You don't need to spend a lot of money to nurture your friendship. In fact, these ideas don't cost a thing but your time and attention. Most of the time, friends just want to feel appreciated, which doing one of these simple things on a regular basis will accomplish nicely.
Listen to Them
One of the most important things you can do for anyone is to truly listen to them, fully and actively. People will always remember someone that makes them feel special enough to be heard, but for your friends this skill is even more important.
Times to pay special attention to your friend are when:
- You haven't seen each other in a while. You'll want to talk about what's going on in your own life, but make sure to listen to what your friend says, and pay attention to any nonverbal clues that could give away information about areas they might be struggling with.
- Your friend is having a hard time with jobs, family, or personal life.
- You sense that something is wrong and your friend isn't coming right out and telling you about it.
- You feel that your friend might be upset with you, and you're not sure why.
A friend who will tell it to you straight is a gem. Knowing you can always depend on someone to tell you the truth is a blessing, but be careful about how you dole out honesty. Being honest should always be:
- Given when a friend asks for it.
- Expressed when your friend is in a bad situation that they might not fully admit to or see. (Never just blurt something hurtful out just because it's your opinion and you feel your friend should know it. Examine your motives when being honest with a friend.)
Compliment Them Sincerely
While it's nice to get a compliment on your physical appearance, it's even better to receive a heartfelt compliment that is unique and speaks to your character.
When giving a compliment, ask yourself:
- Has my friend been judging themselves harshly? (Such as wondering if they are a bad parent or friend?) If so, compliment them on the things they are doing right.
- Is my friend struggling with body issues? If so, tell them something positive about their appearance. Be cautious here to make sure what you say is a real compliment and not a backhanded one. (For example, telling a female friend she has a pretty face when she is struggling to lose weight is not a compliment.)
- Has my friend been having a hard time at work? Offer praise for their commitment or effort.
Tell Them How Much You Appreciate Them
While notes might cost a few bucks (especially if you send them out via snail mail), they don't have to. It's not the prettiness of the stationery or the delivery that your friend will notice, but the genuineness of the words you use.
If you're better at expressing yourself with the written word, take some time and write a note or email that lets your friend know they are important to you. Give them examples of how they have positively impacted your life.
You can do this verbally as well. When the moment is right, tell your friend how much you appreciate them. You don't need to get flowery with your delivery, in fact, a fumbled expression of appreciation often means more than a well-rehearsed one.
We're quick to tell friends when we're unhappy at times, but one of the nicest things you can do to nurture your friendship is just to make sure someone knows in no uncertain terms that their friendship is valued.