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Simple Tips to Improve Your Relationships Starting Today

Simple Tips to Improve Your Relationships Starting Today

Never take your relationships for granted–whether at home, at work, or with family or friends. Your happiness depends on them. You might think that fight from last night is over, but it doesn’t take long to realize that it ruined the next day (or possibly the whole week).

Relationships are one of the top causes of stress. The positive effects of peaceful interactions are pure bliss. However, the disagreements, conflicts, and harbored resentments can knock you down and keep you there. Your body gets out of sync when stress takes it hostage.

Follow these 9 simple steps to improve all of your relationships starting today:

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1. Watch your words.

The old saying “think before you speak” still holds true. Your impulsive multi-tasking ways have caused your thoughts and words to jump out unexpectedly. Slow down and ask yourself, “How would I feel if someone said that to me?”

2. Respect differences and opinions.

Every person thinks his or her opinion is important. Instead of jumping in with “No! I disagree. You’re wrong.” take a minute to realize the other person thinks it’s valuable. Try to respect what someone else is saying, even if you disagree with it.

3. Look for the positive hiding behind the negative.

Each character trait has a positive and negative side to it. Your structured and organized girlfriend plans an awesome summer vacation, but can be a real pain when she wants the refrigerator kept in order like a filing cabinet. If you are a disorganized and creative person, and your partner is structured and organized, don’t expect hime or her to change, simply look to see how those traits make your life easier.

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4. Pick your battles.

Every disagreement does not have to become an argument. Silence has gotten a bad rap lately. Speaking up and standing for what you believe in are important actions to take, but sometimes they seep into other areas of relationships and cause damage. Is this really worth a fight? If the answer is yes, wait until the negative emotions subside before you sit down and talk it out respectfully. Silence is truly golden when it stops a ridiculous argument from ruining your relationship. Some disagreements are just a waste of hurtful words.

5. Give people the benefit of the doubt.

You never know what’s going on in someone else’s life. Things are not often as they appear. You jump to conclusions without thinking about the other side of the story. We don’t go around telling around everyone our deep, dark secrets. Sometimes relationships are guessing games. We don’t always get to see what’s going on inside someone’s head. When you give someone the benefit of the doubt, and judge him or her on the brighter side rather than the darker side, you can see the bigger picture. There’s usually more to most situations.

6. Practice compassion.

Everyone has his or her own personal history, dramas, and character traits. I can’t be you for five minutes and you can’t be me. Let people have their own past, as long as it’s not destructive to your life.

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7. Give compliments.

This is the simplest and quickest way to change a person’s mood or attitude. A compliment says a lot. Notice how you feel the next time someone compliments you. It’s an instant mood lifter.

8. Say thank you.

Practice gratitude. These two words carry a lot of power. Thank you says, “I appreciate you.” Gratitude benefits the one who delivers it, as well as the one who receives it. If you see something worth appreciating, it means that you see the good. Grateful people are happy; complainers are unhappy. Gratitude washes away negativity.

9. Value people.

People are precious. Negative reactions cause emotional amnesia. When you are angry or hurt, you forget all the wonderful things someone did for you in the past. You forgot when they gave you a shoulder to cry on, or came over at 3 a.m. when you didn’t want to be alone.

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Once you realize how easy it is, you can make these simple steps a new habit. Just like going to the gym every day keeps your body healthy, strong, and rock hard, strengthening your relationships can also become a daily habit.

Changing your perspective immediately improves the relationship. Your happiness depends on it.

Featured photo credit: Detailed view of a young couple holding hands/Peter Bernik via shutterstock.com

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Last Updated on May 21, 2019

How to Communicate Effectively in Any Relationship

How to Communicate Effectively in Any Relationship

For all our social media bravado, we live in a society where communication is seen less as an art, and more as a perfunctory exercise. We spend so much time with people, yet we struggle with how to meaningfully communicate.

If you believe you have mastered effective communication, scan the list below and see whether you can see yourself in any of the examples:

Example 1

You are uncomfortable with a person’s actions or comments, and rather than telling the individual immediately, you sidestep the issue and attempt to move on as though the offending behavior or comment never happened.

You move on with the relationship and develop a pattern of not addressing challenging situations. Before long, the person with whom you are in relationship will say or do something that pushes you over the top and predictably, you explode or withdraw completely from the relationship.

In this example, hard-to-speak truths become never- expressed truths that turn into resentment and anger.

Example 2

You communicate from the head and without emotion. While what you communicate makes perfect sense to you, it comes across as cold because it lacks emotion.

People do not understand what motivates you to say what you say, and without sharing your feelings and emotions, others experience you as rude, cold or aggressive.

You will know this is a problem if people shy away from you, ignore your contributions in meetings or tell you your words hurt. You can also know you struggle in this area if you find yourself constantly apologizing for things you have said.

Example 3

You have an issue with one person, but you communicate your problem to an entirely different person.

