What is a Genuinely Helpful Friend?
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."
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.
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
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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