“You can make more friends in two months by becoming interested in other people than you can in two years by trying to get other people interested in you.” ― Dale Carnegie, How to Win Friends and Influence People
One of the reasons why people succeed in their life is because they are masterful navigators of relationships.
Most of us want to have happy, healthy and productive relationships with the self and with others.
But often, you may be wondering how to achieve good relationships with others. You may look at some friends or coworker and wonder about their success with others.
What makes some people successful with other people while others are always on the verge of relationship trouble?
Of course, even the best relationship navigators have trouble in some of their relationships. But it would be accurate to say that they learn from their mistakes. They are informal students of human psychology to improve relationships.
Let us go:
“For beautiful eyes, look for the good in others; for beautiful lips, speak only words of kindness; and for poise, walk with the knowledge that you are never alone.” — Audrey Hepburn
1. What are you Bringing to the Table?
“The meeting of two personalities is like the contact of two chemical substances: if there is any reaction, both are transformed.”― C.G. Jung
Relationships are two-way streets. You cannot clap with one hand and you cannot expect reciprocation from others when you are only mildly interested.
So, what are you bringing to your relationships?
2. Are You Really Listening?
“I like to listen. I have learned a great deal from listening carefully. Most people never listen.”– Ernest Hemingway
If there is one quick way to improve your relationships, it is listening to others.
Now, some people read up in posts and books that they need to listen. They try to listen but often their attempts are insincere and their demeanor irritated.
That is not really listening.
Listen with your heart, mind, and spirit and not to make a reply and always to fix problems. If you do not listen well, you cannot understand others problems.
Deep empathy with others means deep listening.
3. True Intimacy in a Relationship
“Intimacy is the capacity to be rather weird with someone – and finding that that’s ok with them.”― Alain de Botton
In good relationships, you have the trust and freedom to be yourself.
That may mean exposing some of the so-called weaknesses or vulnerabilities we all have.
But be cautious about who you are being vulnerable with. This is because trust and intimacy are best earned.
“It is not a lack of love, but a lack of friendship that makes unhappy marriages.” ― Friedrich Nietzsche
4. Tone of Voice and Irritation
“We often refuse to accept an idea merely because the tone of voice in which it has been expressed is unsympathetic to us.”— Friedrich Nietzsche
If you want to be successful in relationships, it is a good idea to pay attention to your dominant tone of voice with others.
How do you want others to speak to you? In an irritated and impatient tone of voice or in an empathetic and understanding tone?
Others are no different.
5. The Power of The Collective in Relationships
“When you say “I” and “my” too much, you lose the capacity to understand the “we” and “our”.”― Steve Maraboli, Life, the Truth, and Being Free
We have all had friends who obsess with their story, their life and themselves.
They do not make it any secret that they think they are awesome and it reflects in their talk and walk.
What many dismiss as confidence is a flaw in the approach to other people.
When we get too caught up in I, me and my, we disengage from the synergy and collective power of we and us.
Sharing a goal or a milestone with a team of like-minded people is a lot more meaningful than absorbing it all for the self.
6. Be Authentic
“How would your life be different if you approached all relationships with authenticity and honesty? Let today be the day…You dedicate yourself to building relationships on the solid foundation of truth and authenticity.”― Steve Maraboli, Life, the Truth, and Being Free
We stop being honest and authentic in our relationships because we failed before. Tell me one single person who has not seen disappointment with a relationship at some point in their lives.
Many of us become cynical and jaded. You may say what is the point of showing vulnerability and authenticity when the world sees it as a weakness?
Approach your relationships with a little more authenticity and honesty today.
Do not be afraid of standing up for who you are and what your story represents.
If you are a kind person, show the kindness. If you are a happy person, spread the happiness around.
If you are an introvert, respect that aspect of your personality and get plenty of alone and quiet time to recharge yourself. Be yourself and be authentic.
7. The Measure of a True Friend
“A real friend is one who walks in when the rest of the world walks out.”– Walter Winchell
The true measure of a great relationship is what the other does in rough times. It is during your setbacks and failures and job losses and not so great moments you get a glimpse of your true friends.
Action Tip: Assess if you are ignoring the true friends who might be more simple and genuine. Are you more focused on people who are fair weather friends?
“A friend is someone who knows the song in your heart and can sing it back to you when you have forgotten the words.”– Donna Roberts
8. How to Bring Out the Best in Others?
“I find the best way to love someone is not to change them, but instead, help them reveal the greatest version of themselves.”― Steve Maraboli, Unapologetically You: Reflections on Life and the Human Experience
Everyone has strengths and weaknesses. Productive relationships are those where people try to bring out the best in others. They bring out the best while being mindful of their limitations.
Ask if your dominant relationships at work bring out the best in you? Or do they make you go on the defensive?
