25 Tips for Having Meaningful Relationships
While technology has made it more convenient to keep in touch with the outside world, and even become re-acquainted with long-lost friends, it has also changed how we define relationships. Someone with 1,000 Facebook friends may think they’re a rock star. But, how many of those “friends” would be there to support them when they start a business or go through a personal crisis?
I've learned that the more success you are at relationships with your family, friends and customers; the more successful you will be in life with all of them.
Because of the hustle and bustle of the 21st century, it’s even more important than ever to have these meaningful types of relationships. Want to know how to achieve that? Follow these 25 tips.
1. Be happy with yourself.
You may have heard this one before, and there is a reason for that - it remains the best place to start. As Michelle Maros so elegantly puts it in, Peaceful Mind Peaceful Life, “Your relationships outside will flounder if you don’t have unconditional love and compassion for yourself.”
2. Learn to listen and understand.
Throughout your life you’ve probably dealt with this problem. Your parents never listened. Your spouse never listens. Your boss just doesn’t understand, or listen. George P.H. notes in, Pick The Brain, that we can connect with people simply by listening to them, hearing them out without interruption, and doing our best to understand where they’re coming from.
3. Take the punch.
You can’t always take things personally. We all have bad days where we freak out, vent, or scream at those around us. My wife Kristy Rampton always tells me “There are few things in life less selfless than taking a punch every now and then from people who are having a bad day. Sometimes people just need to vent.”
Get amnesia concerning the outbursts of others.
If you feel like you’ve hit it off with someone, professionally or personally, don’t wait for them to get in touch with you. If you believe that there’s potential for a new relationship, then make sure that you follow-up. Keith Ferrazzi, author of “Never Eat Alone,” suggests that you should follow-up within 48 hours of the first meeting.
Related: The Key to Success? Relationships.
5. Be positive.
Here’s a quick question. Would you rather spend time with someone who is a downer or someone who is upbeat? Barbara Fredrickson, a psychologist at the University of North Carolina, backs up the obvious by stating, in Psychology Today, that positive emotions help us "broaden and build" relationships.
6. Grab lunch.
We’re all busy, but are you too busy to stop and eat? Probably not. Relationship expert Nate Bagley from Loveumentary believes that you should "make the time" to schedule a lunch with friend, acquaintance or family member. This action will yield great benefits.
7. Don’t be someone else.
I love this headline from Adrian Savage in, LifeHack: “If you can’t trust yourself, why should others trust you?”
8. Take inventory of the relationships you have.
Some relationships are meant to be last for a long time. Other relationships may just linger because it’s familiar and feels safe. Take an inventory of the relationships and see which ones you would like to hang onto and the ones you can let go. Letting go of unnecessary relationships opens up the opportunity to let new relationships into you life.
9. Pick up the phone.
Texts, email and Facebook comments are great every now and then, but there’s nothing like having an actual conversation with someone. Don’t hesitate to pick-up the phone and give your friend or peer a call to check-in and see how they’re doing. I have found that it is a good idea to be respectful of the other person's time. The actual conversation does not have to be lengthy.
I do this daily with college Peter Daisyme. Peter has worked across the country from me for the past four years, yet we've had daily conversations and sold two companies together. Take the time to pick up the phone or Skype chat that friend. It'll go a long ways to maintaining and fostering strong relationships.
10. Find common interests.
It could be the same sports team, band, movie, job or extreme sport. No matter how big or small, finding a common interest is one of the best ways to establish a meaningful relationship.
11. Pay it forward.
You should want to give others something because you want to. Not because you have to. If you know someone who happens to be a great web-designer and you have another acquaintance who is need of a designer, then why not introduce them to each other? Did you run across an unusual shot glass that would fit in your friend's collection? Could you quickly purchase it?
12. Don’t wait to be asked for help.
If you know that a colleague, friend or family member needs some sort of help, then jump in and offer your assistance before they ask. For example, if you know that they’re moving and you have the time, you can offer to help, even if your body will hate it the next day.
13. Learn to trust others.
Even if you were hurt by someone in the past, either professionally or personally, you have to learn to trust again. As George P.H. so bluntly puts it “ALL relationships – family, business, platonic – require trust.”
14. Be clear on what you want.
None of us like feeling disappointed. But, did you ever stop and think that maybe you didn't get your needs filled because you didn’t specify what you really wanted? Even if it seems uncomfortable, always be honest in what you want or need.
15. Understand what’s really being asked.
Here’s another piece of advice from Steve Boyer. He suggests that “people will always ask different questions than the one they really want to be answered.” For example, an “employees typically ask how to be more successful when all they really want is to get a raise or promotion.” In other words, there a larger question waiting to be answered behind that initial question.
16. Respond quickly.
While you don’t have access to your phone or computer 24/7, there’s a good probability that you will at some point sooner than later. If someone emails or texts you a question or inquiry, respond to them ASAP. Wouldn’t you rather be known as the speedy responder than the person who never gets back?
17. Set calendar reminders.
We’re all busy bees, so it’s easy to lose contact with friends, colleagues, family members and acquaintances. To avoid a problem, use a set-up calendar reminder so that you can schedule a time to touch base with the people in life.
18. Identify and avoid interpersonal pitfalls.
There are plenty of qualities that can be detrimental to a relationship. The Counseling Center at the University of Texas lists the following:
- Having unrealistic expectations of yourself, the other person, or the relationship in general.
- Coming too close too soon, physically or psychologically.
- Being negative about self, the relationship or life.
- Being a rescuer, a martyr, a savior or a "perfect" person.
- Trying to change the other person to suit your needs.
- Being too self-centered, judgmental or always "right".
- Stockpiling strong feelings - anger, pain, sadness, neediness - and then pouring them all out at once.
- Expecting the other person to be a mind reader, a fixer or always a rock of stability for you.
If you notice any of these tendencies in yourself, think about trying to change them. You may even need to get help from someone you trust so that you can avoid the inclination from going any further.
Related: 4 Ways to Build Trust Quickly
19. Don’t be judgmental.
Just because someone acts a certain way, behaves in ways we wouldn't allow ourselves to or has differing opinions, it doesn’t mean that they’re beneath you, or less than you. Instead of passing judgment, why not ask them questions to find out why they have those opinions and interests. Besides learning something new, you may discover that you’re not that different after all.
20. Pick your locations and activities wisely.
Heading out to the bar to meet new friends sounds great in theory, maybe. But, you’ll most likely develop bar buddies. Are those really the people you can seriously rely on? While there’s nothing wrong with have acquaintances, try to spend time in places where there will be people with similar interests. If you’re into books, for example, then why not join a book club?
21. Be patient.
Building and maintaining a relationship takes time. During that time, you’re going to need patience to help cope with the daily frustrations of life. If you don’t have the patience to deal with life’s little aggravations, then how can you expect to have a durable relationship?
22. Make eye contact.
Research has long proven that “people who make eye contact are perceived as more, "likable and trustworthy.” Dr. Atsushi Senju tells the New York Times that, “A richer mode of communication is possible right after making eye contact.”
23. Don’t mumble.
Communication is a big part of relationships. So, why would you want to make conversations awkward or confusing because you can’t be understood? In case you weren’t aware, mumbling is also a “sign of covert anger, resentment, disrespect, or sadness.”
In case you weren’t aware, laughter is extremely contagious. Besides being beneficial for your overall health, it can also “strengthen our relationships by triggering positive feelings and fostering emotional connection.” Also, take an opportunity to laugh at yourself sometime.
25. Let it go.
Pick your battles wisely. Even if you disagree with someone or have the need to tell them “I told you so,” it’s best to move on and let it go. No one wants to hear a lecture.