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The company you keep? 你交往的人

中国日报网 2024-06-28 14:02


Reader question:

Please explain this sentence: You are the company you keep.

My comments:

Here, company refers to companionship, not a business firm (you run).

Have you heard of the old saying: Tell me who your friends are and I’ll tell you who you are, meaning exactly that: You are the company you keep.

Literally, you are similar to the company you keep.

The company you keep, of course, refers to the friends you keep.

To keep someone company is to spend time with them. Hence, your pals and friends are the company you keep.

People influence each other. We learn from each other, good and bad. We learn the good from others because that’s what we do. As humans, we aspire to the good and the great and we get better by learning from good examples.

We sometimes also learn the bad, frankly, when don’t know better.

Let’s just put it that way.

The long and short of it is, people close to us have an influence on us. Their qualities, good or bad, rub off on us.

As another old saying goes, birds of a feather flock together. You and the company you keep share a lot of things in common.

In other words, if your friends are all nice, kind-hearted people, it’s likely that you’re also a kind-hearted person. We don’t expect you to be harmful to women and children.

If all your friends are hooligans, on the other hand, we may expect you to be the same way, rough and unruly. In other words, we don’t expect you to be the most self-disciplined person on earth.

So, the moral?

Beware the company you keep.

Anyways, here are media examples of “the company your keep”, referring to your cronies or people who you spend most time with:

1. Warren Buffett, a legendary investor and the third richest person in the world, said in a new interview that one life decision is more important than just about any other: the choice of a life partner.

“If you want to emulate somebody, you’d better pick very carefully who you want to emulate,” he says. “The most important for most people, in terms of that decision, is their spouse.”

“You want to pick a spouse that’s a little bit better than you are. Then he or she, you hope they don’t figure it out too fast,” Buffett, 88, the CEO of Berkshire Hathaway, said in a wide-ranging interview with Yahoo Finance’s editor-in-chief, Andy Serwer.

The advice followed a general rule put forth by Buffett: Be careful of the company you keep and the people you admire.

“You want to associate with people that are better than you are,” he says. “And you want to have the right heroes.”

“Obviously, you can’t pick your parents,” he adds. “They’re going to have an enormous influence on you. But you don’t get a choice on that. But you get choices, as you go down the line. Who you admire, who you want to copy.”

The advice matches wisdom that Buffett shared with a 14-year-old Justin Fong at an annual Berkshire Hathaway shareholder meeting in Omaha, Nebraska in 2004.

“It's better to hang out with people better than you,” he told Fong. “Pick out associates whose behavior is better than yours and you’ll drift in that direction.”

On another occasion, Buffett explained how to identify such peers.

“You're looking for three things, generally, in a person: intelligence, energy, and integrity. And if they don’t have the last one, don’t even bother with the first two.”

- Legendary investor Warren Buffett says this life decision is most important, Yahoo.com, April 27, 2019.

2. Who Are Your Peers?

When you were a child, your parents usually chose your friends, by putting you in play groups or with children of their friends who were of the same age. Now that you are older, who you are friends with and whom you spend time with is up to you.

Your friends or your peers are people your age or close to it who have experiences and interests similar to yours. You and your friends make many decisions over the course of a day, and you influence each other choices and behaviours. It is human nature to listen to and learn from other people in your age group.

Peer pressure is when individuals in a group of friends influence others in the group to engage in an activity or behaviour that they may not otherwise partake in.

Teen years can be some tough years of one’s life. You are in the process of figuring out who you are, what you believe in, what you are good at, your place in the world and so on.

It is comforting to have friends with whom you can face these problems together. Although parents and teachers usually highlight the negative impacts of peer pressure in teenagers, peers can also positively influence each other and play important roles in each other’s lives:

How To Deal with Peer Pressure?

Peer pressure in teenagers can range from subtle to overt, so some forms of peer pressure are easier to spot than others. Nearly everyone faces peer pressure at some point. No matter how carefully you choose your friends or how well you think you know them, you can get into a situation where you face direct or indirect peer pressure.

Talking about your feelings and setting boundaries is another way to ensure you can stay comfortable in any environment. If your boundaries are not respected, and the pressure continues, it is a sign that your environment is not a place where you are respected, and you need to rethink what company you keep.

- Peer Pressure, TooShyToAsk.com, September 6, 2023.

3. After decades of friendship – and working in comedy – playfully joking about each other is the hallmark of Fonda and Tomlin’s relationship.

During a joint appearance on Today in 2018 to promote the fourth season of Grace and Frankie, host Hoda Kotb asked the two how long they’d known each other. Fonda joked that they’re only friends off-screen “sometimes” and guessed that she had known Tomlin for about 50 years. Tomlin’s response was a bit more cutting, though, saying, “I think before your first facelift!”

In other interviews, Fonda has spoken earnestly about their friendship, while Tomlin has offered a joke instead.

On The Late Show with Stephen Colbert in 2023, Fonda described their relationship as “just short of intimate" and called her a “genius.” Fonda added, “There is nobody like her.”

Tomlin jokingly defined their relationship as “somewhat distant.” She explained, “That’s how you keep the love alive.”

In some cases, the two emulate the banter and bickering of their on-screen personas, Grace and Frankie. In a joint 2015 TEDTalk about the power of female friendships, the talk’s host noted that a lot can be told about a woman by the company she keeps – to which Fonda looked wide-eyed at Tomlin and said, “We’re in big trouble.”

In response, Tomlin had her own quip to offer. “Just being with her sucks the life out of me,” she joked.

- Jane Fonda and Lily Tomlin: All About the Actress’ Decades-Long Friendship, People.com, June 16, 2024.


About the author:

Zhang Xin is Trainer at chinadaily.com.cn. He has been with China Daily since 1988, when he graduated from Beijing Foreign Studies University. Write him at: zhangxin@chinadaily.com.cn, or raise a question for potential use in a future column.

(作者:张欣  编辑:丹妮)


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