Ask yourself if you are allowing others to reveal their excellence? Or are you a critic without a cause?
“Keep away from those who try to belittle your ambitions. Small people always do that, but the really great make you believe that you too can become great.”— Mark Twain
9. Losing The Self
“The most painful thing is losing yourself in the process of loving someone too much, and forgetting that you are special too.” ― Ernest Hemingway
It is an understatement to say that relationships can be a dominating influence in how our life shapes.
We often absorb the energy of the relationships around us. This lends giving some truth to the idea that we can tell the quality of our life by seeing the five closest relationships we have.
While navigating relationships, it is best to not forget that it is easy to lose the self for the collective.
“Once the realization is accepted that even between the closest human beings infinite distances continue, a wonderful living side by side can grow, if they succeed in loving the distance between them which makes it possible for each to see the other whole against the sky.” — Rainer Maria Rilke
Make an attempt to not smother others. Do not allow others to smother you with their ideas and opinions.
While being open to others, stay true to your story also.
“Don’t smother each other. No one can grow in the shade.”— Leo Buscaglia
10. Remember the Reflection
“When you struggle with your partner, you are struggling with yourself. Every fault you see in them touches a denied weakness in yourself.” ― Deepak Chopra
Your struggles in relationships are often a reflection of what you are going through yourself.
Also, when you get irritated on someone in a relationship, you can often learn something new. What does the person irritate you? One of my big ones from the past was arrogant people.
After some searching, I found that I was finding arrogant people irritating because I suppressed the arrogant part of myself.
I developed the belief that arrogance was wrong and excess kindness often at the sake of the self is better.
I finally realized that a middle path was better.
A path where I realized my own arrogance while being kind and compassionate. But not so kind that I was not taking care of myself.
“Everything that irritates us about others can lead us to an understanding of ourselves.”— Carl Jung
“We are afraid to care too much, for fear that the other person does not care at all.”— Eleanor Roosevelt
When you do not care for your relationships, it might be because deep inside you are afraid.
You are afraid that you will not get reciprocation in return. But relationships do not work that way.
The best relationships are where you allow the self to let go and give without expecting too much in return.
Expectation and fear always make the relationship waters murky. Reframe the lens that you are seeing relationships.
When you transform from co-dependency to empowerment and less expectation, you score big.
Ask if you are giving back to your relationships because you are afraid of not getting reciprocated?
Are you afraid that you will be disappointed and your expectations will not be met?
12. Connect With the Heart
“You can talk with someone for years, everyday, and still, it won’t mean as much as what you can have when you sit in front of someone, not saying a word, yet you feel that person with your heart, you feel like you have known the person for forever…. connections are made with the heart, not the tongue.”― C. JoyBell C.
We want to talk out way out of everything. We want to explain and fix our friends problems with our experience and skills.
But sometimes we get too cerebral and do not connect with the heart. There is a big unspoken body language and connection part to relationships.
Wen you seek a heart connection, you have deeper empathy and understanding for the other person.
This happens because you know and understand on a feeling level on who they are.
Instead of trying to figure them out through thinking, you allow for your heart to feel their situation.
You connect with them on a level that goes beyond words.
“Some of the biggest challenges in relationships come from the fact that most people enter a relationship in order to get something: they’re trying to find someone who’s going to make them feel good. In reality, the only way a relationship will last is if you see your relationship as a place that you go to give, and not a place that you go to take.”— Anthony Robbins
13. Are you Building Walls?
“People are lonely because they build walls instead of bridges.” – Joseph F. Newton
We build walls because we hate vulnerability and we have experienced setbacks in relationships.
We use old beliefs and past experiences to dictate how we act in relationships today. The safest option is to wall up and not let anyone in so that they cannot see who you are.
Action Tip: To improve your relationships, drop the unnecessary ego and go past belief related walls.
14. Trust is the Glue of Life and Relationships
“Trust is the glue of life. It’s the most essential ingredient in effective communication. It’s the foundational principle that holds all relationships.” ― Stephen R. Covey
One of the most important ingredients of a great relationship is trust. Whether at work or in your personal relationships, trust takes work to build. Ironically, trust is also fragile and people find it difficult to trust again when it is gone.
Action Tip: Work at building trust in your relationships. Remember that trust erodes by careless words and actions.
15. New Friendships Means New Horizons
“Each friend represents a world in us, a world possibly not born until they arrive, and it is only by this meeting that a new world is born.”– Anais Nin
The best and easiest way to improve and expand your horizons is to cultivate new friendships. Especially with people who are dissimilar to you.
Most of us fall into the familiarity bias and trap where our dominant friendships all look the same. But that does not expand the horizons.
Action Tip: Cultivate friendships with new people who are different from your usual circle and type of friends.
