When I first arrived in the United States I was more like the German version of Crocodile Dundee landing in New York. For instance at the check-out line at the grocery store I was really flabbergasted when total strangers asked me: “How are you?” I was impressed about how friendly people were and told them how I was. Fortunately, it did not take all that long figuring out that this was only a polite gesture. I was equally befuddled by the frequent use of the word friend though. Have you ever noticed how much this term is used around you?
A while back a close business associate used it and I asked him if he meant it. He affirmed it perplexedly. I explained to him that to me a friend is someone who would get out of bed at 3am to pose bail for me if I would get into trouble. That is the difference between a friend and acquaintance. He was taken aback and maintained that he fit the friend category. Fortunately, I never had to find out the hard way which way that could have gone. How many people around you would you put into one category or the other? I think you will find it surprising how many people you will think about differently once you have thought about how close they really are.
How can you increase the number of true friends? The answer is really easy: Be prepared taking the first step in approaching others. Be genuine and sincere when you do this and always be prepared to put in more effort without the expectation to get anything back in return. Open yourself up to openly ask for help too. Then sit back, relax and hold on for the ride. Life is great!