"Overcoming Loneliness and Making Friends"
Reading history and reviews
Finished on 14th February 2011What a fantastic little book. Part of the Sheldon Press "Overcoming Common Problems" series of self-help books, "Overcoming Loneliness..." is perhaps a little misnamed, as really the emphasis is on developing the skills needed to form, maintain and deepen friendships.
The book starts by asking what a "friend" is, why as human beings we need the kinds of social interactions that different types of friendships provide, and the course that friendships can take - the reasons why some might be short lived (for example, those formed on holidays) whilst others flourish over a lifetime (most significantly with a partner) - before going on to examine the different types of loneliness that people experience, and various factors such as shyness and low self-esteem that interfere with developing satisfactory relationships.
A significant chunk of the book then deals with advice on making and maintaining friendships, for example by improving your communication skills, dealing with feelings of social anxiety, understanding the types of information it's wise to disclose to others in different situations, and establishing boundaries by behaving assertively. There are also useful chapters on giving and receiving feedback (such as praise or criticism), and on taking friendship further with a long-term partner.
The style is straightforward and draws on the author's own experiences, and I liked that there is no suggestion of a quick fix - just the quietly sensible advice that knowledge, awareness and practice are the way to make new friends and improve the relationships we already have. As someone who often feels he struggles in social situations (especially when meeting new people) I found lots of useful insights that have helped me to better understand how social interactions work, and to challenge and change some of the faulty expectations and beliefs that have hindered me in the past. It's also given me more confidence that my social skills aren't perhaps too bad after all, and will be a great resource to draw on in future to improve them further. Highly recommended.