MY TOP TIPS FOR CULTIVATING FRIENDSHIPS
and group roles. Friendship can be as challenging as your main relationship, and actually needs some of the same skills.
- Be willing to experiment: trying a range of approaches with a variety of people increases your chances of success.
- Imagine a new friendship as a spiral process: don’t plunge in, but let it deepen gradually. Listen for clues from your friend about the subjects they do and don’t want to talk about, and guide them on your preferences.
- Cultivate your listening skills: try to hear what your friend is saying, and respond to it. Don’t get preoccupied with your own needs. Listen for what’s not being said: people can struggle to express their feelings or ask for support, so listen for clues and make an offer, for example, “Would it help you to talk more about the divorce?”
- Find the courage to make the first move: In shifting from casual contact towards friendship, someone needs to take the initiative: Remember the other person may be even more shy than you are.
- Sometimes, doing something together can be an easier start to a friendship than sitting and talking. It could be quite simple, like going to a film, or having a walk.
- Remember the Giver, Taker and Receiver roles: do you and your friend have a balance between these? If you’re stuck in one role, experiment with changing.
- As a friendship starts to build, if you want it to deepen, try talking openly with your friend about how it’s going and what you both want from it. This kind of frankness doesn’t come easy in our culture, but it can help both of you to get what you need, and to learn as you go along.
- As you change, the kind of friends you want will change too. If you want to move from friendship down to acquaintance, do it honestly: talk it through with your friend, hear their feelings, try to reach a point of completion and celebration for the friendship. This will cause less pain than just stopping.
‘Doing something together can be an easier start to a friendship thansitting and talking’