationship, and also brings about a 2% increase in life satisfaction. Movies, wine, cheese, pets, marathon-training, a language, a worthy cause.

Say Nice things about Other People
It’s a kind way to behave. Also, studies show that because of the psychological phenomenon of spontaneous trait transference, people unintentionally transfer to you the traits you ascribe to other people.

Set a Target
This strategy sounds very calculating, but it really works. When you enter a situation where you meet a new set of people, you must set yourself the goal of making three new friends. This seems artificial, but somehow, this shift makes you behave differently, it makes you more open to people, it prompts you to make the effort to say more than a perfunctory hello.

Make an Effort to Smile
Big surprise, studies show that the amount of time you smile during a conversation has a direct effect on how friendly you’re perceived to be. In fact, people who can’t smile due to facial paralysis have trouble with relationships.

Make Friends with Friends of Friends
“Triadic closure” is the term for the fact that people tend to befriend the friends of their friends. So friends-of-friends is an excellent place to start if you’re trying to expand your circle.

Show Appreciation
Sometimes when you have known people for a long time, you can start to take them for granted. This doesn't have to be the case.
Always thank your friend when he or she does something for you.
Return favors when your friend goes out of his or her way to help you.
Do nice things like getting their favorite candy at the grocery store, buying them lunch, or getting them a card and gift for their birthday.
Tell your friend how much you appreciate them.

Show Interest in your Friend's Life
A good friendship should be two-sided. Be a good listener. When your friend talks to you about something that's going on in his or her life, really listen. Good relationships are built on communication, so don't ignore your friend. Take the time to really hear what they're saying, and offer advice only if they ask for it. If your friend is involved in an activity that they care about, show your support and interest.

Build Trust
This seems simple, but you have to both constantly show each other that you can be trusted and depended on as friends. Don't gossip about your friend. Gossip spreads quickly, and you do not want to hurt your friend's feelings and damage the relationship. Keep your promises, even if it's something as small as showing up when you are supposed to meet. Don't go behind your friend's back. This includes flirting with their significant other or inviting other friends out without including them. Keep secrets safe. If your friend tells you something personal, don't share it with other people. They need to know that they can trust you with their secrets.

Have Fun Together
This might be obvious, but sometimes we can get into the trap of just using our friends for emotional support and not taking the time to enjoy their company. Do things that you both enjoy together. Learn something new. Take a rock climbing or pottery class, go on a sailing trip, or try out Zumba together. The experience will bring you closer. Make an open invitation. Call up your friend and ask them what they've been wanting to do. You can say, "I think we should hang out this weekend. What do you think would be fun?". Throw a party together. Celebrate your friendship, a birthday, or nothing in particular. Plan a fun evening. Invite your friend over for dinner and spend the night eating, drinking, playing board games, or watching your favorite movies.

Support Each Other when things Get Rough
Sometimes friendships can get rocky or friends can have a hard time dealing with their own personal problems. Though it may not be fun, these are situations where a real friend has to step in and be there. Demonstrate your support. Tell your friend, "I'm here for you. Just let me know what you need and I'll help you out." Offer to listen. If there are personal or family problems going on, tell your friend that you are always there when your friend needs to vent. Provide distractions. If your friend is going through a breakup, come over and spend time with them so they don't feel alone. Take them out to do things that will take their mind off the problem. You can go out to eat, see a movie, or even just go for a walk.

Help your Friend find Solutions
If you know your friend is struggling, do what you can to help! Even small gestures to brighten his or her day can make a big difference. Call or drop by to check in on your friend regularly if they are having a hard time. Make sure they don't feel like they're alone. Let your friend use you as a shoulder to cry on. Just let them get it all out and hand them tissues when they need them. If your friend is sick, bring over soup, a good book, or fun movies that they can watch while they're in bed.

Handle Arguments Maturely
When you and your friend have a conflict, don't lash out and yell at them. Instead, talk about your problems calmly and listen to both sides of the story. Don't raise your voice or storm out when you're having an argument. Sit down and talk through the problems. Don't complain about your friend to other people, especially before you've talked to them about the conflict. If they have no idea that you're mad at them, it will be confusing if they hear that you're talking about them behind their back. Apologize if you've done something wrong. If you have hurt your friend's feelings, take responsibility and say, "I'm sorry I hurt your feelings."

Maintain Contact
If one friend moves far away, keep in touch. People often move far away to go to different schools or pursue a new career. That doesn't mean the friendship has to end. Call your friend regularly. If you don't see each other often, it's important to check in so that you know what is going on in your friend's life.Schedule video chats online. Use video chat to talk to your friend and see their face. You can even use it to show each other your apartments or homes and to introduce each other to people in your lives.Try old-school letter writing. It might take longer to send than an email, but sending your friend letters or care packages in the mail will make him or her feel special. They can serve as mementos of your friendship. Visit whenever you can. When you are in town, make the time to see your friend. Plan a day of fun sightseeing together, or ask them to show you their favorite things to do.