How To Build Strong Friendships

Friendships, relationships, friendlationships, and interpersonal men's issues.
musicmonkey
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How To Build Strong Friendships

Unread postby musicmonkey » Thu Jun 02, 2005 8:10 pm

What hurts friendships, and what builds them up? Here's some practical advice.

"With friends like that, who needs enemies?" How many times have you heard a phrase like that describing a relationship in which colliding egos and clashing wills are destroying a friendship? Still, people seek out relationships because God created in us a need for friends and companionship. Loneliness and isolation gnaw at those without friends.

Good friendships are integral parts of our lives. They have been called a mirror that reflects our moods and characteristics, strengths and weaknesses. The foundation of a strong friendship is to be more concerned with others than with yourself. Out going concern - love - that's what makes friends and helps you to keep them.

What Hurts Relationships?

In order to see how to build strong friendships, let's look at the forces that work to destroy relationships and then examine constructive building blocks.

First, we must be wary of jealousy. It erodes outgoing concern more than anything else. It's suffocating to a friendship because it goes hand in hand with lust. Instead of caring and sharing, lust gets and takes advantage of others, finally killing a relationship.

Another destructive factor is distrust. Distrust thwarts that closeness, openness and sharing so essential to friendship. Gossip and talebearing also quickly consume relationships. You've probably been with people who seem to constantly run others down - sometimes even those they call their friends. It's an easy habit to get into, but it can lead to some devastating results.

It irks me to hear that someone is saying bad things about me behind my back. Yes, I know, when that happens you should ignore it. "Sticks and stones my break my bones, but words will never hurt me," goes the old saying. But it's hard to make people forget what others have said about you.

The Bible says that death and life in the power of the tongue (Proverbs 18:21). Gossip, name calling and slander erode relationships as quickly as fire consumes wood.

Don't Overdo It

Perhaps you do avoid these destructive flaws, but still have trouble making or keeping friends. It could be that you're trying too hard. If you are too accommodating (always agreeing with someone just to win his or her friendship, you are not being yourself, and the other person may feel you're covering up your own feelings.

True, we should take the initiative in beginning friendships. A man who has friends must show himself friendly, the Bible says. You will not make new friends by sitting around waiting for someone to coax you out of your apathy or shyness. But it's important not to demand, grovel or pout in order to be liked. You can't rush into relationships, trying to make an impression.

Avoid trying to prove yourself and impress others. You'll find maintaining a few good solid friendships is better than trying to impress and endless string of people. Steer clear of the too-few-friends, too may acquaintances syndrome. Flattery won't help a relationship, either. Flattery is defined as "excessive praise given for ulterior motives."

A compliment, on the other hand, is "an expression of appreciation offered with sincerity, with no thought of personal gain." You can make a person feel good all day by saying a fitting word of honest praise or recognition, but flattery hurts because it is empty of true meaning.

Another vital ingredient for successful relationships is appreciation listening. This isn't just polite silence. It's an effective technique called listening, which is responding to others' comments in a way that lets them know you think their ideas, feelings and experiences are important. If you pay attention during a conversation, you will constantly be given clues about what to say.

Tact is important. So many times inappropriate words that you later regret slip out. It only takes a split second to revise a statement or question through your billions of brain cells.

How You Say It?

How can you use conversation to build a strong friendship? Good results can come from practicing the following seven steps:

1. Don't grab the conversation with "Yes, now take me, for instance..." You know how irritating it is to hear someone who has to have the final word on everything, from aardvarks to zymurgy (a branch of applied chemistry that deal with the fermentation process).

2. Don't let your gaze wander from the other person's face, except momentarily. Give undivided attention.

3. Affirm the feelings of the other with praise, encouragement, hope or just a nod. Sometimes, like when a friend is explaining a serious problem, it can be hard to find the right words. But a nod of encouragement goes a long way.

4. Don't interrupt.

5. Don't try to top the other person's story or joke. Remember, also, that it can be embarrassing to tell a joke someone has already heard. If you've heard it, you don't need to tell everyone.

6. Try to feel what the other person feels by putting yourself in his or her place.

7. Don't argue!

The Bible verse on friendship 1 Corinthians 13:1-13 tells us to be positive about our friends by believing the best, not thinking evil and not rejoicing in iniquity (lawbreaking).

Friendships need constant nurturing. Both partners must have a sense that one friend is not leaning or depending too much on the other and a sense that both are gaining from the relationship. Disagreement is fine. If friends never have conflicting views (that doesn't mean quarreling), it could be a sign of apathy. People with convictions will disagree. If two people share a deep bond of like-mindedness or affection, it will survive constructive argument.

