Four Tips for Maintaining Fabulous Friendships
Organizational Expert Paris Love shares practical tips for building time with friends into your busy life. The giddiness of just being together used to envelope me. Remember the excitement of sleepovers? I couldn’t wait for Friday night to come around. There was nothing better than all-girl time.
Today, girlfriend time is probably even more important to me. The problem is achieving it. There are a million conflicts in adult life coming from all directions, and as your life gets busier with family, career, and volunteering, precious friendships become distant. It’s true that you have to work at being a friend. Every good relationship requires some effort—parent to child, wife to husband, employee to boss, and, yes, girlfriend to girlfriend. It actually takes a bit of organization on your part.
Here are four tips on maintaining fabulous friendships:
1. Don’t forget to show you care. A friend is someone who cares about you—and you care about her. Sometimes, in rushing through the day, we forget the little things that are really the big things. Put friends’ birthdays in your calendar, or use a free online reminder service to email you when a birthday approaches. A phone call or card from a friend means a lot.
Take an organized approach to caring. When a girlfriend mentions something that is going on in her life—such as special project stress at work, a session of painful dental work, or a much-anticipated vacation—take note. Literally take note, and write it in your calendar. Shoot her an encouraging text to show that you care.
2. Use your voice. Social media and text messages have their place, but honestly we all really need someone to listen to us. Find time during your day—you don’t need a reason to call. Just tell her you missed her and wanted to hear the sound of her voice. And don’t forget to listen. We all need someone to vent to. Each week, set a goal to keep up with one or two friends you adore.
3. Be supportive. Bringing a casserole dish over to a friend might be old school, but it is a tradition worth keeping. From a new baby to death in the family to illness, those are the times we need someone to hug us and to feed us. If you don’t cook, buy a dish.
Don’t wait to be asked to help out. When a friend is going through a hard time, be the friend who shows up. When there is a crisis, show up. Fold some laundry, empty the dishwasher, take out the trash, and just be there.
4. Make girlfriend time happen. Here are six planned-ahead ways to make time with a friend.
• Exercise: Find a meeting spot, and meet up to walk every week, or join an exercise class together. • Network: If you’ve got a girlfriend also in business—and it doesn’t have to be the same career as you—then you’ve got a networking partner. Visit some various business groups or professional women organizations together, and join one. • Volunteer: Volunteering together on a project is a great way to spend time together while doing something good along the way. • Learn: Dying to take an art or yoga class? If you are going to squeeze a class into your busy week, have a friend join you in the experience. • Lunch: Yes, meeting for lunch is an old stand-by, but sometimes we forget to use it to keep up with old friendships. We eat at our desks, grab a bite with co-workers, or run errands. Take note of which old friends work closely enough that you can meet somewhere for lunch every so often. Initiate the invitation. On a beautiful day, you can even brown bag it at a park for an hour. Life isn’t meant to be spent alone, so make sure you are taking time to maintain those relationships that encourage you to be your wonderful self.