You’re scrolling through your social feed and you see all these updates about people who you’re close to, people starting companies, engagements, maybe even the odd baby here and there, getting promoted at work… But you’re wondering why you’re seeing it on social instead of hearing it from them directly?
Then it hits you like a bolt of lightning… “oh, I guess we’re just not that close anymore.”
Look, we’re good friends with people, and then life happens. We’re living on the other side of the world, we have careers to build, empires to run, households to manage. It’s part of the natural cycle of life.
But even though that might be a case, today I wanted to share some tips for how to maintain friendships…especially when life happens. Research shows that friendships are a key source of happiness and longevity, so it’s worth investing some time into.
So if you’re ready to learn more, then stick around.
I think it’s safe to say that we’ve all felt a little FOMO … fear of missing out … not so much on the activity, but the fact that you didn’t actually hear the news from your friend … you just saw the update in their feed.
Now, I get that this might feel a bit like a betrayal, but instead of moping about it, let's try to take some steps towards addressing the root issues.
Now it’s unrealistic to do this for everyone … but for the people who are really important to you … that’s a different story. Focus on these few first and you can add people as your schedule permits.
So let’s jump into the three strategies for maintaining friendships:
Reach Out to Check-in
This could be over WhatsApp, text message or email.
The most personal touch would be through a phone call, but we tend to focus on written communication more so these days. So the next best would be email and text.
My tip would be to avoid doing this outreach over social media because it just feels a bit less personal … at least for me. That’s probably because with social media it’s effortless, but with an email or text, you are making a deliberate effort to reach out in a more intimate way.
I recently celebrated a birthday and it was so lovely to get calls and personal messages on that day. It really made me feel extra special 😊
So the main take away here is to be the person to reach out. Don’t wait for your friend to do this. You do it. A simple “I miss you, let’s hang out soon.”
Or if you haven’t spoken to this person in a while, invite them to hop on the phone for a quick chat – it’s not weird because there’s precedent…this is a good friend of yours after all…even though you may have lost touch.
And if this friend lives in the same city then invite them to coffee to catch up.
You’d be surprised how a little check-in can go a long way.
That brings me to my next tip.
Meet in Person
Prioritize face to face.
There’s no question that the best type of communication, and one which is the most exquisitely complex, is face to face. Yes, in person communication does wonders for the soul.
Think back to a time when you met a friend for coffee. How amazing did you feel? Energized? Motivated? High on life?
Now, compare that to a call with this friend or an exchange of written correspondence. Different right?
Now, I get that because life happens, you might not have the luxury of seeing this friend face-to-face.
This is where technology can help us out a little. Doing video chat, skype calls, facetiming that sort of thing can definitely feel more like face to face than written modes of communication both synchronous and asynchronous messaging, for example, but it shouldn’t replace face-to-face.
When possible, prioritize face-to-face over all other modes of communication.
You’re in your hometown for the weekend? Tell your bestie and plan an outing.
Spending time in a major city for the holidays? Look up your friends who’ve settled there.
Doing some travel? Figure out if you have any close friends in that destination and catch up over lunch.
Face-to-face is definitely more time consuming and effortful, but it’s worth it, and there are ways to do it that can be woven seamlessly into your busy schedule.
Share Something Personal
When you do check-in with this person, whether digitally or in person, make sure to have a meaningful and authentic conversation.
If you’re just going to run through the humdrum “how are you…fine and you” and walk through the motions, it defeats the purpose.
If you’re going to have an ego complex or start comparing your life to their life… abort right away. This isn’t the path you want to go down. Remember, “comparison is the thief of joy”. That’s what Theodore Roosevelt said, and in our age of social media and social comparison, it’s a good mantra to have.
Better to focus on the present moment, and relish in the opportunity you get to spend time together.
Be present. Be mindful. Be excited. Be grateful.
Perhaps most important is to be authentic. That could mean sharing something personal, as in only someone with close friend status gets the privilege of knowing, but this could also mean being vulnerable or even acting goofy. Authenticity brings people closer together. And sharing something personal or showing vulnerability are about revealing your true essence. It’s a way we express our authenticity.
You know the saying: “With good friends, you pick up right where you left off.” It’s so true. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve felt that with my close friends. It feels as though we’d never parted ways. And more surprisingly, I’ve experienced something similar with people whom I didn’t know that well yet, but had a strong connection to… you know, like the people you feel could become close friends just from the first few minutes of meeting them.
The bottom line is that you both have chosen to set aside precious time for this engagement, so make it count!
So the next time you miss your bff because you’re far from home or just haven’t had the time to devote to your kindred spirits, do these three things:
(1) Reach out to check-in. Forget your pride and be the first person to do it.
(2) Prioritize face to face communication, whenever possible. It takes more time, but that’s kind of the point.
(3) Be authentic and present. It’s a special moment so treat it that way.
What’s really cool about this is that you can do this with a close friend who you might not have seen in a while, but you can also do it with friends you just saw last weekend.
Start making it a habit to treat your friends like the diamonds they are. Shiny, sparkly and super strong.
Here’s the thing, we need to invest in the people we care about by putting time into nurturing these relationships. Your tribe is so instrumental in your happiness and wellbeing.
More and more research is showing that having a community is one of the best things we can be doing for our mental health. It sounds nuts but the science shows that loneliness and lack of friendships can be more harmful than sugar and tobacco.
So maintain your friendships and strike up new ones. Because that hashtag “nonewfriends” is kinda lame – sorry Drake. Seriously though, let’s avoid the scarcity mindset and open up our hearts and minds to having an abundance mindset. Add new friends to your tribe and nurture the ones you already have.
Remember that children song we used to sing, “Make new friends, but keep the old; Those are silver, these are gold.” That’s going to be stuck in your head now…whoops.
Anyway, there’s truth to that!
Alright Explearners, that’s a wrap on this lesson. Add these strategies to your Explearning communications toolkit, try them out, and make them your own.
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I’ll see you in my next lesson!😊