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How to Maintain Strong Interpersonal Relationships

How to Maintain Strong Interpersonal Relationships

One of the biggest keys to happiness is having strong interpersonal relationships. I believe that relationships are key to leading a fulfilling and contented life. Like anything worth having in life, they take some work to develop and perpetuate.

In this article, I will discuss how to maintain a strong interpersonal relationship.

Developing Interpersonal Relationships

In the spirit of clarity, it’s a good idea to take a quick look at the definition of interpersonal relationships. In short, an interpersonal relationship is a strong or close association or acquaintance between two or more people that can last from a brief time period to an ongoing one. This can extend from family to friends, to work associates, to neighbors, or clubs and on and on. It can be a relationship in any context or situation.

For instance, I’ve had strong short lived relationships with people I’ve worked with on a project as well as one for 50 years with my brother. My two best friends and I live in different cities but, we get together several times a year and have a great time. I have a mentor I worked with over a decade ago I still stay in touch with because we get along so well. All of these are examples of strong interpersonal relationships.

We will briefly touch on developing interpersonal relationships. Best way to approach it is to be a friend or a good partner as the situation warrants. For instance, if you are on a new team at work, ensure you are a good person to work with. Do your part and help others as needed. Be a contributor who is also willing to help out when needed. As a friend, you simply follow the age old piece of advice “to have a friend, you must first be a friend”.

If you are on a board or association, it should be something you are interested in helping out with. That want-to-help attitude will put you with like minded individuals who you’ll probably hit it off with. The main thing to remember is great interpersonal relationships can get formed any place or situation where you interact with other people. Put a little effort into getting along with others and you’d be amazed at how that pays off.

How to Maintain Powerful Interpersonal Relationships

Now, let’s get into the part of how to maintain strong interpersonal relationships. Once you’ve gotten a solid relationship started here’s some ways you can maintain it.

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1. Be Open

Any strong relationship needs to have the willingness to be open. This means the ability and desire to share what you’re thinking and your feelings about different subjects.

It really makes a lot of sense if you think about it. When you are open and willing to share, it shows the other person that you care about the relationship; that you are wanting to create a close connection by being truthful and receptive to the other person’s thoughts and feelings.

Think about some of the conversations you’ve had over the years. When you are speaking to someone who always seems to hold things close to the vest and shares very little information, it’s difficult to know what they are truly thinking or feeling. This creates a sense of distance from that person. On the other hand, when you interact with someone who is open with how they feel and interactive with you, it feels much closer. It feels like they care enough and are willing to share thoughts, ideas, and their feelings with you. This creates a much stronger bond.

2. Show Empathy

Here’s a saying you may have heard before:

“People will forget what you said. People will forget what you did. People will never forget how you made them feel.”

Pretty powerful stuff. One of the deepest human desires is to feel understood. When you show empathy towards someone else, you are showing that you care enough to understand how they feel. And that goes a really long way in maintaining strong relationships.

Remember to show empathy whenever the opportunity presents itself in your relationships. This helps all of us feel more supported, understood, and most importantly, connected.

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3. Be Respectful

It goes without saying that in order to help build and maintain strong relationships, you will need to be respectful — respectful of the other person’s time, opinion, feelings, and so on. This is vitally important in one on one relationships such as a marriage or close friendship.

The same really holds true in close relationships that involve a group type dynamic. If you are on a team at work, things will go so much better and the friendships will develop stronger if you are respectful to the others in the group. One of the biggest reasons, besides being the right thing to do, is you want others to be respectful to your time and opinions as well. It helps develop the sense of bonding and trust.

Work towards being respectful of others in general and certainly in tighter relationships.

4. Be Available

Giving your time is like giving a gift. Time is the one thing we all have the same amount of — same 24 hours in a day, same amount of days in a week, etc. How you choose to spend that time says a lot about you. And being available to someone shows that you value them enough to spend your time with them. That is absolutely huge.

Being giving of your time shows the other person that you care enough about them and the relationship to share your most valuable commodity. Being available to someone will do wonders for maintaining strong personal relationships.

One of my best male relationships goes back to my high school days. We were good friends then and decent friends during college. It was post college and into career time when we became really good friends. And that lasted for quite a while until we had families. And we did pretty good for a while after that. He’s always been great at staying in touch and getting together periodically. Somewhere in there, I wasn’t a very good friend and did not make equal effort of being available of my time. And it very nearly cost me one of my best friendships. I righted the ship and have made equal time and trips to his city to see him and his family. It’s really important to be available and give your time to support these types of connections.

5. Establish Boundaries

Boundaries are critical for healthy relationships. A boundary is a belief, or way of life, or conviction that you have. It involves your beliefs, values, and limits. It’s important to be clear to other people in your life, especially the strong interpersonal relationships, about what your boundaries are. It helps to create self-esteem and respect in the relationship. It’s basically showing others what you stand for and what you will and won’t allow in your life. A couple of quick examples for context are probably helpful here:

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In a marriage, one spouse makes it clear to their partner that financial responsibility is very important to them. Maybe they had to start working at an early age and were responsible for all of their own costs once they turned 18. Whatever the reason, it doesn’t really matter. What does matter is that they make it clear to their partner that it’s important to them. And the other partner is into gambling, and gambling so much that leads to financial irresponsibility. At some point, there’s going to be a hard conversation about the direction of the marriage.

