7 Qualities of a Good Friend We Should Cultivate Within Ourselves
Ask yourself this: “Are you a good friend?”
Your answer is probably a resounding yes. I’m sure you’re very reliable, empathetic, respectful, and whatever else that makes you a great friend. But today, I want to explore some unusual qualities of a good friend that we normally don’t think about, but help us build healthy friendships just the same.
Let’s see if you have any of these unusual qualities of a good friend, shall we?
- 1. A Good Friend is Not Afraid to Speak the Truth, Even If It’s Uncomfortable
- 2. A Good Friend Cares More About Friendships Than Being Right
- 3. A Good Friend is Considerate of Others’ Financial Situations
- 4. A Good Friend Doesn’t Expect You to Do Them Favours
- 5. A Good Friend Doesn’t Meddle in Their Friends’ Affairs
- 6. A Good Friend Knows a Friend’s Quirks and Respect Them
- 7. A Good Friend Helps Their Friends Put Family First
- 8. Final Thoughts on What It Means to Be a Good Friend
7 Unusual Qualities of a Good Friend
1. A Good Friend is Not Afraid to Speak the Truth, Even If It’s Uncomfortable
One thing I love about my best friend is that she’s not afraid to tell me the truth, even if it stings a little at first. And I appreciate that.
We often think the definition of a “good friend” should be someone who’s supportive and kind at all times. Just think how many times you told a white lie to protect a friend’s feelings.
Yeah, I’ve been there. After all, we’ve been told—ever since we were little—that this is the socially acceptable thing to do.
We readily hand out praises but hold our tongue when it comes to real feedback. We’re afraid to hurt people’s feelings. The very thought of seeing our friend’s awkward face after we tell them the truth is enough to scare us into swallowing it back down our throat.
And that’s a bit of a shame.
Sure we don’t need to be blunt about it, but a lot of times real feedback can really benefit someone. It can make them grow and improve. They will never know where they’re lacking if you nod along to everything they say and applaud everything they do.
Sometimes a dose of truth—given in a kind way—can be the catalyst for a great change.
So are you that friend who’s not afraid to tell the truth, even if it might be uncomfortable?
If you’re struggling with this, here’s a tip to help you give real feedback by communicating your intentions openly and authentically.
Are you the kind of friend who's not afraid to speak the truth, even if it makes you uncomfortable? Sometimes a dose of truth—given in a kind way—can be the catalyst for a great change.
2. A Good Friend Cares More About Friendships Than Being Right
A good friend knows that friendships are more important than being right.
You don’t hear them say the words “you’re wrong”. Because a good friend doesn’t patronize, nor do they judge. “I have a different opinion” is how they voice their point of view. Because they know it’s just that—a different point of view.
If you end up making a mistake, they would never rub salt in your wound by saying “I told you so”. A good friend doesn’t care about proving they were right. They know failure is a wonderful opportunity to learn and they rather spend the energy in helping you learn from a mistake than magnifying the fact that you were wrong.
If you’re wondering whether you’re a good friend or not, ask yourself this:
How do I feel when a friend voices a different opinion or has a different way of doing things? Do I feel the need to convince them that my way is the best way or my opinion is the right answer?
3. A Good Friend is Considerate of Others’ Financial Situations
Money is something that can cause a real rift in a friendship.
As people progress in their careers, their financial situations change. It’s not unusual for friends who were once in the same income bracket to find themselves eventually at different income levels, with a different threshold for spending. And that’s where things can get awkward.
I remember watching an episode of “Friends” where everyone had an unpleasant evening at a fancy restaurant because of this exact problem.
While the characters with a larger, more steady income enjoyed socializing over expensive meals, the ones with a smaller budget didn’t—hanging out with friends came at a greater cost than they can afford.
This scenario happens a lot in real life. I once asked a friend of mine why she stopped hanging out with a group of friends she used to go out with all the time. She told me that while she enjoyed their company, socializing with them became a financial burden. As much as she like the people in that group, she could no longer keep up with the spending.
Like the characters with a lower income in “Friends”, this friend of mine felt too embarrassed to voice her feelings. And they’re not alone. Most people wouldn’t bring it up—nobody wants to be the “party pooper”. They’ll either tolerate it and deal with the burden, or distance themselves from the friendship.
So if we’re really a good friend, we need to be considerate of our friends’ financial situations. If we know someone doesn’t make a lot of money, don’t invite them out to expensive dinners all the time. Instead, think of other ways to spend time with them without having to spend any money.
And if we’re the one who’s making less money and feeling the burden of socializing, we need to be honest about our feelings. We need to realize that our friends with a higher income just have a different comfort level when it comes to spending money, and they may not even realize we feel differently.
Now think of the last few outings you had with a friend (or friends).
Did you spend, in your opinion, a reasonable amount of money that you felt comfortable with? Do you think everyone felt the same way? How do you know?
4. A Good Friend Doesn’t Expect You to Do Them Favours
One of the most fundamental elements of any friendship is reciprocity—it’s the glue that keeps us connected to one another.
