Success is useless without relationships. What is a victory, if you don’t have a friend to share your celebration? You can have all the toys, fancy cars, beautiful houses, and dream vacations, but without someone to share them with, life can still feel empty. This chapter was inspired by a lesson taught in church by my good friend, Paul Watson. Most of us are looking for quality friendships, and we could benefit from being a better friend! Below are six keys to building quality friendships.
1. Invest Time
Many of us have acquaintances we can call to attend a concert, hit the gym, or invite to a BBQ. How many of those friends will invest the time if there’s not something in it for them? If you throw a party with a hundred people, how many of them stick around to clean up once the party ends? (Are you a friend who stays to help?)
If you want quality friendships, you need to invest time. The return is worth the investment! Many people sit around, feeling sorry for themselves when the phone doesn’t ring, and no one invites them to do things. If the phone isn’t ringing, pick it up and call someone! Make an effort and be the friend who invites others.
The book of Ruth is a short book in the Bible (only four chapters long) that describes an incredible friendship. Ruth showed amazing loyalty when she refused to leave her friend and mother-in-law, Naomi. It starts by telling a story of how famine in the land left Naomi a widow, and later her sons died as well. Ruth vowed to spend the rest of her life as a friend to Naomi.
Ruth 1:16-18 (NASB) But Ruth said, “Do not urge me to leave you or turn back from following you; for where you go, I will go, and where you lodge, I will lodge. Your people shall be my people, and your God, my God. “Where you die, I will die, and there I will be buried. Thus may the LORD do to me, and worse, if anything but death parts you and me.” When she saw that she was determined to go with her, she said no more to her.
Ruth declared that she would abandon her people, and her old identity, to stick with Naomi and follow her God. What a testament of friendship and dedication! She chose to stick by Naomi’s side and join her lifestyle. Tim Ferriss has a famous quote that says, “You are the average of the five people you most associate with.” The quality time you spend with friends will make a difference in your life, and theirs as well.
2. Earn Trust
Finding people who are trustworthy is a journey in and of itself. Whether it’s personal or professional, everyone values trust, but few people make it a priority. When you take the time to earn someone’s trust, you are telling them that you care. Being trustworthy shows that you value their needs, and you’re committed to making the relationship work.
Proverbs 20:6 (CEV) There are many who say, “You can trust me!” But can they be trusted?
Many of us have been burned in relationships. After a bad experience, it can be challenging to trust others. Trust is a two-way street. Trust is earned by one side and given by the other. If we are unwilling to commit to trusting others, our relationships fail.
Proverbs 17:17 (NLT) A friend is always loyal, and a brother is born to help in time of need.
Earning trust is difficult. It involves sacrifice, but it can definitely pay off. Ask anyone with a long-term relationship, whether it’s a partner in business or romance, and they will confirm that trust is hard but worth the effort. Create trust in relationships by showing time and time again that you are worthy of it!
Three Ways To Earn Trust In Friendships
- Be Reliable: Whether it’s for a boss, a spouse, or a friend, merely showing up on time can make a difference in someone’s ability to trust you. Show up 15 minutes early, whether you want to be there or not.
- Be Loyal: One way to kill trust quickly is to gossip or talk behind someone’s back. When a new friend hears you talking negatively about someone who isn’t there, it’s a great sign that you might do the same to them. Don’t say anything about someone that you wouldn’t speak directly to them.
- Keep Confidences: A true friend will not betray your confidence. Don’t share sensitive information. Treat your handshake as a binding contract. Show by your actions that your word is your worth.
3. Listen With Empathy
A verse in the book of James gives a great example of how to listen effectively. It’s also great advice for business and negotiations.
James 1:19 (NLT) You must all be quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to get angry.
This particular verse lays out three principles for listening with empathy:
- Be quick to listen: A crucial aspect of quality communication is the ability to understand what the other person is saying. Don’t listen just to plan your response.
- Be slow to speak: Many of us have spoken in haste and instantly regretted it! Take the time to formulate your responses carefully. Make sure you say what you want to communicate.
- Be slow to get angry: Perhaps the most difficult of these is vitally important. While anger might be your natural response to a situation, you have to slow down before reacting. You may not have all of the information, could have misunderstood someone, or they may not have been listening to you! Most of the time, taking a deep breath and clearing the air means you can continue without burning any bridges.
A commitment to careful listening will build up your friends and result in stronger relationships.
4. Accept Their Flaws
Pastor Paul Watson mentioned in a recent sermon, “the best way to lose a friend is to remind them of their flaws.”
Romans 15:7 (NIV) Accept one another, then, just as Christ accepted you, in order to bring praise to God.
Let’s face it: no one is perfect. The sooner you accept that reality, the sooner you can start helping others fill in their faults and reinforce their strengths. Whether you’re a leader or a coworker, accepting the flaws in others shows a great deal of wisdom. It also helps others to accept your flaws when you show a willingness to work with theirs.
Proverbs 17:9 (NIV) Whoever would foster love covers over an offense, but whoever repeats the matter separates close friends.
Dealing with issues and disagreements is an essential part of building friendships. However, we must be careful in our approach not to cause a rift. If you are dealing with a problem, keep it between the relevant parties. Avoid public drama or embarrassment for anyone involved.
5. Celebrate Wins and Share Losses
1 Corinthians 12:26 (RSV) If one member suffers, all suffer together; if one member is honored, all rejoice together.
Celebrating someone’s success brings great joy to all members of a team! On the flip side, a defeat in business or personal life can affect everyone around you. When building a friendship, it’s essential to understand what each party is going through. When we pump each other up and encourage those who are down, we solidify friendships and foster teamwork. Don’t miss the opportunity to rejoice in someone’s victory and show them you are happy for their success! Remember to comfort the downhearted, so they can recover and learn how to improve from defeat.
6. Bring Out The Best In Each Other
Proverbs 27:17 (NLT) As iron sharpens iron, so a friend sharpens a friend.
Friends and colleagues have a unique opportunity. As you interact with those around you, remember that your actions have farther-reaching consequences than you will ever know. Alongside this responsibility comes an exciting prospect: you have the chance to change someone’s life! What are you doing to sharpen your friends? How have they sharpened you?
There’s a saying, “like attracts like,” which means we typically hang around people who have similar interests and habits. Make it a point to encourage your friends and draw them to doing positive things. If your friends are only interested in hanging out and drinking on Friday nights, there’s a good chance you’ll end up in the same financial boat as them in 5 years.
Dedicate yourself to bring out the best in your friendship. It will deepen your connections, and you will all reap the rewards that come from true intimacy.