Great businesses are built upon a foundation of great relationships. Do you ever wonder how some people seem so natural and at ease in relationships, while others really struggle to maintain them? Is it a difference in temperament, like introversion or extroversion?
It could be, but as a psychologist, I can say the approach to relationships for each temperament is different; yet, both hold the same core beliefs. To follow is a list of the things we need, regardless of temperament, to be great in relationships.
1. Not defined by our past.
We all have a past. It is only when we cannot accept, have not yet healed or forgiven our past that it has the power to negatively impact our relationships today. We need to use our experiences to grow so that we stop repeating negative or unproductive patterns.
We run our own lives. It is imperative we acknowledge and work to mature the more unrefined and defended aspects of our personalities, where we tend overcompensate for the insecurities developed from our experiences.
Use your past to positively change your future. Establish the self-awareness necessary to create mutually beneficial and reciprocal relationships.
2. Know who we are.
To be great in relationships we must have emotional depth. To develop that depth, we must soul-search and be unafraid to show our imperfections.
We are all human. We all bleed the same color. When we accept this, we will expect less perfection from ourselves and stop demanding perfection from others.
When we’re authentic, we don’t need to try so hard to look good in the eyes of others. We can show up as who and what we are, flaws and all. When one of our flaws creates an issue, we must acknowledge this with ownership, an apology and a plan for what we will change in ourselves to not let it happen again. When we know who we are, we can self-correct, which serves to build trust.
3. Independently content.
A person who is content on their own is the best type of person to be in a relationship with. Relying too much on other people to build us up or make us feel valuable makes us difficult to be in a relationship with.
It is our responsibility to feel good enough about who we are, on our own. We cannot enter relationships putting the responsibility of our success or happiness onto anyone else. We must respect that each and every person we connect with also needs to be responsible for their own success and happiness. The formula for relationship success is: We take care of ourselves for other people, and we expect other people to take care of themselves for us. This way, each person brings a whole, intelligent, educated, and responsible Self to the table.
4. Contribute rather than criticize.
One of the most common reasons people leave relationships is because they feel someone is constantly trying to change them. Relationships cannot function well under constant criticism.
The more we focus on inspiring, the more likely other people are to manifest the change we desire from them. The more we micromanage, put people down and ignore what they’re doing right, the more unhappy, unproductive and rigid they become. When we contribute, rather than criticize the motivation is different; we are giving people information to help them, rather than to change them to serve us.
When we focus this way, the changes inspired in others are the productive changes all involved are looking for, including the person who is making changes.
5. Show vulnerability.
One the best ways to establish positive relationships is to be vulnerable. When people view us as perfect, we come off as less approachable and more intimidating. This is not a relationship-building formula.
We must allow ourselves to be vulnerable. Letting our flaws show makes it easier for others to connect with us. When we show our vulnerabilities, others feel more open in expressing theirs without fears of recrimination. Why would we open up to someone who is not ever open about who they are? We wouldn’t. We must allow others a peek into our humanity. This open quality builds a trust that cannot be reached with a thousand words.
Nurturing others, making deep connections and building solid networks is how we grow a great business.
To nurture means to give. We must give willingly, and not make our giving seem like a major unwanted sacrifice to our receivers. We can look at giving in two ways: as sacrificing something we don’t want to share and subsequently being bitter; or, we can give generously and view it as something positive and necessary that can only serve to benefit all parties, including us.
This shift in our mindset allows us to give without strings of hostility or resentment attached. When we give in this manner, we get to enjoy watching what we give help others to become more successful. People in great relationships uplift each other.
7. Let things go.
Forgiveness is the marker of a healthy relationship. We cannot be good with people in tandem to holding grudges. There is nothing productive in continually punishing another person into feeling guilty or ashamed for a past wrongdoing.
If some unforgivable deal-breaker has occurred, cut ties with that relationship and move on. If a relationship can stay intact after a mishap, we must keep in mind people cannot work to their full performance if we are micromanaging every little fault they have, or every little thing they aren’t doing perfectly. We must not sweat the small stuff in our relationships. We must make room for imperfections and areas of weakness, and do what we can to support people in those areas.
Relationships that are too serious are not enjoyable to be a part of. Yes, business is serious stuff, but to build successful teams and develop great networking relationships, the work environment must have a sense of playful lightheartedness to it.
Make work a place you and others look forward to each day. Strive to make meetings, business trips and other engagements as interesting and enjoyable as possible. Humor bonds people because humor is almost always spontaneous and impulsive. It’s fun to share positive experiences and memories with our colleagues, so it’s important to smile and to be friendly.
When we are lighthearted, people want to be in our company and to play along. No one wants to be left out of what is fun, growth-promoting or exciting. To be great with people, and to build lasting networks and connections, we must be attractive to others from the inside out.