The relationships we form with other people can have an important and profound impact on our lives. Positive and supportive relationships are vital to our physical and emotional well being. They help us feel healthier, happier, and more satisfied with our lives. Building strong, caring relationships with family, friends, and even co-workers require time and attention but the rewards are significant.
Here are some ways to make sure your relationships stay on track with people you care about the most:
· Express love and gratitude regularly to the people who matter most in your life. Taking the time to state your gratitude to someone is one of the single most important ways to improve relationships. Plus, this ritual can be as important to the recipient as it is to you. According to emerging research, people who consistently express their gratitude are more positive, forgiving and are less likely to be lonely, anxious or depressed.
· Offer a sincere compliment. Sharing your appreciation can go a long way to showing your support to those around you. It can be as simple as praising someone on a delicious home cooked meal or offering a compliment on how an important project turned out. Sharing a positive comment is another way of saying, “I see and care about you.”
· Learn how to state your anger in a productive way. Although disagreements are bound to happen from time to time, how you handle the differences can make or break a relationship. The goal is to convey how you feel in a non- threatening way. Use the word “I” and not “you” when stating your position. For example, try saying, “I feel angry with you…” instead of “you made me angry.” Provide examples of what is causing these negative emotions without asserting blame. The idea is to avoid hurting the other person or using hurtful language while still taking responsibility for and sharing your own feelings.
· People are not mind readers - ask for what you need. We tend to believe that those closest to us will automatically know what we need or want from a relationship. In order to get what you need, there will be times that you will just have to tell the person first. The experience of being open and willing to have an honest discussion about your needs will help build a lasting, trusting relationship.
· Apologize and ask for forgiveness. Instead of saying ‘I’m sorry’, try asking ‘do you forgive me’. Asking for forgiveness is an admission that you caused hurt and are sincere about mending the damage. We all make mistakes that may unintentionally hurt another. Own your mistakes, recognize your responsibility in the situation and make amends.
· Commit to active listening. Having a meaningful conversation with someone you care about should have an equal amount of time devoted to talking and listening. Active listening involves paying close attention to your partner, making eye contact, asking questions, and being curious about what your partner is telling you.
· Do not interrupt or be the know-it-all. It may take practice but the more mindful or patient you are during a conversation, the more likely it is that you both will have a fulfilling exchange.
· Learn to handle tough conversations with grace. If it has been a difficult or intense discussion, sometimes it is better to say nothing at all until you have had time to process everything that was said. Instead of burying your reaction or worse, exploding with emotion, simply say, ‘can we continue this talk later? I need time to think about that.’ Just be sure to resume the discussion and not use it as an excuse to bury any uncomfortable topic or issue.
more ways to strengthen relationships
· Do not underestimate the power of touch. Touch can lower stress levels, boost the immune system and promote feelings of connection. All the more reason to greet and say goodbye to those you love with kisses or hugs. And while making time for intimacy is vital for romantic partners, sometimes non-sexual gestures like holding hands as you walk or giving a gentle back rub can be enough to show your love too.
· Spend quality time together. Plan an activity together that you both enjoy. Cooking, playing cards, or attending an exhibit – anything as long as you both agree on the adventure.
Healthy relationships affect our emotional and physical wellbeing. So take the time to improve relationships with the people who mean the most to you – it is never too late to begin.