By not expecting serenity every day, a friend avoids the dangers of boredom. A budding friendship takes time and commitment from both parties if it's to become a fulfilling relationship. The hallmark of friendship is being more concerned with others than with yourself; remember, that's what makes friends.

Fame and fortune are relatively minor evidences of success. You'll be a truly successful person if you become a loving, giving individual, one who is constantly building friendships and trying to bring happiness to others.

Source: http://dejnarde.ms11.net//youth_article.htm
Last edited by musicmonkey on Thu Mar 02, 2006 7:01 pm, edited 1 time in total.

musicmonkey
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How to be a Popular Person

Unread postby musicmonkey » Mon Sep 12, 2005 11:47 am

How to be a Popular Person
by Dr. Bill Gaultiere (2001)

People who make desirable, genuine friends are well liked for good reasons. Popular people practice certain skills that make them attractive to others and make their relationships more likely to succeed. Practice as many of these skills as you can until they become they become a habitual part of your lifestyle and character. Then loneliness will be an infrequent and momentary experience for you.

  1. Schedule social time. Your calendar should have room for relationships. Things like support groups, quality time with family, one-on-one time with friends, community service, and social events are regular parts of the schedules of popular people.
  2. Maintain a positive attitude. An enthusiastic, encouraging, positive approach to life is winsome and it makes relationship opportunities succeed. Expect others to respond positively to you and usually they will. Be friendly and people will want to talk with you again.
  3. Be an active listener. Ask open-ended questions that draw people out. Reply to others with caring comments that are connected to what has been said to you. Contrary to what most think, you don't have to be interesting to be popular; you have to be interested.
  4. Bounce back from rejection. Everyone feels rejected or shunned from time to time. The key is how you react to rejection. Those who are socially secure and confident don't take rejection personally. They realize that it can result from misunderstanding, the other person's problems or mood, or an incompatibility. They learn from their experience, bounce back, and try again – with the same person or someone new.
  5. Contain your emotions. Nobody likes to be dumped on. Don't ramble on and on about your problems and don't overreact to situations with huge emotional displays. Think about what you're going to say before you say it. When expressing your feelings, take ownership of what you feel and be clear by saying, "When that happened I felt..."
  6. Diffuse disagreements. Disagreement and conflict is inevitable in any close relationship. Work at stopping conflicts from escalating by validating the other person's feelings, apologizing for your wrongs, and negotiating resolutions.
  7. Express your sense of humor. Everyone likes to laugh. Share jokes or funny stories and try to find the humor in situations and talk about it.


Source: http://www.hopeway.org/lifehelps/getconnected.asp

musicmonkey
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How can you Build STRONG Relationships?

Unread postby musicmonkey » Tue Sep 13, 2005 7:48 pm

How can you Build STRONG Relationships?
by Mike Summers, Your Choice Magazine

What do you want from me? What do I want from you? Why do we wear the label "Christian?" If we read the Bible from cover to cover we easily come to the conclusion that the Bible is a book that talks about two major relationships--God and man and man and man. One of the major aspects of being alive is that we are able to enter into relationships that are fun, exciting, and warm. These relationships are called friendships. Christians are to become "good" friends with God and each other.

Who are you? Who am I? In the initial phase of a relationship these questions are answered. Who I am is largely what I think and how I respond to you, others and my environment. Ditto for you. Getting to know you and others is what life is all about. In order for me to know you, you must "open up" to me and feel comfortable in doing it. I must do the same. Unfortunately, if you do not understand and appreciate yourself (that does not mean you narcisstically love yourself) you will not accept and appreciate me. There are two extremes to avoid in relationships, "wondefulizing" ourselves or others and "demonizing" ourselves or others.

Relationships grow rapidly during their initial stages, probably because there is a certain excitement about creating new friendships. And then, most of us value highly friendships that we can open up in. However, opening up does not mean we have go into "gory" details of our past. It means letting others know what we think about current situations.

The more open and self-disclosing we are in our conversations with others, the more likely others will like us. Self-disclosure should be honest, genuine and unaffected. It should be reciprocated in kind or there will be a tendency to feel vulnerable, exposed and not open up any further.

To be sure, there is a certain amount of risk involved in opening up to others. How we respond to the others' self-disclosure can either build or destroy the relationship. This is where Christians need to be very careful. Many of us can be extremely judgmental, damning and condemning. Acceptances, understanding and warmth build a relationship. Try to avoid strong disagreements in new relationships. Damning and condemning expressed in statements like, "How could you do that?" tend to help their recipients think they have committed the unpardonable sin. The purveyor of such statements usually soon leaves the relationship in a self-righteous tirade. He or she has become too good to associate with a "dirty rotten sinner." Writing on the ground may bring "goody two shoes" back into reality and help him realize that his friend has not committed the "unpardonable sin." Perhaps he may see the three fingers pointing back at him (John 8:4-10).

