So how do we build stronger friendships? Friends are one of the most important sources of moral and emotional support and there are a few habits that build stronger friendships. It all comes down to many factors but all can be summarized by a simple common sense idea: Putting in the effort makes friendships stronger. Sometimes, we tend to take our friends for granted because we know that they’re always going to be there. Well from experience, this is wrong! Our friends will not always be there for us especially if we ignore them or we do not make the effort to connect with them.
Credit: featured photo from New Jersey Family
We often hear people refer to friendships with the “quality over quantity” speech and I couldn’t agree more. We tend to have a bias towards meeting and spending more time with new “friends” than spending time with our “solid” friends. Overtime, if we succumb to this habit, we might lose a few good friends down the road. I don’t know about you but I would rather keep my good old solid friends (those who I have a deep connection with) than gain a million who in the end do not understand who I am.
Build stronger friendships by employing these 10 habits
Sure, I’m only in my mid-twenties but I am somewhat proud of keeping the same friends for more than ten years. I have moved to Oregon and came back to Southern California; I have seen some of my friends go to the U.S. Army, go to college, moved out-of-state; I have friends who are now occupied by their jobs and careers. In the end, I am glad that we still share the same kind of connection that I would not trade for anything in the world.
I guess the reasons for that is I try put in the effort. Once they see you making the effort, it is more likely that they will reciprocate. I hope that adapting the items on this list into habits will help you forge better and stronger friendships! Here are some practices to make your friendship stronger, too (no item on this list is more important than the others):
#1 Calling your friends instead of using social media
In the age of social and electronic media, we seem to have forgotten about the call functionality of our smartphones. Yes, these phones can make calls! I prefer to call friends rather than text or “hit them up” on Facebook. It is just different when you hear the other person’s voice and you get to share a laugh or two.
I try to call a few friends once a week even when I’m very busy. A quick walk or drive to the grocery store is enough time for a (handsfree) call. I do this just to say hi and see how they are doing.
So I suggest calling instead of always texting or using social media. If they don’t pick up, you can expect a callback or you can leave a quick text saying that you’ll try to reach them again at a specific time.
#2 Inviting them to join you for lunch or coffee
There are times when you might have some free time. Why not step out of the house to meet with friends. You can either do this spontaneously (although your friends might be busy at work or other commitments) or you can set a date with them.
#3 Be an appointment machine
Just as you would have an appointment for a meeting or a consultation with your tax preparer or dentist, you can also make an appointment with your friend. You can call this a date!
It is better to set a date and time than calling your friends spontaneously only to get a “No I’m sorry. I’m quite busy today.” This is not their fault but setting a date lets your friends rearrange a few things in their calendar. This also helps you and your friend to focus on your time together since this meeting is not cutting into “work time.”
#4 Initiating or joining activities with friends
Whether it’s going to the gym, for a walk, playing basketball or even watching a baseball game together–hangouts are better when there’s an activity. By sharing a common goal (to lose weight, to get active, to enjoy the outdoors) you can develop deeper connections with friends. During these activities, you never know what you’re going to learn about your friend.
Think of everything you see, smell, hear, and touch as triggers for a segue. Your friend might be reminded of an event in life just by seeing a pile of rocks. Then you get to learn more about them!
#5 Knowing your friends’ birthdays
I am inclined to know about my friends’ birthdays because I like to appreciate them on their special day. On their birthdays, I always call. If I have a few extra bucks to spare, I try to buy them a gift or at least buy them coffee.
I know that I love it when someone at least calls me and says, “I don’t know what you’ve got planned today but if you want to meet up tomorrow for coffee, that would be great since it’s your birthday.” I might say yes or no but the thought is just so sweet. Try it with your friends and I know they will appreciate you!
#6 Tell them something they would be interested to hear
As we develop friendships, we tend to find out a few things about our friends. For example, my best friend is a dancer and is really involved in the dance community. If I ever find out something about a “dance festival” or a newsworthy article about dance–I will send it to him.
Calling your friends to share the news is even better. Sharing something that interests them makes them appreciate the fact that you’re thinking of them.
#7 Supporting their passion(s)
I’m sure you’ve had friends that invite you to come to their “booth” at the local farmers market; or a friend that invites you to their club volleyball game. Every now and then and if you’re available, support them at these events! They will truly appreciate it. I know I will. The more you support your friend, the more you build connection and trust. Build stronger friendships by sharing and/or supporting passions!
#8 Listening to their problems and giving thoughtful feedback
This might be one of the most important habits to adapt. This helps to build stronger friendships! When a friend calls you (even if this friend doesn’t call you very much) and tells you about a problem they’re having, listen to them. They are going through something and the reason they called you might be because they truly want your advice and that they trust you.
Listen sincerely and when they ask for your feedback, give them a very thoughtful advice. Think about your past experiences or the experiences of others. Avoid lecturing them but instead be a shoulder to lean on.
#9 Inviting them over to your place
I believe that to be invited into someone’s home is a privilege, something not to be taken for granted. I believe that we must respect their space and follow their rules. If you ever get invited to a friend’s house even if it “happens all the time,” think of it as an honor. They invite you because they trust you, they like you, and they love you.
After all, would you invite a stranger to your house? We tend to invite the people we love.
So this means, if you want your friendships to grow stronger, try inviting your friend over for dinner or a party. This is great for those who you’ve just met and want to get closer to. It also shows that you are putting in the effort!
#10 Helping your friends!
In a guest post on Living Well Spending Less, Melanie Shankle of The Big Mama Blog said that one great quality of a best friend is saying “yes” to someone who asks for a favor before you even know what the request really is. Although, it all depends on the relationship. If you are trying to build a stronger friendship with someone, maybe you can start by helping them more!
If your friends are in trouble in some way, be available and help them. Sometimes when we do not see any rewards for helping someone and we tend to make excuses about how we can’t help them. It might be a good thing to be in the habit of expecting nothing in return.
I don’t know if you believe in “karma” but helping others might lead to them helping you in the future as well. Also, this act of kindness may possibly strengthen the bond between you and your friend. I say “possibly” because there is no way of knowing whether the friendship will be stronger or not; but a part of me thinks that helping does a great deal to make a friendship blossom.
Recap: You can build stronger friendships by
#1 Call your friends
#2 Invite them for coffee or lunch
#3 Be an appointment machine; set dates
#4 Do activities with friends
#5 Know your friends’ birthdays
#6 Share something they’re interested in
#7 Support their passion(s)
#8 Listen to their problems and give thoughtful feedback
#9 Invite them over
#10 Help your friends!
I’m sure there are more practices and habits that build stronger friendships but these 10 practices and habits are what works for me and I hope that the list will be useful to you.
Do you have any tips on how to build stronger friendships? Let me know by leaving a comment below; I’d love to hear it!