I can honestly say that I have been blessed with some amazing friendships over the years. My closest friends have been there to celebrate the great times and to support me during the hardest times of my life.
Great friendships always bring out the best in you and the other person. They are the funniest, generous, and caring, in their own way, with those friends that they are closest with. Here are some tips to fuel great relationships.
The first step could be the most powerful and likely the largest hurdle to any friendship; time. Friendship takes time and for many adults, time can be in short supply, especially without good time management skills.
In order to build a friendship that lasts, it takes a time investment. One study estimates that it takes 40-60 hours with someone to turn that person from an acquaintance to a casual friend. Invest a total of 80-100 hours to elevate the casual friendship into something else.
The time gate is also the reason you find many of your friendships where you spend lots of time anyway like, work, school, church, and extracurricular activities. Sometimes that time investment is over a long period of time, think about someone you may see during your extracurricular activity (softball, soccer, volunteer, etc) vs someone that you became fast friends with because of life circumstances.
If you want impactful friendships and relationships it will take some kind of time investment on your part.
Typically as you get older, your social circles begin to settle and tighten. Routines aren’t a bad thing and you are actually being exposed to more future friendships than you may realize.
Fueling new friendships takes paying attention to your environment and discovering new friendships in unexpected ways. It’s now a normal occurrence to hear stories of people becoming friends in online games and becoming best friends in real life. Look in the online forums that you frequent. Who have you bumped into while on your errands and out and about in your town? Perhaps there is someone in a different department at work that you find interesting. There are lots of places that are in your normal routines for that next friend.
Neha is a great example of that for me. We initially met a few years ago as we volunteered at the Atlanta Chapter of the Association for Talent Development. At first, that time investment was slow, but it sped up as we got to know each other more and discovered several shared interests. Now she’s celebrating a year and a half as our podcast co-host.
Don’t limit your situational awareness to just new connections. Look around at some people who perhaps have entered your circle of influence for a little while now. What connection may be good to take to the next level?
Time and awareness hold little value if you don’t take action to advance the friendship. Action does take a dose of courage. You need to be willing to step out of your comfort zone at times to put yourself out there for the other person. The beginning stages of a strong friendship can seem a bit like dating. You see something in a person and you may need to step out to make a connection to get things started.
Not all action is created equal at the beginning of a friendship. Some may just easily happen with a little extra effort. I’ve made lots of friends by being paired up with people in both military and civilian training environments. The action hurdle is lowered when you are together morning, noon, and night.
Outside of time, action may be the hardest part of keeping a strong friendship going. Friendship can be work. It takes thought, intentionality, and effort. All that effort may seem hard or discouraging, but remember the joy and connectedness that you, and the other person, experience as a result.
Friendships won’t grow without action, and that’s ok for a large population that you encounter. Nurture those relationships that you want to have in your personal and professional life. The benefits of friendships include:
- A stronger sense of purpose and belonging
- Reduced stress and increased happiness
- Higher self-confidence and self-worth
- Support systems during challenging times
- Guardrails during major life choices
Bonus Tip – Reconnection
Perhaps you’ve had strong relationships in the past and for whatever reason, you both drifted away. This is a natural part of life and is a natural conclusion for some friendships as the dynamics between the two change. Other times there is an opportunity to reignite those friendships.
A years-long pandemic certainly impacted many relationships across the world. I was not immune to this and found many of my friends that I used to spend my time with were not as close anymore, because of the isolation caused by the heights of COVID-19. I would encourage you to not give up on those relationships if you feel like there is still value in the friendship. Reinvest some time, and take action to re-engage.
Next week, we’ll continue to look at the ways to fuel your friendships by talking through grace, imagination, and cadence.
Make a better tomorrow.