18 Mar Some valuable friendship skills
Imagine that you walk into the front door of your neighbor’s house like you have a hundred times before because you are really good friends. You notice that the family is surrounding their dog, Fluffy. Fluffy isn’t moving and has been placed in a box. Dad has a shovel. You take all of this in. Do you:
Ask what’s for dinner?
Show them your turtle collection?
Burst into hysterical fits of laughter while pointing at the box?
Play music and suggest everyone begin dancing?
Quietly sit beside your friend, place your hand on his back and say how sorry you are that Fluffy has died?
Friendship skills include many, many traits that come together to make you more successful navigating your social world. As in the example above, reading a situation is critical to being able to respond in a way that makes you a good friend (or sibling, or son, or daughter, or partner, or employee, etc.). (If you had asked what’s for dinner, then everyone would have been upset that you are so blind as to clearly see that Fluffy has died and everyone is really sad.) When you read a situation properly, you then adjust your reaction accordingly. In this case, you would find empathy for the family and likely sit down with them and tell them how sorry you are for their loss. You might even ask if you could help in any way. To learn more about empathy, please click here. Empathy is one of the most important friendship skills. If you are not familiar with it, definitely read the post at the link above.
Moreover, have you ever walked into a room and suddenly felt the tension or the laughter or the fear before anyone has even said a word? Being able to tap into the energy of a situation takes awareness and the ability to label a whole lot of different feelings.
Sometimes it’s difficult to switch moods so quickly, even though you’re fully aware that your mood and the mood in the room is very different. Say you just won the state championships in frog racing and you want to share the good news with your neighbors. Seconds before entering the house you are full of joy, happy energy and are all smiles. Instead of laughing at dead Fluffy, you will need to switch your mood pretty quickly in order to show empathy. After all, this is your buddy you’ve just come to visit.
Switching moods so suddenly is not always easy. The mood switch is in a part of your brain that is still growing, and, just like a muscle, it takes a lot of practice to get this one right. (Your frog wasn’t the jumping and racing champion for nothing: you two practiced!) Switching your emotions takes practice too as does controlling them and communicating them well!
To read more about communication, check out the Healthy Relationships post.
In fact, the foundational principles discussed in the Healthy Relationships post apply to friendships as well: communication, trust and respect are the cornerstone to all good relationships, whether simply friends or a MTFF. (Wondering what an MTFF is? Check out Book 3: Express Your Self where communication and relationships are discussed in detail.)
Have you ever read a situation wrong and did something socially silly? Share it.