A friend is one that knows you as you are, understands where you have been, accepts what you have become, and still, gently allows you to grow. — William Shakespeare
Wishing to be friends is quick work, but friendship is a slow ripening fruit. —Aristotle
A few years ago, on a particularly busy night at my counseling practice, I was the last person in the office at 9 pm. It was winter in Chicago: icy cold that took my breath away when I went outside.
I was in a hurry to get home, so I packed everything up, turned off the lights, and went into the waiting room on my way out of the office, only to realize….I had left my key in my office. The key to the waiting room is self-locking. So I was stuck in the building with no key for my car.
The car was pretty useless without the key. I couldn’t get anywhere without that key!
Just as a key is so important to running a car and getting places, so committing ourselves to learning and improving friendship skills is key to living an abundant life.
Why Are Friendship Skills So Important?
Friendship skills help us keep and make friends.
It sounds obvious, but it’s true. You and I already have a number of skills for making friends, but we can always improve. It’s like any other area of life – the more we study it and learn about it, the more expert we become. Since friendship has so many benefits, studying friendship skills will pay great dividends.
Friendship skills help us in other important areas of life.
As you and I study ways to make, keep up, and deepen friendships, we’ll become better at dating and working. The interpersonal skills developed as friends overlap and extend into people skills and marriage.
Friendship skills help us develop character.
Learning friendship skills will stretch us.
Making and keeping friends means –
- Overcoming social anxiety and rejection
- Learning to start, keep up, and end conversations
- Changing our attitudes about other people and ourselves
It’s not easy, but nothing worth working toward is easy, is it?
Friendship skills help us help others.
Thinking about and caring for others helps us bring belonging and purpose to our friends’ lives.
Your care and concern can bring hope, meaning, and joy to others.
Friends skills help us increase our sense of belonging and purpose.
As SRSalas and Cynthia Kim have so eloquently pointed out, many autistics enjoy solitude. Connection to nature and animals is powerful. But I think they would agree with me that having at least one or two close friends helps us feel connected to other people in a way that completes the circle of life.
Friendship skills can help us cope with traumas, such as divorce, serious illness, job loss, or the death of a loved one.
I’ve been blessed with one or two close friends who’ve helped me through job losses and personal failings. I’ve also been blessed to stay in touch with friends over the years through the loss of their spouse, or their suffering with serious health conditions. The support we’ve given each other has sustained us and kept us close, even though we may live in other parts of the country or the world.
I hope you’ve had the same blessing as well, whether through online or offline friendships. In an upcoming article I’ll be talking about my own and others’ (autistics’) techniques for improving friendship skills.
Friendship skills can help us change, meet our goals, or to avoid unhealthy lifestyle choices.
You know that blind spot that we all have when driving – when, for a short distance, we cannot see the car beside us that is passing us. In the same way, I’ve had blind spots about myself – shortcomings, or even strengths that I haven’t been aware of. Yet, a couple of close friends have had the compassion and honesty to point these out to me. Consequently, I’ve been able to work toward positive change I otherwise may not have been able to.
I get together with a group of men every Monday morning at 5:30 for Bible study, prayer, and accountability questions. We’ve all written questions down that we want to be held accountable for – usually areas we need to grow in. Thanks to these guys, I have been able to progress in my life in ways I wouldn’t have without their friendship.
Friends aren’t the be-all or end-all in life. But you and I are blessed by our friends, and can bless our friends.
Here’s an article for parents who want to help their kids make friends – How to Help Kids Make Friends – 10 Evidence Based Tips.
Making Friends – (not an affiliate link). Dan Wendler, at ImproveYourSocialSkills.com makes his guide on making friends available to members. His price for membership is extremely affordable.
Check out page 18 of this resource for tips on making the right kinds of friends.
SRSalas wrote an excellent piece on friendship here.
What are your thoughts about friendship skills and friendship? Why are they important to you? How have you committed to growing your friendship skills?
photo credit: HotlantaVoyeur via photopin cc