December 31, 2014

5 Simple Phrases to Build Stronger Friendships.

elephant friends

I wouldn’t say that I’m the best friend.

In fact, there have been times in my life when I would say that I was a bad friend. However, as I’ve grown into my late 20s, I’ve noticed the stark differences between strong friendships and the ones that didn’t last, and I’ve made renewed efforts to choose and nourish the right ones.

As millennials, we often multi-task in our jobs, lives and friendships. It is rare that we see the same people every week and thus, it is important to further stretch out the allotted time with new and old friends. Sometimes a one hour lunch date is all there is time for and thus, every little phrase and tone becomes the keys to building a strong friendship.

Here are five simple phrases to use for stronger friendships in the new year:

“You are so good at…”

A compliment goes a long way. We all have strengths that may not be utilized fully in our day-to-day jobs or which are overlooked, even by those who spend the most time with us. During a lunch date, casually slip in a bold affirmation about a talent or quality that is unique to each friend.

The effects of a compliment are guaranteed to grow as they replay it in their head as they continue their week. Direct and specific compliments often help launch people to do that next gig or release an unhealthy belief system.

“Tell me the entire story.”

Too often, dates with friends are scheduled after months of scattered communication. As a result, there is an excitement and urgency to get to the conclusion of the story and rush through the seemingly tedious details. The phrase “long story short” is too often replaced for listening and absorbing the entire story. Instead, ask friends to share every little detail and listen all the way through. Humans are narrative creatures and hearing stories brings us closer together.

“Let me know how that turns out.”

Follow-ups are key after a friendship date. Let friends know that it’s important to know what ensues in the time after a hangout. A short meal with a friend will mostly include conversation about what they’ve done and what they want to do in the future. Make a presence in their future by sending pictures, making follow up calls and inside jokes. This extension from hangouts will stretch limited time with a friend into months and until the next date.

“Remember that time when we….”

Whether it’s a new or old friend, a small reminder of a common event together can create nostalgia and thus strengthen that memory. It’s been shown in studies that the more times a memory is replayed and emotions re-experienced, the deeper the effect and the stronger the bond with that person. So, even that ridiculous memory with a friend lost in a parking lot could create laughter and joy well into much later years.

“How can I support you?”

As younger professionals, the only support really needed was a drinking buddy or a birthday shout-out. But as we mature, millennials are cultivating personal projects, funding startups, buying houses and starting families. Social media and technology have made it virtually effortless to fund independent projects of any type.

The best mentors, entrepreneurs and friends all ask each other this key question after a meet up or talk. It’s important to support friends in their work and lifestyle beyond your immediate friendship. Ask a friend how to best support them in the next month. It is usually a small request and something easily fulfilled.


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Author: Joy Lin

Editor: Catherine Monkman

Photo: Oscar van Bonsdorf/Flickr

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