Friendship Corner: Finding Your People

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In order to tap into her best self, every woman needs support–no one does it alone! We’ve all had those days: you’re running late for work, still recovering from the argument you had last night with your husband, and the dang car won’t start. Who do you call? Whether it’s the death of a pet, parent, or relationship, we all have that one friend we turn to who will make everything better. So what makes that person your person? Merriam-Webster’s top definition of friend is “a person who you like and enjoy being with.” Wow, that could describe lots of people, from casual acquaintances to co-workers to the guy at the market who carries your groceries to the car. You certainly don’t have to have only one best friend, but what are the qualities of the people who qualify to be one of your people? Every woman has her own set of values that dictate what qualities are most important to her in a friend; here are my top ten:

1.      She is curious.  A good friend is a good listener. Period. She wants to know what’s going on with you, and doesn’t automatically relate whatever you’re saying back to herself. She asks you questions about your day, your job, your life, your relationships–and actually cares about the answers. And it goes without saying that you will listen back when it’s her turn to share.

2.      She is your cheerleader. Who’s your biggest champion? She is. Your bestie is in your corner, cheering for you, always. You call her when you’re nervous before a big presentation and she tells you to picture her in the back of the room as you’re speaking with one of those big foam thumbs up signs saying “Yay you! Hooray! Great job!” And knowing that she’s there in spirit will be almost the same as having her there in person, that’s how connected you are to her energetic support. No matter what you’re doing, she’ll be there, either physically or metaphorically.

3.      She tells you what’s what. You can also rely on this woman to share with you the (sometimes hard, cold) truth. If she has something to say, she’ll say it without worrying about how the directness will land. If there’s baggage getting in the way of your friendship, she’s upset with you about the way you spoke to her last night, or she believes that the speech you’ve been practicing needs a complete overhaul, she’ll tell you. There are ways to speak kindly and be direct at the same time, and this girl’s got that dynamic covered.

4.      She acknowledges you. On the positive side, a good friend not only appreciates all of your gifts and strengths, she sends lots of compliments your way. I’m not talking about being a shameless suck up and giving you empty accolades. Your friend notices all that is good, strong and creative about you, and isn’t afraid to let you know. She gets how important it is for you to be seen in all your glory.

5.      She is open to receiving. This lady is not only willing to give it to you, she is also willing to take it. The concept applies to compliments as well as constructive criticism. We all know those friends who are quick to criticize others yet aghast when someone says something less than stellar about them. Your girl knows that she’ll get the truth from you, just as she is willing to give it in return. A friendship where one always gives and the other always takes–be it advice, feedback, favors or gifts–does not a healthy relationship make.

 5.      She is not jealous of your accomplishments. Among friends, “healthy competition” works. You can both be high-achieving, even competitive individuals, yet refrain from being jealous of each other’s successes. How would that work, anyway, if you couldn’t be happy for all the fabulous things that come your friend’s way? Good friends inspire each other to be better and are happy for each other, even if their friend achieves something that they do not.

7.      She is not judgmental. Your woman pal accepts you for all that you are: the good, the bad, the ugly, and all the rest. She doesn’t have to agree with you, yet she respects you enough never to make you feel like you’re bad or wrong. Good friends can disagree, yet they do so with compassion and respect.

8.      She is trustworthy. Can you imagine sharing all of your secrets with your pal and then being afraid that she’ll tell the entire internet two hours later? No can do. A true friend puts everything in the vault. Although it sometimes gets tricky when you ask someone to keep something from their spouse or partner, this friend won’t tell anyone your business if you ask her not to. Your friendship is a sacred, safe space where confidentiality and respect are of the utmost importance.

9.      She is big-hearted and compassionate. Kindness makes the world go round: it beats even intelligence and wit. A good friend is someone you can say about, at the end of the day, “that chick is the epitome of a good person.” She cares about you and brings you a bag of candy and a pink, fluffy booboo bunny when you’re going through a hard time. She may even give you the shirt off her back if you tell her enough times how much you love it, knowing full well that you’d do the same for her. Popular and pretty girls look great on social media, yet in the real world, friends who would do anything for you are the most beautiful.

10.  She makes your heart sing. When do you have the most fun? With this gal. You smile when you’re together, laugh at each other’s jokes, and delight in each other’s idiosyncrasies, even if other people think they’re weird. You speak in silly accents, do weird dances, and giggle like schoolgirls. You take pictures of yourselves doing yoga poses in the dark by the lake, not being able to see what you’re doing, laughing so hard you cry, then laughing again every time you see the ridiculous photos. Laughter releases chemicals from the brain that actually make us live longer and tap into our creativity and intuition, and you thank Science for reminding you that your best friend keeps you young. No alcohol required!

Plainly stated, a good friend is life affirming versus life diminishing. She makes things better, whether it’s how you feel about yourself, how excited you are to get together, or how relieved you are that someone’s got your back. And when it comes to friends, more is definitely not better. This is one area where it’s ok to be picky. Don’t be afraid to do some friend-pruning where you examine what you’re giving and getting in a relationship and let go of those that don’t measure up. One or two amazing friendships bring more joy than a collection of gals who don’t care about you in the ways you deserve. Life is precious and short; surround yourself with people who lift you up.

An amazing friend is like snuggling up with a delicious, warm cup of your coffee in a comfy chair while reading your favorite book. The world just wouldn’t be the same without her, and she feels the same about you. Having the right woman by your side allows you to stand in your own power and go forth in all parts of your life–professional and personal–with strength, fierceness and love. An amazing friend is a true Powerhouse Woman.

This article appeared in the May, 18, 2018 edition of Powerhouse Global Magazine; contact me here to speak or lead a workshop on this topic.