One thing that I treasure most is my Army family. Who else really knows what we go through and have to deal with on a regular basis but those who are walking the same path as you? The cumulative experience of the Army family helps us to navigate the unknown and allows us to be good mentors for those who are new to this journey. Because of the frequent moves this Army life brings it can be difficult to build and maintain friendships. Kathy Peel gives us three building blocks of friendships in her book, “The Busy Mom’s Guide to a Happy Organized Home.” Those building blocks she mentions are:
- Take Initiative
- Establish Rapport
- Build the Relationship
What does it mean to take initiative? Taking initiative is to take the first step. Ways to take the first step are to bring a meal, treats or simply knocking on a new neighbor’s door to welcome them to the street. Another way to take initiative is to strike up a conversation with the person behind you in the line at the Commissary or the Exchange. Maybe you are at the playground and you see someone you don’t know who has a really cute coat, scarf or shoes. You can compliment them on what you like and start a conversation. For some, taking the initiative may mean stepping out of your comfort zone. You don’t have to step out of your comfort zone all the time. Try it a few times. You never know when you will find your next best friend.
How do you establish rapport? Some simple ways are to remember the persons’ name, don’t just talk about you and find things in common. A trick I learned a long time ago for remembering someone’s’ name is to say their name multiple times in a conversation. A great way to use saying a name is to ask questions and asking questions helps you to not talk only about you. Asking questions also helps you find things in common. Another way to find things in common is to volunteer. Volunteering is ultimate common denominator.
Once you have taken initiative and established rapport you can really get on with building the relationship. Of course, this step requires time. Between work, kids, school and whatever else time is limited. To build and maintain a relationship you don’t have to commit to large amounts of time or even time every day. Simple ways to invest time into a relationship are a standing lunch date, scheduling play dates, plan on attending the school carnival together or another community event. Of course, the PCS season comes and you or your battle buddy move away. Now what? Take advantage of social media, have a monthly phone date or take up letter writing. Keep investing in the relationship. You never know when you may see each other again.