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Giving Yourself the Gift of Friendship

Are you seen as a snob?

Who needs friends? While many of us know the firsthand importance of having a soul mate, and friend to share with, with busy schedules and different lifestyles, it seems the nurturing of friendships is the first thing to go by the wayside. Today many have replaced friendliness with the justified functional term of "networking". Networking is a 90's term for 'helping each other'-usually without the in-depth sacrifice a friendship might demand. Being skilled at networking is a talent and necessary for survival in the business world, but the ultimate challenge is, how do you take it to the next level? How do you develop a treasured friendship?

Have you ever noticed, some people are able to collect friends as easy as picking flowers, other people have a much harder time warming up to others? Some people smile and share readily, others stand aloof, Some are called friendly, others are more private and are at risk of being called a snob.

Our ability to bond with others is largely a result of the type of personality we are-combined with the perception we have of ourselves. Too often a cool personality type would say they just do not have a bubbly nature, find it hard to express warmth. They might be more detailed-oriented or are focused on more important issues. These are legitimate qualities and character strengths. However, these tendencies may make bonding more of a challenge. I believe in actuality, it is more that we all have not been trained how to make and keep a good friend. Unfortunately, Friendship 101 is not one of the classes we have to take in school!

On busy days I find myself rushing, preoccupied and not taking the time to acknowledge if I even know the people in line next to me at the grocery store at the gas station. It's easy to give the cold shoulder even though I am certain this would be interpreted as snobbery. Then I am reminded of the saying "Always hold your head up but keep your nose at a nice friendly level" and it snaps me back to reality.

Steps to help establish the ties that bind:

  • Be a friend. The first step in establishing any relationship is that you must perceive yourself as a being a friend, and do the things a 'friend' would do. Think of the most meaningful friendship you have ever had - perhaps a family member or school chum.. What made that relationship special? How can you establish similar comradery with others?
  • Take the initiative. Walk right up and introduce yourself. We've all known people who have grown old waiting for things to happen. Life is too short. Extend the invitation, make that phone call, initiate a meeting, call a gathering. It's been said that only 10% of life is what you dealt, 90% is how you react.
  • Willingness to share. Be willing to share things that happen to you-even the little things. Risk a few stories that might even be embarrassing --- Others will breath a sign of relief as they relate it to things that have happened in their own life. The ability to to share is probably one of the most ingredients to a friendship-share the good and the bad.
  • Ask questions. Be interested in what others are doing, their family, their work, their hobby. Sooner or later you will discover an interest you have in common.
  • Listen, listen, listen. We were given one mouth and two ears-remember to use yours proportionately.
  • Be trustworthy. Never repeat confidential or private information shared. People buy from people they trust-this is true whether they are buying a product, an idea, or buying into a friendship.
  • Follow up. Don't hesitate to drop a note or e-mail saying how much you enjoyed meeting a person-send a picture or some information mentioned. Find a reason to connect. Jot notes down in order to remember family names or facts of a new acquaintance. This will become especially important when working with clients and customers. They will be appreciative of the fact that you cared enough to make the effort.
  • Greet people. Be the first to say hello, use their name. Recently I had the opportunity to walk down our main street with a friend. Every person we met whom she knew, she greeted cheerfully by name, asked a quick relevant question about how something was in their life, received back a quick answer to which she had a brief enthusiastic reply. I marveled at the amount of friendliness shown in these brief 30 second encounters.
  • Lighten up.Everyone has their own dose of stress and problems. While it is true a friend will need your prayers, console and caring, what they also appreciate is a friend who can help them get through the day better -- Keep laughter and humor handy.

Would you like to be more friendly?

Practice this 5 point greeting:

  1. Smile
  2. Greet by name
  3. Ask relevant question
  4. Listen
  5. Reply


Donna "Kinza" Christenson is a Motivation Strategist, workshop presenter and keynote speaker. She can be reached at 262-567-6817


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