Faith and Spirituality, Self Help

The 7 Qualities of a Good Friend

32 Comments 06 July 2010

Friendship_400What is the key to maintaining quality relationships, especially in today’s hurried world? Karol Ladd, bestselling author of The Power of a Positive Woman, believes it goes back to something our grandmothers told us: “If you want to have friends, you must show yourself friendly.”

After years of speaking to women’s groups on the topic of friendship, I have discovered a pattern of characteristics that women typically appreciate in other people. Here are the top seven relationship ingredients that have surfaced over the years. I encourage you to consider these qualities in light of your current friendships and, if you are married, in light of your relationship with your spouse. (They’re great building blocks for marriage.) These are qualities to internalize in your own life in order to become a better friend. You can also use them as a measure to consider (not judge) potential friendships in the future.

1. Take a genuine interest in others.
Dale Carnegie, author of How to Win Friends and Influence People, said, “You can make more friends in two months by becoming interested in other people than you can in two years by trying to get people interested in you.” As we listen to others and show an interest in what is important to them, we begin to truly love and understand them. Every person has an invisible sign around his or her neck that reads, “I want to feel important.” Everyone has something to offer this world. We need to search for it, find it, and bring it to the surface.

I’ve found that scheduling an “Others Hour” is a good way to make time to be attentive to others. What is an Others Hour? It’s a sixty minute period we reserve on our schedules each week in order to focus solely on our friends and their needs. I know for me, if something is not on the calendar, it typically doesn’t happen. An Others Hour is a time when we can write a note or make a call or deliver a gift or do a favor. It’s a time when we can pray for a certain friend in need. Try it. Who knows? You may find your Others Hour multiplies throughout the week!

2. Be a giver, not a taker
Ask not what your friends can give to you but rather what you can give to your friends. (Sound familiar? Sorry, John, for reworking your quote.) What can we give to others? How about a smile, a hug, a kind word, a listening ear, help with an errand, a prayer, an encouraging note, a meal? We can come up with many things to give others if we are willing to be attentive to their needs. (Hint, hint: To know someone’s needs, you must take a genuine interest in the person first.) Giving may take time. It may take us out of our way. But giving and self-sacrifice are part of the definition of love. I like this little poem by John Oxenham:

Art thou lonely, O my brother?
Share thy little with another.
Stretch a hand to one unfriended,
And thy loneliness is ended.

3. Be loyal.
Loyalty is a rare commodity in today’s world, but it’s an absolute requirement in true and abiding friendships. When we are loyal to one friend, we prove ourselves worthy of many.

One way we show our loyalty is through our words — or lack thereof. In fact, a key to being loyal is keeping a tight rein on our tongues. If we’re loyal, we won’t tear a friend down behind her back or share her personal story without her permission. It’s easy to gossip or pass judgment; it’s much harder to keep silent. I like what Marsh Sinetar said: “When you find yourself judging someone, silently say to yourself, ‘They are doing the best they can right now.’ Then mentally forgive yourself for judging.” As positive women, we need to make sure our tongues are used for good and not evil. We should be builders with our words, not demolishers.

Jealousy, envy, and a range of other negative emotions can keep us from being loyal. But true loyalty overcomes all of them. I think of the beautiful Old Testament story about the friendship between Jonathan and David. Jonathan had reason to be jealous of his friend, David. Jonathan was King Saul’s son and in line to succeed his father to the throne, but God anointed David to be the next king instead. At the same time, David easily could have been angry with Jonathan. Jonathan’s father, the king, chased David out of the country and tried to kill him. Yet these two men pledged their loyalty in friendship and never wavered from it. Eventually Jonathan saved David’s life, and David continued to show his loyalty to his friend by watching out for Jonathan’s son.

Jealousy, envy, bitterness, and anger are all sisters in sin and killers of loyalty in relationships. But if we continually take these emotions to God and ask for his help in overcoming them, we can remain loyal to our friends through the thick and thin of life.

