What Does It Mean To Be a True Friend?

Lately I have had more than my share of friends and acquaintances ask for my opinion on sensitive subjects, or just share with me a situation they are facing. These are work related, relationship related and family related…all very personal.

My first thoughts tend to be, “Do they want to just vent, do they want me to validate their choices, or do they want my honest opinion?”

I find most people just need to articulate their dilemmas and are simply looking for confirmation that they are reading the situation correctly. These people seem grateful to hear a different perspective regarding implementing what they already know. Sometimes just receiving validation that you are in fact on the right path is very empowering.


The really challenging situations are when friends confide in me that they are doing something causing my brain to yell in big red letters, “RUN AND DON’T LEAVE A FORWARDING ADDRESS!!”


The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over expecting a different result. Yet whether due to guilt, hopefulness, regret or any other emotion, the reality is that most every human being walking the face of the earth has occasionally experienced this.

So, what does it mean to be a true friend? Do you sit quietly as you watch a friend enter a tunnel hoping that the light at the end isn’t an on coming train? Or, do you tell them that you hear the whistle and see the smoke?

No one wants to rain on a friend’s parade or burst his or her bubble. No one wants to see their friends choose a path that is certain to cause heartache and sadness. We are faced with many situations in our lives where there isn’t a clear and right answer. I watched a TV show last year where a singer accused his former wife of giving up on their love. Her response was, “How could I know that the 9th time you went to rehab it would work”? She gave up on the 8th time.

My point in sharing the above story: No one really knows if this time the outcome will be different, even if the odds seem stacked against it.

Since I don’t have a crystal ball, I have decided to do the following: Unless I am asked my honest opinion, I will keep my thoughts to myself, although wondering whether I am indeed being a true friend. I welcome all comments.


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I write a lot about communication.  I believe it is very important whether we are talking about interpersonal relationships, work situations or just plain getting along.  And, I have to admit like everyone else, I am guilty of NOT communicating in a way that I would like.


Presently, I find myself in a situation where communication has broken down completely.  And, I find myself just wanting to give up.  Here is what I have taken out of my recent communication breakdown.
Nothing that you text, write or say will be taken in the vein you mean it when the receiver is angry.  If you say something like, “Thank you for being an adult (yes, a direct quote from me), they will hear, “Thank you for finally NOT acting like a child.”  What I really meant was, “Thank you for taking the time to address this and NOT do as many do and just blow it off.”
I said, “You are so good at this game, why would you need a dictionary?”  They took it in a way that questioned their integrity.  I believe when someone is already sensitive, NO matter what is said, it will be taken wrong. 
It is becoming easier for me to understand with all the problems in the world with different cultures, political views and backgrounds, why it seems impossible to understand and come to terms on any subject.
When two friends who speak the same language can’t agree on something so silly as the rules to an on-line game, how in the world can we agree on issues that are much more important and serious?

Can you relate?

Making Mountains Out of Mole Hills

Some people are experts in taking small problems and making them so much larger.  And, some people defuse a situation simply by NOT adding fuel to the fire.
Today I had what could have been an uncomfortable confrontation with a co-worker.  I had reason to be upset.  In my mind I was running through all the things I intended to ‘call her on’.  I was justified and although I knew this wouldn’t be pleasant, I was prepared to go to battle.
Instead of this issue becoming larger than it needed to be, my co-worker called me and simply said, “I understand you are bent.”  Instead of my going off on her, or even stating my issue, I simply said, “Yes.”  She then went on to talk through the situation with me.
She took some responsibility, and I shared in a calm, non agitated way why I was, in fact, ‘bent’.
I give her credit because instead of her becoming defensive, causing me to accelerate my anger, she defused the situation and we both were able to talk about a better way of communication in the future.
Would you say that you are the type of person who tends to agitate a situation or defuse it?
If getting our point across is our goal, don’t we have a better chance of being heard if the other person is not pushed into a corner or feeling attacked?
I think so.

I Have Your Back!

An expression that is used to let someone know you are on their side, you are looking out for their best interest, and/or they can count on you.
I published a blog the other day that had a couple of grammatical errors.  A friend of many years let me know this after reading my post.  She and I have talked about being negative. Well, actually, I have told her I felt she tended to be negative.
Even though she had some concerns that I might take her criticism the wrong way, she let me know there were a couple of mistakes.  She understands that what I publish is a reflection of me.  I really appreciated her taking the time to let me know about the mistakes.
I am sure that at sometime in your life you were told, or have told someone else, “It isn’t what your saying, it’s how you’re saying it.”
It isn’t always easy to tell a friend they made a mistake, or are behaving in a way that isn’t in their best interest.  AND, it isn’t always easy to hear these things from other people.
I believe when we care and we have the other person’s best interest at heart, letting them know we are concerned about their choices is a risk worth taking.  Or in my case, telling me I should be more careful when posting my blogs.
If someone were to ask you how you feel about this, what would you say?  And, is there someone in your life that has your back?


Not Perfect

Wouldn’t it be wonderful to always know the right thing to say?  Wouldn’t it make life easier to always know the right to do?  The problem is we all have different needs, we all have different styles and we all cope with our challenges differently.
Instead of spending time beating ourselves up over what we could have said or done differently, a better use of time would be to think about what the other person needs.  A simple way to do that is to ask the person what we can do for them.
This isn’t always easy as most of us think about what we ourselves would want.  Sometimes words of encouragement are needed.  Sometimes a shoulder to cry on is required.  Sometimes allowing people space and time to heal, and sometimes just being there helps.
The next time you are faced with a situation where someone is in pain or needs a friend, try asking, “What can I do for you?”
Then stop and listen to what they are telling you.  Not everyone needs the same things.
Hopefully the people in our lives know how much we love them even if we fall short of what they needed from us.  After all, we are human no one is perfect.

I Hear You

A friend and I had an interesting conversation about the subject of listening and hearing.

We both agreed that many people listen, yet don’t really hear what is being said.  We talked about the difference and why we felt this way.
Some of the reasons we came up with was a person is already thinking of their ‘defense’, or ‘views’, or what is being said doesn’t really interest or resonate with them.  The problem with this is they rarely hear what is being said.
The expression, “I hear you” has become overused by people who are often blowing someone off.  They actually want that person to stop talking.
When you are trying to get your point across, do you share your feelings or do you lecture?  When you listen to someone, are you really taking in what they are telling you?
I believe most of us can do a better job of both putting information out and taking it in.  I think this takes time and practice.  Next time someone is telling you something, try to stay open.  Try not to interrupt.  And try to see their point of view.  You can always reject or ignore what they have to say afterwards.  But first, hear what that is.
What are your thoughts?