Showing we value our friends

Having friends is very valuable to each of us.  It is funny how people who are the same in some ways can be so different in many other ways.  We are attracted to those that we have mutual interest – but then it grows deeper when we see there is a two way street of care, respect and trust.  We are able to attract friends by what we are willing to give to the relationship.


We are willing to share our time, attention, love and our whole self.  There are times when we have these close bonds with others that they will come to us because of a need.  Maybe they need a listening ear or help with a problem.  What would you do if your friend was being targeted by an aggressor and making her/him feel bad or worse?  Would you be able to help them?
What if the problem your friend had was dealing with an eating disorder or they were involved in something that was harmful to them.  Would you be there for them?  Friendship is powerful!  All of us want to be that great friend and express our gratitude for the friendship of others.

What does loyalty look like in friendships?

Being loyal can test you and your friendships?  Loyalty is staying true to someone.  It is standing up for them in difficult times as well as when things are going well.  It is loyalty that builds and strengthens those relationships.  We feel them especially within our family and if we are lucky enough we will have one or two friends that have proved themselves to us as loyal friends.


Being a loyal friend to someone is one way of beginning the building process of friendship.  It begins by building a trust with them.  They know we are going to tell them the truth, keep our promises and not disclose those private things they have shared with us.  We give them our kindest ways and expect that they will do the same for us, not doing anything intentionally to harm.


When we are practicing loyalty in our relationships though we are also very careful not to allow loyalty to lead us into doing or saying things that would get us in trouble.  While we are not going to allow others to come between us and our friends – we also must be loyal to ourselves and not say or do something that goes against our personal values, morals or ethics.


Finally in the practice of loyalty to our friends if they were about to do something that would be harmful to themselves or others our loyalty must be for what is safe and fair.  It is not disloyal to stand up for what we believe in.  So if our friend wanted us to join them in smoking or taking drugs – our loyalty to our own choices and to them would come first.  It would not be safe to just walk away and not tell an adult about their choices.  It might be a difficult thing to do – but imagine how you would feel if your friend was hurt irreparably and you did not speak up.
Not sure what to do?  Loyalty to your friend would insist that you ask someone that you respect for guidance – not to tell you what to do – but to help you think and talk it through, so you were comfortable with yourself in making your own decision.  Loyalty and friendship involves more than just the people – it involves you, your ideals, and your commitments to what your value.

Friendship requires strong communication skills

What should we do if we are the one that says or does something and it hurts their feelings?  Every friendship has those moments when one of the two parties says or does something that brings up difficult to handle emotions in the other person.  Lets look at what both sides can consider when a mistake has been made:


  • Loyal friends do not hurt their friends on purpose. This thought should be looked at by  both parties. The hurt party may ask themselves if they really believe it was done on purpose or was it a mistake.
  • Good friends have the courage to speak to each other openly about differences.  If you were hurt by an action or word – it should not be left to fester and grow bigger.  It is time to open the conversation between you.
  • Open your questions with “what’ or “how” and not “why”.  In other words have open ended questions such as What did you mean by …… ? or How did …… situation come about?  Not, Why did you say or do this to me?
  • Be willing to listen without an agenda.  If we are looking to make the other person wrong – we most likely will find them to be wrong.  If we are looking for the best in them – it will be easier to see the good.
  • Ask further questions and really listen to the answers.  Then it is your turn to express how you are feeling and look for ways to make each side heal the bad feelings.
  • End the conversation with an apology as needed, a compliment for the time to talk, and an affirmation of your friendship and what you value about them as a friend.  Is it their consideration, caring, honesty, loyalty, kindness, respect or understanding? Be sure the other person knows that you see their good qualities.

Friendships are hard to find and must be worked at to keep strong.  Healthy friendships are not one sided.  Both people should benefit from the relationship.

What virtues do you look for in a friend?

Friendship is one of those things in life that warms our very souls.  While we may have many acquaintances in our circles, having a true friend is very special.  There is the knowledge that our friend really cares about us and we trust them with our joys and sorrows without fear of judgement.

Choosing our friends then becomes a very important choice.  Our choice is a demonstration of who we are and the value we place on ourselves.  Each of us value different qualities in a friend.  Here is a list of character traits.  Which ones are important to you when it comes to friendship?

Now just as important as who our friend is deep inside is the question of how do we show our friendship?  Which of these qualities come natural for us and which ones would we like to grow and improve in?  When you meet someone for the first time, do you demonstrate friendliness?

We have heard that to have good friends we must be a good friend.  Friendship is based on mutual interest, care, respect and trust.  Choosing our friends is one of the most important decisions we can make.

Gifts of Character: Friendship – The Definition

Each month we will discuss one gift of character with all of our students. This month the word is Friendship.  This life skill will be defined in the following ways for our students.

Young students: Friendship means: We care, share and work together!

Older students: Initiative means:  A relationship we choose based on mutual interest, care, respect and trust.

We are not your typical after school activity, in fact we are an education center, working with students on physical self defense skills, while empowering families to bring out the best in our children and ourselves – through the martial arts.  We believe every child has 52 gifts  in them already.  They only need to be taught how to grow and use them in their life.  Balanced Life Skills serves parents, teachers and students to reach that goal.

If you would like to see Joe Van Deuren and Balanced Life Skills at work,  TRY CLASSES FOR FREE for 2 weeks.

Learning Conflict Resolution Begins With Listening

Time for your first lesson in butting heads


In conflict resolution the ability to express ourselves without blaming or accusing another person of something is the first part of being able to more quickly come to a resolution. The second part is to be able to listen closely. In any conversation that requires clear communication, being able to express ourselves and listen to the expression of others.  This can be difficult because really there are 6 different identities involved.

  • Person A  the real self
  • Person B the real self
  • Person A – the way they see themselves
  • Person B – the way they see themselves
  • Person A – the way they see Person B
  • Person B – the way they see Person A

The most important of these 6 selves is how you are seen by the other person. If we are to come to a resolution of any conflict, we must first be able to listen to the other party and understand what they see in us, how they are hearing our messages.In regard to impact the words we say are not as important as other factors. This is how it breaks down:

  • Only 7-10% of what is heard by the other person is the actual content of what we are saying.
  • 33-40% is the impact of our voice, how fast we are talking, the tone of our voice, the pitch and the inflection of our voice.
  • 50-60 % of what is heard is done with non-verbals, facial expressions, gestures and other body language.

It is easy to see why we may feel that we are not understood. The two most important factors when we are listening or speaking is the way the other person perceives us by our verbal and non verbal impact.