“When you don’t talk, there’s a lot of stuff that ends up not getting said.”― Catherine Gilbert Murdock, Dairy Queen
16. Speak Good of Others
“How would your life be different if you walked away from gossip and verbal defamation? Let today be the day…You speak only the good you know of other people and encourage others to do the same.”― Steve Maraboli, Life, the Truth, and Being Free
What goes around always comes around in relationships. When we speak ill others, chances are high that it will come back to us. Moreover, gossip and verbal ill speak wastes a lot of energy and accomplishes nothing.
“We can improve our relationships with others by leaps and bounds if we become encouragers instead of critics.”— Joyce Meyer
Make sure that your criticism is constructive and is digestible to the person that you are giving it to.
Replace yourself with the other person and imagine how you would like them to treat you.
Encourage more and criticize less. Being understanding is always a solid investment in a relationship.
People will appreciate and never forget that you encouraged them. Especially while they were being cast in a negative light.
“Any fool can criticize, complain, and condemn—and most fools do. But it takes character and self-control to be understanding and forgiving.”― Dale Carnegie, How to Win Friends and Influence People
“Assumptions are the termites of relationships.”— Henry Winkler
Make no assumptions, especially in relationships. If there is a quick way to be unsuccessful in relationships, it is to make lots of assumptions about people.
It is a great idea to questions all the automatic assumptions that we have in our relationships.
Often we think it is one way but the truth might just surprise us.
18. Letting Things go
“If you spend your time hoping someone will suffer the consequences for what they did to your heart, then you’re allowing them to hurt you a second time in your mind.”― Shannon L. Alder
We get burdened in relationships because we carry the burden and weight of all the sad times and the setbacks.
Psychology shows that negativity is stickier than positive experiences and we seem less able to forget negative ones.
The real question is that we have many positive experiences in relationships. What do we not pull those out from memory?
To have successful relationships in the future, allow the past to be a learning platform. Do not assume the past as true for the future.
Unburden yourself by letting things go and forgiving where it is possible.
Forgiving does not mean that you condone the past but you are coming to peace with some of the difficult times for your own peace of mind.
“In the end, these are the things that matter most: How well did you love? How fully did you live? How deeply did you let go?” -Buddha
19. How You Make Them Feel
“I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.”- Maya Angelou
How do you make people feel in your relationships? Are you approaching your relationships with kindness and understanding?
Kindness does not cost you anything and matters a lot in relationships.
“Three things in human life are important: the first is to be kind; the second is to be kind; and the third is to be kind.”— Henry James
Empathy and kindness always win in the end in the quest for great relationships.
Ask if your dominant interactions with people leave the feeling the same, worse or better?
“Constant kindness can accomplish much. As the sun makes ice melt, kindness causes misunderstanding, mistrust and hostility to evaporate.”— Albert Schweitzer
20. The Art Of Reciprocation
“If you would be loved, love, and be loveable.”— Benjamin Franklin
Relationships are built around the psychological imperative of reciprocation.
When someone reciprocates in a relationship, we are able to respond back.
In the end, one-way relationships get tiring and difficult to sustain.
At least the person who you give to should acknowledge and reciprocate in a manner that they can.
Do not assume that a lack of empathy will not come forth as the other person is busy, tired or unavailable.
A healthy give and take should be normal in relationships.
While you should not give to get back in return, there are many people who need your time and effort than those that take you completely for granted.
“…the opposite of love is not hate — it’s apathy. It’s not giving a damn. If somebody hates me, they must “feel” something … or they couldn’t possibly hate. Therefore, there’s some way in which I can get to them.” ― Leo Buscaglia
21. It is Difficult But Worthy
“I’m not telling you it is going to be easy- I am telling you it is going to be worth it.” – Art Williams
Relationships need a lot of work. They need our attention, love, time, energy and intention.
It is difficult sometimes to sustain relationships. But connecting with someone on a deeper level is worth the effort.
“A no-effort relationship is a doomed relationship, not a great relationship. It takes work to communicate accurately and it takes work to expose and resolve conflicting hopes and beliefs. It doesn’t mean there is no ‘they lived happily ever after,’ but it’s more like ‘they worked happily ever after.’ ”- Carol Dweck, Mindset
22. Let Toxic Relationships go
“There comes a time in your life when you have to choose to turn the page, write another book or simply close it.”― Shannon L. Alder
You can use all the principles of productive relationships to work through some problems. But sometimes, even the most intentional work on relationships will not be enough to make some work out.
When a relationship becomes toxic or counter productive, the burden is upon you to recognize it. Slowly back away and establish healthy boundaries.
Remember a lot of toxicity happens because boundaries are unclear and expectations are hazy.
Allow toxic relationships to go or at least diminish contact with people who ridicule or belittle you.
