#itsdad ~ How to be an Excellent Friend

Hey Guys! It’s Dad.

This morning I remembered (OK I didn’t remember, my phone reminded me) that it was one of my friend’s birthdays. We’re pretty close friends, so I called him up to say hello and wish him well. Funny though, as I was reading over the post on his Facebook page, I saw something that I’d seen countless times before, but it never bothered me until today.

Today I saw a post that simply said, “HBD.” Initially, I didn’t even really know what it meant. I looked for a response from my friend to see if I could figure it out, but there wasn’t one. My buddy “Liked” the “HBD” comment, but he still didn’t give a response. Then it hit me…HBD! Happy Birthday! When I figured it out, I unconsciously rolled my eyes back and shook my head.

Why did that post upset me? Maybe it didn’t really upset me, I just felt disappointed; let down. We have become obsessed with efficiency (doing things quickly and with little effort) that I’m afraid that we’re all getting through our lives efficiently…instead of happily.

We fast forward our movies, our TV shows, and even our meals. We’re starting to fast forward our entire lives! We’ve become so obsessed that we’ve forgotten how to live happily; effectively.

There’s a huge difference between effective and efficient. We need to be effective in our relationships; not efficient. Let me explain. Being effective means to produce the highest quality result. That’s what we want for our friendships: High quality friends. Think about it for a minute. Do you want your relationships to be efficient (quick and with little effort)? At what point would you want your friends to be “efficient” with you? Where should they cut corners to save time? Truth…I have very few true friends. But my friends are the very best friends I could ever have, and they matter to me. How they feel matters to me.

Forgive my harshness, but the sender of this thoughtless, emotionless, lazy-man’s way to send a birthday wish was either A) so busy that he couldn’t be bothered to spend twenty seconds of his valuable time to write a kind, well thought out, sincere and effective birthday wish, or B) he didn’t actually care about my friend in the first place.

So here’s my question: If you’re too busy, don’t care, or too lazy, why say anything at all? It’s not a requirement! You don’t need to send a birthday wish. It’s likely that nobody would have missed it if you didn’t. Imagine what my friend felt on his birthday, when he read “HBD” on his timeline. (I bet there were 20 or more identical posts). He probably felt nothing at all, right? So the birthday wish was…ineffective. Now imagine if he saw this on his timeline:

“JOHN!!!! Happy Birthday! Man, you’re 43 now! Crazy how time goes by so fast. I’m 50 now. FIFTY! Feelin’ great though, and I hope you are too. I just wanted to send you quick note letting you know that I was thinking about your, and to wish you a happy birthday today. I hope that you, your bride, and your kiddos have a great time celebrating! Drop me a line if you’re ever out this way, ok? We’ll go grab a burrito down the street and get caught up! Again, HAPPY BIRTHDAY! Chat soon!”

There! See? That took just a little under ninety seconds to type out. Less that two minutes! I know, I know. “But I’ve got 1,462 friends on Facebook and it would take me all day to send out birthday wishes. It’s just so much easier to use abbreviations.

Yep, it is. It’s so much easier.

Now, I’m not here to tell you that nobody has 1,462 friends, but…but yes I am. We don’t have enough hours in our lives to give ourselves and our love to that many TRUE friends. So if you can’t be bothered to even spell out two simple words, only to replace them with three initials, perhaps it’s better that you don’t say anything at all. In fact, Happy Birthday is actually only two words, so wouldn’t the abbreviation simply be “HB” in the first place? Heck, that would even save 33% more time by dropping the “D”.

When we’re dealing with people, our goal should never be “efficiency.” It needs to be “effectiveness.” If the point of sending a birthday greeting to make the recipient feel good? “HBD” isn’t going to cut it, and neither is a response of “TY.”

So how can I be effective in my relationships; in my friendships? Well, just like we have to do in life, we have to be present; we have to live in the moment with our relationships in order to be effective. We have to show a sense of authenticity and vulnerability. We need make the time and take the time to communicate our intended message.

In today’s day and age of shortcuts, life hacking strategies, laziness, and narcissism (that means really only being interested in yourself) we actually have a real opportunity to stand out. We can stand out as model friends, a loving brother, cousin, or child. All we have to do is take a few extra moments away from ourselves and give those few moments; give that love, to a few people that mean the most to you. You can give those moments to someone who needs them. You can lend an ear to a friend that wants to share. You can stop for a moment and think of a happy memory, then reach out to the people you were with at that happy time and say thank you.

When I was really young, your Papa Jim told me that God gave us two ears and one mouth so that we would listen more than we speak. THAT is a beautiful lesson in effectiveness. I’m no expert, but it has served me well in my relationships at home, with friends, at school, with clients, and on and on.

Don’t be quick with your friends, be excellent with your friends.

Show an interest in them. Ask them questions, then listen…with the sole purpose of understanding their excitement, their pain, or their fears. Then, once you understand how they’re feeling, lean on the platinum rule. Treat them in a way that would make them appreciate your attention. Comfort them, laugh with them, celebrate with them; celebrate for them.

If you do this, you will have more true friends than you can possibly imagine, but not so many that you have to wish them all an “HBD.”

5 Words

​Love Dad

Published by AndyBlasquez

California native, single dad of the two kindest souls on earth, teacher, speaker, author, vegan athlete, musician, rebel.

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