How to have good friends for life? In life, one of the most critical choices we make relate to friends. Not everyone is fortunate enough to have good friends forever. How can we get better at sizing up first impressions, recognising mistakes and choosing good friends?

Nowadays, social media has enabled to add new layers of extrinsic scoring: number of friends a person has on Facebook, followers on Instagram, Twitter and so on. But such extrinsic credentials don’t tell the whole story about a person. Though this information is important but not sufficient to extend the hand of friendship to someone.

Gauging softer traits such as attitude and behaviour is not easy but through one-on-one interaction, attentive listening and careful observation, one can know the other person better.

Ask yourself few questions before choosing a friend.

Does the person stand by his words and act accordingly?

If a person says that he loves to read books but you never saw him reading or you never found any book in his book shelf, then think about it. You can’t trust a person who says something and act in some different way. Is he reliable? Look for congruence between what he thinks and what he says and does.

Does the person have similar values?

Like-minded people gel easily. The level of understanding is better and approach to life is more or less same. Though diversity is great, to minimise compromises and negativity, make friends having similar values and beliefs. They can bring a better balance in areas you are weaker than them by understanding you clearly. You may utilise each other’s strengths to be winners. Your true friend should encourage you on every step and celebrate your success.

What is the talk-to-listen ratio?

A person whose talk-to-listen ratio is more than 60 per cent can be a dominating friend not willing to learn anything from you. He will always show you his self-importance, hurting your emotions. If he has a desire to learn, it’s good for your friendship. Choose with caution.

Would you like to spend long hours with the person?

Think if you are stuck with this person for an indefinite time, how would you really feel? Would you feel safe and calm in those moments or it would be the most horrible time of your life. With a real friend you can face any challenge with more willingness, optimism and strength.

What are the hobbies?

Hobbies of a person matter a lot. How a person spends his leisure time shapes his character as much or more than all other areas of his life. Choose a friend who has good and constructive hobbies. He will prove to be a good person as well as a friend.

Does the person act or react?

A person who believes in action and problem solving approach rather than being critical and defensive can prove to be a good friend.

How often your friend uses the word ‘I’?

Pay attention to the context in which your friend uses the personal pronoun ‘I’. See where he avoids it. It can tell you about his selfish or selfless nature.

How does the person treat someone he doesn’t know?

Check whether the person whom you have chosen as your friend has openness and kindness to have a real conversation with someone he barely knows. Does he treat them politely or rudely? His action will show whether he is a good human being.

Does the person appear genuine?

Good friends always show you a correct picture of things. They never try hard to impress you by false compliments. Rather, they try to help with your shortcomings in a decent playful manner.

Is the person aware of himself?

A person who has intellectual honesty about himself, his strengths and weaknesses, can be a good friend. If your friend expects you as a great friend, he first has to be one himself. There’s a golden rule of treating others as you would want to be treated, then you won’t be disappointed.

Is the person an energy consumer or energy giver?

Unfortunately, some people spread negativity in the environment. On contrary, some spread positive vibes and optimism. There is a Chinese proverb – “Best way to get energy is to give it”. People who have positive vibes are more compassionate, generous and the type with whom you can mingle quickly and easily.

Your life is influenced to a large extent by the company you keep. Friendship is a significant factor to determine where you will be few years from now. Choose good friends for long-term happiness and a successful life.