One of my goals at 100 Reasons to Win is to help professionals improve their relationships. Some of my clients are looking for true love; some have found it and want to work better with their partners; and others are just looking to navigate the tough conversations that they engage in with family, friends, and colleagues.
No matter the purpose, I have found myself offering similar guidance to just about everyone as the foundation for sustaining good relationships.
1. Understand the nuances among different types of relationships. There are all different types of people in our lives and different protocol for how we interact with them. There are also actions that can be taken to improve each of those relationships. Understanding those nuances helps us to increase the value of each and every one of our relationships as we strive to deepen those connections. A good read on this topic is the Seven Levels of Intimacy by Matthew Kelly. Kelly offers a path to overcoming fears and strengthening bonds with others.
2. Speak the truth. This doesn't necessarily mean you must tell everyone, everything all of the time, but it does mean that sharing a piece of how you feel or what you think about a situation breaks the ice and brings a certain authenticity. It can be as simple as having the courage to calmly tell a colleague, “I feel nervous about this event tonight, so I am glad you are here to help.” Sometimes this involves admitting when you were wrong and/or asking for forgiveness when you have wronged another.
3. Compare your similarities. When you meet or speak with someone, ask yourself not what is different between you and the other person, but what is the same. A very important coach and mentor once shared that with me and it has made a huge difference in my ability to prevent and/or resolve conflict. The idea is that when you try to figure out what's different, you are really asking, “What should I fear about this person?” This fear inevitably sets you up to be in conflict. On the other hand, when you try to look for what is the same, then you are asking, “What should I love about this person?” This love sets us up to cooperate with that person.
We interact with people all day long and every person is a part of another relationship for us. Understanding the foundation for what makes relationships a success is an important skill. Like any skill, it comes more naturally to some more than others, but it can be learned, and with practice, improved.
By the way, the best relationship to start practicing with is the one that you have with yourself.