What is a Friend?

what is a friend

A while ago I heard someone coin the term “professional friend”.

I loved the designator “professional friends”, as they aren’t involved in each other’s personal lives, simply have been meeting up for several years each month for a full day as a business owners peer group. Through that experience, they have built close bonds.

This group has a clear sense that they would be there for each other whenever needed, whether that be for investment, support around their business, support personally. They already have, including investing in each other’s businesses when needed.

This makes them friends. The term professional friends came out of a conversation at their annual retreat where they recognised that they aren’t involved in each other’s personal lives at all, they keep it in that context of supporting each other in their roles ad business owners and leaders.

In your work, your business, who are your Professional Friends?

Perhaps first look more at how we define the word Friend?

Adam Grant recently wrote:

“In the deepest sense of the word, a friend is someone who sees more potential in you than you see in yourself, someone who helps you become the best version of yourself.’”

I love that. I love that my true friends see in me what I don’t see in myself, hold me to my true potential. A key part I’d add is that they “call me on my s***”, they embrace what Kim Scott would call “Radical Candor”, so when I get it wrong, when I say or do something that upsets them or others, they will tell me straight.

So, friends see your true potential, they call you on your s***. What else?

Well, I believe that English speakers have too few words for our relationships. One of those “too few” is Friend, so we overuse it.

People talk of having hundreds of friends (and don’t get me started on that construct on social media), yet most psychologists and expert academics who have studied this would say we have only a small handful of true friends.

So how do we get clear on who are friends are.

One measure for me is that a friend is someone who is always there for you, no matter how inconvenient or inconvenient it is for them.

If you call them and say you need their help, they don’t ask questions, they come to your aid right away.

Most of us are lucky enough to have at least a few family members like that, yet it could be an enlightening exercise to honestly consider how many people we know that would fall into that true “Friend” category.

There have been times in my own life where I’ve had cause to ask for help from both family and friends, and from that, I have true clarity on who my friends are in that true definition.

Oh, and they know who they are… and at least in part because I tell them clearly and with deep appreciation and acknowledgement.

After reading this article, my request to you is a) to consider who those people are for you, then b) talk to them and tell them what they mean to you.