What is a Genuinely Helpful Friend?

The influence of good friends can be life changing.
The influence of good friends can be life changing. | Source

The influence of a good friend can be life changing. Successful people have knowledgeable and valued friends who mentor others.

I have learned many things myself from friends who steered me in the right direction with difficult decisions.

I didn't always have all the answers. And good friends were always there to teach me something new that helped improve some aspect of my life.

You can tell when you have a true friend who wants to be helpful. Some friends just tell you what you want to hear so they'll be liked. Those are not true friends. They are just thinking of themselves and don't care about your success. They are more afraid that they will lose you as a friend for telling you something that you don't want to hear. But is that what you want?


A Helpful Friend Will Give Constructive Criticism

... Rather than just tell you what you want to hear.


Some people are confused about what makes a good friend. I have noticed that some people I know seek out friends who are not interested in their success. They couldn’t care less. All they care about is being liked.

Have you ever asked a friend for advice and the answer you got back is one that your friend knew you wanted to hear? I really don’t consider such as person to be a true friend when I'm looking for constructive criticism.

A real friend would be willing to take chances upsetting one with the answer if it means guiding one in a more positive direction. Sometimes we don’t want to hear what is the best thing for us. But if we have a desire to be successful with any particular endeavor, then we need that kind of strong guidance. I like to call it "tough love."

A friend of mine was torn between the two conflicting decisions.
A friend of mine was torn between the two conflicting decisions. | Source

People become successful by accepting constructive criticism. But some people don't like to accept useful guidance when it goes against their way of thinking.

Here's an example:

This is from a situation I once experienced while trying to help a friend make the right decision.

This friend asked me what she should do about being confronted with two conflicting paths to take in her life. One thing was the right one for her, and she knew it. The other was something that would eventually cause trouble and pain, but it was something she really wanted.

She was torn between the two decisions. She knew that the second thing was wrong, but it was tempting.

I realized that she understood the outcome of both choices, and that she already had the answer in her own good heart. So I told her to do what she felt was right.

But the thought of the tempting choice was causing her stress. She put a lot of effort into asking all sorts of people for their opinion. She told me that three other friends told her to go with the tempting choice since it was so enticing.


Who had the most positive influence on your life?

  • Parent
  • Grandparent
  • Sibling
  • Son or Daughter
  • Spouse
  • Friend
  • Teacher
  • Therapist
  • Life Coach or Mentor
  • Business Associate/Partner
  • Stranger
See results without voting

I had to explain to her that they probably are not true friends since they were just telling her what she wanted to hear.

Or they found it intriguing if only they had the opportunity, not caring that it was a bad thing to do and will end up being hurtful.

I wouldn't be surprised if her "friends" had to make the decision for themselves, they would select the better and safer path to follow.

I continued to explain to her that she might have been seeking friends who sided with her, despite the fact that it may not be in her best interest.

One may not like the answers, but true friends will guide their friends in a positive way by providing constructive criticism. It may not be what they want to hear, and it may even hurt at times. But I consider this tough love. It works for those who truly seek the truth.


People With Destructive Tendencies Don't Want Advice


Most people who seek advice from friends really want to improve their lives. They just want to know the answers that will guide them with whatever it is that they are having a problem with.

But then there are those with destructive tendencies. These people never look for methods of improvement. When they seems to seek advice, they are really just looking for someone to confirm their behavior.

When we are the one offering helpful advice, it may be frustrating when a friend who has destructive tendencies doesn't listen. There are some who are simply not worth fighting for. So we also need to know when to back away from those who might be toxic.


Criticism vs. Guidance


It’s nice to be able to help a friend. But as I mentioned earlier, some people don’t accept help. They take it as criticism and refuse to recognize that valuable options are being presented to them.

Some people are aware of their flaws and want to find solutions. These are people who want to listen and want to learn. They want to be successful. When one of these types of friends asks me for advice, I love to help. They truly want help and they make good use of it.

I have found that I also learn a thing or two when a friend comes to me for advice and I formulate a solution for them.

Some of my greatest successes came from helping others since it gave me the opportunity to visualize a new idea. It works both ways when we are open to success and friendship. Those who are caring and influential in someone else's life are good friends to keep around.


Successful People Have Worthy Friends

Do your friends positively influence you? (Answer yes if at least one).

  • Yes
  • No
See results without voting

If you are fortunate enough to have a few true friends who are not afraid to be open and honest with you, then consider them worthy of a lifetime friendship and keep them close to your heart.

If you feel comfortable giving valued constructive criticism, then you will be helping your friends too. Those who appreciate where you are coming from will value your friendship.

We are all in this life together and our success or failure is largely related to our interactions with the people in our lives. So choose your friends wisely and value the influential ones. As the saying goes, “It’s all about who you know.”


© 2012 Glenn Stok

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Comments 15 comments

CrisSp profile image

CrisSp 4 years ago from Sky Is The Limit Adventure

"Some friends just tell you what you want to hear so that they'll be liked. Those are not true friends." -- this is so agreeable.

Nice article. I like the simplicity of the writing style, which is easy to read and comprehend. Voted up and sharing.


