Have you seen the aging challenge on Facebook called, “How Hard Did Aging Hit You?” It was super fun to see all the pictures being posted and seeing either some who aged not at all (like Jennifer Aniston) or others aging that caused an audible gasp with the enormous change that seemed to occur.
As I listened to Dr. Oz comment on this challenge, he brought to light that he can often tell how healthy someone is by their physical looks. He mentioned studies that showed long life and quality of life is often associated with having good, authentic friendships. One study from Business Insider stated, “A clinical review of nearly 150 studies found that people with strong social ties had a 50 percent better chance of survival, regardless of age, sex, health status and cause of death than those with weaker ties.”
One simple answer to long life is, friendship! So, how do we make friends and keep friends? And, better yet, how in the world can etiquette help? I went straight to the top friendship experts in this field: my son Benjamin’s eighth-grade class at St. Paul Lutheran School. Here is what this very wise class of eighth-graders had to say about friendship and something we, adults, could learn from.
First they asked, “Are you a friendship booster or buster?” (Aren’t they creative!?) They came up with these great points.
Do not be a dream killer. When a friend shares aspiration, dreams, goals or accomplishments, encourage and support them. One eighth-grader astutely said, “Everyone has dreams.” How true this is! As adults, we can certainly apply this to our friends when they share professional goals, far-reaching dreams and relationship goals. Simply stated, rejoice with those who rejoice!
Be loyal. Stick up for your friends, care for them and help your friends. Get out of your comfort zone, even if the timing is convenient or the circumstances are unpleasant. What can adults take from this? Do not be a fair weathered friend, and do not be a friend who is only around when there is a crisis or emergency. Be loyal through life’s ups and downs.
Plan things together. In the words of eighth-graders, “hang out.” Sounds simple, but as adults, don’t we sometimes get so busy that we forget to “hang out” together? The Journal of Social and Personal Relationships says it takes 50 hours to consider someone a casual friend and 200 hours of quality time to be considered a close friend. Yep, we have to plan, carve out time and invest in our friends!
Some additional friendship etiquette advice (from some grown-ups):
Do not monopolize the conversation. Be a good listener. A good question to ask yourself, “Are you really listening or waiting to talk? This is a great way to strengthen already established relationships and cause relative strangers to start to become friends. A way to practice this in everyday life is to sit face-to-face with someone and listen for (approximately) two minutes straight without interrupting. You may use facial expressions or nod. While doing this, listen to really listen, not to respond. This is a very easy activity that improves your listening skills and helps form deeper relationships.
Be upfront if a friend hurts you. This is not to say that we are overly sensitive, but if a friend truly hurts you in some form, have enough respect for the friendship and yourself to discuss the issue calmly (not “Real Housewives of New Jersey” style) and hash it out face-to-face. Avoid going to friends or acquaintances in your circle and pulling them into the middle of an issue that may inevitably arise.
Use some proper etiquette. What are those? Be on time, stick to plans made, introduce friends when new people enter your circle, respond to phone call and texts, and, most of all, resist being nit-picky as you become more comfortable with each other and your friendship.
Want a healthier, happy new year? Certainly, eat better and hit the gym. And then go for coffee with a friend often, regularly and frequently. It is good for your health, oh, for that for that aging challenge, too.
Thank you to my friends at St. Paul Lutheran School! You all are the best and great friends to each other!
You can find us a etiquettechics.net and on Facebook, Youtube and Twitter. You can also reach us with comments and questions at etiquettechics@gmail.com. We love to hear from you!