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How to Be a Real Friend

“A real friend is one who walks in when the rest of the world walks out.” – Walter Winchell

If you can count the number of real friends you have on one hand, you’re rich, indeed. If you have more than five, perhaps you’re even more blessed. But what if you don’t think you have any real friends, people you can count on no matter what misfortune or happy circumstance you find yourself in? Are you destined to be only an accumulator of acquaintances or is there something you can do about it?

Rest assured, you’re not destined to lack real friends. You can do something to change your current less-than-real-friend status by changing how you act as a friend to others you’d like to include as real friends — and have real friendships as opposed to artificial or superficial ones.

Actively listen to others.

How many times do you catch yourself jumping into a conversation or interrupting another’s thought with your own comments? However wise you think your observations are, or how timely your opinion, suggestions, criticism or something else may be, you’d be better served by keeping your mouth closed and your ears open.

In other words, listen. Show by your body language, the way you meet their gaze, cock your head, and lean forward, that you care what the other person thinks. This creates a mutual respect that goes a long way toward securing a real friend.

Make a concerted effort to meet new people.

If you want to have real friends, you may need to expand your social network to meet new people. The ones you currently know may have already pigeonholed you as someone that’s only a casual acquaintance. While you can potentially change their perception over time, by broadening your network and expanding your circle of contacts, you can begin to demonstrate that you are worthy of real friendship.

You do this by acting as a real friend to the new people you meet. This, of course, doesn’t happen overnight. If you come on as too over-familiar or friendly, you might be regarded as creepy, invading personal boundaries. Use discretion and build upon initial contacts, keeping your promises and meaning what you say — always.

Real friends are treasures — cherish them.

It’s worth mentioning here that real friends are like precious metals — they’re rare and incredibly valuable. Make it a point to value or prize real friendships. You’re much more likely to go to any lengths necessary to hold onto such a friendship if you value it above all else. Let your real friends know how much they mean to you with little gifts, earnest compliments, doing something for them without any expectation of reciprocity.

Act according to your words.

A time-proven method to show that you are worthy of a real friendship is to behave according to your words. If you commit to meet a friend (casual, at this point) to help on a project, be there on time and ready to work. No last-minute text that something came up or you’ll need to reschedule. That’s double-speak for you aren’t trustworthy, that your word means nothing. If you want a friend that will be there for you, make sure you’re there for them, every time. Cultivating real friendship requires work. To have real friends, you must be a real friend.

Insist on integrity and show by your actions that you have it.

Being ethical and honest in your dealings with others also demonstrates that you have personal integrity. This is highly prized in real friendships. It is a high compliment indeed when someone says of another that they act with integrity. Can your friends or acquaintances say that about you? If not, start showing that you have integrity by acting accordingly.

Go out of your way to help when someone needs it.

A real friend will not shy away from their friend’s problems, pain, emotional distress, grief, loss or any situation where help is needed. Even if your friend says he or she can handle (being fired, getting dumped, receiving unwelcome news from the doctor, feels lost, misunderstood, alone or confused), it doesn’t mean that’s the case. You should know your friend well enough to instinctively know that your helping hand — even if you’re just there to provide moral and emotional support — will help ease your friend’s discomfort. A real friend stands by you no matter what. Be that person.

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