All Kinds of Friends: the Ability to Discern

Many famous people are always seen to be surrounded by numerous friends. A number of well known, charismatic personalities, regardless of whether they are politicians, professionals, academics or business leaders, have a regular group of individuals who hover around them. They are seen to have many friends who wish to be in their company and orbit!

The art and skill of making friends and keeping that friendship going from strength to strength is, however, a function of sincerity, integrity and deep seated mutual admiration. Too often we find that a few individuals mistakenly regard some others as friends when in reality they are just mere acquaintances, or in other instances, associates.

Acquaintances

These are people we meet, probably incidentally, in the course of our working and social life. We probably know them just on a casual and informal basis and as such they do not qualify as friends. We also meet such people in our neighbourhood and in our social circles. They are what we call acquaintances…not friends. If and when an acquaintance becomes a friend, then that is a matter of choice and probably because the relationship has progressed from mere acquaintance to that of friend.

Associates

These are individuals that we meet in a business or professional context. The very nature of our working relationship requires that we interact with these individuals on a regular basis. It is our work and the issues and challenges that arise from time to time that require us to meet and interact with these people. They are best described as associates…not friends.

Here too, while they meet on a regular basis, there is no real need to regard these individuals as friends. However, when the two individuals seem to get along well, share the same interests and views on work related matters and genuinely like each other’s company, the stage is set to elevate the relationship from associate to a friend. This is sometimes the case and in that instance, you can consider it a gift.

Friends for a Reason

These individuals come into our lives for a specific reason. They inch and work their way into our lives because they have an ultimate objective. They are seeking something from you but at this stage of the so called friendship, you have no idea that this is the grand design. You are then drawn to the individual based on his / her approach to you and you do not suspect any ulterior motive.

The façade of friendship, however, crumbles when that person is unable to get what he / she wanted from you. You have continued to function and operate as a true professional. However, when the individual realises that you are not going to give him what he wants, he shows his true colours.

His was never a real friendship in the first instance. It was all an act to win favour with you for a hidden purpose. Once he is found out, he moves away. He pursued friendship with you for a hidden reason and not because you both shared mutual interests.

Friends for a Season

These friendships begin well enough and seem to flourish when you are both at the same level, job wise or career wise. However, jealousy creeps in and spoils the friendship when one party begins to get promoted or recognised. The other party sulks and is resentful.

This inability to appreciate a friend’s success is actually very common. Such friends will not send a congratulatory note to the friend nor will he telephone to wish him well. In fact, he will studiously avoid the subject and show his mean streak. On the other hand, such a friend will be the first to notice his misfortune if he is sacked or retrenched!

At other times, such friends will make unreasonable demands on the friendship. And if the other party declines to give in, then problems arise.

I know of a friend who, when he travels, chooses to stay in hotels. He feels that he can come and go as he pleases when he stays in a hotel.  This friend, as such, does not wish to trouble relatives or friends when he is on holiday.

However, he made a big mistake in acceding to his friend’s invitation to stay in his house rather than a hotel. The friend even insisted that he stay for a minimum of four weeks! Sometime during the second week of the stay, he noticed a change in the behaviour of his friend. Soon after, he was being deliberately ignored. He got the strong hints and decided to leave forthwith. He should have known better and heeded a well known piece of advice: “ If you stay with a friend, make sure it is for not more than three days. After that, like rotting fish, you will begin to smell! “  What may have  begun with good intentions however, resulted in that friendship coming to a premature end.

Friends for a Good Time

Many are aware of this phenomenon. This is quite often the case when you are in a generous and celebratory mood and quite prepared to pick up the tab repeatedly. In this scenario, there will be no shortage of so called friends because they will swarm around you like bees to honey. But when the situation changes for the worse and the regular partying, drinking and dinners stop happening because of financial reasons, these friends will move out with even greater speed than rats leaving a sinking ship. This inability to discern just who your real friends are can be a very costly mistake.

True Blue Friends

How do you tell if you have a true blue friend? It is, in fact, quite an easy task.

True blue friends are actually charter members of the ‘ Mutual Admiration Society (MAS). They share many common interests and values and their friendship is very evenly balanced.

Each party wishes to continue to strengthen and build the friendship over time. Each is genuinely pleased and happy for the other party to achieve success. Whilst they may share many common interests, they also have other interests that they pursue individually. Both parties admire each other for their talents, abilities and values.

Some Traits of True Blue Friends

These individuals always think and act in the friend’s best interest. They do so instinctively and readily because it is the right thing to do.

These individuals have a friendship built on a sound foundation. Each contributes to the friendship in equal measure and it is never a lopsided friendship where only one party makes the effort. In some cases, I know of people who claim to be friends but only make the barest minimum effort to strengthen the friendship.

A true blue friend is also one with whom you can confide your fears and frustrations. He is there to hear you out, discuss matters with you candidly and never betray your confidence. He is willing to serve as a sounding board for your ideas and proposals because you know that he will give you his feedback without fear or favour. Sometimes, all he need do is just be a sympathetic listener!

Another admirable quality of true blue friends is that they stay loyal not just in good times but also when the other person is facing problems…financial, business, professional or personal. It is in times such as these that a true blue friend shines because the other so called friends have deserted him in his hour of need.

A true blue friend never takes the friendship for granted. He works at it diligently. In your whole lifetime, if you have managed to acquire, cultivate and keep five true friends, you can consider yourself a lucky person. You have been truly blessed because the reality is true friends are worth their weight in gold.

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5 thoughts on “All Kinds of Friends: the Ability to Discern

  1. Dear Ben

    How very true and a well written article as always. I read this immediately and an absolute top notch written article and enjoyed it.

    Can i seek you permission to share this with my friends ??

    Congratulations.

    Best wishes Amelin

    Sent from my iPad

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