Tips for being an Intentional Friend

How the people around us make us feel inside is essential to our well-being or can be detrimental to it. When was the last time you took stock of how you feel after being with each person in your life? And I’m walking both sides of the line with this post – how do others feel after spending time with you? (If you prefer video, scroll to the bottom of this post.)

If you’re with people who lift your spirit and after you’ve been with them you feel inspired, energized, or happy in general – these are good people for you. And friendships, being a two-way street, one would hope that the people you’re with feel the same energy after spending time with you.

On the other hand, if your gut clenches and churns at even the thought of spending time with a certain person, they are not good for your health – mental or physical. And it doesn’t matter who they are. And if someone else’s gut clenches and churns thinking about spending time with you, maybe you need to spend a little time reflecting on your impact on others. (Just saying it like it is. 😊)

Let’s consider how to be intentional when being friends so that others feel cared about after spending time with you.

Do you think positively about this person when you’re not with them? Would they think positively about you?

You don’t need to think about everyone every day, that’s impossible. But when this person crosses your mind, do you want to reach out to them, to check in, even just to say, “Hey, I was thinking about you, how are you doing?” Do you look forward to the next time you see them? This is a good person for your well-being.

It’s okay if some time lags between visits.

Life is busy. Having a great friendship does not mean talking every day, or even every week (or month sometimes). Most people I chat with I see every few months in some cases. But we are able to pick up right where we left off and have a great visit. There’s lots to chat about with these friends. Neither of us feels neglected by the other, nor is there resentment for the time that passed. It’s just how that friendship rolls. It’s all good.

Making regular plans.

With other sets of friends, I make regularly scheduled plans. I see a few people for regular game day plans, dinner or lunch plans, and these get scheduled in – but only at about six-week intervals. It’s something we all look forward to, take turns planning, and helps provide some anticipation in the relationships.

Texting friends.

Some of my friendships are mostly over text. We may only see each other three or four times per year, but we text more regularly and keep in touch that way.

New friends.

Once a friendship is established, communication styles become easier and tend to fall into a pattern. Where more attention is needed is with new friendships. This is where intentionality really plays a part. How often have you met someone through another friend or maybe a new co-worker, or at an event. You have a great chat and maybe become Facebook friends and then say the line — “We should meet for coffee.” And the other person says, “Yeah.” And then no one makes the first move…. I’m here to tell you, it’s okay to make the first move! Message this person and say, “Hey, we said we were going to meet for coffee, let’s get it on our calendar.” Consider how you would feel if this person reached out to you with this invitation – pretty good, right? The person you reach out to will have those same feelings. Wow, someone thought of me!

Show gratitude.

Be appreciative of your friends and their time. And let them know. After a visit, send a quick message stating, “It was great to visit with you today/yesterday! Looking forward to next time.” It’s simple, takes only a few seconds of your time, but gives your friend another shot of endorphins that you thought of them.

Be your friends’ biggest cheerleader.

Women especially are so hard on other women. Cheer other women on! Especially if they are your friend! Love their successes, be happy for them. I have a friend who travels often. She tells few people of her travel plans, due to the “must be nice” comments. Whereas, I love that she has these plans and want to hear all about her trips. I’m one of the few friends who knows about her plans. If you’re jealous of your friend’s opportunities or good fortunes – you’re not being a good friend. If you don’t share your news with your friends because you’re afraid of their reaction, these are relationships you need to spend some time evaluating. If you have inner churnings of negativity when something great is happening for your friend, take stock of your own inner voices. Be happy for them. And if this takes some practice – then fake it until you make it. Or consider if you’re a good friend to this person. If someone doesn’t cheer on your successes and opportunities, you could try having a conversation with them about how that makes you feel. Their response will dictate whether they are a friend or foe.

Friendships are two way streets. It’s not just about how people treat you, it’s also about how you are with others.

Being intentional about each and every friendship takes effort. But if the person is uplifting for you, the effort should be a pleasure. If the effort feels heavy, or dreaded, chances are this person isn’t someone you want to be spending time with. Cut the people from your life who are not life-giving for you and focus your time on the people who give you energy. And spread the love from within you to them.

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