5 Secrets that will Take Your Friendships to the Next Level

Learn to enhance your friendships while finding your true self.

Did you know that relationships can actually make you live longer?

I recently ran across a study in book a called, “Safe People” by Dr. Henry Cloud and Dr. John Townsend.

In the study, researchers were investigating the the population of a town that in the 1960’s had one of the greatest life expectancies of the entire United States. Specifically, heart attack related deaths in the town were HALF the rate of the rest of the United States. The town’s name was Roseto, Pennsylvania. You can read about that study here:

The study concluded that there was one main reason the population of this town lived in such amazing health: Deep, long-lasting relationships.

Research shows that relationships are vital for living successful and happy lives. When people are on their death beds, they usually don’t want their money surrounding them or plaques of all their achievements. They want the people they love and the friends they cherish.

You are created for relationship.

These days friendship can be tricky. Technology and social media make us feel like we are having deep human interaction when in reality we are not.

As a school teacher, I have noticed more and more how students struggle to make personal connections because they are trained by their smartphones to have quick interactions and shallow conversations.

My students aren’t the only ones who struggle.

Recently I was on Facebook for about 40 minutes scrolling through my feed. I turned off my phone and had the sensation that I had just spent time with people. The truth is that I had not.

The only people who probably even noticed that I was a part of the conversation were the three people whose posts I commented on. I had spent 40 minutes embracing a false sense of friendship.

Because friendship is so important to our well-being, it is essential to know how to cultivate deep friendships.

If you want to make friends or take your current friendships to the next level, here is a list of some tips to get you started.

Tips for Enhancing Your Friendships

1. Reach Out

There were days when I felt like nobody cared to spend time with me. I’d check my phone 100 times during a day hoping that someone would contact me. One day it hit me: “Maybe the other people are doing the same thing. Why am I waiting for them to take the initiative? I should just reach out.”

Reaching out doesn’t have to be hard. The more you reach out the more responses you will get. It could be a comment on a Facebook post, (although that is just a beginning step - social media should never replace face-to-face friendship). It could be a text. It could be a phone call or inviting the person to a cup of coffee. Don’t wait for your acquaintances to reach out to you. Be the one who takes initiative and shows interest.

Note: One of the concerns people have with reaching out is the worry of rejection. What if the person doesn’t want to be with me? That is ok. You can’t force a person to like you. Shrug it off and reach out to someone else.

2. Be a Conversationalist

If you are shy and don’t know what to say to someone, I recently wrote an article on this very topic! The article covers the FORD method for starting conversation (Family, Occupation, Recreation, Dreams).

Here are some questions you can ask.

1. Family — Do they have siblings? Does their family live close by?

2. Occupation — What do they do for a living? If they don’t like their job, what would they like to be doing for a living?

3. Recreation — What do they do for fun? What are some of their hobbies?

4. Dreams — What do they want out of life?

When you are asking these questions, don’t trump the other person by breezing over their answers so you can share your story. Instead, ask follow-up questions. Peel away the layers of information they give you.

For example:

Layer 1: What do you do?
Layer 2: How long have you been in that job?
Layer 3: Do you like it?
Layer 4: Describe what a typical day in your job looks like.

By asking follow-up questions and really listening, you are showing interest in them.

Bonus tip: Try repeating back what you heard to make sure that you understood it correctly. This also shows your friends that you are truly listening.

3. Show up

After living in Mexico for years, I came back to the United States. At that point in time, a lot of my friends had moved back to my hometown. They started inviting me to hang out. I would often respond “maybe” to their invitations and sometimes “yes”.

Then the day of the event would come and I would text them about 5 minutes before saying that I couldn’t make it. It became a joke among my friends that I was elusive, and that if I actually showed up to hang out, it was a miracle.

Eventually, they stopped inviting me. And I lost contact with my friends for a long time.

You don’t’ have to say “ yes “ to every invitation, but make sure that you respond to their invitations. If you can’t or don’t want to go, just say “no” from the beginning instead of the leading them on. It is always better to respond!

Here are other ways to respond: If they call, call them back. If they text, text them back. If they offer a hug, hug them back. Show them that you care by being responsive to their attempts to reach out to you.

4. Open Up

Vulnerability and showing your true self is complicated. It leads to deep friendship, but it can also scare people away if you go deep too quickly.

When the time is right and you are ready to take your friendship to a deeper level, start having conversations with friends about your TRUE self.

  • Share a struggle that you have been going through.
  • Share a hurt.
  • Share something that made you truly happy and why that is important to you.
  • Share some of your dreams.
  • Share some of your fears.

If the friendship is ready, and the person is trustworthy, they will open up about their vulnerabilities too. If they don’t open up, either the friendship isn’t ready, or it is time to find new friends.

5. Speak the Truth

I live in the southern United States. Down here in the South, people are known for being polite and friendly.

However, this outward friendliness can also be negative. There is a dark side of politeness where people will lie to you or be passive aggressive. Sometimes people prefer to be polite over telling the truth.

If you want to make quality friendships, you need to take off your masks by being yourself and speaking the truth.

We all wear masks. It is part of having an efficient and productive society. There are certain etiquettes and behaviors that you have to follow at work, in public, at a restaurant, etc.

However, you can be yourself, speak the truth, and be polite all at the same time. Just keep in mind that “being polite” does not mean that everyone will agree with what you say. It simply means you are respectful with your truth telling.

Being yourself includes

  • sharing your true opinions about a topic.
  • sharing your wants and needs.
  • acting from who you really are and not what is expected of you.

When you speak the truth, there is a chance that people will not accept who you are. Again, that is their choice and you can’t change their minds. It is better to find new friends who do accept you than to be a false version of yourself.

Conclusion:

I have heard the argument “You can’t force friendship.”

That is true because you cannot force your will on other people. However, you can position yourself to receive friendship and to be a friend. I hope the above tips help you, but if you need a summary, remember this:

If you want friends, you have to be a friend.

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If you are breathing, you are an educator.

If you want to increase your influence and expand your impact, download my FREE ebook: “Profe Pablo’s 25 Teaching Tips that will instantly make your life easier” (PS — Be Careful with the one that tells you to stand on a desk. I’ve only fallen twice!)