Why do we need friends?

In today’s guest post Jan Read shares some thoughts around something dear to her heart.

"Why do we need friends?" A guest post by Jan Read

Why do we need friends?

By Jan Read

How many of you are aware that Sunday 4th August is National Friendship Day?

If our friends & friendships are important to us – why don’t we recognise this special day in the UK?

National Friendship Day is widely celebrated in other parts of the World – Singapore, Malaysia, South America & India – where friendship bracelets originated and are exchanged as a sign of friendship.

So I’m going to ask two questions to help you think about friendship this special weekend

  1. What is friendship and why do we need friends?
  2. How can friendship be incorporated into your coaching?

Why do we need friends? A guest post  By Jan Read, laughter photo

What is friendship?

The Oxford English Dictionary defines a friend as ‘A person with whom one has a bond of mutual affection, typically one exclusive of sexual or family relations’

Friendship is something we probably all take for granted and probably don’t realise how important it is?

The health benefits are well researched and the Mayo clinic lists these as:

  • Increasing your sense of belonging and purpose
  • Boosting your happiness
  • Reducing stress
  • Improving your self-worth
  • Helping you cope with traumas, such as divorce, serious illness, job loss or the death of a loved one
  • Encouraging you to change or avoid unhealthy lifestyle habits, such as excessive drink or lack of exercise

How many of these are issues that you are dealing with in your coaching work on a regular basis – could friendship be a solution?

Why do we need friends? A guest post  By Jan Read, linked hands photo

At various stages in our lives we need different kinds of friends for different reasons and we all have a variety of friends that can loosely be classified into three groups:

Best friends – who you would tell everything to

Social friends – who you would go somewhere or do something with

Acquaintances – Facebook friends/work friends

Is it better to have two or three close friends or a list of three hundred on a social networking site? Humans are generally regarded as ‘social’ animals and look for social interactions as part of their lifestyle. Some people are happy to share their time with just one or two people while others like the buzz of a group of friends around them.

We are all different and what matters is personal to each individual.

As a child there is an innocence & naivety to making friends – ‘Hello, what’s your name?’ – is usually enough in a playground to have a friend for an hour, a day or sometimes even a lifetime.

As we get older it becomes more difficult to make friends, our time is taken up with relationships, families and work and the definition of friendship takes on a new meaning.

With mobile phones, laptops and an ever increasing use of the Internet, we are also seeing new types of friendships evolving. With the advent of Facebook ‘friends’ and the popping up of past colleagues through Friends Re-united, LinkedIn etc, the scope of our friendships is widening and these social interactions shouldn’t be dismissed as not being ‘friendships’ too.

For many people a quick interaction through Facebook with someone they might only see once a year is a great way to keep in touch and be part of that person’s life.

Why do we need friends? A guest post  By Jan Read, word friends made from blocks photo

How can friendship be incorporated into your coaching?

Many clients will seek support from a coach when they are questioning how they can make changes to improve their life?

Finding new friends or developing existing friendships can be a solution to a variety of issues outlined below:

  • Life changing circumstances which may involve the loss of friends – leaving work, moving house to a different area, empty nesting, bereavement or divorce.
  • Loneliness is one of the major social problems facing the UK today. According to the Office for National Statistics, in 2012 it was estimated that 29% of all households consist of just one person. You can have a wide range of social friends but still be lonely if you live on your own.
  • A lack of self-confidence to join a club or go somewhere on your own when you’re used to having someone else go along with you.
  • ‘Toxic friends’ who may be causing significant problems but the thought of how to replace that friend may be just as overwhelming.
  • Unfulfilled dreams or ambitions – having a ‘Bucket List’ which becomes unachievable through the lack of having someone to go along with or share the experience.

Think more about how friendship could be brought into your coaching – it’s something we take for granted and yet to many people it could be the key to unlock the door into their future.

On National Friendship Day on Sunday please think of your friends and tell them how special they are to you. Arrange a get-together with a group of them or meet up with your special ‘bestie’ and give them a friendship token – let’s start to make National Friendship Day special.

About Jan Read

close up resizedMy own experience of wanting to find new friends came about following treatment for breast cancer 18 months ago. My individual life changing moment was when I realised that I was fed up of not being able to do the things I wanted – when I wanted because often I had no-one to go with.