God reveals (self-discloses) Himself as our Creator Father and best friend. We can trust Him. He knows every aspect of our past and has not rejected us because of it.

Trust is important

The development and nuturance of trust is important in any relationship because it is foundational. Relationships are not enjoyable if there is a lack of trust. They become uncomfortable. Abraham was a good friend of God. "I know my servant Abraham that he will do all that I ask him." Trust is essentially the knowledge that we will respond to the other person in a positive manner. To build strong friendships people need to know we will accept them. "I know my friend Mike will treat me fairly. He will not reject me if he finds out I have "flaws.""

For you to like me and me to like your we must trust each other (do not confuse this kind of trust with what the Bible says about trusting a man for salvation). If we tell the details of anothers' self-disclosure that may be construed as being untrustworthy.

The most effective means of communicating trust is through the expression of affection for another. Telling people we like them, smiling, sharing experiences, and hugging creates trust.

Silence is not "golden" in relationships. It tends to be perceived as indifference at best and rejection at worst. If we do not communicate with people to the extent they to communicate with us, they will not trust us.

Summation

Two keys to building enjoyable friendships are self-disclosure and trust. We will explore other factors involved in building friendships in the second part of this article.

How can you Build Strong Relationships? - Part 2

Each person brings to a friendship certain expectations. These expectations can be simple or complex. Unfortunately, most of us are only vaguely aware of these expectations. Nevertheless, when people meet our expectations, we generally tend to appraise them highly. We like people that do the things that we want them to do. When people stop doing the things we want, we change our appraisal towards the negative. The friendship becomes less enjoyable. We'll talk more about some of these expectations later in this article.

We can think of friendship as a bank account into which friends deposit and withdraw from. If care is not paid to the balance, it can easily go out of kilter. If we make the mistake of only taking from the account, there won't be anything for the other person. The account becomes unbalanced. The relationship is then in trouble.

Put simply, friendships deteriorate because people don't get what they want from them. If we want to make a relationship last, we had better determine what our friend wants from the friendship and try to give what he wants. For the friendship to be balanced, both partners must get a significant amount of what they want from the relationship. Therefore, it's important both partners keep a watchful eye on the "balance."

Suppose a friend treats you to lunch several times. He is depositing into the friendship account. Naturally, you feel warm and good because its nice to be treated to lunch. Perhaps you would not go to lunch because you could not afford it if you were not treated. Your friend pays because he may want your company. A heartfelt thanks would be in order. But, if your friend perceives that you have the money but are simply too "tight" to reciprocate, your friendship account will soon be out of balance. Continue to take without giving and you will find your friend negatively responding to you or avoiding you. Just as a farmer does not plant seeds without expecting to get something in return, so, people do not give and give without expecting something in return. We keep a mental record of our transactions with others. Too many withdrawals from the friendship account without deposits and the friendship will be in trouble. That's reality!

Basic Wants

There are some basic things that people want from friendships--honesty and integrity go without saying. There is nothing that will unbalance a friendship quicker than lies and dishonesty. Keep your word if you possibly can. If you have to break a promise, let your friend know. Most people are understanding enough to know that we can't always do what we say.

Another requirement for good friendship is time spent together. Spreading yourself to thin makes you everybody's friend and nobody's friend.

Anger has no place in friendships. We can say some nasty things when we are heated. Anger is one of the best ways to wipe out a friendship account. If you have a problem with anger, work on it. But, leave it out of your friendships. It is more effective to calmly disagree and discuss a subject than to display anger. Replace anger with "appropriate concern."

Understanding & Acceptance

More than any other characteristic in a relationship, people want to be understood and accepted. When a friend has a struggle with something that matters a great deal to him but he hasn't overcome, behaving non-judgmentally will create more appreciation in our friend than we might imagine.

People often play a game in their mind called "If they knew." They muse, "If they knew 'this' about me, they probably wouldn't be my friend." The person is attempting to determine if the friendship can withstand reality (that people are fallible, flawed creatures). Many friendships end because God has not made people as "perfect" as we think they ought to be. That's something we really need to think about. Encouraging a person to overcome a weakness is fine. Insisting by our attitude that a friend must overcome a weakness, or turn it into a lifelong obsession, puts a lot of stress on a friendship. Disappointment soon follows, when our "great expectations" are not met!

