Having positive, supportive and loving relationships based on mutual respect will ensure we feel happier and healthier in our lives and enhance how we connect to others in our community and society generally.
“The way people treat you is a statement about who they are as a human being.
It is not a statement about you.”
1. Check out the relationship you have with yourself.
If you have a healthy, positive relationship with yourself (positive regard)
then you are more likely to form happy and secure relationships. Trust is an important factor in any relationship. If you can trust yourself then you can trust in others to bring about a productive relationship. This is not for the faint hearted and requires courage to take a chance.
2. A positive relationship is good for you.
People in loving and supportive relationships are more likely to be happier, healthier and satisfied with their lives. Positive relationships ensure good mental health and less risk-taking behaviours.
3. Listen first, talk second.
Being a good listener is absolutely essential, and it is a rare commodity in our society. Active listening makes a person feel supported, valued and respected. You wouldn’t expect less yourself, so practice positive listening skills with others.
Active listening involves understanding what a person is feeling, thinking, wanting, and meaning through their words and expressions. By restating or paraphrasing we are ‘checking in’ that we are following their line of thought and discussion.
4. Time is a precious gift.
The luxury of sitting down and talking to someone, person to person, needs to be recognised as very special in this time of social media ie. twitter, emails, facebook etc. Connecting with friends, colleagues and loved ones needs to be fostered and nurtured beyond computers, laptops and phone messages. Make time to catch up and nourish friendships.
5. Assume nothing.
Developing relationships is about keeping an open mind, checking in and ensuring that we haven’t misunderstood what has been said or the reason behind a person’s actions. Being genuine in our interactions will help us minimise any misunderstandings.
6. Empathy vs sympathy.
Sympathy essentially implies a feeling of recognition of another’s suffering while empathy is actually sharing another’s suffering and having the ability to “put yourself into another’s shoes.” The worst thing that can happen in any relationship (or in the formation stage) is insincerity. Pity has no place in a personal relationship.
7. Information and mobile technology.
There is an important place for technology in our lives. However, it is a form of communication that should be used with discretion. Nothing can take the place of human contact and interaction. Technology should be an aid in the communication process but never take the place of face to face engagement.
8. Embrace and celebrate differences.
The challenge in the formation of friendships is acceptance of differences. How we perceive the world may be very different to how others view it.
Each of us brings our own perceptions, experiences, culture and social practices into relationships. The joy of sharing this with others ensures that we continue to review our understanding of the world and the people in it.
The world would indeed be dull if we all thought and acted the same.
9. What are the ingredients for a positive relationship?
- Mutual emotional support
- Understanding social and cultural differences
- Room for individual expression
- Equity in gender differences
10. Relationships breathe.
All relationships are real, living, breathing organisms. They come into being for a certain time and evolve. For a positive relationship to grow it needs to be nourished. To ensure that the balance of nutrients (ingredients) is right it is a good idea to review them periodically.
11. Relationships are about having fun.
Having fun is part of a positive relationship. You should be enjoying your time with one another. Do ‘mix it up’ in your activities together. There’s so much to be enjoyed out in the world; new activities, experiences, sights. Broaden your horizons together.
12. Authenticity and speaking Your Truth.
As mentioned previously, the differences we each bring to a relationship needs to be honoured and recognised. If we live our truth, our ‘differences’ will be viewed as a natural, positive extension of ourselves (our authentic self).
13. Being vulnerable is OK.
We all have times where we have doubts and feel vulnerable. That’s OK and there is nothing to fear. Being vulnerable means being open and showing our inner thoughts, feelings, beliefs and being less than perfect. For a positive relationship to grow there needs to be room to explore and grow. Sure, there is the risk factor associated with disclosure but the rewards can be huge. Often, by giving voice to our vulnerability the flood gates are open for others to do the same. We give permission for others to share their concerns and vulnerabilities too.
14. Honour yourself and others.
To honour someone and what they are sharing with us we need to…listen closely, be understanding, empathise and respond sincerely. Clarify if uncertain to ensure misunderstandings are minimised.
15. It’s all in the eyes.
Great communicators and positive relationships recognise the importance of eye contact. There is nothing more flattering and warming than to have someone’s undivided attention; as though their eyes are only on you. There is one exception to this rule and that is to recognise cultural differences. In some cultures eye contact is avoided and considered rude or disrespectful. Distracting gestures should be minimised such as fidgeting, glancing at papers, tapping fingers and feet. Have you noticed how many people sit at tables with friends/partners and spend their time checking messages on their mobile phones? A real relationship killer if ever there was one.
16. Room to forgive and forget.
Relationships will have their highs and lows as with anything in life. Friends do not let misunderstandings and arguments stand in their way. It is worthwhile fostering tolerance, forgiveness and understanding. To be able to wipe the slate clean, knowing that a person’s intention was not to cause pain.
At times what we say and what we mean can be misconstrued. We may also forget an appointment to meet. Remember that we are all human with our own foibles and dramas.
In positive relationships loyalty solidifies rather than divides. Rarely is there gossiping, spitefulness, and back-biting. Respecting confidentiality and standing by friends is a gift that is priceless.
18. Don’t let the sun set on disagreements
If a fall out or misunderstanding occurs, it’s best to address the issue as soon as is practicable. A nice way of approaching the matter is to start with a positive, then express concern about the misunderstanding, and finish with a positive once again. It’s often referred to as ‘the sandwich’ approach.
19. Everyone likes to talk about themselves and hear their name.
If wishing to encourage a new relationship, it’s good to use a person’s name and also to engage in ‘open ended’ questions/lines of enquiry. Open questions promote conversation thus avoiding yes/no replies. For example, use who, what, when, where, how in your discussion.
20. Relax and enjoy the experience.
People who observe us can pick up signs about our health or stress levels from our faces and bodies; they read signals about our social status from our environment, and they gauge us according to the skills and social interactions we exhibit across a number of situations we face every day. Like it or not, our personalities leave behind clues to who we are in each of these sectors.
By relaxing and smiling we are setting the scene in a positive light.
“The meeting of two personalities is like the contact
of two chemical substances: if there is any reaction,
both are transformed.” – C.G. Jung