“A good traveler has no fixed plans and is not intent on arriving.” ~ Lao Tzu
What is love other than to care for another more than you care for yourself? What is love other than to put another’s needs ahead of your own? What is love other than to love without expectation?Advertising
Love is not reciprocal. Love is selfless. It is giving through sacrifice, expecting nothing. You may have dreams, plans and expectations coming into a relationship, but as the old boxing quote says: “Everyone has a plan until they are punched in the face.”
Instead of trying to force yourself into the fully-scripted roles of the perfect relationship, it’s advisable to let go of your expectations and dependence on your partner for affection and validation. Love that has no expectations cannot be betrayed. Betrayal is only possible when an exchange is expected.Advertising
So, for all that someone is, love them. Appreciate them for who they are rather than for how well they fit your pre-existing fantasies of how things should be. This way you’ll free your heart from any anger or frustration and begin to love unconditionally, even if it has to be love from afar.
When you love unconditionally without expecting anything, you’ll establish a special and rare relationship anchored on affection that is free and non-possessive. Your relationship will be pure and honest because you are not merely using another to satisfy general self-interested desires.Advertising
How often do we set the bar too high to reach and then use this as an excuse not to love completely? Jonathan Lockwood Huie said it right, “A wonderful gift may not be wrapped as you expect.” Let everyone be completely who they are. Don’t try to control or change them. Just love them – as they are – right now.
View people through the lens of compassion and acceptance. And then let circumstances freely and naturally resolve themselves into the most perfect outcome for all involved. Chances are those you love without expectation will dazzle you when they in turn begin to see you in your truest light.Advertising
Here are little ways to love without expectation.
- Love yourself first—totally and unequivocally. Be okay with yourself. If you can do that, then the need for others disappears.
- Believe and have faith in the good intentions of that person you love. There is good in everyone.
- Accept that person just as they are. People are not ours to own or rearrange.
- Smile, laugh and spend more time with that person, exploring new and challenging activities together. It builds intimacy.
- Protect and defend him or her always, including protecting their sense of dignity as human beings.
- Be truthful and honest in your interaction with them. Stop playing them.
- Voice your love and affection to them openly. Whisper in their ear how beautiful they are each morning.
- Express your affection physically. A simple kiss on the cheek or light touch on the shoulder can bring healing.
- Respect and treat that person like a gentleman or lady—with courtesy and dignity.
- Don’t lie or cheat on them. Stay faithful to your relationship until the end.
- Don’t whine, nag or complain all the time. It vexes the spirit.
- Don’t criticize them all the time. Instead, encourage and support them whenever you can.
- Show more compassion. We all need a little understanding from others.
- Surprise them with deeds of kindness when they least expect it.
- Be there for them when they need a listening ear, a shoulder to cry on or someone to uplift their spirits.
- Don’t compare your relationship with what others’ have.
- Stay calm, collected and keep working on making your relationship better.
- Cultivate a thick skin in the relationship, knowing that challenges are an inevitable part of life.
- Forget your personal investment in that person or in the relationship. That way you won’t expect a return on investment.
- Don’t blackmail or manipulate them to do your bidding.
- Don’t keep unnecessary secrets from them. Secrets indicate that there is a lack of trust and authenticity in the relationship.
- Listen to what they have to say with an open mind and a view to understand where they are coming from.
- Speak up in defense of that person you love and the integrity of your relationship when confronted by others.
- Talk openly, face-to-face with that person about what’s bothering you.
- Stop focusing on that person’s flaws or things that upset you about them too much. It is not worth it.
- Sit, discuss and plan for the future together.
- Don’t shift blame and heap it on them, rather take responsibility for your own actions.
- Apologize for your mistakes, learn from them and make amends where appropriate.
- Forgive offenses committed and move on. Life is too short to hold on to grudges and be unhappy.
- Celebrate that person when they are in your life, and let them go when they leave. Don’t force anyone to stay.
If you can do these things and have no expectation for any particular outcome, it is a glorious sign of emotional maturity. You become a better person and take the reins in the relationship.
Last Updated on January 15, 2019
What Are Interpersonal Skills? Master Them for Better Relationships
When I wrote my book Extraordinary PR, Ordinary Budget: A Strategy Guide, I was surprised at the various layers of review and editing necessary to get the book to publication. Before I ever submitted the manuscript, I enlisted a former colleague to read and copy edit my work. Then, I submitted my work to an editor at the publisher’s house, and once she approved it, she sent it to her colleagues and then her company’s editorial board.
Upon editorial board approval of my book, my editor sent my work to reviewers in my field, then a developmental editor, then a designer and layout team and, finally, another copy editor. There were a host of personalities with whom I needed to interact along the way.
It turns out that getting a publishing contract was just the beginning – a lot happens between developing a concept, writing the book, finding an agent and publisher, and getting the book on bookshelves or on Audible or Kindle. Through every milestone of the publishing process, my ability to interact with others was crucial. This underscored for me that no matter what or how much a person accomplishes, you never do it alone – everyone needs assistance from others.
While I conceived of the book and wrote the manuscript, there is no way my book could have hit booksellers’ shelves without the dozens of people who were involved in the publishing process. Further, interpersonal skills can propel or stonewall success.
Even as someone who has written hundreds of essays, press releases, pitch notes and other correspondence, writing itself is not a solitary endeavor. Sure, I may write in solitude, but the moment I am finished writing, there are always clients, colleagues, partners, peers and others who review my content.
