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How to Make Friends and Keep Them

by Darrin Lythgoe

When giant movie gorillas find potential friends, their strategy is to scoop them up in a monstrous hand and scale the nearest skyscraper. For us as humans, however, it’s a little more complicated than that. Strong friendships are built on trust, honesty, sincerity, and respect, not on brute force or a tight grip. It may be too late for King Kong, but here are some suggestions to consider when building a friendship.

Making Friends

For some people, making friends seems as easy as tying a shoe. For others, reaching out to strangers can be excruciating, especially if they’ve just moved to a new place. These ideas may help.

  • Smile. Everyone likes to be around people who make them feel happy, and simply smiling is a good place to start.

  • Be polite and courteous. It leaves a good impression, no matter who you talk to.

  • Attend activities where group participation is planned. There may be less pressure in group situations, and you get to meet a lot of different people.

  • Reach out. Even if you’re shy, try to approach people you want to meet and say hi. Look them in the eye, and talk to them when they talk to you.

  • Participate in after-school activities or join a club. It’s always easier to make friends if you develop common interests.

  • Learn and use people’s names.

  • Ask people about themselves and their interests. If you show a genuine interest in them, they will usually become interested in you.

  • Be a good listener. Don’t interrupt and don’t always be thinking of what you’re going to say next.

  • Be yourself. People can tell if you’re putting on a phony front to impress them. They’re more interested in who you really are.

  • Seek common standards. Make friends with those who will respect your beliefs. A true friend will not ask you to compromise what you stand for.

Staying Friends

Friendship isn’t selfish. It’s based on sharing. Here are some ideas to keep those friendships going.

  • To have a friend, be one. Follow the Savior’s advice: “Whatsoever ye would that men should do unto you, do ye even so to them” (Matt. 7:12).

  • Don’t criticize, judge, or nag. Focus on your friends’ good qualities and give sincere compliments often.

  • Give encouragement. Show confidence in friends and recognize their accomplishments.

  • Give Christlike service to your friends whenever you can. Don’t expect a reward or payback. Also, don’t be bossy and try to run their lives for them.

  • When good things happen to friends, let them know you’re happy for them. Jealousy and envy can destroy a friendship.

  • Treat your friends as equals. No one likes to be looked down on, especially by friends.

  • Graciously accept help and compliments. If a friend offers to help you, let them. If a friend says you look nice, say thanks and don’t disagree.

  • Be honest. Few things can wreck a friendship quicker than dishonesty.

  • Recognize that others have valid feelings and opinions too. Be open to their ideas, and don’t insist that everything always be your own way.

  • Be trustworthy! Always keep your word, always be on time, and never make a promise you can’t keep.

  • Don’t gossip or intentionally bring up subjects that will hurt or embarrass. Use a little tact, and ask yourself three basic questions: Is it true? Is it nice? Is it necessary?

  • Be patient and understanding. If a friend is going through rough times, he or she may need some time alone.

Healing Friends

If you and your friends have a misunderstanding or fight, patch things up quickly. As Matthew 5:24 says, “First be reconciled.” [Matt. 5:24] The following might help:

  • Don’t say or do anything until you know the facts. Don’t act in the heat of anger.

  • Don’t wait until your friend makes the first move. Swallow your pride and try to initiate the healing process.

  • If your friend does apologize, accept quickly, graciously, and be forgiving. (See D&C 64:10.)

  • Talk it out so the same thing doesn’t happen again.

  • Don’t hold a grudge or keep bringing the misunderstanding up later on.

“I will call you friends, for ye are my friends” (D&C 93:45).

The Winner

The winner is not the one who wins the race or the one who gets straight A’s. The winner is the one who gives it his all. The one who stands up when he falls. The winner is the one who NEVER GIVES UP!—Susan Story

20 Years of Seminary

Between them, the brothers and sisters in the Hansen family of Boulder, Colorado, have gone to seminary for 20 years without missing a day. From left to right, Lisa, Scott, Allynn, Nathan, and Caryn all had perfect attendance. They felt they were able to achieve their 100-percent goal because all have been blessed with good health and no mishaps.

