1. Talk on the phone. Smartphones still have a telephones in them somewhere. When everyone expects you to text, “sup,” call them instead with a resounding “Hello.” Your friends may not know what to do at first, but more often than not, the sound of your voice will be a welcome surprise.
2. Don’t give advice. When a friend asks you if she should dump Johnny for his twin brother, don’t start out by saying, “No that’s a terrible idea.” Instead, ask questions like, “Why do you think you want to do this?” No one wants to be told what to do, especially when the solution is obvious. Friends don’t boss one another, they guide.
3. Be tough. When a friend asks you to read the manuscript he wrote on his nights off from work, cover it in red ink. Challenge him so he knows you’re on his side, and that you believe he can do better. Sometimes the best gift is showing someone he is worth more than he thinks.
4. Obligate them to show up. We don’t want to manipulate our friends, but we do want to feel appreciated. Whether it’s a milestone celebration (job promotion), a recital, or a call for help, friends spend money on the extra gas to be there.
5. Write a letter in the mail. This rarely ever happens. Sending a piece of parchment with your own handwriting on it will warm your friend’s heart. There’s simply more soul in it than an e-card, or a message on Facebook. The memory of opening it will last a long time.