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  • Esther Choo

How To Be A Good Friend: Communication Matters

Posted by Esther Choo

Group of friends

Friendship is a connection that enhances our lives and provides support, joy, and empathy during life's highs and lows. However, being a good friend involves more than just companionship. Research has shown consistently that there is a link between positive social support to positive psychological well-being and adjustment. Supportive friendships are key contributors to better mental health and overall happiness. (Bakalım & Taşdelen-Karçkay, 2016)


Quality friendships provide an avenue for sharing experiences, emotions, and perspectives, contributing to personal growth and self-discovery. However, navigating friendships can be challenging consisting of disagreements, misunderstandings, and changing dynamics.


Effective communication serves as the cornerstone of any strong friendship, fostering trust, understanding, and a deeper connection between individuals.


Here are some positive communication skills to implement to maintain and enhance the depth and quality of your friendships:


Active Listening

Attentive and uninterrupted listening shows genuine respect and interest in your friend's perspective. When we actively listen, we offer undivided attention, validating the friend's thoughts and emotions. It allows our friends to feel heard and respected.


Consider asking your friend if they simply need a listening ear or if they prefer assistance or advice next time. Often, during challenging times, friends seek to be heard and understood rather than desiring advice. Providing support through active listening can be equally as meaningful if not more impactful than, offering advice or taking action.



Empathy

When engaging in conversation, seek to understand your friend's perspective. In friendships, empathy allows people to genuinely resonate with each other's feelings, providing a sense of validation and support. It allows friends to openly share joys and struggles. It can also provide comfort, knowing that their emotions are not only heard but understood and acknowledged.


If your friend opens up about feeling overwhelmed by personal challenges, try responding by saying: "It sounds like you're going through a tough time. I want you to know that I care about how you're feeling and I understand that it is a difficult time. I'm here for you always. Let me know how I can best provide support."


Respect

Respecting boundaries involves recognizing and honoring each other's personal space, emotional limits, and individual preferences.


Friends often can have differing opinions and views on different topics. That’s what makes us individuals unique! Respect in communication means acknowledging and valuing these differences. Even if there's a disagreement, respect their perspective by listening without immediately dismissing their views.



Conflict Resolution

Resolving conflicts calmly through open dialogue. Try to seek compromise, and reach an understanding of each other's perspectives. This aids in maintaining a respectful positive friendship.

  1. Initiate an open conversation about the problem. This involves choosing an appropriate time and place to discuss the issue. Perhaps having a discussion in a private setting 1-1 versus a larger group setting is more conducive.

  2. Actively listen and validate your friend's perspective. This might involve phrases like, "I understand how that could have upset you," or "I hear what you're saying, and that was not my intention."

  3. Share your feelings and thoughts about the situation calmly and honestly without placing blame. It can be helpful to use “I feel....”

  4. Collaboratively work towards a resolution that considers both perspectives and each person's needs. This might involve brainstorming alternate plans or compromises.


Keep in Mind...

These communication skills enable healthier friendships to develop and nurture a safe environment of trust, open dialogue, and support. Friendship is a two-way street!


Please note that constant disregard for our boundaries, refusal to reach an understanding, and persistent conflicts may signal a need to reevaluate relationships as sources of support.

When boundaries are consistently ignored and your concerns are always dismissed, it may indicate an unhealthy dynamic.


It is always important to assess if the friendship aligns with our well-being and values. Ultimately, prioritizing our emotional health and overall growth should guide our decisions in maintaining or letting go of friendships that consistently challenge our boundaries and well-being.


Schedule a free consultaion with us if you need support with navigating your relationships.




Bakalım, O., & Taşdelen-Karçkay, A. (2016). Friendship quality and psychological well-being: The mediating role of perceived social support. International Online Journal of Educational Sciences, 8(4), 1-9.



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