I have a great group of friends and socialise often but not everyone likes my ‘weird’ taste in music or wants to climb a mountain, most have family commitments and aren’t always free when I am.

My solution was to set up a website which offers people the opportunity to find the friends they want. It doesn’t matter whether it’s to share an interest, a one-off trip or a regular outing somewhere – it’s important to find be able to find the friends be with. is free to join and gives people the opportunity to link up with like minded people

Log on – Link up – Live life

Twitter: @LotsInCommon



Can you get free coaching from your friends? 1

In today’s guest post, Chris Morris explores the difference between coaching and friendship. Is a coach different to a friend?

"Can you get free coaching from your friends?" A guest post by Chris Morris

Can you get free coaching from your friends?

by Chris Morris

Someone said to me earlier: “It must be great for your friends — all that free coaching on tap”.

I thought about it because I rarely coach my friends. I have lots of great conversations and we explore ideas together, but I rarely have coaching conversations with my friends. And that made me wonder about the difference I see between a social conversation and a coaching conversation.

They’re just labels of course, but for me they point in different directions.

I think of coaching as holding the space for someone to reveal themselves to themselves. It’s a process I find utterly absorbing, magical and transformative. In no time at all, someone can see themselves, their life and the world in a different way. Their attention melts through layers of thought to experience wisdom from deep inside of them.

When I work with someone, I know they can see further than me. I don’t want to sell them my limitations. So I don’t teach them what I think/know/believe/trust and instead support and love their own inquiry.

I find it remarkable how quickly people can see beyond what they saw before; experiencing what was always there but previously clouded by thought.

With social conversations, it’s different. I like having ‘meaningful’ conversations with my friends (I’m not going to chat about what happened on Eastenders last night!), but I’m not there to serve them in the same way I serve my clients.

When I’m coaching, my attention is absolutely and unconditionally with my client. If the door bell rings while I’m on the phone, I probably won’t hear it. The main reason I’m able to go so deep with my coaching is that I can slide out of being Chris, suspend my own perspective and hold the space I think is best described by the Sanskrit word Namaste. There are many translations of Namaste but my favourite is this: “I honour the place in you where the entire universe resides. I honour the place in you of love, of light, of truth, and of peace. When you are in that place in you and I am in that place in me, there is only one of us.”

Michael Neill talks about transformative coaching as “the space where miracles happen” and I love that too.

I like to think I approach all conversations in a loving and kind way, but the point is ‘I like to think’. With friends, I’m not necessarily holding the space for us to to see beyond our thinking. I want to explore their thinking for my own benefit and I want to share my thinking too. More than that, I want to drink beer, listen to music and joke around.

My friends experience my personality; a manifestation of a separate self. I’m very much Chris with my friends, and I defend my borders in all the usual ways.

I think that’s important because I think separation is an inherent part of evolution.

Can we be human beings having a spiritual experience and spiritual beings having a human experience? It seems to me that denying either aspect is a denial of our wholeness.

But one of the consequences of showing up as Chris is that I’ll filter what you say through my own ‘map’ of the world – my assumptions – and therefore I won’t give you all my attention. Our connection will be different. My intentions will be different. So even if the topics are similar, and even if the conversation is useful, these social conversations are not the same as coaching conversations.

We can all find people to support us, advise us and even sit into the early hours exploring the meaning of life with us. It’s easy to find people to inspire us, provoke us and challenge us. But that’s not coaching. At least it’s not what I think of as coaching.

So when I hear someone say they don’t need coaching because they already have “plenty of friends to talk to”, I think that’s a sign that coaching is pretty misunderstood in the public consciousness. I don’t think anyone needs a coach but I think everyone can benefit from deep coaching. Coaches fulfil a completely different function to friends, family, teachers and advisors. What we do is fundamentally different.

All of us who love coaching could probably be clearer about how magical the experience is and what amazing benefits can be created.

About the Author

Chris coaches people around the world via phone and Skype, and in person in London. He had a successful career as a political advisor before training to be a transformative coach in 2008. He is experienced with various models of coaching as well as NLP, The Work of Byron Katie, The Enneagram and The Three Principles. You can read more of his articles here and get details of his coaching here.

You can also find Chris on the following Social Media: