Sunday, November 17, 2019

To Be A Friend

When I was a child, my father told me: "The trick to getting someone to like you is not to do something for them - it's to get them to do something for you." At first it seemed selfish; getting people to do things for you, and then calling them friends. But, as usual, as I grew older, it made more sense. If I like someone, and I want them to be happy, to have a good life, or whatever, then I am going to be inclined to do things for them. But rather than simply do these things, and then hope the other person reciprocated, my father's strategy was to get them to make the opening gambit and then immediately reciprocate. This struck me as asking the other person to take all of the risk, but then I realized, that was only if I presumed that this other person didn't know how I would respond to them doing something that I was attempting to get them to do.

It didn't occur to me that my father was, in the space if one somewhat repetitive sentence, laying out an entire framework for thinking about friendship. Maybe because that wasn't fully his intent. But I've been peeling back the layers of that onion for some time now, and it still continues to teach.

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