#itsdad ~ How to be an Excellent Friend

Hey guys, it’s Dad,

This morning I remembered (OK I didn’t remember, my phone reminded me) that it was one of my friend’s birthdays. We’re pretty close friends, so I called him up to say hello and wish him well. Funny though, as I was reading over the post on his Facebook page, I saw something that I’ve seen countless times, but it never bothered me until today. Today I saw a post that simply said, “HBD.”Initially, I didn’t even know what it meant. I looked for a response from my friend to see if I could figure it out, but there wasn’t one. My friend “Liked” the “HBD” comment, but he still gave no response. Then it hit me…HBD! Happy Birthday! When I figured it out, I unconsciously rolled my eyes back and shook my head. Why did that post upset me? I guess it didn’t really upset me, but I was more feeling let down. We have become obsessed with efficiency; doing things quickly and with little effort. We fast forward our movies, our TV shows, and even our meals. We’re starting to fast forward our entire lives! We’ve become so obsessed that we’ve forgotten how to be effective. There’s a huge difference between effective and efficient. We need to be effective in our relationships; not efficient. Let me explain. Being effective means to produce the highest quality result. That’s what we want for our friendships: High quality friends. Honestly though, do you want your relationships to be efficient (quick and with little effort)? At what point would you want your friends to be “efficient” with you? Where should they or you cut corners to save time? I have very few true friends. But they are my very best friends, and they matter to me. How they feel matters to me.

Forgive my harshness, but the sender of this thoughtless, emotionless, lazy-mans-way birthday wish was either A) so busy that he couldn’t be bothered to spend twenty seconds of his valuable time to write a kind, well thought out, sincere and effective birthday wish, B) he didn’t actually care about my friend in the first place, or C) he was actually just being lazy (which we have all been guilty of)

So here’s my question: If you’re too busy, don’t care, or too lazy, why say anything at all? It’s not a requirement! You didn’t have to send a birthday wish. It’s likely that nobody would have missed it.Imagine what my friend felt on his birthday, when he read “HBD” on his timeline. (I bet there were 20 or more identical posts). He probably felt nothing at all, right? So the birthday wish was…ineffective. Now imagine if he saw this on his timeline: “JOHN!!!! Happy Birthday! Man, you’re 43 now! Crazy how time goes by so fast. I’m 50 now. FIFTY! Feelin’ great though, and I hope you are too. I just wanted to send you quick note letting you know that I was thinking about your, and to wish you a happy birthday today. I hope that you, your bride, and your kiddos have a great time celebrating! Drop me a line if you’re ever out this way, ok? We’ll go grab a burrito down the street and get caught up! Again, HAPPY BIRTHDAY! Chat soon!” There! See? That took just a little under ninety seconds to type out. Less that two minutes! I know, I know. “But I’ve got 1,462 friends on Facebook and it would take me all day to send out birthday wishes. It’s just so much easier to use abbreviations. Yep, it is. It’s so much easier.Now, I’m not here to tell you that nobody has 1,462 friends, but…yes I am. We don’t have enough hours in our lives to manage than many TRUE friends. If you can’t be bothered to even spell out two simple words, only to replace them with three initials, perhaps it’s better that you don’t say anything at all. In fact, Happy Birthday is actually only two words, so wouldn’t the abbreviation simply be HB? Heck, that would even save 33% more time by dropping the “D”. When we’re dealing with people, our goal should never be “efficiency.” It needs to be effectiveness. Isn’t the point of sending a birthday greeting to make the recipient feel good? “HBD” isn’t going to cut it, and neither is a response of “TY.”
So how can I be effective in my relationships? Well, just like we have to do in life, we have to be present; be in the moment with our relationships. In order to be effective

you have to show a sense of authenticity and vulnerability. You need make the time and take the time to communicate the intended message.In today’s day and age of shortcuts, life hacking strategies, laziness, and narcissism (that means really only being interested in yourself) we have a real opportunity to stand out. We can stand out as a model friend, a loving brother, cousin, or child. All we have to do is take a few extra moments away from ourselves and give those few moments to a few people that mean the most to you. You can give those moments to someone who needs them. You can lend an ear to a friend that wants to share. You can stop for a moment and think of a happy memory, then reach out to the people you were with at that happy time and say thank you. When I was really young, your Papa Jim told me that God gave us two ears and one mouth so that we would listen more than we speak. THAT is a beautiful lesson in effectiveness. I’m no expert, but it has served me well in my relationships at home, with friends, at school, with clients, and on and on. Don’t be quick with your friends, be excellent with your friends. Show an interest in them. Ask them questions, then listen with the purpose of understanding their excitement, their pain, their fears. Then, once you understand how they’re feeling, lean on the golden rule. Treat them in a way that you would like to be treated if you felt the way that they are feeling. Comfort them, laugh with them, celebrate with them and for them. If you do this, you will have more true friends than you can possibly imagine, but no so many that you have to wish them all a “HBD.”I love you boys!

​Love Dad

Originally published at harvestinginsight.weebly.com.