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8 Ways to Make and Maintain a Friendship

Friendship 101.

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Friendship 101
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If you wish to make or maintain a friendship, consider these strategies:

1. Be specific. If you briefly chat with someone who has the potential to become a friend, suggest a specific time in-person or remotely to get acquainted further. Avoid leaving it at, "Let's talk again some time." Specifically asking for what you want increases the likelihood you'll get it.

2. Schedule contacts regularly. At the end of each visit, schedule the next one. Even better, schedule a recurring time and day.

3. Avoid keeping score. If you've initiated all the meetings, you may conclude your new acquaintance is uninterested in continuing. Yet he or she may have a procrastination problem, a fear of rejection, or feel overloaded with obligations. It's not your job to divine what they're thinking. It's their job to determine what they want. Abolish your scorecard. Initiate a connection no matter how lopsided the score. Use the slogan, "if it's to be, it's up to me."

4. Refuse to take criticism personally. Criticism can't be bad. If the criticism is accurate it's a path to improve. If it's not, don't give it another thought. Moreover, criticism consists of someone's subjective opinion. It has no power to diminish you as a person. Taking it personally doesn't help and you may make yourself hurt or resentful.

5. Maintain a sense of humor. Almost everyone appreciates humor. If you're not spontaneously humorous, memorize one-liners. For example, Yogi Berra-isms often delight people: "Baseball is ninety percent mental. The other half is physical." Humor serves as a glue for relationships.

6. Love maps (adapted from John Gottman). Take an active interest in your friend's life: past, present, and future. Inquire about their career, relationships, avocations, health, passions, and outlook (philosophical, spiritual, and political). For example, ask how a planned event worked out.

7. Unconditional Other-Acceptance (UOA). Unconditional other-acceptance forms the backbone of a fulfilling relationship. View your friends as the imperfect humans they are, never as malevolent or stupid people. Resentment, anger, and hostility poisons rewarding relationships. Strongly prefer, but never demand or expect, they treat you fairly and kindly. They may have different values, objectives, ignorances, blind spots, and irrationalities than you. This is what it means to be human. UOA doesn't imply you should be friends with people you feel incompatible with.

8. Excellent Communication skills. Learn simple ways to effectively communicate. Read my previous posts in this series:


Gottman, J.M. (1999). The Seven Principles for Making Marriage Work. New York, NY: Crown Publishers, Inc.

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