All it requires is a little Give & Take.
I’m guilty of doing it. We pretty much all are. We have a conversation with someone – or more like a one-sided conversation where all we talk about is our lives. Since we’re all human, we all live in a world where the center of our thoughts revolves around –unsurprisingly – us. Last night I spent a long time thinking about what makes two people or a group of people get along exceptionally well. Why do some people get along better than others? All this thinking brought me to my second conclusion for this blog.
Lesson #2: Life is about give and take. One without the other is like having water without anything to store it in. Some people can find an unconventional way to improvise and still quench their thirst, but most people will largely be dissatisfied, uncomfortable and thirsty.
Each person has little things that make him or her extremely happy and fulfilled. Most of the time, these are extremely different for different people. (If you have the time, I HIGHLY recommend reading Gary Chapman’s The Five Love Languages to learn, at the very least, how to be a better friend.) I was sitting with my friend at a Sushi restaurant last night in Los Angeles talking about how great of a friendship we have always had, from day one. I was trying to think about why this was. The first week that we started hanging out, I had filled his entire car with pink and white balloons when he left his window down at school – something that I thought most teenage guys would not appreciate. That night he came over to my house to talk to me about what I had done to his car with my prankster best friends. We ended up talking for hours and hours; and we just clicked.
After reading Gary Chapman’s book, I realized that this interaction, although seemingly pretty uneventful, was exactly what made us click. Chapman explains that there are five primary languages that people need to be fulfilled in a specific order depending on who the person is – Words of Affirmation, Quality Time, Receiving Gifts, Acts of Service and Physical Touch (i.e. holding hands, etc.). It turns out that my friend’s primary language is “Receiving Gifts,” meaning that more than any of those other four languages, he likes it when people give him small tokens of appreciation. He took the balloons in his car as a “gift” rather than a prank. On the other hand, my primary language is “Quality Time.” His willingness to come over to my house unexpected and talk with me later that night fulfilled that friendship requirement for me. This began our “give and take” friendship. I gave him a gift, and in return, he spent time with me. Those gifts were always something to talk about. And our friendship grew. Admittedly, it was fun for me to leave little prank gifts around his house or in his car, but even if I was busy or didn’t want to spend the time to give him a gift, I realized that these little gifts fulfilled a “happiness” requirement within him. So I made it my mission to do these little gifts once a week or month – even if that meant making a card out of paper and writing a small note on it.
Today, I truly believe that this initial give and take is what allowed us to stay such good friends even though we have been separated by physical space for so long. Although I’m not able to do fun things like fill his car with balloons now that I live in New York, he gives hours out of his day to spend time talking and catching up with me when I come back to Los Angeles and in return I’m able to take him out for dinner and dessert.
This may all seem like one oversimplification of friendships and relationships, but for the most part, so far, I find most of it to be true. We all receive love and appreciation in different ways. Spending the time to tap into those preferences for every person that enters our life and finding a way to accommodate them will make them happier. And everyone knows that when our friends are happy people, we generally tend to be happier people as well. So I challenge myself and everyone else to pay attention to our friend’s “languages” this week and practice this “give and take.”
To take a little quiz to find out which “language” is your primary language – visit here.