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Being a Good Friend

Like most people, you likely have friends who you would readily call good friends and others - though friends - are simply not as good at being a friend. Being a friend requires something of us. Here's what I think it takes to fall into the "good friends" category. No searches online; no talking to others first; just my thoughts on what it takes.

Make your friendships a priority on your calendar. It's very difficult to be friends with someone whom you never see.

Drop the tit-for-tat. I'm usually the one that arranges get-togethers. If I left it to most of my friends we wouldn't get together as often because it's not in their make-up to be arrangers. If I waited for them to invite me to coffee because I did it last time, it wouldn't happen as often. Friendship isn't about keeping score.

Give without expecting anything in return. This goes hand-in-hand with dropping the tit-for-tat.

Don't expect your friends to be just like you. It's OK to hold different political beliefs. It's cool to have friends both older and younger than you. You don't need to have the same interests. Having a diverse set of friends enhances your life as you expand and grow through the experience.

Make it about them. I hear this happen in conversation quite often: someone tells of something going on in her life and the "listener" immediately turns the conversation to himself or herself. Example: "My son had to stay home from school yesterday with a fever." Wrong reply: "Oh, we had the same thing last week. Stuff is going around!" Right reply: "Poor kid. How is he doing today?" Don't turn the focus on yourself - or at least don't do it immediately.

Be bold. Some people have a hard time when friends face adversity because we think we'll say the wrong thing and make it worse. Friends honestly loving us will never make it worse. Call even though you know he won't pick up the phone. Reply to the Facebook status that says she needs your prayers. Ask what you can do. Hug her when she cries. Be sure to couple this one with the bullet above - this isn't the time to tell someone how you went through something similar. It's about them, not you.

Listen. This involves you being quiet. No interrupting. Actually hearing what the person is saying instead of thinking about the next thing you are going to say. Be OK with silence between responses. Listen.

Be authentic. Bring who you really are to the relationship. If you can't then this likely isn't going to be one of your true friends.

Let friends know when you're thinking about them. The interesting thing is this - often there seems to be a reason a friend has come to mind. Drop a card in the mail, post on her Facebook wall, give him a call or send a text. When a friend is on your mind, that's the perfect time to engage.

Celebrate with them. This requires you to leave your ego at the door. A true friend isn't bitter when a friend has reason to celebrate. A true friend celebrates with that person and is authentically happy that the good thing happened. And, again, this isn't a time to turn it into something about you - because it's not about you. It's about the good thing that has happened to your friend.

I could go on and on, but I'll stop here. If we could manage to do all these with each of our friends, just think how changed those relationships would be.