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How do you rate your friends?

April 07, 2006

Research indicates the happiest people have a strong web of good friendships, says Caroline Miller, who coaches people to set and achieve goals throughout their lives.

What roles do your friends play in your life? Miller uses that basic question to help her clients gauge whether a friend is a positive or negative influence.

"I ask my clients, do you feel better being around this person, or do you feel worse, and why?" she says.

Here are some other indicators that a friendship might not be worth your time:

· Your friend has started taking actions that make you feel uncomfortable, i.e.. drug use, excessive drinking, taking unnecessary risks.

· It's always a one-way street. You listen, give your friend rides, help her out and sometimes treat her to a coffee, but she never reciprocates.

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· Your friend betrays your confidence, is disrespectful to you and makes you the butt of jokes in front of other people.

· Your friend never has anything positive to say to you or about you. He doesn't seem happy for you when you have exciting news, and he finds a way to belittle your accomplishments.

· Your friend is an absent presence. She is physically with you but not giving you any attention. While she is with you, she is constantly talking on her cell phone, text-messaging or focusing on some other distraction.




- Tips from Caroline Miller; Courtenay Chamberlin, licensed clinical social worker with Behavioral Health Services at Washington County Hospital; and Deb Mahony, author of askdeb.com.

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