Developing the eight-step approach to friendship

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I remember the day I conducted my first workshop on interpersonal skills, a couple of decades ago, and ‘oh boy’, it was fun’’. I was part of training and development then, and cordial behaviour and friendships featured on the agenda. Funnily enough, I have reached a place where I favour practising, rather than talking or teaching on the subject and aspire to support intimate constructive friendships. Written by Martin Kahn

I prefer that people around me feel positive, relaxed, and respected. The idea is, treat others the same way I expect to be treated.After all ,it takes two to build a relationship, friendship, even casual acquaintances, and both parties must agree and be willing towards building friendship.

In case of disagreements and divergent views, often helpful and appreciative behaviour helps in building goodwill and positions towards a quicker change of his-her mind than by arguing or storming out at them. Always be helpful, approachable, noncommittal, and gentle, this is both possible and advisable.

Hence, my first approach to friendship is, Treat everybody in a warm and a gentle manner’’.

The second approach is about exchanging of ideas. Investing the time and effort results in learning about backgrounds, cultures, and the differen affairs of menand women. Every person irrespective of their life context has a solution or wisdom that solves a problem and will often talk of it. So, be alert while listening, understand the context, study the application, and profit from their experience. Not to mention the other party can also profit likewise. Of course, avoid being very inquisitive or personal. Therefore, my second approach towards friendship is that you can gain something from every person you interact with.

Look forward to gaining from every person and interaction’’.

Having said this, we are not vending machines. I mean, like you push a button, and the machine dispenses a particular behaviour of choice. Without spending a quantity of time, you cannot expect friendship. Also, expecting 100% from others is not sensible. Your contribution and expectation from a potential friendship must be realistic. Contributing too much will starve you and too little makes one weak, dependent, and unfavourably exploitative.

Thus, my third take on friendship,The expectation from self and others must be realistic’’.

Ok, I get it, but how does one go about it, I must put my best foot forward and be desirable right?’’Wrong, the answer is quite simple but needs a change of thinking, behaviour, practice, patience, and self-awareness. Here is how it would look like.

Being self-aware and paying close attention to how and what you say makes a good starting point. Understanding that our current actions decide our future, another key point. Renewed thinking leads to change in actions, resulting in a changed future.

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Recognising that people are interested in themselves and favour only who show genuine interest in them. Smiling and taking a person’s name are two effective ways of showing genuine interest. Whatever the situation, if you smile and remember the person’s name you have covered a lot of ground. Repeat names when you meet someone for the first time to remember difficult names easily. This shows you are actively trying to remember it and that you care about meeting them and want to remember who they are. This makes people feel important and valued. So, my fourth approach to building friendships,

‘Smiling and remembering names is an effective way of showing genuine interest’’.

The next action on the list needs attention, mental exercise, and effort, but interesting. Be alert, listen carefully memorising the last conversation and remember the same in the next one. For example, use sentences like, The last time we spoke you told me your new project had started or about your dog etc, how is the project going?’’ Recalling it effortlessly is the greatest compliment you can give to someone and show that you are listening to them. Be a good listener. Talk in terms of the other person’s interests, making them feel relevant. Thereupon, the next important action to boost friendship is;

‘Listen carefully, memorise, and recall in the next conversation’’.

Do this, and do it sincerely, and you are ready to move ahead. Most people love to share their ideas, experiences, their lessons learned and perspective on life. Appreciate their outlook saying, ‘I like your point of view or the way you see the world’. Speak about a topic that is important to people, asking them to share their thoughts. This helps you to understand if you have anything in common with the person. Plus, friendships rarely fizzle out while trying to learn about the other person’s ideas, feelings, and thoughts. If you find an interesting fact in the conversation, fire back saying so. Make genuine observations and pay compliments. Ask questions like, ‘what do you think’ on a topic of their choice. Enrich your experience and knowledge on the subject. This generates willingness, desire in people to cooperate and relate to you further, but before that to summarise point six,

Talk on topics of their choice with genuine observations and compliments’’.

With practice, you see other people’s perspective and become influential, ready to take the next action. Never argue, arguments strengthen current beliefs of an individual. A person accepts your friendship or acts on your suggestion when he-she wants to do so. You cannot force this. Continue to treat the person as if in possession of the desired trait. Show your ideas and suggestions in a vivid, interesting, dramatic way and why it would be in their best interest. Avoid labelling a person negatively instead project a positive label that you wish to see. For example, ‘You seem good at cycling, how about a trip to the mountains?’ This arouses an eagerness for action and encourages to reach for the image, label, or expectation. We must do this keeping cultural sensitivity in mind. Trust in the person’s ability and share a responsibility to show it. Thus, the seventh action point must be,

Patiently treat others as if in possession of the desired trait’’.

Like the earlier one, further action also deals with positive and negative aspects of interactions with friends or acquaintances. Always be positive, do not criticise, condemn, speak badly about self and others. Speaking ill or joking derogatorily about people creates a negative vibe. It erodes self-confidence and makes one anxious about other people’s jokes and opinions. Avoid complaining or always discussing negative things, it makes one cynical. Moaning and complaining does not help, and nobody likes it. Admit when you are wrong and change the behaviour instead of making excuses, e.g., forgetting names. Focus your energy and time on being productive and undertake a positive goal. The gist being,

Focus on being positive, be supportive of self and others, always avoid negativity’’.

If you are struggling to make friends, I recommend you work on the above 8 step guide to meet new people and connect. Out of the people you meet daily, only a handful will become your friends and a close friend even fewer. The aim is to meet, greet, and learn from your daily acquaintances without being overbearing or forceful. Keep conversations light, noncommittal, non-personal and not over 30 seconds at a stretch. Trust me, it is fun interacting with people and getting to know them if they are willing.

Finally, overlook destructive behaviour and practise forgiveness. Be fearless and willing to compromise on differences, but not sacrifice. Bitterness destroys the soul. Your time is precious. Do not waste it hating, thinking, and waiting for people who do not treat you as you treat them. Surround yourself with people who are healthy for the best part in you.

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