4. Be a positive person.
The most consistent comment I hear about what people want in friendships is this: “I want a friend I can laugh with.” We all want friends we can enjoy! People who consistently bring us down with their problems and complaints are generally not the ones we want to pal around with for any length of time. O f course, sometimes a friend will go through a difficult time, and we need to be ready and willing to hold a hand and provide a listening ear. But a friend in need is different than a habitual whiner. We want our friendships to be positive and uplifting — and that means we must be positive, uplifting friends ourselves.

It has been said that there are two kinds of people: those who brighten the room when they enter, and those who brighten the room when they leave. Let’s make sure we’re brightening our friendships with our presence. Positive women demonstrate an attitude and a spirit that sees God at work in all of life and encourages others to see him too. They are generous with praise, with smiles, and with love, remembering what Francis Bacon said: “Friendship doubles joys and halves griefs.”

5. Appreciate the differences in others.
Variety is the spice of life. I’m so glad that when I walk into an ice cream store, vanilla isn’t the only option! I’m glad, too, that God created people with a variety of personalities, talents, and interests. Each one of us is a unique creation. Mixed together we blend to form the body of Christ.

So why is it that, instead of appreciating our differences, we tend to despise them or become jealous of them? Apparently this was as much a challenge in the early church as it is today. Paul wrote in 1 Corinthians 12:18-25:

But in fact God has arranged the parts in the body, every one of them just as he wanted them to be. If they were all one part, where would the body be? As it is, there are many parts, but one body.

The eye cannot say to the hand, “I don’t need you!” And the head cannot say to the feet, “I don’t need you!” On the contrary, those parts of the body that seem to be weaker are indispensable, and the parts that we think are less honorable we treat with special honor… But God has combined the members of the body and has given greater honor to the parts that lacked it, so that there should be no division in the body, but that its parts should have equal concern for each other.

Along with a variety of personalities comes a variety of faults. I am the creative type and love to spend hours writing and brainstorming, but I am a little scatterbrained when it comes to details and being on time. Of course I need to work on my faults, but I also need understanding friends who will bear with me (see Colossians 3:13). At the same time, I need to overlook my friends’ faults in other areas. An old Turkish proverb states, “Whoever seeks a friend without a fault remains without one.” The truth is, we will never find a perfect friend here on this earth (except Jesus). So let’s appreciate our differences, both the good and the bad.

6. Build on common interests.
What is it that brings friends together in the first place? There is usually something that draws us to others — a common hobby, a sport, a Bible study, a volunteer project, a children’s activity. My friend Karen and I got to know each other as our daughters grew to be friends at school. Our friendship developed as we took our kids to activities together and talked and planned over the phone. We go to the same church, which gives us another common bond. Karen and her husband, Dick, organize many of the mission opportunities at the church, so Curt and I join them occasionally to help feed the homeless. Since our husbands enjoy hunting and golfing together, we build on their common interests as well.

In our busy society, it can be difficult to create times to get together with people. But if we take advantage of the common activities and interests we have with others, we can fit the time for friendship into our schedules. If you and a friend both like to exercise, work out together. If you both like to read, go to the bookstore together to pick out your next selection, grab some coffee, and talk about the last book you read. If your kids are your common interest, consider getting together on a regular basis to pray for them. The point is to allow your common interests to draw you together.

Married couples need to practice this, too. Many couples tend to get focused on (and frustrated with) their differences while overlooking the common interests that brought them together in the first place. When that happens they need to go back to basics and begin to build again on their common interests, overlooking each other’s faults and appreciating the different qualities they bring into the marriage. Marriages seem to be made in heaven when they start, but they most assuredly need to be maintained and continually tended here on earth. Mignon McLaughlin puts it this way, “A successful marriage requires falling in love many times, always with the same person.”

7. Be open, honest, and real.
The word hypocrite originally described actors on a stage who covered their faces with masks to conceal their real identities. Today the word describes people who pretend to be something they’re not. True friendship cannot be built on false images. We must be true to ourselves. We may think we have to present a faultless picture of ourselves to the rest of the world, but why? No one wants to be friends with someone who is perfect! We simply need to be our best selves and allow people to know the real us.

