We Bet You Never Thought About How to be a Better Friend
We all think that friendship is natural. You don’t need to learn about it. You don’t need to take a class to be a better friend. You just are friends.
But we thought we’d find out what makes some young people better friends than others. We surveyed thousands of 6-16 year olds around the world. They told us that friendship is all about trust and being trustworthy. It’s about keeping secrets. It’s about not judging you.
After trust and trustworthiness, many of those we asked were looking for different things. Are they good listeners? Do they give good advice? Do they cheer you up or make you laugh? Do they honor you? Do they understand you? Do they care? Do they help make you a better person? Do they help you do things? Do they support what you do? The list goes on and on.
But if we focus on being trustworthy and what that really means, we will be better friends to others and know how to choose our best friends.
If you have to choose one thing that all good friends have in common – they keep your secrets! [insert a secrets icon here. use my image subscription for more and better images]
It starts with trust, then it adds: [add icon for each]
- Good listening skills – really hearing what you have to say. Not cutting you off. Good eye-contact offline and no typing sounds in the background online.
- No judgment – even if they don’t agree with what you are doing or saying, they don’t judge you. (That includes not making faces when they are listening!) They may try and change your behavior to help you. But what you do isn’t who you are. They know that.
- Making you feel better – they may make you laugh, give you a hug or tell you how special you are. But good friends make you feel better now and about yourself.
- Letting you know they are on your side – they don’t “take your side” necessarily. But they let you know that they will stand beside you and be there when you need them.
- They check-in often – they don’t wait for you to reach out to them for help. They notice when things are “off” with you. They reach out to see how you are and ask what they can do to help.
- They look to you for a lead – even though they may think they know what you need, they ask first. Maybe you don’t want advice. Maybe you just want someone to listen. They follow your instructions.
- They give good advice – when you need advice, a good friend will help you find the answers. Maybe they have advice to share. If they don’t, they may have suggestions on where you can go or who else you can turn to for advice.
- They take friendship seriously – whenever we ask young people to identify someone they consider a good friend, they often point to the same person others do. When we then ask the friend they identified about friendship, they always tell us that being a “good” friend is important to them. They work on it.
Are You a Good Friend?
Here’s a short quiz to help you see how good a friend you are and where you can improve. [insert quiz] once you’ve taken the quiz, consider asking your friends what they think. Do they consider you a good friend? Why? if not, why not?
Talk with a group of people in your class or those you know from your community. Ask them who they think is an example of a great friend. Then ask them why. Think about holding your own “Be a Better Friend” campaign or event or creating a club at your school. Get your guidance counselor involved to help everyone understand confidential discussions and when something shared as a “secret” needs to be shared to protect the person involved. [link to getting engaged]
We have lots of resources, information and even a class or two to help you be a better friend. Check them out [link to resources]