Loren Edlin 4 years ago

Glenn, it is a great article you wrote. I must say there is much more to being a true friend. It is good to listen to each other and help out if needed but you need to have respect for each other equally. There are no one way streets in any relationship. Listening to each other and sharing each other's stories is good too. I have experienced people complaining about how bad their problems are when they don't know how others live too. I feel it is important to be unselfish in a relationship and hear each other out before judging. There are many ways to know how true you are to your friends. My vote is up to your article.


Rosalinem profile image

Rosalinem 4 years ago from Nairobi, Kenya

Very true, great hub. Some friends are even better than siblings and can stick with someone through difficulties and pain and be so good to celebrate with one's fortunes.


avallee profile image

avallee 4 years ago from North Carolina

Very good hub. Very good points of view that can be used to examine self and identify positive vs. negative friends.


Glenn Stok profile image

Glenn Stok 4 years ago from Long Island, NY Author

I wish to thank everyone who read this hub for your wonderful comments. Each of you have said meaningful and insightful things and I appreciate your thoughtfulness. I actually tried a different writing style with this hub, which I have recently been studying -- and "CrisSp" had noticed, thank you for that comment. Also thank you everyone for all the up votes. I'm glad you all appreciated what I had to say here.


Nell Rose profile image

Nell Rose 4 years ago from England

Yes I totally agree with you about the real friend telling you the truth and not what you want to hear, my best friend was amazing, and insulting! lol! how many dresses did I throw back in the cupboard because she kindly informed me that I looked like a bag of spuds! seriously great points, nell


Glenn Stok profile image

Glenn Stok 4 years ago from Long Island, NY Author

Thanks, Nell, for stopping by. Isn't it the truth? -- that a beneficial friend is that who tells us the truth.


sholland10 profile image

sholland10 3 years ago from Southwest Missouri

Glenn, it is so true that some people only say what we want to hear. I would much rather hear the truth to save me from a bad choice or decision.

We should choose friends who are willing to go through thick and thin with us. It is not always easy to say something that might come across as harsh or unpleasant, but a true friend will figure out a way to help rather than be a "yes" person.

I hope your friend took your advice and not the ones who "sided" with her without thinking of the consequences.

Friendships are rare. We have many acquaintances, but only a few friends we can depend on and who can depend on us.

A great hub with a great message.


vespawoolf profile image

vespawoolf 3 years ago from Peru, South America

I agree that true friends have a lot to do with our success in life. And true friends are willing to correct us when we're heading toward a wrong path, even if it hurts us to hear it. But we also have to be open-minded enough to listen to a friend who has our best interests at heart. Although I've experienced toxic relationships, I'm happy to count with some true friends such as these. I really enjoyed this Hub. Thanks!


Glenn Stok profile image

Glenn Stok 3 years ago from Long Island, NY Author

Sholland10 - thanks, Sue, for your comments. Unfortunately my friend I used as an example in this hub did not take my advice. But that seems to be a common thing that I think I figured out. And I wrote about it in another hub entitled Why People Don't Listen to Advice, which goes into more detail on that issue.


Glenn Stok profile image

Glenn Stok 3 years ago from Long Island, NY Author

vespawoolf - I can't say it any better than you just did. I consider those friends who are willing to correct me to be really true friends. The others just don't care. My friends know that I like to be alerted if they feel I am doing something that needs improvement. Like you said, we need to be open-minded to listen to the advice.

When it's the other way around, I discovered that I need to ask people if they want help before I try to give advice. It's unfortunate that many times they are looking for a "yes" person, as Susan (sholland10) just explained in her comment prior to yours.

Thanks for stopping by, I'm glad you enjoyed this hub.


PaoloJpm profile image

PaoloJpm 3 years ago from Philippine

Great hub you have here! Friends are specials, and, in this world, they are limited. You just can't buy one in store, specially those who are true, not to us but to themselves and of course to us then.


Glenn Stok profile image

Glenn Stok 3 years ago from Long Island, NY Author

PaoloJpm - Well said. True friends are definitely hard to find. They develop over time. And, sometimes, those who we think are friends turn out to have their own agenda. So when you have a special friend, nurture the relationship. Thanks for reading and commenting.


lrc7815 profile image

lrc7815 2 years ago from Central Virginia

After your delightful visit to my hub on the Estate Sale, I had to visit your profile. This hub called to me immediately and I had to read it first. Friendship is so important to me and I have been blessed in my life to have several friendships that are rich in honesty and loyalty. They are real treasures and have often been the catalyst for my making a decision different from my original plan. The test of real friendship comes in those difficult times when a friend has the courage to be honest, even when it hurts. If the relationship is not damaged as a result, it is surely worth keeping. I loved this hub Glenn. It reminded me of all the reasons I have invested in my good friends and let some others fall by the wayside. You're a great writer!


Glenn Stok profile image

Glenn Stok 2 years ago from Long Island, NY Author

Thanks Linda. I appreciate your comment. I can't sit by idly when I see a friend doing something that is destroying their life. I can't do anything about it when they choose not to listen. But at least I make them aware of what they are doing, and the rest is up to them.

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