Any type of relationship, whether it is between family members, people we work with, friends, or customers we serve, takes a lot of work to maintain and build upon. And much of the cement that improves our relationships is developing trust, compassion, and acceptance of the other. As well, differences must be taken into account – no two people are alike or have the same interests, and while you will naturally seek commonalities to share, accommodating both differences and compatibilities is essential for long-lasting connection.
- Ask simple questions about big things. Get to know other people’s values and beliefs by asking them. For those people you’re intimately connected with, what do you know about their views on the world, other people, laws, sin, marriage, faith, spiritual fulfillment, etc.?
- Share your views and values too. However, be prepared to be challenged by what others think and believe without being negative, confrontational, or hating in response. You don’t have to give up what you believe in but you may just learn something by truly being open to learning what others think.
- Feel comfortable in asking questions about other people’s values; many people love the opportunity to open up some more. However, don’t probe or twist their responses and be particularly caring about those people who are still working out their values, who seem confused, or who simply find this sort of conversation overwhelming. Not everyone feels comfortable opening up about values but most people do appreciate compassionate guidance.
- For those who come from broken-down family situations, there can be a deep yearning to recreate a family that “works”. There is nothing wrong with this desire provided you do not let it cause you to abandon enjoying the life you have until that is achieved; do not put your life’s fulfillment on hold because of a contingency you haven’t yet met (and remember that the idea of what “works” is very abstract). In addition, continue to be part of the lives of those family members whom you still relate to and care about from your broken family. They are still your family, and they can be a source of strength and grounding. For those whose former family situation was so bad that they cannot return to any family members for support or love, find other people in whom you can rely upon for love and support, such as good friends, extended family members, or people who have meant a great deal to you through life. We’re all one human family after all.
- Living means letting others live as they choose insofar as that doesn’t infringe thedignity of others around them; don’t try to change people or direct their life’s choices – while there is room for guidance, don’t force your preferences onto others. It also means actively enjoying being with other people by being present for them and truly listening to them. Too many times we allow ourselves to be deflected from the moment of being with someone to answer a phone or to let our minds wander over other matters than concentrating on the person before us. Cultivate being present as the best gift you can ever give to another human being.
- Loving means giving of one’s love for others wholly without conditions. This is probably one of the hardest things to do for most relationships because sometimes our sense of care for another person loses perspective in our sense of responsibility or feelings of worry for another person and we seek to place conditions on our love as a way of shaping the outcomes we hope to see for them. Try very hard to get beyond that temptation and simply love people for who they are. If you see warts, keep scraping until you find the gem underneath.
- Sharing creates harmony in a relationship. Harmony and balance are a part of a good relationship structure. Remember that relationships are not about you: they are about the other.
this person did finally open up but you jumped down their throat with your annoyance oranger at the things they’ve said, you may simply have confirmed for them that keeping quiet is the best option around you. Instead, try the following whenever you are in a relationship situation where you feel confrontation, unease, or misunderstandings arising between the two of you:
- Stop talking yourself and simply listen.
- Take a moment to really digest what the other person has said.
- Repeat your understanding of what the other person has said back to them (the gist, not verbatim).
- Keep summarizing what the other person has said until they agree you’ve nailed it.
- Then start seeking a compromise rather than bombarding them with what you think they “don’t get” about your side of the story.
- When discussing things openly, there is no need to confess all your sins and give them your whole life story. Be circumspect about what you say and get to the point. Making up sob stories to have others feel sorry for you wears thin very quickly.
- Remember, that as each of you grow, the changes don’t necessarily mean the end of a relationship; instead, it’s just a different type of relationship. If you can accept the fact that your relationship status has changed, it may be the beginning of something completely special in a new way. Naturally though, some growth means that you grow apart and things aren’t compatible anymore. That’s normal too but just be sure you really are unable to reach acceptance before finally cutting ties.
9: Nurture your relationships. Any living being and any living relationship needsnurturing to flourish; left alone, left untended, left uncared for, and the survival rate is not good. This means setting aside time, however brief, to spend with this person. In intimate relationships, the time needed together will be far greater than the time for a boss with an employee or a retailer with a customer, but in every single case, the time spent must be dedicated, focused, and of quality, in order to nurture the relationship. Give your full attention, show that you care and that you’re interested, and be mentally and emotionally available when you spend time with another.
- If someone lives far away from you, send them an email now and then, or call them up. Arrange to meet up occasionally, or if that’s impossible, try a video link chat. All our amazing technology makes it possible to seem like you’re in the room with another person halfway across the world, so make the most of it!
People are more complex than we often give them credit for. In many cases this is because it’s easier in our time-poor lives to assume things in black and white so that we can get on with our lives. However, this often does a disservice to another human being because we assume things that are often wrong or mistaken and in doing so, we simplify them to their discredit. Instead, seek to understand more and in doing so, it’s likely you’ll learn more about yourself too.