When you cultivate positive and supportive relationships in your life, you are more likely to feel happier and more fulfilled. When a relationship works well, it can be a very happy experience. However, as you may well have experienced, when a relationship breaks down and you find yourself in a conflict situation, it can be draining and disappointing and can have a detrimental effect on your wellbeing.
Before you begin to develop positive relationships with others you need to make sure that you have a healthy relationship with yourself.
One of the biggest challenges you may experience in your relationships is the fact that we are all different and we can perceive the world in so many different ways. Certainly one stumbling block when trying to build relationships is a desire or an expectation of the way that people will think and behave.
The first step, therefore, is to accept that we are all different and on that basis, we can all bring different things to the party. You will have your own unique set of strengths and as a result you will have your own unique set of limitations. It is indeed better and more productive to spend time concentrating on improving your own limitations rather than focusing on those of others.
Focusing on other people’s better qualities and feeding back on their strengths is a way to reinforce future positive behaviour. Many relationships break down because more time is spent eroding each other’s self-esteem through negative criticism.
The danger is that you can try to get other people to shrink-fit into something or somebody that they are not. Also, it is important to recognise that often, what we don’t like in others can be something that we don’t like in ourselves!
In a world that has cultivated so many isolated environments and working conditions, it is important to examine how much time you spend with people. This also means being in the company of people, not with virtual strangers via the internet, Facebook and various other social media networks.
‘The most important single ingredient in the formula of success is knowing how to get along with people.’
Relationship Building – Steps to Success
The relationship you have with yourself is the most important
Actively listen to what other people have to say
Accept and celebrate the fact that everyone is different
Focus on people’s strengths rather than their limitations
Be open-minded and learn to trust people
Develop etiquette around mobile technology.
One of the most profound experiences that we can have in our lives is the connection we have with other human beings. Positive and supportive relationships will help us to feel healthier, happier and more satisfied with our lives. So here are a few tips to help you to develop more positive and healthy relationships in all areas of your life:
A big challenge that we experience in relationships is that we are all different. We can perceive the world in many ways. A stumbling block that we come across when we try to build relationships is a desire or an expectation that people will think like we do and, in this way, it is so much easier to create a rapport. We feel more comfortable when we feel that people ‘get’ us and can see our point of view. Life, however, would be very dull if we were all the same and, whilst we may find it initially easier, the novelty of sameness would soon wear off. So accepting and celebrating that we are all different is a great starting point.
Listening is a hugely important skill in boosting another person’s self-esteem; it is the silent form of flattery that makes people feel supported and valued. Listening to and understanding what others communicate to us is the most important part of successful interaction and vice versa.
Active or reflective listening is the single most useful and important listening skill. In active listening, we are genuinely interested in understanding what the message means, and what the other person is thinking, feeling or wanting. In this mode we are active in checking out our understanding before we respond with our own new message. We restate or paraphrase our understanding of their message and reflect it back to the sender for verification. This verification or feedback process is what distinguishes active listening and makes it effective.
Giving people your time is also a huge gift. In a world where time is of the essence and we are trying to fit in more than one lifetime, we don’t always have the time to give to our loved ones, friends and work colleagues. Technology has somewhat eroded our ability to build real rapport and we attempt to multi-task by texting and talking at the same time!
Being present in the time you give to people is also very important, so that when you are with someone, you are truly with someone and not dwelling in the past or worrying about the future. The connection we make with other people is the very touchstone of our existence and devoting time, energy and effort to developing and building relationships is one of the most valuable life skills.
Communication occurs when someone understands you, not just when you speak. One of the biggest dangers with communication is that we can work on the assumption that the other person has understood the message that we are trying to get across.
Poor communication in the workplace can lead to a culture of backstabbing and blame which in turn can also affect our stress levels, especially when we don’t understand something or feel that we have been misled. On the other hand, communication can also have a very positive effect on morale when it works well and motivates individuals to want to come into work and do a great job.
Use these tips to develop and maintain happy, healthy relationships:
- Ensure that the relationship you have with yourself is a positive one.
- Accept and celebrate the fact that we are all different.
- Actively listen to really hear what other people have to say.
- Give people time and ‘be present’ when you are with them.
- Develop and work on your communication skills.
- Manage mobile technology and be aware of its pitfalls.
- Learn to give and take constructive feedback.
- Open your heart and find the courage to trust.
- Learn to be more understanding and empathetic.
- Treat people as you would like to be treated yourself.