“When dealing with people, remember you are not dealing with creatures of logic, but with creatures bristling with prejudice and motivated by pride and vanity.”― Dale Carnegie, How to Win Friends and Influence People
23. What is Connection?
“I define connection as the energy that exists between people when they feel seen, heard, and valued; when they can give and receive without judgment; and when they derive sustenance and strength from the relationship.”― Brené Brown
A great relationship has this unseen bond and feeling that is difficult to define. But when you look closer, you see depth based on the fact that people feel valued. They feel like that their opinions matter and they do not feel like they lose themselves in the crowd.
They feel like no one is judging them, only seeking to understand. The relationship becomes a source of feel good and strength and a refuge to go to when life throws a curved ball.
Ask if you are being personally valued in your relationships. Do you value others?
Do your relationships add something of value to you and to others? Do you feel judged or can you bask in the warm glow of acceptance and love?
Increase your acceptance and value levels that you give to receive more value and acceptance.
“I believe in the immeasurable power of love; that true love can endure any circumstance and reach across any distance.”― Steve Maraboli, Unapologetically You: Reflections on Life and the Human Experience
24. Common Basis
“Ultimately the bond of all companionship, whether in marriage or in friendship, is conversation, and conversation must have a common basis, and between two people of widely different culture the only common basis possible is the lowest level.”― Oscar Wilde
While relationships between unlike people can hit off well, there needs to be some common ground.
There need to be some common practices that both parties enjoy and can connect with each other. Without this common basis, it becomes difficult to relate to others.
Action Tips: Find the common basis in your relationships and do those activities together.
25. The Self-Love Part in Relationships
“It’s not your job to like me – it’s mine”― Byron Katie
The most important relationship advice that I ever received had nothing to do with others. It had everything to accepting and loving myself.
When we go into a relationship with a lot of self-hatred and self-blame, it becomes tricky to navigate it.
It would not be an understatement to say that one of the most important relationship you will have in your life is with you.
Action tip: Increase the self-love and self-acceptance.
“It is of practical value to learn to like yourself. Since you must spend so much time with yourself you might as well get some satisfaction out of the relationship.”— Norman Vincent Peale
“I want to be around people that do things. I don’t want to be around people anymore that judge or talk about what people do. I want to be around people that dream and support and do things.”― Amy Poehler
Ideally, you want to achieve mutual support in a relationship. You should have the freedom to express your dreams and others should feel the same way too.
“Talk to someone about themselves and they’ll listen for hours.”― Dale Carnegie, How to Win Friends and Influence People
While you can always debate about the pragmatic aspects, good relationships allow for dreams to soar.
I remember the Bette Midler song Wind Beneath my Wings. Are you being the wind beneath the wings for someone else?
“A friend is someone who knows all about you and still loves you.” —Elbert Hubbard
27. People are Imperfect
“When you stop expecting people to be perfect, you can like them for who they are.” – Donald Miller
A great reminder in relationships is that people are going to disappoint you. People are not perfect.
When you have a level of expectation that is difficult to reach, you may get disappointed.
Perfectionism and over expectation is a recipe for failure in a relationship.
“I’m not crying because of you; you’re not worth it. I’m crying because my delusion of who you were was shattered by the truth of who you are.”― Steve Maraboli, Unapologetically You: Reflections on Life and the Human Experience
28. The Power of Gratitude
“Let us be grateful to the people who make us happy; they are the charming gardeners who make our souls blossom.”– Marcel Proust
Be grateful for all your relationships. Gratitude is the super glue that not only strengths but also sustains relationships.
Are you grateful for your relationships? If not, why not and how can you come to a place of appreciation and gratitude?
29. The Mystery of Relationships and People
“When dealing with people, remember you are not dealing with creatures of logic, but creatures of emotion.”— Dale Carnegie
Great relationships sometimes remain shrouded in mystery. You wonder how people achieve them.
But if you look closer, the small things matter a lot more that we are willing to admit. People and thinking and feeling creatures and we like to think that logic will solve everything.
Genuine support and allowing the other person their own state of mind and emotion without always correcting them goes a long way.
“Flatter me, and I may not believe you. Criticize me, and I may not like you. Ignore me, and I may not forgive you. Encourage me, and I will not forget you. Love me and I may be forced to love you.” – William Arthur Ward
30. The Best Relationship
“Remember that the best relationship is one in which your love for each other exceeds your need for each other.” – Dalai Lama
Love is the single most powerful ingredient in a great relationship. A love of common things and a love of others and a love for the self and a love for excitement and passion.
“As you put more emphasis on being a loving person, which is something you can control – and less emphasis on receiving love, which is something you can’t control – you’ll find that you have plenty of love in your life.” – Richard Carlson, Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff