From my late teens and into my early twenties; deep friendships were something that I was lacking. I was very lonely and knew that something needed to change. I sought out to make new friends. On this journey, I learned that developing stronger friendships was not that simple. I was without friends for what felt like years. But, over time I began making some headway and building strong friendships.
I can tell you today that the strong friendships I have developed in my life have been one of the primary joys in my life. Much of where I am today I owe to the people that have become my close friends.
Continue Reading About My Journey: ‘Ensured Success‘ »
I am writing this post today for one specific purpose – to help people develop stronger friendships in their lives.
As I began writing this post, I spent a lot of time reflecting on the meaningful friendships in my life. I thought a lot about how they had been formed and developed. From my time of self-reflection, I came up with this post; “4 Secrets to Developing Stronger Friendships”. But, before I share them, I want to share why I believe this topic of friendship is even being so widely discussed.
I’ve concluded that questions about developing stronger friendships are being asked because people are realizing that they feel less connected with others; even the ones they call friends. People are not wrong for feeling this way. In the world today, people are focused less on true relationships and more on our total number of acquaintances.
Why is this?
The short answer is that social media has caused the issues.
Although the issue runs much deeper than just social media itself; it’s certainly a major part of the problem. We’re “friends” on Facebook or we follow each other on Instagram… Does that mean we’re really friends? No, this is not the sign of true friendship; yet, we spend so much time/energy on these forms of media that they have (in may ways) replaced friendship.
True friendship cannot be formed through social media. The first step in developing stronger friendships is grasping this principle. We need to understand this – and agree with it.
Connecting face to face with another human-being is, and will always be, stronger than any Wi-Fi or LTE connection.
Understanding the importance of connecting with people face to face is the key to beginning to apply these four secrets I’m going to share in this post. You must first be willing to connect and engage with those in front of you, not dreaming of connecting with someone else. There is a great post on another blog that goes deeper into some of the issues caused by social media, you can read it here: Which Social Media Network Makes Us Feel the Worst?
4 Secrets to Developing Stronger Friendships
1. Seek first to be a friend.
Put others above yourself. In order to have friends, you must first be a friend. Ask yourself this, “What value am I bringing to this person’s life?” Don’t be quick to dump your problems on others, listen to theirs first. Don’t wait for people to reach out to you to spend time together, you be the initiator. Be proactive even if someone else never returns the favor.
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Get into the mindset that friendship is always about someone else, never yourself. Do for others what you wish they would do for you. By doing this, you’ll quickly develop a deep level of trust with those that you are seeking friendship with.
2. Become a great conversationalist.
Becoming a great conversationalist does not happen overnight. It takes years of practice. This is something that I have spent a lot of time working on in my own life; I’ll share what I’ve learned on the topic.
- Be aware of how much you are speaking. Want to have better conversations? Stop talking so much! Make the conversation about someone else, not yourself.
- Ask quality questions and provide positive feedback that shows you’re really listening. Don’t just nod while waiting for your turn to talk. Most people do not listen with the intent to understand; they listen with the intent to reply.
- Listen with your heart. Really seek to put yourself in someone else’s situation and to understand what is going on in their lives. Smile when they are happy about something even if you’re not having a good day. Seek to understand, then to be understood.
- Do not act like you have all the answers! No one likes a know-it-all. Sometimes people just need to talk out what they’re going through without receiving feedback.
3. Be an encouragement.
If there is one primary way to developing stronger friendships its encouragement. Encouragement is a catalyst for change in your life and in someone else’s life.
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The greatest thing you can do is encourage people when you are around them. Encouragement changes the atmosphere. It doesn’t matter what kind of day someone is having; a little encouragement will brighten anyone’s day. Always focus on being an encouragement to those around you!
4. Do something meaningful together.
Meaningful experiences turn into lifelong memories. This could be playing on a sports team together, going on a mission’s trip together or being part of a church small group together. Really, anything where the conversation gets deep and goes beyond face value is where friendships begin to grow and strengthen.
In my life, strong friendships have been formed through serving at church together, and through multiple city outreaches to help people. But the main environment that I have developed the strongest friendships in has always been church small groups. Even if you’re not a Christian, church small groups are the place to be to build strong friendships!
Developing stronger friendships is a lifelong journey and learning experience. But, I firmly believe that if you apply these 4 secrets to your life, you’ll begin to experience a breakthrough in your friendships!