What is more, even as a published author and contributor for this platform, I try to never submit final copy (content) that has not been copy edited. I send everything to my copy editor, whom I pay out of my own pocket, for her review, edits and approval. Once she has reviewed my work, caught unbeknownst-to-me errors, I am much more confident putting my work out in the world.
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How Interpersonal Skills Affect Relationships
It is clearer to me now more than ever before that interpersonal skills are needed in every profession and every trade.
People don’t elect leaders because the leaders are smart. Individuals are motivated to vote when they have a hero and when they feel they have something to lose. If they seriously dislike the other candidate, they are much more likely vote according to a 2000 Ohio State University study:
“A disliked candidate is seen as a threat, and that will be motivation to go to the polls. But a threat alone isn’t enough – people need to have a hero to vote for, too, in order to inspire them to turn out on Election Day.”
In a work setting, interpersonal skills impact every facet of your development and success. Trainers must collaborate with a design team or the company hiring them to facilitate the training. During the training itself, the facilitators must connect with the audience and establish a rapport that supports vulnerability and openness. If the trainers interact poorly with the trainees, they are unlikely to be invited back. If they are invited back, they may be unlikely to inspire cooperation or growth in their trainees.
Solopreneurs interactions with clients and subcontractors, and those interactions will, in part, support or adversely impact their business. If you enjoy a career as an acclaimed surgeon or respected lawyer, your interactions with patients, clients, health insurance agencies and a team of other practitioners – many of whom are shielded from public view – will improve or decimate your practice.
As a hiring manager, one of the things I consider when interviewing candidates is their interpersonal skills. I assess the interpersonal skills they display in their content and face-to-face presentation. I ask probing questions to learn how they interact with others, manage conflict and contribute to a team atmosphere.
When candidates say things like, “I prefer to work alone” or “I can hit the ground running without assistance,” I bristle. When candidates appear to know everything and everyone, I wonder if they will be receptive to learning or open to feedback. Could these statements be indications that these individuals lack interpersonal skills?
It stands to reason, then, that interpersonal skills are among the most valuable and the bedrock of all talents and skills.
What are Interpersonal Skills?
Interpersonal skills range from emotional intelligence, empathy, oral and written communication to leadership to collaboration and teamwork.
In sum, interpersonal skills are skills that enable you to interact well with others. They include teachability and receptiveness to feedback, active or mindful listening, self-confidence and conflict resolution.
From a communications standpoint, interpersonal skills are about understanding how colleagues prefer to communicate and then using the appropriate mediums to meet respective needs. It is about understanding how to communicate in a way to get the most out of different people.
For instance, in my career as a public relations practitioner, part of what I am constantly evaluating is which colleagues, clients and members of the media prefer email, text or phone calls. I am assessing how much frill to use with each person depending on what has worked in the past and depending on what I know about the person with whom I am interacting.
Making these decisions and being disciplined enough to follow each person’s known preferences helps me better connect with the various individuals in my orbit. Is this tiring at times? Yes. Is it necessary? Absolutely.
How to Improve Interpersonal Skills
There are also a host of books and articles on emotional intelligence, which is the ability to manage one’s emotions and perceive and adapt to others’ emotions. Emotional intelligence is likewise a critical component of positive interpersonal relations. You can learn more about it in this article: What Is Emotional Intelligence and Why It Is Important
Active and mindful listening also support improved interpersonal skills. I recommend you take a look at this piece: Active Listening – A Skill That Everyone Should Master
I have further found that humility helps a ton with interpersonal skills. It takes humility to admit you have more to learn and that you can learn from the people around you. In fact, everyone with whom you interact has a lesson to teach you. And employers are increasingly looking for team members who are lifelong learners, meaning they believe there is always room for growth and professional and personal development.
Forbes contributor Kevin H. Johnson noted in a July 2018 article,
“That’s why, when anyone asks what the next ‘hot’ skill will be, I say it’s the same skill that will serve people today, tomorrow, and far into the future—the ability to learn.”
Don’t overlook introspection.
While interpersonal skills may seem simple enough, introspection is critical to learning where and in what ways you need to grow.
Through introspection and observation, I have learned that my interpersonal skills suffer when I am sleep deprived, because then I am short-tempered and irritable. I’ve observed this connection over a significant period in my life. Unsurprisingly, it is also true of others. Fellow LifeHack contributor, health coach and personal trainer Jamie Logie noted:
When you are chronically sleep deprived, it really does a number on you. A lack of sleep can keep your body in a constant state of stress and over time this can get pretty ugly. Elevated stress hormones can be involved in creating a bunch of pretty nasty conditions including anxiety, headaches and dizziness, weight gain, depression, stroke, hypertension, digestive disorders, immune system dysfunction, irritability.
Additionally, the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development reported,
“Sleep deprivation can noticeably affect people’s performance, including their ability to think clearly, react quickly, and form memories. Sleep deprivation also affects mood, leading to irritability; problems with relationships, especially for children and teenagers; and depression. Sleep deprivation can also increase anxiety.”
The point is, even as you are identifying ways to improve interpersonal skills, think about what is getting in the way. While sleep deprivation is a trigger for me, your stumbling block may be different.
The Bottom Line
You cannot fix what you do not know is broken. Even as you work to understand and apply interpersonal skills, spend some time in mindful meditation to get clear on what is holding you back from developing solid relationships.
Featured photo credit: Austin Distel via unsplash.com