5 Ways to be a Better Friend

How to build strong relationships and show your friends they are valued.

(Xavier Lorenzo / Shutterstock.com)

Friendship is one of the most important things in life and a universal value. Nearly 2,500 years ago, Greek philosopher Aristotle mused about friendship. He wrote about what makes someone a good friend, and how friends can build strong bonds and be there for each other, according to WebMD.

Fast forward to the 21st century, and the topic of friendship is more relevant than ever. Researchers have uncovered countless emotional and health benefits of having a friend group; Friendship may reduce stress, enhance self-confidence, boost resilience,and help to improve mental health.  

The first step to having good friends is to be a good friend. There are always ways to maximize and strengthen your relationships with friends. Here are five ways to be a better friend.

Make plans (and stick to them)

One key ingredient in friendship is time. It’s important to find time to spend building and buttressing relationships. In addition, sticking to get-together plans, and not flaking out, lets friends know that they are valued and that spending time with them is valuable to you. 

Even better than just showing up, initiating those plans shows friends that you enjoy spending time with them, according to Life Hacker. Instead of just saying something like “we should get together some time,” make specific plans with a time, date, and place. 

An additional way to let friends know they are valued, when making plans, is to take their needs into consideration as well. Look for opportunities to make plans that are convenient to them, for example meeting up near their home or work.

(William Perugini/Shutterstock.com)

Be an empathetic listener

Happiness.com shares another tip for being a good friend, becoming a good listener. Mark Goulston, a business psychiatrist and author of a book about listening, told Happiness.com: “When people are upset, it matters less what you tell them than what you enable them to tell you.” Try not to dominate the conversation, especially when a friend is venting about an issue. 

Attentive and empathetic listening is validating to others. Fortunately, these are traits that can be cultivated. To develop empathetic listening skills, listen to your friends without judgment or interruption, and try to see the world from their perspective. Only after they finish speaking, ask if they are looking for advice or not.


Be honest

Being a good friend requires one to be a good listener. But, it doesn’t require one to be a yes-man, all the time. People value honesty, and are usually attracted to people who are genuine. If a friend makes a decision that may lead to negative consequences, let them know how you feel about it in a tactful, yet direct, way.

(Cat Act Art / Shutterstock.com)

Celebrate differences

Not being a yes-man also means that friends don’t have to agree on all interests, according to WebMD. Friends can have different hobbies, and different things that they like and dislike. Take some time to explore your friend’s interests, but don’t worry if they don’t interest you as well. Celebrating differences is an important component of friendship.

(Ground Picture / Shutterstock.com)

Remember dates

When it comes to friendship, the details make the difference. Remembering a friend’s birthday or other important events in their lives, shows friends that they are valued. Keep these dates in a calendar, and even set an alarm as a reminder. Then, when the dates near, send a text, or call to wish your friends congratulations or good luck.

Being a good friend requires effort and practice, but it's worth it. By being there for friends, listening to them, and being supportive, you can make their lives and yours better. So, reach out to your friends today and let them know how much they mean to you.