Whether we’re learning a new language, working on improving our grades, or trying a new hobby, self-improvement is always a worthy goal. But there’s one area for development that could change your life for the better, and it’s probably not what you’d think: it’s learning to be a better, more reliable friend. Relationships are important to our well-being and development. Building friendships teaches us social skills and empathy. It also teaches us how to laugh, have fun, and be ourselves. But are we being the best friends we can be? These tips for becoming a better friend will help you enhance who you are and what you bring to a friendship—or any other type of significant relationship.
Our friends are such a normal, integral part of our lives that we can sometimes forget to appreciate them. Gratitude comes in thousands of forms. You can show it by giving your friend a compliment, a hug, or even a thoughtful present. It doesn’t need to be expensive, simple things like silicone wristbands, handmade crafts, or even letters can do. We all like to feel appreciated. Showing your friends that you appreciate them will make them feel special and reinforce positive feelings about your friendship. Gratitude benefits you, too. People who regularly practice gratitude tend to feel happier and healthier. When you’re proud of your choices, your self-esteem improves. When you’re content with your lifestyle, you spend less time worrying—which means you can put more time into more important things, like relationships, hobbies, and school.
Everyone struggles a little bit with honest communication. It’s tempting to bottle up our stronger emotions and harsher opinions, but over time, this can lead to feelings of resentment and fractured relationships. If something is bothering you, let it out—but do it gently and kindly. Telling someone we’re dissatisfied with something—especially if it’s something specific they’ve done or said—can be scary. It might lead to an argument, and it might lead to tears, but by working out your feelings in an open, constructive way, you and your friend will be able to come out of the experience stronger.
Stand by Your Word
Another tip for becoming a better friend is to stand by your word. If you make promises, keep them. It might seem simple, but we’re all prone to slipping up. Sometimes, we make so many small promises in a day that it’s easy to let one or two slip our minds. But when we break our word, we show our friends that we’re unreliable, and that can make them feel like we don’t care. If you tell your friend that you’ll meet them on Sunday for breakfast and coffee, show up. Don’t leave them waiting. If they tell you a secret, keep it—though, of course, it’s wise to intervene in situations where your friend’s health or well-being is at risk. And if you can’t keep a promise you made, own up to it. A good friend will appreciate your honesty and won’t hold a minor slip-up against you.