Author Topic: Get friendly  (Read 2095 times)

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Offline sithari

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Get friendly
« on: December 11, 2006, 10:35:53 PM »
Friendship is a vital ingredient for experiencing joy and fulfilment in life. A good friend heightens happiness, lightens sorrow, provides stability during a time of personal chaos, acts as a cushion when life sends harsh blows, and becomes an anchor in a professional or personal storm. A strong bond with another individual provides both a sense of purpose in life.

In spite of the clear benefits of friendship, many women and men today feel more deprived of friendships than people in previous generations. People have many acquaintances, but few close friends, and they think of this as a serious void in their lives. Although people understand the value of friendship, they find that making friends isn't easy. If you feel the same way, here are some simple tips for getting closer to people:

Tips for amiability
Commit to becoming more sociable: Friendship don't just happen. Successful friendship require some work, planning and organising. Commit yourself to the process of making friends. That means taking some risks by initiating contact and being the first to extend the hand of friendship. Practise becoming more of a social animal. Introduce yourself to a new person in your office building, neighbourhood or the grocery store.

While standing in a line at a grocery store or bank, strike up a conversation with whoever is near you. Organise a small dinner party of three to five people, and invite at least one person you don't know well. The next time you have a problem, find someone in your office or neighbourhood who is not particularly close to you and ask his or her advice.

Stand by friends: Stand by your friends in good times - and bad. Loyalty is another essential ingredient for intimacy and friendship, yet many people have a lopsided understanding of loyalty. The best of friendships take place when people serve as both 'buffers' and 'boosters' to each other. They act as 'buffers' to reduce the pain of a negative, frustrating, hurtful experience and 'boosters' to enhance, heighten and maximise the pleasure of a positive event.

Do not allow your concept of loyalty to be one-dimensional, limited to supporting a friend only in times of adversity. The other side of loyalty is festive. It involves celebrating a friend's success and victory.

Make kindness a daily habit: Like the sun, which melts away the winter ice, daily kindness causes obstacles and barriers between people to evaporate. People who are kind are never lacking in friendships.

Basketball star Michael Jordan is one of the most respected and popular professional athletes. He also is very kind and generous. Following a game one cold night, the Chicago Bulls superstar saw a handicapped boy in a wheelchair. The youth was eagerly staring at the athlete. Jordan walked over to the boy, knelt by him and engaged him in conversation. The boy was clearly thrilled by Jordan's kindness. When the boy's father tried to snap a picture, the camera didn't work. Without being asked, Jordan continued to kneel by the boy's side until the father was able to take the shot. Only then did the superstar return to his car.

Show genuine interest in other people: "You can make more friends in two months by becoming more interested in other people, than you can in two years by trying to get people interested in you," observed author Dale Carnegie. Another person who understands the truth of that statement is Mary Kay Ash, founder of Mary Kay cosmetics.

She recalls a turning point in her professional life: "I began my sales career in my early 20s as a very shy young woman. It was difficult for me to ask for sales - until someone convinced me that it is every bit as honourable to sell as it is to buy. My advice to sales people is this: Pretend that every single person you meet has a sign around his or her neck that says, 'Make me feel important'. Not only will you succeed in sales, you will succeed in life."

Cultivate openness: While people who share close friendships may be younger or older, male or female, professional or blue collar, a common denominator is their ability to be open and transparent. The people around them know when they are happy, hurting, disappointed, depressed or excited. Those who have strong bonds of friendship cultivate openness. People are attracted to those who practise the art of self-disclosure.

One of the most well-liked modern religious leaders was Pope John XXIII. People were drawn to him, partially because he lacked pretence. The son of poor Italian peasants, overweight most of his life, he never pretended to be more than he was. Upon being elected Pope, one of his first acts in office was to visit a large jail in Rome. As he gave prisoners his blessing, he remarked that the last time he had been in jail had been to visit his cousin!

Express praise frequently: Consider this insight from psychologist Jess Lair: "Praise is like sunlight to the warm human spirit; "we cannot flower and grow without it. And yet, while most of us are only too ready to apply to others the cold wind of criticism, we are somehow reluctant to give the warm sunshine of praise." Train your eye to see the good in your friends. Identify their gifts, talents, skills and praise them lavishly for them. Not only does such praise bind two people more closely, but the encouragement can be life-transforming as well.

A 10-year-old boy laboured in a factory in Naples, Italy. His dream was to become a singer, but his first teacher discouraged him completely by declaring, "Your voice...sounds like the wind in the shutters." But, his mother, a poor, uneducated woman, placed her arms around the boy, praising him. She told the boy she knew he could sing and could already see improvement in the quality of his voice. Going barefoot in order to save money to pay for his music lessons, that mother's praise and encouragement changed her son's life. His name was Enrico Caruso and he became the most famous opera singer of his generation.

Apologise when you are wrong: An apology is a tool that makes love work. As soon as you are aware that you have made a mistake and caused offence, quickly apologise. Do whatever you can to make amends. Express your regret while assuring your friend how much you value the relationship.

If resentment lingers on the part of your friend, double your effort to resolve the tension creatively.

Forgive when you are hurt: When a friend makes a mistake, have the largesse to forgive. Forgiveness not only keeps the friendship alive, but it ends any lingering damage caused by the wrongdoing of another person. When forgiving, it helps to remind yourself that your friend is human, and as such, will make errors in judgement. Beware of the dangers inherent in the refusal to forgive.

In their book, 'Days Of Healing, Days Of Joy,' authors Earnie Larsen and Carol Larsen Hegarty share this insight about forgiveness: "A refusal to forgive is called a resentment. To hand onto a resentment is to harbour a thief in the heart. By the minute and the hour, resentment steals the joy we could treasure now and remember forever. It pilfers our energy to celebrate life. We victimise ourselves when we withhold forgiveness."

Keep old friends
Finally, remember, friendships are like plants in a garden. They require attention, effort and nurturing to remain alive. Friendships never die a natural death. Friendships die from neglect, abandonment and disregard.

When a friendship dies, one or both parties is guilty of neglect. So nourish your friendship carefully to keep them healthy, vibrant and blooming.

sunday observer
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