But a good friend doesn’t expect you to do any favours for them. They’re always happy when you do, however, it’s not something they view as a “condition” of the friendship.
A good friend doesn’t take people’s time and energy for granted. They don’t hold the view that someone should automatically say yes to doing them a favour just because they’re friends, or because they themselves have done favours for the friend before. They don’t keep tabs on reciprocity. And most importantly, they would never ask for a favour that would put a friend in an awkward spot.
If you’re truly a good friend, your focus is on how you can help your friends—within your limits of course (because you need to take care of yourself too)—and not on how they should help you.
Do I expect my friends to help me out when I ask them to? Do I feel upset if a friend says no? Or do I try to understand from their point of view why they may not be able to help me out?
5. A Good Friend Doesn’t Meddle in Their Friends’ Affairs
When you care about somebody, you want them to be happy. The last thing you want is for them to get hurt. It can be tempting to want to step in when you see them making what you think is a bad choice. Or worse—pursuing a path you believe will lead to nothing but disaster and heartache.
I know I’ve struggled with this. I care a lot about my friends and sometimes that can translate into overprotectiveness.
It frustrates me to see a friend not getting what I think they deserve, especially when it comes to relationships. I’m still learning to accept the fact that I can’t use my standards and expectations to judge somebody else’s choice. I’ve learned the hard way that not every friend will appreciate your advice. Even if they do thank you for your advice, they might not take it. And no matter how much I think they’ll regret it later, I can’t meddle in their affairs.
The great philosopher Confucius taught that when giving advice, we must be mindful of how far we can go.As a good friend we should only give what we believe is the right advice once or twice, but don’t push any further.
So are you a good friend who doesn’t meddle in their friends’ affairs? Ask yourself the following questions:
- Do I find myself thinking about my friends’ problems as if they were my own?
- What do I do when a friend doesn’t take my advice? Do I drop it or try to convince them to accept my advice?
Are you a good friend? Before you answer, check out these 7 qualities of a good friend!
6. A Good Friend Knows a Friend’s Quirks and Respect Them
Another quality of a good friend is they know their friend’s quirks and although they might not understand every one of these quirks, they respect them.
Because a good friend knows that everyone, including themselves, has quirks—things that we do, beliefs that we hold, or characteristics of our personalities that may be a little unusual.
I, for one, get anxious around anyone with the slightest sign of a cold. But a good friend doesn’t mind it—this is the kind of stuff that makes us unique and interesting after all. Even endearing!
A good friend doesn’t judge or make fun of these quirks. Instead, they do what they can to work with them. I’m very thankful whenever a friend I’m about to meet up with tells me they have a cold so we can either reschedule or I can take some zinc and load up on hand sanitizers before I go.
There are lots of ways to show respect and acceptance for a friend’s quirks. It can be as simple as giving them an easy way to decline a social gathering without feeling guilty if they are uncomfortable with a larger crowd. They will thank you for the invite and the considerate “by the way, I totally understand if you’re not able to come, let’s catch up by ourselves another time.”
So ask yourself this:
What are some of my friends’ quirks and do I accept and respect them? How do I show it?
7. A Good Friend Helps Their Friends Put Family First
As we settle into adulthood, the act of juggling family responsibilities, a career, and our friendships becomes increasingly more difficult.
Back when we were in our early twenties, we could hang out with our buddies all the time and not feel the strain on any other part of our lives. But things change.
The older we become, the more we tend to shift our focus onto our families—our spouse, our children, our home, our aging parents, and so on. A good friend not only understands this shift in focus, they encourage it.
They won’t complain about friends with children not being able to hang out as much as before. They won’t hold a grudge against a friend for choosing to spend time with their family. A good friend knows that family time is precious these days when everyone is trying hard to balance school, work, side hustle, and everything else in between.
In fact, a good friend will remind their friends to put family first. I know someone who does exactly that. If he sees a friend who has a family going out too often on their own with friends, he’ll encourage them to spend more time with their family.
He knows spending quality time with family is key to maintaining a healthy relationship with our significant other and with our children—it is vital to our happiness. As a good friend, he’s willing to sacrifice some face time so a friend can put their family first.
Do you encourage your friends to put family first? If so, how?
Final Thoughts on What It Means to Be a Good Friend
It’s no secret that the quality of our friendships makes a huge impact on both our physical and mental health.
Because of this, people are starting to pay more attention to the quality of their friendships. I know this because one of my previous posts on the topic of friendship—“7 Types of Friends to Avoid for a Happier Life”—is the most popular article on my blog.
While we should be aware of the signs of a bad friend, I think it’s even more important to know the qualities of a good friend so that we can recognize them in others and cultivate them within ourselves.
My goal for this year is to be the best kind of friend I can be by working on the above 7 unusual qualities of a good friend. Are you with me?
Help me in my journey to becoming a better friend by letting me know what qualities you look for in a good friend. Let me know via the comments below!