To the Top

The Summiteers in the Carlsbad California Stake feel they could just about climb every mountain after their week-long trek up 14,495-foot Mount Whitney, the highest peak in the lower 48 United States.

And they were bold in sharing the gospel on their way up. A Protestant minister who was also making the climb asked them many questions, and was so impressed with the girls he told them he wanted to start a young women’s program just like theirs in his own congregation. He joined them at the top of the mountain, where they sang together “How Great Thou Art.”

“I am eternally grateful for that hike,” said Laurel Jeannie Wright. “You have no idea how it affected each one of our lives.”

Something in Common

Part of the fun of living in the Thetford Ward, Norfolk England Stake, is listening to the British and Americans talk to each other. Thanks to military air bases nearby, there are plenty of members of both nationalities in the ward.

It’s a ward where good-natured teasing abounds, where the mixed cultures form a mutual admiration society.

“It’s fun to learn from each other,” says Briton Bethany Cary, 13. “The differences? Americans finish school in June rather than July. We wear school uniforms; they wear anything to school, even jewelry, makeup, and nail varnish. They talk differently and have different sweets and food.”

“I kind of like the sports the British play,” Heidi Larsen says, “things like cricket, squash, and rounders. I think the school uniforms are good, too. I want to be an individual, but I like the idea that you don’t have to make a fashion statement all the time.”

Talk to Thetford youth on Mutual night, and you’ll hear more:

“British kids choose dark-colored clothes, or they wear sweats everywhere.”

“How can Americans wear such bright coloured T-shirts?”

“The British do things in small groups.”

“The Americans do everything in a big way.”

“But it’s fun to be with people from another continent!”

With all the differences, do young British and American Saints have anything in common?

“You can always talk about the Church, share your experiences and feelings about the gospel,” Bethany says. “We all have good, strong testimonies, so we strengthen each other, and strengthen our ward.”

Batting and Bonding

“I will give you a big kiss because that is all I have left,” said one resident of a nursing home when she received the lap quilt that had been made for her. The young women and their mothers of the White Rock Ward, Santa Fe New Mexico Stake, made the quilts together as a joint activity one Saturday morning. The eldery recipients couldn’t have been more grateful.

Seeing Double

Could something in the water be responsible for all the twins in the Winder Fourth Ward, Salt Lake Winder West Stake? Of about twenty young women, eight are twins—four sets! Shown are (L-R) Lindsey and Ashley Swensen, Patty and Peggy Eschevieria, Annette and Lynette Hurst, Teri and Sheri Scow. Their Laurel adviser was recently home from the hospital after giving birth to (what else?) twins.

Mat Men in Germany

LDS athletes made a great showing at the Central European Wrestling Tournament. Four placed in the top six places. Pictured from left to right are David Williams of Mannheim, Jeremy Davis of Heidelberg, and Sam and Aaron Colby of Frankfurt. Aaron was named outstanding wrestler of the tournament.

Winter Wonderland?

Girls’ camp in the middle of winter? It works if you live in Hawaii. In February, 242 young women and leaders from the Laie Hawaii North Stake collected at Camp Pupukea, overlooking world-famous Waimea Bay and Sunset Beach.

But surfing and sunning were not on the agenda that focused on the Book of Mormon. The girls studied it, listened to speakers who taught about it, put on skits from it, and memorized scriptures from it. They also participated in the camp skills instruction, hikes, songs, and the testimony meeting that no girls’ camp is complete without.

By the end, the girls were more than ready to commit to the camp goals:

  1. 1.

    Stand for truth and righteousness and live the YW values.

  2. 2.

    Strengthen and share a testimony of the Book of Mormon.

  3. 3.

    Always remember the Lord and keep his commandments.

[photo] Photography by Jed Clark

Susan, 15, of Price, Utah, is a winner herself. She has an inoperable brain tumor, yet never gives up.