Friendship is a notion that is both simple, yet complex. It has been the subject of books, plays, sonnets, poems, courses, and films. A friend is something we all are, yet being a friend is something we all know we can do better. It is easy and hard, natural and contrived, again, simple and complex. Friends can make us laugh and cry, feel secure and vulnerable, even loving and livid.
What is this thing we call friendship and always take for granted? To understand friendship, and your role as a friend, ask yourself, what makes a good friend? What do we look for or expect in friendship?
When Jeff Fromknecht and I were working on our book, "Social Capital: The Key to Macro Change," (Lapress, 2014) we went through a process with folks we respected and here are some of the things we uncovered:
* Agreeable - we like people as friends who are positive and agreeable. We look for people with an "up" attitude.
* Flexible - Life is full of bends and twists. To this extent we want to be near people who are able to bend and flex.
* Available - Certainly we want people for friends who are available to be connected to us. This is not to say that we want undivided attention - only that we expect some access to those people we call friends.
* Listener - Because friendship is predicated on communication, we want friends who can listen to us, and are not judgmental.
* Non-demanding - We want our friends to not press us too much. Certainly we want some critiques from our friends, but we get uncomfortable when there are too many demands or challenges.
* Similarity - Although diversity can be the spice of life, we need some similarity to begin the bridging process. Think about any of your friends today - there was some similarity that started the friendship.
Now these are just some of the elements of friendship that we discovered. Of course there are others that you might come up with. In fact, it would not be a bad idea to make your own list. In some ways we can use these lists to help teach our children some of the basics of friendship; or more, for each of us to stay cognizant of in our own quest to be better friends.