In a work group, one of the members makes it clear that watching their son’s soccer games on Wednesdays at 6 is very important. He is willing to work late any other day of the week except Wednesdays. He has established a boundary. His team members and manager hear him and understand him, and ask him to stay late from time to time but not Wednesday’s. There is a healthy, well established boundary.

6. Be a Good Listener

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again any chance I get. Something most people tend to forget is that listening is half of all communication. And when we get really good at listening, it becomes more than half of our communication. That’s because being a good listener will do wonders for your strong relationships.

Showing that you are actively listening will help boost the other persons self esteem because it shows that you truly care about what they are saying; that makes them feel important. It shows that you seek to understand and that it’s important to you to know how the other person is feeling about something.

It’s like the silent form of flattery to the person you are interacting with. It makes them feel supported and probably most importantly, valued.

You can learn how to be a better listener in this guide: How to Practice Active Listening (A Step-By-Step Guide)

7. Okay to Disagree

It is so beneficial to strong interpersonal relationships to know that it’s okay to disagree. We are all different and have different feelings and opinions. Strong relationships actually thrive on some disagreement and conflict. The alternative is not speaking up when you disagree with something and stuffing it inside.

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And you know what happens if you stuff your feelings and opinions and feelings inside for a long time? Resentment. And smoldering resentment will eventually explode in a way that’s not good for anyone.

I have a strong relationship with both of my daughters. We also tend to disagree or outright argue a fair amount. And that’s fine. I tell both of them all the time that I don’t always like them but, I always love them. And they can say the same about me and that’s great. Having the ability to disagree with the other person fosters a much more open relationship where everyone feels comfortable sharing how they think and feel.

8. Be Appreciative

This one makes a lot of sense. Showing you are appreciative of another person in a good relationship only makes the relationship stronger.

We all like to feel appreciated and understood. When someone thanks you for something you did or said, it makes you feel good. You feel good because it’s nice to know that your efforts not only make someone feel better or supported but also that they noticed it. And this will certainly help to maintain your strong interpersonal relationships.

Final Thoughts

Never forget how important having strong and close relationships are to leading a happy and fulfilling life. It’s far too easy to get caught up our day to day actions of life and put relationships on the back burner.

We’ve looked at 8 great ways that will help you to maintain your strong interpersonal relationships. Take a look at these and see which ones might be helpful to you in your various partnerships. Use as needed to maintain one of the most important aspects of our lives.

More About Effective Communication

Featured photo credit: Ben Duchac via unsplash.com

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Mat Apodaca

On a mission to share about how communication in the workplace and personal relationships plays a large role in your happiness

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Last Updated on November 4, 2020

15 Simple Ways To Make Self Improvement That Will Change Your Life

15 Simple Ways To Make Self Improvement That Will Change Your Life

Self-improvement doesn’t have to be big mind-blowing changes; it can actually be simple steps to improve upon what you already have to get you where you want to be.  However, what you will need is consistency, determination and wiliness to try some things that will stretch and challenge you.

Rather than setting your sights way off into the future, which leaves you feeling like you’ll never make it, you can start following these simple and effective self-improvement steps today.  So if you want to make an immediate impact on your life and are willing to take action, then keep reading— you’ll going to love these!

1. Be willing to work hard.

As with anything in life, if you want something, you’ve got to work hard to get it.  This doesn’t mean you burn the candle at both ends, leaving you exhausted and leaving your personal life in ruins.  It merely means that when you want something badly enough, you’ll put in the time to get there.  Action is what’s important here and the more ‘inspired’ the action is, the better the results in the end.

2. Make sure you have friends who you can talk to.

Sharing the load is important as with any self-improvement. If you can communicate with others and get feedback on how you are doing then that’s great.  We all need ‘cheerleaders’ in our corner to keep us going when times get hard, but you also need to have people who will tell you how it is even when you don’t want to hear it.  So make sure you have a good support network around you, especially those people whose opinions you respect.

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3. Adapt to your circumstances rather than over-thinking them.

Sometimes, we can hit a hard period. Perhaps you’ve lost your job or your partner has left you.  Instead of over analyzing the situation, learn to adapt to your circumstances and accept them as they are.  It’s not about making your circumstances into some kind of a drama; remember, what you focus on expands which means you’ll get more of it.  You then don’t become your problems and you’ll feel a lot less burdened by them.

4. Ensure that you use your time wisely.

Time is of the essence, some might say; whilst others will say that time is an illusion.  One thing we do know is that you have one life on this planet, so how you use that time is of the utmost importance.  So how can you use your time wisely? Only you know how to do that, but look at how you currently spend your days: do you sit working all day, get home, eat and then sit slumped in front of the TV for the rest of the evening?  Your time on this earth is precious, so isn’t it time to make use of the time you have left? Try something new, go for a walk, learn a new language or meditate but make sure it’s something you absolutely love.

