All of us need friends. But what is a friend, and how do you know when you have found one? With a true friend you feel:
- You accept rather than judge.
- You express your feelings and encourage them to do likewise.
- You take responsibility for your feelings and never lay guilt trips on them for how you feel.
- You show empathy, compassion, and understanding for their feelings.
- You are sensitive to their feelings and needs, but you do not drain yourself by feeling responsible for meeting them. You recognize that each person is responsible for their own feelings, so your friends do not become burdensome to you.
- You do not blame them or attack them, so they do not need to feel defensive or to counterattack.
- You do not advise them or tell them what to do, since you know that this will foster dependency, rob them of the chance to grow, and possibly create resentment later on.
- You are honest with them, even when what you have to say is unpleasant for them, because (a) You respect them enough to honor them with the truth, (b) You want them to grow through awareness, and (c) You trust them enough to manage their own responses.
- When you express concerns you express them as statements of your feelings, not of their character.
A true friend is someone who helps you reach your highest potential, someone who helps you be the best you can be and in turn you are able to encourage them in their growth and potential.
~Adapted from Steve Hein www.eqi.org