The most valuable thing a person can have is a true, lifelong friend. Following the Golden Rule is the most effective way to maintain friendships: treat them the way you want to be treated.
It Takes Effort
Very often, good friendships just happen when people make a connection, not unlike true romance, but with a different dynamic. But if both sides don’t make an equal effort to maintain the relationship, it can wither and die. It’s not supposed to be easy or convenient to be a great friend, but the payoff makes it well worth the effort. Little things, such as remembering birthdays, sharing in their victories, and commiserating over disappointments, are the glue that holds a friendship together.
We all love to tell our stories, but it can be difficult to be the one who doesn’t have a chance to tell theirs because you're always talking, making it clear by your actions that you don’t care about their experiences or opinions. When a friend is talking, listen and pay attention to their gestures and expressions, which often speak louder than their words. Very often the person we think of as a great friend is also a great listener.
Whenever you see that your friend needs help, whether it’s moving furniture or dealing with a personal or career setback, jump in to provide your full attention and assistance. Don’t wait for them to ask for help. In some cases, it isn't always easy to determine when help may be needed, and some people resist asking for help to an extreme degree. The job of a friend is to be there and know when to extend a helping hand.
If you agree to meet a friend for dinner at 7 p.m., be there at 7 p.m., not 7:30 p.m. or 8 p.m. Similarly, if you promise to attend an event with a friend, don’t make plans at the last minute that prevent you from attending. Reliability isn't a part-time thing. Consider how you would feel if your friend “forgot” that they had promised to be at your house early Saturday to help you move furniture, build a deck, play golf, or any other event.
Sometimes friends make decisions based on emotions or transitory situations. It’s easier to simply agree, even if you have grave reservations. Friendships can and have come apart over disagreements. However, a real friend needs to offer an honest answer or assessment, even if it isn't well-received. Friends need to always look out for each other, resisting the temptation to steer the decision or plan in a direction that may benefit you more than them.