Enjoyable Friendships

What makes a truly enjoyable and a long lasting friendship? Affection. Friendships thrive on it. Telling people we like them, giving them a "bear" hug or doing some other nice act goes along way to make friendship blossom. We like people that are thoughtful, considerate, kind hearted, understanding--nice. If you would build a friendship, be nice. A card, a gift, a letter, praise, and appreciation keep the friendship account full.

If she thinks an anniversary is the most important time of the year to her. We had better play up that day as much as we can. Get her flowers, take her out to dinner and attempt to satisfy her every whim. If he likes roast and potatoes on his birthday, we had better do our best to make sure he has gets just that. It may be a challenge to figure out what our friend's desires are, because we are all different. However, figuring out what another persons desires are and then trying to reasonably satisfy them goes a long in keeping a friendship balanced and happy.

Leadership

Leadership is shared and goes back and forth among friends most of the time without notice. No one is a dictator--leading is by consensus. Whoever is most qualified in a particular area emerges as the leader for the particular situation. If leadership does not flow freely back and forth in the friendship the friendship becomes unbalanced. "Good" friends often share leadership without even realizing it. They understand give and take is a part of life.

We have all been in friendships where we felt we were giving, and getting little in return. How long was it before the friendship ended once we started thinking we were being used? But, that's what happens when someone takes more than they give in a relationship. Look at our divorce statistics and you will see that this statement is true.

How do you know if you are giving the other person what they want? When all else fails, ask. Do the little things. Make note of a person's Birthday and send them a card. Plan a special evening where both friends enjoy a concert, a play a wholesome movie together. Do something together. Reward positive behavior by statements like, "It was nice of you to send the card." Etc.. We can be detectives to find out other's likes and dislikes. These and other positive steps help build relationships. Above all be creative. But do something!

Best Type

Essentially, the best type friends to be are those that can stand on their own two feet (male or female). Make an effort to be mentally healthy. The psychologically healthy individual is able to be happy with or without things (as was the Apostle Paul). He or she desires and usually has several good friends or can have a main friend as a marriage partner. They have the green-eyed monster under control. He or she is jealous in the sense they want to continue an enjoyable partnership, but they are not overly jealous. As long as friends spend enough time with each other they don't mind their friends having other interests--which can mean hobbies or other friends. If he likes Monday night football-- she sees no threat in letting him enjoy that while she spends an evening with the girls or does something else that interests her.

Playing Roles

Too often married friends think they own each other. They stop being friends and start playing a role called "husband and wife!" The idea that another person is property is as pernicious as the day is long. When people stop getting what they want from a friendship they often start to manipulate the other partner by claiming ownership. It rarely works for long, because we are autonomous. Sometimes, people will even use the laws of God to try and make their partner do what they "demand. " Unfortunately, demands don't exactly endear us to others. Realistically, relationships are largely voluntary. That's something we best realize. If we don't have the other person's heart, all the threats in the world are not going to make the relationship work.

What Works?

What makes people stay in a relationship is the balance in their friendship account. Our attitude had better be one of willingness to give value for value or we will not succeed in maintaining a friendship. People divorce people that are snotty, unthoughtful, constantly taking without giving, demanding, unnegotiable, mean spirited, and "right!" If you want to avoid ending a friendship, check your attitude and change it, if it is out of line. Above all, keep your friendship account balanced.

Many Christians have unfortunately gullibly swallowed the idea that a mate is suppose to "complete" them. This erroneous idea causes much mischief in relationships. A little reasoning will expose its falsity. The Bible says that a woman was to be a help meet for a man. A help meet helps out where the help is desired. The stronger and more independent, the more desirable the "help" meet is. When we are "needy," a friend that tries to fill our sick "needs" tires quickly. Half-there people, make poor friends. They require constant attention, are usually obsessed with themselves, spend an inordinate amount of time concerned with having their own sick "needs" met, and therefore have little time to devote to anything--let alone someone else.

The most enjoyable relationships we can have are friendships. If we keep our friendship accounts balanced, they will last a lifetime!

phathurkryme

Unread postby phathurkryme » Tue Sep 13, 2005 8:12 pm

Thanks for posting these. It was a true blessing to read, and I'll surely be watching what I say and how I interact more in the future, and taking everything said here under consideration.

flipster
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Location: michigan

Unread postby flipster » Tue Sep 13, 2005 8:33 pm

I have never hesitated to tell buddies that I am proud to have them as a friend. I might have missed, it but I also think being confidential in discussions is right at the top of things to do.


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