Of course, being open and honest doesn’t mean spilling our guts to everyone. As we already know, loyalty is a rare commodity; when we find it, we know we have a friend we can trust — someone with whom we can share openly about our deepest issues and feelings. George Washington offered some wise words about friendship when he said, “Be courteous to all, but intimate with few; and let those few be well tried before you give them your confidence. True friendship is a plant of slow growth and must undergo and withstand the shocks of adversity before it is entitled to the appellation.”

The Power of a Positive Woman

The Power of a Positive Woman

Karol Ladd

Author

Best-selling author Karol Ladd offers lasting hope and biblical truth to women around the world through her positive book series. A gifted communicator and dynamic leader, Karol is founder and president of Positive Life Principles, Inc, a resource company offering strategies for success in both home and work. Her vivacious personality makes her a popular speaker to women's organizations, church groups, and corporate events. She is co-founder of a character-building club for young girls called USA Sonshine Girls and serves on several educational boards. Karol is a frequent guest on radio and television programs. Her most valued role is that of wife to Curt and mother to daughters Grace and Joy.

Your Comments

32 Comments so far

  1. Afriend says:

    Thank you I’m getting ready for a Lecture and you helped me so much.Thanks 1000000 again

  2. Emmanuelton Nwogo says:

    Thank you Karol. I’m blessed by your article. I’m beginning to work on myself in the light of your advice.

  3. kojala says:

    Thanks for reading!

  4. SerenaAnnaCayce says:

    Thank you for such lovely and heartfelt readings. They are inspirational. Keep up the G0oD work. Sending many blessings your way Karol Ladd.

  5. Teresa says:

    I found this very interesting with having a quality friendship whether it is with someone new or maintaining that relationship.
    http://tinyurl.com/3gtmg4j

  6. Tonkal says:

    I agree with appreciating each other’s differences. However, I did have a problem with the fact that religion and “God” are so predominant in determining how to be a good friend. I would have appreciated more an article that gives advice on good quality friendships, living life by the good values given by parents, peers, yet not to mention “GOD” because some people don’t believe in God. I found my best friends were accepting of me and my believes and I was accepting of others. However, some of the biggest hurt and rejection I faced in life was from people that could not accept me for not believing, that I honestly believe my parents instilled a good sense of values in me without ever mentioning the bible or be good or else you will go to hell, I just was good without fear of anything. I was taught to be good cause it feels good in the heart. It was people who were so called “Christian” that pushed me into the road, never mind that I have volunteered for organization to feed children and save animals all my life. I just don’t believe in god. True friendship is about trust and acceptance……..not because God is in one’s life.

  7. phelisa says:

    tnx for opening my eyes i almost lost a friend but with your advice we good friendship again

  8. pat says:

    Agreed with Tonkal, I could do without the religious aspects in this feature. Instead, I think people need to practice the religion of trust and honesty. I have had countless “friends” over a lifetime, but the ones that stuck have been those that hold onto my secrets, don’t judge my decisions and support my happiness. Spirituality is what you want it to be, but trust and honesty are the fundamental human characteristics that make us able to love and support one another unconditionally.

  9. sherry says:

    Thx 4 opening ma eyes.Now i know the 7 qualities of a good friend.

  10. coleman12:42 says:

    thanks for the little boys!!! they were inspirational, and ronald woudld be proud.

  11. charlie says:

    thanks 4 writeing this i realy enjoyed it and im the exact opiset of a good friend and this makes me know what a good friend is so i can be 1

  12. Maria says:

    Thanks. I was very down and disappointed about my so called “friends”. I just found out the hard way, they don’t accept who Iam but trying to change the love I grown to love which is going out to work out and play tennis.

  13. Maria says:

    Reading this article help me search for my true friend somewhere out there. It is a crazy word and very hard to find a true friend.

  14. Samuel Ortiz says:

    I havent found my best trustworthy friend in person but I found it on the internet. We have the same name, month of birthday, profession, the same interests. We have admitted each other we love this friendship. We have been in touch for 3 years. I hope to meet him in real life. I wonder if this happens by chance or destiny?

