7 Tricks to Improve Your Relationships
Personal relationships are not easy. Nor are they as difficult as they seem when we are in the middle of a conflict. Some people aren’t able to interact with others because they are too shy. Some people, on the other hand, carry conflict from their past. Perhaps they come from a family without good relationships. That kind of history often pushes people to be in constant conflict. They fight battles that lead nowhere and look at everyone else with mistrust and apprehension.
We are not born with the ability or inability to form good personal relationships. It’s true that some of us are genetically predisposed to be more or less extroverted or sociable. However, these are not the only determining factors. Basically, learning how to interact with other people is something we have to learn. And that requires developing some abilities that we all have within our reach.
There are also some tricks that make these lessons easier. Just little tips that are easy to apply and effective for their purpose: to improve our personal relationships. Let’s see what they are…
“The most important ingredient in the formula for success is knowing how to get along with people.
Train your listening skills
Listening isn’t limited to, or shouldn’t be limited to, being quiet while the other person speaks. It is more than that: it means paying attention to the content and form of the message that the other person is trying to communicate. It isn’t about being silent. Listening means going part of the way down the path to meet what the other person is saying, suggesting, or insinuating. It isn’t about silencing our own internal dialogue, but instead, rerouting it to coincide with what the other person is telling us.
There’s nothing better for developing our listening skills than to listen. But how? Just try to stay silent and simply understand that they are telling you. At the beginning, you have to make a conscious effort to stay focused, but with practice, the temptation won’t be so great.
Active listening and empathy go hand in hand. Focusing our attention on the message that someone is trying to communicate to us gives us an opportunity: to understand it within the context of the other person, and not our own. This is exactly what empathy is: being able to put yourself in other people’s shoes and understand the process that makes them act and think as they do.
So, empathy requires you to have an open mind rather than a critical attitude. Everyone is who they are and does what they do for reasons we don’t understand. What right do we have to question them? In this sense, we have a lot to lose when we can’t be empathetic. We miss out on learning opportunities, broadening our experience, and the opportunity to improve our personal relationships.
Trust in what you say and do
Having a confident attitude makes others trust you. The opposite is also true. When someone is doubtful or insecure, those around him respond defensively. It isn’t that hard to practice confidence. Just give the person you are an opportunity, without forgetting that inside the person you are is the person you would like to become.
Fear is one of the feelings that can make communicate tense. Thus, it can be a barrier to personal relationships. In many cases, distancing ourselves from its influence only requires a little training. To that end, try not to pause too much when you are talking, and engage in conversation instead of lapsing into a monologue or a speech.
You don’t need to become a really talkative, funny, or witty person. What you need for communication is a bit of spontaneity. In this sense, your listener could interpret a measured and practiced speech as an attempt to hide something… when they only thing you are trying to hide is that you are afraid to show who you are. Why?
Smile, always smile
Saying that a smile opens doors is an old and common saying. However, just because everyone knows the saying, doesn’t mean it isn’t true. Smiles break down barriers and help create a friendly environment. They reduce tension, and they are free!
To motivate you, think of a smile as a sign of peace and acceptance: a friendly gesture that is unmatched in aiding good communication. It is a gesture that breaks the ice and invites trust. There is nothing better for improving personal relationships than starting each interaction with a smile. On that note, many studies show that people are much more likely to approach someone who is smiling than someone who isn’t.
Good manners will never go out of style. Nor will they stop being the master key that opens doors. With practice, they start to feel more natural. Once you master them, you won’t feel like you are being fake. Some people can interpret that as insincerity instead of respect and consideration.
Of course, there are many norms about politeness that are no more than decoration. Others, however, are fundamental and shouldn’t be forgotten. For example, the good habit of greeting people and saying goodbye, saying thank you, not interrupting someone while they talk, letting someone else go ahead of you… These are little gestures that show your willingness to get along with other people.
Speaking of which, it is worth highlighting the importance of one aspect of good manners we have lost. It has to do with cell phones. Unless you are expecting an urgent call, the best thing is to keep your phone far from your field of vision where it can’t distract you. You are not going to miss anything extraordinary if you set your phone aside for a while. On the contrary, you have a lot to gain.
Learn to manage anger
Managing anger, like dealing with any other emotion, can also be learned. There is a golden rule for angry moments that can help us. If you are upset, first do three things: don’t say anything, don’t do anything, and keep quiet. It’s that simple. Anger almost never helps resolve a conflict.
This, like in other cases, is just a matter of training. This is something that you can learn by repetition. Just wait until the energy that is carrying the emotion disperses enough for you to communicate. Once the energy has dropped, you will be able to transmit your message in the way that is best for you and the relationship. At the same time, you will demonstrate self-control and respect for yourself and the other person.
Personal relationships usually deteriorate because of poor anger management. When anger takes over, we end up showing our worst side. We can even be very cruel. This is especially the case with the people we love because we know exactly how to hit them where it hurts.
Everything (or almost everything) is in the details
There are certain attitudes or small details that significantly increase the quality of our personal relationships. These are simple gestures that show magnanimity and a goodwill towards others. It is a good idea to incorporate these into your behavior. Some of the gestures are:
- Sincerely praise other people. Few of us make it a habit to share the good things we think about others. Saying these things outloud always brings satisfaction.
- Call people by their names
- The person affected by a problem is the one who gets to decide how important it is.
- During a controversy, let the other person know that you value their point of view and you want to understand it.
- Show interest in what the other person thinks and feels.
- Don’t try to change anyone’s mind.
Good relationships are the product of effort. Though some people come into the world better equipped to interact easily with others, we all have something to learn. This is particularly valid when we have a long history of communication difficulties or our list of unresolved conflicts is quite long.
If you are able to improve the quality of your relationships, your whole life will be enriched. This, in turn, will make you feel more confident and will improve your general well-being. When we have constructive interactions with others, we feel more motivated and happier.