I know it is an age old cliché, “To have a friend, be a friend”, but I have found this to be true. I know quite a few people who do not have good friends. They have people in their life they would call friends, but no one who really knows them deeply. My experience with this has been to be a friend way before I expect the act of friendship to be extended to me.
I learned an incredible tool in friendship from my Dad. In college he became a facilitator for Steven Covey’s, 7 Habits of Highly Effective People. One of the Habits is to “See first to understand, and then be understood.” I have applied this to friendship the past dozen years and the effects have produced incredible fruit. The way this works for me practically is to listen and seek to know the person who I am befriending long before I look to them to reciprocate the sediment. I ask questions, sit with an open posture when I am with them and give good eye contact. Another way to is call or text them to follow up and ask how something went that they shared with me. If they had a big meeting or fun weekend planned I check in with them a few days later to see how it went. These are not suggestions to try and manipulate the person into feeling they are heard, but small ways that I am able to communicate to them that I really do desire to know them.
What I have experienced is that as I become a friend to others and seek to know them, the desire often wells up inside them to do the same. Before we know it we are in a vibrant friendship walking through life together. It is truly a joy to live life with others.