Ten Habits That Will Make You a Better Friend

The best relationships have a LOT of room to accommodate the many challenges in our lives.

Wendy Cohan
7 min readAug 3, 2020

Photo by Duy Pham on Unsplash

1. Listen more. I think we all know whether we’re the talker or the sounding-board in our friendships, but communication should never be a one-way street. The best relationships work both ways, with a LOT of room to accommodate the many challenges in our lives. When you can listen, listen; when you need to spill, let it rip.

Good friendships have this kind of flexibility built in, often after years of committed cultivation — but, in truth, we could all be better listeners. First, we need to distinguish the difference between listening to respond and listening to comprehend and understand the meaning beneath the words. But, remember, it’s hard to listen when you’re doing all the talking, so …

2. Talk less. If you are the one who always does the talking, ask yourself why? Do you think that what you have to say is more important, the most important, or the only important thing? Get over yourself. Recognize that it’s okay to ask for compassion or understanding, but it’s not okay to commandeer every conversation and heap a ton of stress on your “friend,” who may be going through problems of his or her own. Being a good communicator and a good friend is all about balance. I hope that finding balance allows you to …

3. Empathize more. Empathy is sadly lacking in today’s world, which may be the result of empathy being modeled poorly, or not at all, in today’s families. I believe in the idea that ‘hurt people hurt people,’ but I also believe that treating children with kindness prepares them to grow up to be kind people themselves. What a wonderful world it would be if we all grew up to be kind, empathetic people. But we probably all have some work to do in this area. In my opinion, if you could do one thing to transform yourself into a better person, and a better friend, it would be good to work on empathy. There are a variety of books to choose from, which may be worth exploring. And, you can always try observing, and modeling your behavior, after someone you know to be empathetic. And ask yourself, ‘how does it feel to spend time with them?’

Wendy Cohan

Author of character-driven women's fiction, short stories, and essays. Her contemporary romance, The Renaissance Sisters, debuted May 23, 2023.