Thanksgiving is the perfect time to reflect on the things you appreciate most. For many of us, friends and family are at the top of that list. But when was the last time you made an effort to show the people in your life how much they matter?
Taking the time to let your friends know they are valued can lead to stronger relationships, and a more successful social life. That doesn’t mean you need to spend money on fancy presents, or plan some kind of grand gesture. There are plenty of little ways you can show your friends they matter, any time of year, any day of the week. Need some ideas? Try these:
Be a good listener: Your friends want to know that their thoughts are valuable, and their opinions matter. When they know you care about what they have to say, they will be more likely to seek you out for conversations in the future. So make sure you’re listening closely, when your friends are talking. That means paying attention, instead of simply waiting for your turn to talk. It also means making eye contact, building on the conversation, and asking relevant questions. The better you listen, the more easily the conversation will flow. That will give you plenty of opportunities to get to know each other better, and discover common ground.
Take the time to check in: We all have those weeks when it feels like everything is happening at once. A hectic schedule may leave you feeling totally drained, but that doesn’t mean you should check out on your friends completely. To keep a friendship going strong, it’s important to stay connected, no matter what’s going on in life. If you’ve got some flexibility in your schedule, try meeting up in the cafeteria for lunch, or hanging out after school. If that’s not possible, try a simple text, Facebook message, or old-fashioned phone call. This way, your friends will know you’re thinking about them, even when you can’t spend time together. It will also give you an opportunity to stay updated on each other’s lives. That way, when you finally do get to hang out, it’ll be easier to pick up right where you left off.
Be Supportive: Life is full of up’s and down’s. Having a good friend by your side can make the good times better, and the bad times more bearable. So you should always let your friends know you have their backs. Be happy for them when things are going well. Congratulate them on their successes. “Like” their social media posts. And keep in mind, if they’re having a bad day, your support may be needed more than ever. Let them know you’re available to listen, and offer a shoulder to cry on. You may not be able to fix the problem, but your friends will know you’re someone they can rely on, through good times and bad. Plus, they’ll be more likely to return the favor, and support you next time you’re the one in need.
Give Compliments: Everyone loves getting a little confidence boost now and then. You don’t have to follow your friends around, showering them with compliments. But you should give them some encouragement when things are going well. Maybe they rocked their class presentation, or gave a killer performance in the school talent show. It doesn’t matter what the accomplishment is. The point is to let your friends know that you’re paying attention to their achievements, and that you’re rooting for them.
Respect Differences: Being friends does not mean you will agree on everything. You will have different opinions. You will have different interests. You will have different strengths and weaknesses. And that’s okay. It’s even a good thing! You should never try to pressure your friends into being someone they are not. Instead, support the things that make them unique. Let them know they are accepted for who they are, and that they never have to stress over your opinion. This a great way to show your friends how much they are valued while building a more honest, more genuine relationship.
Sometimes, it really is the smallest gestures that have the biggest impact on a friendship. Strong relationships form when both people feel important and appreciated. Luckily, showing your friends they matter is not difficult. All you have to do is pay attention, and let them know you’re always on their side. You may have to remind yourself to do this every now and then, but the friendships you will build as a result will definitely be worth it!