Organizing Friends

This will be a somewhat INTJ post. For those not familiar with the term, it basically means I’m going to say things that make perfect logical sense, but will make certain people’s hair stand on end as they think, “that’s horrible, you’re putting people into little boxes and labeling them! You can’t do that!” If you find that happening, feel free to step away from the computer, have some tea, and forget you ever read this post.

While talking with a friend, he mentioned I knew how to pick friends, and asked where he ranked. And I found myself looking for a grading criteria for my friends. Some friends are better than others. They’re more entertaining, more useful, more funny, etc. But it’s a complex web. Friend Alpha might be beautiful and intelligent, but have the social skills of a skunk. Friend Beta might be horrid to the eye, but extremely intelligent and funny. Putting them into the traditional “high score” list, with a clean numerical scaling, doesn’t work well.

So I examined my friends. And when I say friends, I mean the people that have had a large influence in my life, or who I try to talk to regularly. The following does not include acquaintances, heroes, and the like. What I found is that I have four major categories that I care about concerning friendship with others. These categories are as follows.

1. Pleasant Company.

The first category is non-technical. It’s a very personal truth that usually doesn’t apply to others. Stated simply, it’s the answer to the question, “Do I like to be around this person?”

This category covers the funny, attractive, and entertaining areas of a person.

Some people who fit into this category are:

  • A friend who cuts to the heart of issues with a single sentence. He’s very abrasive at times, but the raw honesty is extremely refreshing. He’s also almost always right.
  • A friend who does not impress me with intellect, social skills, or even looks. But is a really nice guy, and fun to hang around.

2. Collaborative.

I very much enjoy working. I like to get things accomplished, create, and inspire. Many of my friends were chosen, or gain additional value to me, as we can work together to accomplish some goal or another, combining our skills.

Some examples of this include:

  • An old high school friend who came over one weekend to play games. We ended up working on and finishing a big website project that weekend.
  • A college friend who saw an opportunity to enhance products they were selling at a convention by having me use some of my tools that were lying around.

3. Educational.

One of my most valuable categories is being able to learn something from a friend. Not everyone fits into this category, as teaching is its own skill. First you need to know something well enough to be able to explain it. Then you need to have the skill to explain it clearly.

However, those that freely teach and share what they know have great value to me. An example of this is:

  • A friend who taught me a significant portion of social analysis skills, to understand people, how they work, and what their goals are.

4. Teachable.

Lastly, I noticed that I had a few friends whose greatest value didn’t fit into any of the other categories. People who I’ve given advice and ideas to, who I’ve been able to watch grow and progress, but don’t really give much back.

Not that it’s a lopsided friendship. I love teaching. I had considered becoming a teacher of some sort when I was growing up. And watching someone take what you’ve taught them and become better for it is amazing in itself.

The experiences of the teachable people are more theirs than mine to share. I just did some talking, they did the actions.


This system is by no means complete, current, or accurate. It might change in five years, I might have overlooked something major, and these are all my categories. This was more of a spur of the moment pairing that made a lot of sense, based on my own tastes.

If it makes a lot of sense to you, try picking a few categories of things you find most important in a person. What attributes of your friends have made you the most happy, or had the most difference in your life? If you’re aware of these, it may be a lot easier to find people whose company you’d enjoy.