Which mate do you turn to for advice on dating a new guy or quitting your job? Allow us to introduce you to your personal board of directors.
Hands up if you’ve ever bingewatched Girls with a gang of friends and ended up in a fit of giggles after you started comparing them all to your own group. Who’s the wild, carefree Jessa? Or the headstrong overthinker Hannah? Without giving it much thought, you’ve realised something crucial in defining who we are as women. That’s right, we need many different kinds of friends in our lives at any one time.
This is something behavioural change specialist Suzanne Waldron agrees is kind of essential. “People have unique qualities, traits and communication styles,” she says. “Having various types of people in our friendship circle enables many different points of view, which can bring balance to opinions you may seek. We all have different needs at different times.”
Just like a successful company, these pals make up your personal board of directors, a group you consult regularly to get guidance and feedback. There’s no need to conduct meetings or even tell each person their board member status — but you do need to select the right people and keep in contact. Like a good board, the people you choose should contribute differently to the way you live your life.
According to psychologist Paula Watkins, choosing pals with opposite personalities helps us grow. “We’re influenced by those we spend our time with, so it’s very important to consider the qualities and traits you want in your life and those you want to avoid,” she says.
People need friends like air; they’re our lifeline. So next time you feel guilty for telling your co-worker your family issues rather than your BFF, don’t be. There’s a reason she’ll offer you some insightful advice.
The quiet one who listens
The reserved gal is usually the one you can confess pretty much anything to and know that she’ll keep it locked in the vault for good. Remember sweet Becca (Ellie Kemper) from Bridesmaids, who drunkenly tells Rita on the plane, “You smell like pine needles and have a face like sunshine”? Your mate who uses her ears more than her mouth is totally Becca.
“This person is great for helping you sort out your thinking in situations where you don’t really need solutions; you just want to be heard and validated,” says Waldron. Watkins agrees. “It’s important to have people in your life who provide a safe and supportive space for you to express your deepest thoughts and feelings,” she says. “Extroverts might benefit from the more gentle rhythms of their quieter friends. Just make sure you have the opportunity to be the one who listens too.”
The super-smart financial whiz
You know how Donna (Sarah Rafferty) from Suits knows everything because she’s so smart and sassy? If you have a friend like her, you’re on to a good thing. “This girl is great for grounding you in reality and using the facts. She’ll be strategic and level-headed,” says Waldron.
“In making bigger decisions, especially financial ones, it’s good to have these kinds of friends who can offer up some sensible advice,” she adds. “If she’s not a banker, look to another friend whose saving skills you admire and ask her for some tips.” Tax time is when your money mate shines.
The practical straight-shooter
Similar to Scandal’s Olivia (Kerry Washington), she’s not afraid to call you out on BS. If you want someone to feel sorry for you, you’re looking at the wrong girl. “She’ll challenge your way of thinking and create trust within the relationship – as long as you can handle the truth,” explains Waldron.
“Sometimes we convince ourselves of things we don’t believe and we end up in conundrums entirely created in our head,” says Watkins. “In scenarios like these, you can really benefit from the support of those honest, down-to-earth, straight-talkers in your life.”
The sensitive one who thinks with her heart
Oh, bless this girl. She’s all romance, sunshine and doodled love hearts. Basically, she’s the real-life walking, talking and always crying Jess (Zooey Deschanel) from New Girl.
“This girl is good for discussing your relationships, having passionrelated convos and anything that means you can freely express your feelings,” says Waldron. In the end, they’ll make you think in thought-provoking ways. As Watkins admits, “They’re likely able to offer a fresh and deeper perspective on challenges life throws our way.”
The party girl who’s up for an adventure
A grade-A “Woo!” girl, you can be sure a grin will never be far from your face when she’s around. Like Patricia “Fat Amy” from Pitch Perfect, this bestie’s excessively extroverted demeanour can sometimes be overbearing, but thanks to her penchant for getting into random situations, she’s also the reason you have so many awesome stories to tell.
The biggest upside to being her friend, however, is that she oozes confidence, and her courage and kick-ass attitude have inevitably rubbed off on you. “This person is great for encouraging you to move out of your comfort zone, like asking for a pay raise or booking an experience you’re nervous about,” says Waldron. As Watkins puts it, “We all need a little adventure in our lives.” Damn straight we do. Thanks to this party girl, we’re all about the fun.
WHEN CHOOSING YOUR CREW
Channel your feels
“If a certain relationship regularly leaves you feeling rotten, ask yourself whether you want to continue the friendship into the future,” says Watkins. Breaking up with a friend is OK.
Know your stuff
“Decide what qualities you want in a good friend. Is it integrity? Trustworthiness? Encouragement? Make sure your board members have the necessary prerequisites,” emphasises Watkins.
Watkins explains,“These people must have varied skills and experiences, so don’t limit yourself to one particular gender or age bracket. You’ll come to value their perspectives.”
Have odd numbers
“An uneven amount of people in your group will cut out the potential of a tie happening in decisionmaking. This way, there’ll always be an opinion that wins,” advises Watkins.