5. Always be consistent.

A wonderful way to self-improvement is to make changes to how you do things.  For example, with your friends, are you always the unreliable one who bows out of an arrangement just before it happens? Or are you someone who starts a new exercise routine and then stops doing it 3 weeks into it?  Whatever it is and whatever you do, always be consistent. When you make a commitment, stick to it. It will improve your life immeasurably you’ll feel more confident and happier with yourself, especially because you’ll know that whatever you tackle, you’ll be able to consistently do it!

6. Go and find your happy place.

No, I’m not saying “place” as in popping to your local bar or restaurant and gorging yourself on your favorite drinks or food. What I’m saying is to find out what you love to do, what makes you happy and go there.  Your happy place is a place where you find peace, where you lose yourself and feel contented.  Meditation is a great way to find your happy place; it brings you back to you and ensures that you are always living in the present moment.

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7. Make sure you embrace all your emotions.

In life you are going to find that it throws you some difficult challenges, sometimes it will bring out your fears and lead you into uncertainty, and other times it will be joyful.  It’s important to embrace all emotions that come up in your life, embrace them wholeheartedly and understand why they are there and then let them go.  Try not to dismiss or resist them because remember “what you resist, persists,” so embrace them each and every time.

8. Always be prepared to step out of your comfort zone.

The idea of stepping out of your comfort zone for some people can leave you paralyzed with fear; however for any changing in your life, your comfort zone will always have to be stepped out of.  It doesn’t have to be something big, like doing a sky-dive or something just as crazy. However, it’s worthwhile to change something that you’d once have feared, like going to the cinema on your own or eating at a sushi restaurant when the thought of trying raw fish which would normally mean you running for the hills.

So try something new—it doesn’t have to be wacky, but it has to challenge you!

9. Be on hand to help others.

Whether it’s helping a stranger on the street or a family member or a friend helping someone else either in their time of need, lending a helping hand is a wonderful and simple self-improvement to make.  Giving to others is not only beneficial to those you are helping but also to yourself; it can give you a sense of purpose, of contribution and also takes your mind of your own troubles and worries.

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10. Live in the present moment.

A wonderful self-improvement tool is to live in the present moment, to live in the now.  It is within this moment that you’ll appreciate all that you have and see the beauty in the simplest of things.  Being mindful of your current circumstances and bringing your mind back to where it belongs will bring about a happier way of life instead of constant worry or stressing about the past or future—both of which do not exist. Only the present moment exists. When you get used to living that way, you’ll never want to go back!

11. Learn something new.

There is nothing so liberating as learning something new; it can lift both your confidence and self-esteem and give you a great reason to meet new people.  If you continually top up your brain activity by learning something new all the time, you’ll feel on top of your game and want to share the knowledge you have learned. There is nothing quite so empowering as learning a new tool in life that can either improve your circle of friends or raise confidence levels—or both!

Reading is also a great way to help you learn something new:

12. Exercise daily.

This seems an obvious one, but exercise is so important not only to your health but also to your spirit.  We all know that after exercise, the world can feel a brighter and more positive place, so why don’t we do it more often?  Exercise isn’t about getting the perfect body or losing weight; it’s more about feeling good inside and out!  With a healthy body comes a healthy mind—so start something today. Even if it’s just a daily walk, it’s better than staying on that couch, again.

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13. Go to new places, travel a bit.

I’m not saying go fly off to some far away distant forgotten land—although you can if you so wish. It’s more about going to new places and experiencing life outside of your own back yard.  Too many of us stay in one place too often. We only see the same people, the same streets and do the same things each and every day.  If you want to improve your life, get out there and see the world and what it can offer.  You can start by going to a town or city you’ve never been to in your own country and checking out the architecture, the landscapes and the people.  Anything new is good, so get out there!

14. Listen to uplifting music and dance.

If there’s one thing that can really improve your life and get you excited about it, it’s listening to great uplifting music and dancing.  When was the last time you really let go?  Let it all hang loose and got into a piece of music and let yourself go?  Dancing, like exercise, makes you feel great. It releases all kinds of emotions and can make you feel unbelievably good.  Self-improvement isn’t all about the serious stuff; it can be something as simple as finding new music, music that inspires you and makes you dance and have fun!

15. Get up earlier than normal.

This is the last one, and it’s last because it’s one of those self-improvement tips that we all know is a good thing, yet we seem to avoid it at all costs!  If you think about it, the earliest part of the day is when your brain is most active because it’s been turned off for the last 7 hours or so.  So don’t you think it’s best to get all those things above done in the morning?  Things like exercise, meditation and dancing, which can all be done in the first part of the day.  Take it from me: this early morning stuff can really get your day started with a bang!

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Featured photo credit: Laura Chouette via unsplash.com

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