1 – Do a relationship ‘stock take’
It may seem weird to reduce relationships to inventory but, honestly, it’s important to take a good, hard look at who you’re spending your time with. These are the people who influence you the most and who’ll, ultimately, shape some of your most vital beliefs and characteristics.
Ask yourself these questions:
– Who lifts you up when you’re with them? Inspires you? Leaves you feeling positive and cheerful?
– Who brings you down? Who leaves you feeling down or negative?
It’s been said that we are the average of the people we spend our time with so it’s definitely worth considering from time to time and when we clear out destructive or negative relationships, it becomes easier to focus our energy on those who are most important.
2 – Be the best ‘you’ you can be
Conversely, if we’re going to the effort to make sure our relationships are quality ones, we should ensure that we’re giving as good as we get – if not better.
Every interaction is a chance to either build up or tear away at a relationship.
Do you support your friends and family or do you always criticise them? Do you boost them up with positive encouragement or do you make snide remarks? Do you dump all your problems on those around you and refuse to listen to them, or do you share the load and provide a sympathetic ear when they need it?
Treat people the way you want to be treated.
3 – Disagreements Happen – It’s Not The End
Sometimes fights happen. Emotions get complicated, stress blows little things out of proportion, misunderstandings are almost inevitable. But, consider this:
‘Every passing moment is a chance to turn it all around’ – Sophia, Vanilla Sky.
Is the fight worth it? What are you gaining from staying angry or holding a grudge? Is the relationship more important than the silly disagreement?
Asking these questions makes it much easier to move on. Take a few minutes to cool down and then break the ice as soon as possible – you don’t want that bad feeling to grow in either party and there’s NOTHING to lose in being the first to speak. Being stubborn is silly.
Be the bigger person.
4 – Respect and Trust
Relationships are built on two things – respect and trust. Let me add to that – MUTUAL respect and trust. They are the framework of strong bonds between family, friends, partnerships, marriages and it’s vital that it’s mutual. You can get through anything together if you can maintain these two things in all of your relationships.
Always endeavour to show the people in your life (coworkers, lovers, even strangers) that you trust and respect them, their abilities, and their judgement.
5 – Relationships are a two-way street
All relationships involve give and take on both sides. If you’re always the one compromising, giving everything and not getting anything in return, you’re likely being taken advantage of. This shows a major weakness in the relationship on both sides – someone is taking too much and someone is giving too much – and that is against one of the fundamentals of relationships – respect.
6 – Listen More
It’s a well known fact that people love to talk about themselves. The easiest way to create a bond with someone is to ask them about themselves, take a genuine interest in what they have to say, and really listen to them. Obviously, it is important to ensure a two-way relationship that you get a turn as well, and your turn will come, but don’t sit and wait for your chance to speak. Listening is an art form. It’s a skill that can be learned, and one that will benefit all of us in every aspect of our lives.
“Seek first to understand, and then to be understood.” – Stephen Covey
7 – Be Kind
If someone you love is suddenly acting strange, there’s a reason for it. Things are happening every day in other people’s lives that we have no idea about. We don’t know what goes on behind the scenes, behind closed doors, or inside their heads.
Even if you live with someone, they may be dealing with something they aren’t ready to talk to you about yet. As humans, we are prone to judge, and it’s easy to look at other people’s lives and think they have it better than you, they’re treating you badly, or they’re behaving oddly but we don’t always know the full story.
It isn’t acceptable behaviour but, before writing someone off, it’s always worth adding a little kindness because they could be dealing with something major and need everyone to give them a break.
“Be kind, everyone you meet is fighting a harder battle” – Unknown
8 – Keep Your Promises
If you say you’re going to do something, do it. If you say you’re going to be somewhere, be there. It’s difficult to put yourself out there and ask for help, but if someone asks for your help, doing what you can to help them will be a huge plus for the relationship. If you don’t want to do something or you know that you can’t, then say that. If the relationship is strong enough, they’ll understand. Better to be honest straight away than flake out later on.
9 – Keep Tending
Relationships are like gardens, they need to be tended to so that they don’t get run down. Obviously, there are some relationships that are well preserved and can be left for years and years and pick up right where they left off – but not without a lot of ground work in the beginning.
Keep in touch! We’re so lucky to have social media and Skype and email and text messaging; it couldn’t be any easier than it is right now to drop someone a line, text, or a quick Facebook message to let them know you’re thinking of them. Geographical distance is no longer an excuse to let relationships get overgrown. It’s EASY!
10 – Give and You Will Receive
Have you ever noticed that your strongest relationships are the ones you’re most actively involved in? You bring a lot to the table. Your thoughts about someone will directly impact what your relationship is like. What if you put all your energy into making your relationships the best they can be? Most likely, you’ll see a positive improvement from the effort you put in.
The more you put into the relationships you build with those around you, the more you’ll get out of them (whether loving relationships, work relationships, or random interactions with people you may never see again). Don’t get me wrong, building strong relationships is not for purely selfish purposes but excellent relationships make life more enjoyable and fulfilling, and they might test you at times, but they define who you are.
Do you have any tips for relationships? Have you found any of these tips helpful to you right now? Leave me a comment below and let me know what’s worked for you or sign up to receive a free bonus audio on creating better relationships.