“If you have a friend who is in need of food and clothing, and you say to him, ‘”Well, goodbye and God bless you, stay warm and eat hearty,” and then don’t give him clothes or food, what good does that do?” (James 2:15-16)
To get ideas for how to write guidelines about how we can get connected to each other, I decided to start by questioning an old friend, Lois, who is pushing 90 years of age, one generation older than me. She said, “First of all, you have to have something in common. When I was younger, people depended upon one another more. They don’t now. Neighbors supported one another, and would stop by to visit. People invested in other people much more and not so much in activities. People showed one another they valued each other in many ways. They kept track of one another for years. People don’t eat together as families as much anymore.”
Well, it seems that Lois’ comments are full of wisdom. First of all, if you want to make friends, you need to connect with someone you have something in common with. You need things to talk about and to do that mean something to both of
you. But, even if you don’t have everything in common, you can still take an interest in your friend’s other concerns and you can share some of yours. Here, the emphasis is upon knowing the whole other person, as much as he or she wants to share, and not merely upon indulging your pet interests together.
Secondly, you need to indicate to your friend that you can be depended upon, as the situation warrants. That is, you come through with plans as much as you can. You help if there is a need that comes up. You are a sensitive and responsive listener, and do not merely brush off communications sent your way. You demonstrate a consistent interest in relating to your friend, and do not ignore him or her at social gatherings. You share yourself, too. You practice good manners.
Thirdly, you need to free up enough time to interact with your friend. People who spend every evening glued to their computer or video games do not have that time available to socialize. A shift in priorities is necessary. If we really try, most of us can find more time for quality interaction. What is most important, the activity or the friend? Or in the case of parents, which is more important, the activity or the children? How can children learn to be close to others when they never have had parents to be close to?
Fourth, your manner and the things you do and say can do a lot to show your friend you really value him or her in your life. Show enthusiasm. Don’t be “wishy-washy.” Be fun to be with. Be interesting. Be in enough contact with the world around you so you have something to talk about or so you can respond to what someone else says to you. Keep track of your friend, as appropriate. For example, “I thought I would give you a call. I haven’t seen you lately, and am wondering how you are doing.” Offer to get together. Smile a lot. Make your times together pleasant. Focus on the person who is communicating to you – give good eye contact. Don’t be a distracted listener.
Fifth, be someone your friend can easily cooperate with and coordinate with. Be flexible enough to flow smoothly with others’ ideas and interests. Make plans you can both feel good about. Of course, all the fruits of the Holy Spirit apply here. Gentleness, kindness, empathy, compassion, patience, and the like are indispensable. Let your commitment to the future of the friendship be known.
Finally, be patient. Quality friendships can develop quite fast, but also can take years to mature. Enjoy the journey.
In conclusion, Oh! How it helps to be “chatty.” It’s so easy to relate to someone who is so open and friendly, and always seems to have something interesting to chat about! Seems to me chattiness is a skill we can all keep practicing to increase our spontaneity. A chatty person exudes life. Of course, we all need to learn when to keep still, too!
God bless you, my friends!!
Footnote: Refer to My compassion and empathy documents
Dr. Joyce of firstname.lastname@example.org