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The person in whom you confide lacks the authority to resolve the matter troubling you, and while you have vented and expressed frustration, the underlying challenge is unresolved.

Example 4

You grew up in a family with destructive communication habits and those habits play out in your current relationships.

Because you have never stopped to ask why you communicate the way you do and whether your communication style still works, you may lack understanding of how your words impact others and how to implement positive change.

If you find yourself in any of the situations described above, this article is for you.

Communication can build or decimate worlds and it is important we get it right. Regardless of your professional aspirations or personal goals, you can improve your communication skills if you:

  • Understand your own communication style
  • Tailor your style depending on the needs of the audience
  • Communicate with precision and care
  • Be mindful of your delivery, timing and messenger

1. Understand Your Communication Style

To communicate effectively, you must understand the communication legacy passed down from our parents, grandparents or caregivers. Each of us grew up with spoken and unspoken rules about communication.

In some families, direct communication is practiced and honored. In other families, family members are encouraged to shy away from difficult conversations. Some families appreciate open and frank dialogue and others do not. Other families practice silence about substantive matters, that is, they seldom or rarely broach difficult conversations at all.

Before you can appreciate the nuance required in communication, it helps to know the familial patterns you grew up with.

2. Learn Others Communication Styles

Communicating effectively requires you to take a step back, assess the intended recipient of your communication and think through how the individual prefers to be communicated with. Once you know this, you can tailor your message in a way that increases the likelihood of being heard. This also prevents you from assuming the way you communicate with one group is appropriate or right for all groups or people.

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If you are unsure how to determine the styles of the groups or persons with whom you are interacting, you can always ask them:

“How do you prefer to receive information?”

This approach requires listening, both to what the individuals say as well as what is unspoken. Virgin Group CEO Richard Branson noted that the best communicators are also great listeners.

To communicate effectively from relationship to relationship and situation to situation, you must understand the communication needs of others.

3. Exercise Precision and Care

A recent engagement underscored for me the importance of exercising care when communicating.

On a recent trip to Ohio, I decided to meet up with an old friend to go for a walk. As we strolled through the soccer park, my friend gently announced that he had something to talk about, he was upset with me. His introduction to the problem allowed me to mentally shift gears and prepare for the conversation.

Shortly after introducing the shift in conversation, my friend asked me why I didn’t invite him to the launch party for my business. He lives in Ohio and I live in the D.C. area.

I explained that the event snuck up on me, and I only started planning the invite list three weeks before the event. Due to the last-minute nature of the gathering, I opted to invite people in the DMV area versus my friends from outside the area – I didn’t want to be disrespectful by asking them to travel on such short notice.

I also noted that I didn’t want to be disappointed if he and others declined to come to the event. So I played it safe in terms of inviting people who were local.

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In the moment, I felt the conversation went very well. I also checked in with my friend a few days after our walk, affirmed my appreciation for his willingness to communicate his upset and our ability to work through it.

The way this conversation unfolded exemplified effective communication. My friend approached me with grace and vulnerability. He approached me with a level of curiosity that didn’t put me on my heels — I was able to really listen to what he was saying, apologize for how my decision impacted him and vow that going forward, I would always ask rather than making decisions for him and others.

Our relationship is intact, and I now have information that will help me become a better friend to him and others.

4. Be Mindful of Delivery, Timing and Messenger

Communicating effectively also requires thinking through the delivery of the message one intends to communicate as well as the appropriate time for the discussion.

In an Entrepreneur.com column, VIP Contributor Deep Patel, noted that persons interested in communicating well need to master the art of timing. Patel noted,[1]

“Great comedians, like all great communicators, are able to feel out their audience to determine when to move on to a new topic or when to reiterate an idea.”

Communicating effectively also requires thoughtfulness about the messenger. A person prone to dramatic, angry outbursts should never be called upon to deliver constructive feedback, especially to people whom they do not know. The immediate aftermath of a mass shooting is not the ideal time to talk about the importance of the Second Amendment rights.

Like everyone else, I must work to ensure my communication is layered with precision and care.

It requires precision because words must be carefully tailored to the person with whom you are speaking.

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It requires intentionality because before one communicates, one should think about the audience and what the audience needs in order to hear your message the way you intended it to be communicated.

It requires active listening which is about hearing verbal and nonverbal messages.

Even though we may be right in what we say, how we say it could derail the impact of the message and the other parties’ ability to hear the message.

Communicating with care is also about saying things that the people in our life need to hear and doing so with love.

The Bottom Line

When I left the meeting with my dear friend, I wondered if I was replicating or modeling this level of openness and transparency in the rest of my relationships.

I was intrigued and appreciative. He’d clearly thought about what he wanted to say to me, picked the appropriate time to share his feedback and then delivered it with care. He hit the ball out of the park and I’m hopeful we all do the same.

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Featured photo credit: Kenan Buhic via unsplash.com

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