Connecting with people on a meaningful level isn’t always easy. We can have a rewarding career, a cozy home, and all the Facebook friends in the world, but if we don’t have strong relationships that we cherish, we’re likely not living our best life. Having healthy, positive relationships at home, with friends, or at work is very achievable, but it doesn’t happen overnight; we have to pay attention to our communication skills and do a little work to build those relationships one step at a time.
When we want more from our relationships, one thing is for sure: we’ve got to log off and tune in to others. As a society, we’re spending record amounts of time on our phones and computers, meaning we’re leaving less time for real interactions. We all know that life gets busy with work and family obligations, but we can always make time for relationships that matter, even if it means getting out of our comfort zones from time to time. When we put less effort into our on-line world and more effort into face-to-face interactions, it pays off big time. Simply be present with others, however it works for you. Gotta walk the dog? Bring someone along! Have Saturday errands to do? Meet up and tackle them together, or at least squeeze in a coffee or a bite to eat with someone. Can’t get to where they are? A good long chat on the phone works wonders for connecting. We don’t have to plan fancy dinners or formal outings, we just need to show others we’re committed to them; by doing so we are building relationships, creating strong bonds and moving towards the fulfillment we’re seeking.
It’s one thing to recognize that everyone is unique, but actually appreciating or respecting the differences or even the quirks in each other makes for better relationships. Remember that others often see things differently or through a different lens; we need diversity in life to make it interesting! When we simply accept people for who they are instead of trying to change them, our connections grow stronger. Sometimes we’re guilty of sweating the small stuff in a relationship, or other times we can’t even get to starting one because we’re too quick to judge; we often form first impressions without all the information. Think of what we could be missing out on.
As we start to build relationships, it’s OK to open up and talk about our passions, goals, fears and insecurities. Doing this isn’t showing weakness – it’s simply exposing our natural vulnerability (we all have it) and demonstrating to others that we trust them. Life can be hard – so let’s share our experiences and fall back on others on occasion. They, in turn, will begin to trust us more; sharing is a critical step to making relationships work. This doesn’t mean we need to divulge our deepest secrets, or unleash our rants about everything wrong in the world, it just means we should take steps to show off more of what makes us – us!
It sounds simple, but it’s not always obvious that we need to show empathy and kindness more often. When someone tells us about their bad day, we don’t need to judge them or tell them how much worse ours was, we can just support them. Talking about emotional intelligence and empathy is something I feel strongly about, as it’s a very powerful skill that can enhance so many areas of our lives.
Friends, spouses, children, parents, siblings, co-workers…the people in our lives are important assets. Whether we want to enhance an existing relationship that’s been neglected, or build something brand new and fabulous, we’ve got what it takes to get there. Now, let’s roll up our sleeves and get connecting!
“Personal relationships are the fertile soil from which all advancement, all success, all achievement in real life grows.”- Ben Stein