  15. Braden says:

    Tonkal and others: If you don’t like the Biblical comparisons that the writer is using to make her point, and the mention of God is really going to ruin your day, DON’T READ THE ARTICLE. This article was in no way saying you have to believe in God in order to be a good friend. I sware you humanitarians get offended by EVERYTHING having to do with God!
    Shall I remind you that Christians have been around for years, and most of them aren’t going to put you on the rack and turn the crank until you say “Jesus is Lord?”
    So get over it.

  16. Great article and right to the point. I don’t know if this is truly the best place to ask but do you guys have any ideea where to get some professional writers? Thank you :)

  17. Edwin Walls says:

    Why do so many of these comments read like they were written by programmable automatons?
    “Thank you for your article. It has helped me so much!”
    what kind of marketing program ya got going there? It needs to learn a little authenticity….

  18. kojala says:

    I can assure you that these comments are real, and if you see something you believe is spam, we ask for your help in marking it as such by flagging it. We monitor our comments daily, but sometimes a few slip through the filters and we try to delete them as quickly as possible. Thanks for your note. It HAS helped us so much! ;)

  19. shivani says:

    its true

  20. Kathy David says:

    Tonkal and others: I just wanted to let you know that you may not believe in Jesus/God and that’s ok because he believes in you! Wake up and smell the coffee!

  21. chelsey says:

    Thanks all this is so true <3

  22. Kesal says:

    Great information. Sorry to those who cannot accept another’s view point regarding religion or lack thereof. Just because someone is a believer, does not mean he/she cannot be a friend, or you to them. Just as you can have friends from different nationalities, you can have friends from different faith perspectives and we can respect each other, even if we agree to disagree!

  23. Yeah, I always find those quality in every of my good friends who are loyal and very helpful to me <3

  24. vikram singh says:

    I am very happy to know that we must be appreciate the good and bad qualities of friend because no body is perfect so must be care faults of friend rather than qualities. Firstly I thought it is very hard to accept the badness of the friend but if we appreciate his poor/richness equally then this nature lead to us the door of heaven.

  25. Harry murimi says:

    The infortantion has been of great help to me.i have how to choose a good friend n also how i will be able to maintain the relatioship

  26. Emma says:

    Thanks for the article. It’s great. I’ve tried all these things and found while many people call me their best friend or say I’m great, I can’t say the same. I’ve given up trying to get to know people and invest in others lives. It’s exhausting to be the only giver in every relationship, even with family. So, I’m focusing on my relationship with God. I’ve found being a good friend doesn’t equal having good friends. It may increase the likelihood but it’s no guarantee.

  27. Florida girl says:

    I really, really needed to read this. I have almost completely shut myself off from my friends because of being my husband’s caregiver. He had brain surgery 2 years ago and also has Parkinson’s. I got depressed and didn’t want to see or talk to anyone. I got exhausted and the Dr put me in the hospital for a week because I had all the symptoms of a heart attack. I didn’t go anywhere, didn’t have the extra money to go shopping, and worried everyday. After reading this article I see what I need to do to get me to a happier place in my life. I have dear friends and I have treated them as if I didn’t care about them. I feel terrible and promise from this day forward I’m going to be a better friend and enjoy every day I have left in my life. I may not have the money to go shopping but it doesn’t cost anything to go to the library, beach, or park when I need to get my act together and stop feeling sorry for myself. Friends! Here I come!

  28. Tess Bonn says:

    I’m so glad this post helped you. Stay strong!

  29. Tracy Lee Willis says:

    Very good article on friends. Thanks!

  30. Linda Gatlin says:

    Good for you girl! Sometimes we have to get out of our own way to realize that we are not as bad as we try to make ourselves out to be! :)

  31. I’ve been browsing online more than three hours today, yet I never found any interesting
    article like yours. It is pretty worth enough for me. In my view, if all webmasters and bloggers made good content as you did, the net will be a lot more useful than ever before.


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