Friday, 17 January 2014

Are you friend material?

In the last post we were talking about friendship, and where you might start looking to find potential friends.  But there's another thing to think about before you start filling up your social calendar: are you friend material?

It's like bringing a plate, but you're the plate
You don't have to be awesome to have friends, but it helps if you have something going for you.  Are you trustworthy?  Honest?  Helpful?  Interesting? (No, just knowing a lot of trivia does not automatically make you interesting.)  Are you fun to be around?  Witty? (Tip: if you have to tell people you're funny, you're not.) Do you respect other people?  Are you genuinely interested in their lives and their issues?  Can you discuss politics without picking a fight?

You don't have to be all of those things, but if you can cultivate one or two, it can improve your friendship prospects.  It's not about pretending to be someone you're not, it's about making a point of showing off your best attributes, just like you'd talk up your skills on your resume.

Where it differs from a job interview, though, is that it's generally not helpful to tell prospective friends that you're honest or funny or interested in their hangnail.  These things are demonstrated rather than told, so in most casual social situations verbalising it will probably make you look a bit weird.  Rather, jut wait for an opportunity to show that you're honest, you're witty, or you're willing to lend a hand.  Friendships are an investment of time and emotion, and every time you show you're suitability as a friend, you're showing that you're worth that investment.

(In case you'd like it, here is some research into what people consider important characteristics in their friends.)