We use the word 'open' often to describe how we want others to perceive us. Whether it’s our open-door policy for co-workers, an open mind about complex subjects, or an open heart when it comes to love.
But it’s important to ask yourself if you truly feel comfortable being open with your closest friends.
I realize being open isn’t easy. Perhaps you fear being judged or hurting someone you care about.
So I put together my top tips to support more open, honest conversations with your friends- even around difficult subjects or things you have been wanting to share for a long time but just don’t know how to get started.
By incorporating these tips into your interactions with friends, you will start to develop more meaningful relationships with those around you.
Here are our favorite ways to begin expressing yourself more openly:
Make your outside behavior match how you feel inside. If you’re feeling anxious or stressed, don’t mask it with happiness. Allow what you feel inside to project outwardly in a meaningful way. This means expressing why you feel stressed or anxious and gives others insight into how they can support you.
Don’t be afraid to speak to your friends like adults. We often worry about the sensitivity of others, but your friends will appreciate your honesty if it helps them change their perspective. For instance, if your friend’s makeup doesn’t complement her aging skin, you can say something like, 'You really look incredible, but I’ve noticed your makeup detracts from your natural beauty.' This opens up a chance for you to make recommendations and give advice about tough situations.
Turn questions into statements so you feel more open about things you’re afraid to share. For example, rather than asking a friend 'do you care about our friendship?', say 'I care about our friendship.' Change your questions into statements you can make about yourself, which helps to reveal your truth and opens up the door for reciprocity.
Begin sentences with 'I' instead of 'you'. You might say, 'I feel like these hot flashes get the best of me,' instead of asking, 'Are you experiencing intense hot flashes?'
Try not to shrug things off that are important to others. Saying 'I don’t know' or 'it’s not important right now'” generally means 'I don't want to think about it anymore.' If you get these feelings during tough conversations, it’s probably your brain saying you’ve reached a level of conversation that makes you uncomfortable. It’s okay to sit with these feelings, but it’s also important to express them out loud. You can simply say, 'Suddenly I feel uncomfortable and I don’t know why.' This allows your friend to acknowledge your feelings and help you work through them.
Once you begin opening up this dialogue, your friends will likely find your honesty refreshing. Start small by making suggestions for new makeup styles or fashion that is more complementary. Then you can ease into more intimate conversations, like sex, relationships, personal health, and other important, yet personal, topics.
The more you begin opening up to others the easier it will be for them to reciprocate. This will lead to more meaningful relationships over time, but patience is always your best friend in the beginning. When you stay open to learning from each interaction, new experiences open up for you.
Today I challenge you to choose a moment to be more open with a friend. Whether it’s to recommend a new lipstick (remember to talk about how it makes you feel, not just where you found it), to share a frustration with work, or to share something more intimate like pain during sex and solutions that work for you.